Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Post #1 (better late than never)

Technically, yesterday was Day 1 but I spent the majority of the day asleep and then took a long drive.

The first day also included measurements and a test for my “motor threshold.” What that means is the doctor was basically testing for the point at which firing a magnet at my motor neurons causes my hand to jerk like a reflex. Apparently, this tells them how high to crank it up. I really wanted an “11” but apparently that’s not how it works.

Once they zeroed in on the strength, provided me some earplugs, and readied the machine the doctor moved the magnet to the position for treatment and kicked it on. They started out at about 80% of the power and gradually increased it over the 19 minutes of treatment as my comfort level allowed.

Don’t let anyone kid you. This initially hurts, you feel a pretty awful tension headache as the magnet fires 40 times over 10 seconds and then it allows you to rest for 26 seconds before firing again. The intensity of the pain rises with each pulse and right when you’re like I can’t do this anymore the 10 seconds is over and you get a break. This repeats over and over until the treatment is over. I wonder how many people were tortured to figure out that threshold.

Sleep: How’d I sleep? How many hours? Quality?

As I mentioned, I spent too much of the day asleep. Not all at once, but every time I tried to read a book or watch a show I more or less vanished from consciousness instantly. Apparently, this is a pretty common side effect after the first treatment.

When I finally put away the world for the night. I slept pretty soundly until about 5 am. One of my chief complaints about sleep is that I don’t sleep. I tend to do a very short 3-5hour nap and then start my day all over. I’m hoping the treatment fixes that but it could just be a circadian rhythm thing.

Appetite: How’d I feel about eating? What did I eat?

I didn’t really feel all that hungry throughout the day. When I did eat, it wasn’t very much, and it wasn’t really that exciting to eat. I’m hoping it was just a case of trying something new at a new restaurant. I’d ordered Bibimbap at a fairly classy place (that wasn’t Korean so take from that what you might). I think I mostly felt a little queasy.

Physical Activity: What did I feel capable of doing? What did I ultimately do? How did I feel after?

Not much, not from a depressed not wanting to move standpoint, it was just that I was so tired that I didn’t really ever do anything physical. I finally got tired of repeatedly napping and went for a drive in the northwest portion of Massachusetts. Beautiful drive and it was refreshing.

Motivation: How much proactive motivation did I have? What motivated me? What were my goals? Did I hit them?

I did not feel motivated at all. I’ve been fairly low and depressed leading up to the start of treatment. It took an excess of energy to even write the first post announcing what I was going to be doing with these a couple of days ago.

Baseline Mood: What am I feeling as a baseline.

I was just south of the middle of happy/sad.

Happenings: What’s happened today that may impact my baseline?

Today was mostly about the first treatment, the headache after, hearing about a friend who had also recently started TMS and the difficulties they were having, and fatigue.

Reactions: What were my reactions to the happenings?

A little worried after hearing about my friend. Tired of being tired by the end of the day. I think in the end – I just wanted results now. By the way, it’s usually 3-4 weeks before the treatment starts showing signs of improvement. There’s a long way to go.

Learnings: What did I learn, observe, etc?

I learned that the only thing they could really tell me about how the whole thing actually works is that it works better if you’re conscious. You’d have to be a sleeping professional to be able to sleep through this treatment.

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