Well, I said I would get back here and tell you about my first session with the new psychiatrist, but life got away with me and I haven’t had a chance to until now.
The first thing I noticed, walking into the waiting room, which was both good and a little off-putting, was that the radio was playing WNPR, national public radio. Now the good part of this is that it was indeed NPR, the news and liberal-leaning talk radio that I myself listen to. This boded well, I thought. But the fact that it was talk radio at all, rather than soft music I found by itself rather strange. I mean, what if someone didn’t like or agree with those points of view? It seemed a rather unfair thing to be throwing politics and other controversial subjects into the air right before someone was to see a psychiatrist. Now, right here I am tempted to play shrink to the shrink, and analyze why he might have done this, but in point of fact I have no idea and should not presume to know or even guess. After all I only met the man once.
So I noted this, and felt, well, those two ways about it, then filled out the forms waiting for me, and sat back to wait. It wasn’t long. He was only about 5 minutes late, if that. Then he ushered me into his office, which I noted at once was set out in a big square of large immovable chairs and a sofa. He told me to sit wherever I wanted. Uh, oh, I thought. How can I choose a chair? I had no idea, so I sat immediately in the one touching my leg, which happened to be the one farthest from his desk. He sat down in the chair directly opposite me, about ten feet away, or so it seemed. Maybe it was six feet? Hard to say now, but it felt very far away. I think I will try a different chair every time, maybe until I find one that feels right, or a different one according to my mood, I dunno. All I know is that that one felt wrong for me that day…
I didn’t notice much more about the office after that, not even the colors. I didn’t look around, not with my eyes. I mean, I did seem to look around, in that my head may have turned a couple of times, swinging from side to side, but my eyes didn’t actually take in anything. I was just “gazing into the distance” because I find it hard to make eye contact.
I was going to say, He asked a lot of the usual questions, but did he? Honestly I cannot say now what he did ask. Except that he started out by saying, What brings you here? Pretty standard question, but for the fact that I knew Dr O had spoken with him and that I thought he knew why I was there…So I just said, I needed to find someone to “take her place.” I didn’t mean in any sense but the literal: I needed another psychiatrist. No one could take her place in any other sense. At one point he mentioned that he knew about my book, or perhaps said that he did in response to my asking him if he knew about it. I asked him not to read it, yet, and he agreed, though now I am not sure why. Why not have him read it? It would get a lot of things out of the way. And maybe he would not have read it anyway, was just curious as to why I did not want him to read it myself.
At some point, I cannot recall how, we got onto the subject of my olfactory hallucinations, either gone now or controlled well by lamictal (it is hard to say, as I still reguarly get “whiffs” of burning smells that are unexplained). When I explained the genesis of these hallucinations — a week after ending ECT, starting first as soapy smells and then progressing to burning rubber, to the point where I could not eat anything but tomoatoes and apples, and under what conditions they abated, ie with my taking tegretol (I believe), he said it was absolutely classic for temporal lobe epilepsy.
But, I said, I’d had an EEG at the time, and they said they’d found no signs of seizure activity.
TLE is often missed on regular EEG, he said. Then he told me the kind that usually picks it up, but I failed to follow him…it got too complicated and I was still stuck on the TLE thing. No one had actually said to me Temporal Lobe Epilepsy before. Oh, people had said “seizure activity” many times, in many different circumstances. Like when I took Clozaril and Seroquel. Always, my side effects were Dx’d as “seizure activity” — and then ignored. Ignored! The doctors would simply have me continue to take the drug and ignore what they themselves called “seizure activity”. Is it any wonder that nightly episodes of terrible feelings of impending doom, and what I described every week I saw my therapist as the feeling of my brain building to a terrible electrical threshold that only sleep staved off — or did it? I wonder… Is it any wonder that I wanted to quit both drugs and did so as soon as I could?
But more than that, I’d had a seizure when my wisdom teeth were taken out. I was about 23 and I lways thought it was because of too much novocaine, though that was only my impression. Anyhow, in the middle of the procedure, one arm and one leg started moving up and down mechanically while I sat in the dentist’s chair. I remember the dentist saying, “She’s seizing” then “__ mg of Seconal,” and that is all I recall until they resumed the procedure, which I believe they did do, unless they were all finished…I cannot remember now. In any event, I did go to a recovery room to sleep afterwards, but I do not remember my parents, with whom I was still living, being told anything, or reacting in any way when I told them. Which I find strange to this day, seing as my father is a doctor and I had just graduated from college and was home to study pre-med courses myself.
Anyhow, I have been reading up on this and have even read a little about some mental illness being related to TLE, esp bipolar and even schizophrenia. Went looking for material on the internet, but have not found a great deal on these subjects, at least not that is available to me. It may be that there are specialized journals that would deal with them at greater depth etc but usually the cost of a subscription is prohibitive, as are most texts (over $100). The public library is useless in this regard as well, having so far as I could see, almost nothing on the subject except a few books written for parents and/or children. Finally, I found a couple on Amazon, and sent for used copies. We’ll see if I get any answers.
But I was talking about the new psychiatrist, Dr C. He is tall, his hair seems gray but could be white blonde, and I cannot for the life of me tell how old he is. Not too young at any rate, I do not think. He seems okay, will probably grow on me, so to speak. I had no immediate reason not to like him and I did like his telling me about his opinion of TLE so openly, even if we really have no proof in terms of an EEG.
I will see him again at the end of April, and then we will see. It will be the first time I have seen a male psychiatrist in a very long while, and I don’t know how that will be. but what the hey, I’m willing to try.