What’s It Like?
TMS is like having a small hammer bang against your head repeatedly. Technically, each treatment session includes 55 trains of 36 pulses (for a total of 1980 pulses per session) delivered over 20 min at 18 Hz and intensity of 120% relative to the patient’s resting motor threshold (MT).
What does that mean?
Well, the resting motor threshold is the basic unit of dosing in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) research and practice. There are several different approaches to estimating the resting motor threshold and apparently little consensus on the best method for estimating it. BUT don’t take my word for it. I am not a doctor or a scientist. There is a lot of research easily available on the internet so look it up if you are interested in learning more.
The little I know is that In a healthy brain, neural activity in the motor areas of both hemispheres is functionally related to muscle control. An active movement of a hand is associated with an enhanced neural activity in certain motor areas. My resting motor threshold has been determined multiple times through a process of stimulating my brain with magnetic pulses and measuring the correlating hand movement. It’s kind of cool.
When I have TMS, a cap is put on my head. The cap has measurements indicated on it that show where a magnetic coil should be placed. The coil sits near the front of my head over my right eye close to my eyebrow. The coil is in what feels like a helmet and the helmet is strapped tightly to my head. I wear ear pods to listen to music and I wear mouth guards to protect my teeth and jaw from the twitching caused on the right side of my face. My right eye twitches too but I do not need anything for that. I only need to not be wearing glasses.
The tapping is the minimum amount of power needed to stimulate my brain cells, the amount that meets my individual threshold that causes my thumb muscles to twitch. During the treatment, my right hand twitches so I cannot hold my phone or anything with that hand.
The actual tapping procedure takes twenty minutes and I am awake, sitting up in a comfortable chair. I cannot move since I am attached to a helmet that is attached to a machine. Every twenty seconds, the tapping taps tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap for two seconds.
Every twenty seconds for two seconds.
After a while it’s meditative if you let it be. And after a while my brow goes numb. In a non-annoying way.
But the time goes fast if I listen to music. Sometimes I read texts or emails. by holding the phone up to my face and far enough away with my glasses held up and squinting since I’m not actually wearing my glasses.
Yes, it is a TMS shit show.
After treatment, I can go back to work. No sedation or anesthesia is necessary so after treatment I am good to go.
Treatment is every day for 30 days, Monday through Friday for six weeks or so.
I have been through two cycles of treatment with remarkable results. I should be on a commercial for TMS. It has changed my life.
Whether the effects of TMS will last or not is a different story, but for the first time ever I have major hope that I can live differently. With TMS, my brain is no longer the boss of me.
With TMS, my brain no longer bullies me into performing repetitive daily rituals that exhaust me and render me incapable of living a normal life.
Now TMS won’t work for everyone, obviously, since nothing works for everyone. But look at some of the links I’ve provided. The areas they’re researching for the use of TMS are amazing.
But there are so many options out there now that I urge everyone to research everything.
Even with TMS, there are different kinds of coils.
I began TMS for treatment of “Major Depressive Disorder” because that is what the insurance company will authorize, but it turned out that TMS release me from the chains of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Now we are trying to get the insurance company to authorize payment for a different coil that targets OCD.
If I could get that treatment, then WOW. I mean, W.O.W.
Like seriously. I could be a totally new person.
Because depression really isn’t my problem. I can manage my depression.
My real problem – the one that really wrecks the quality of my life – is the OCD.
So naturally I wish I had tried TMS years ago, but you don’t know until you know. So I didn’t know about TMS until I knew about TMS.
And I can’t dwell on time I could have been living life instead of waiting for life to be over.
But enough of that nonsense!
I have provided so many resources under the Resources tab. You should take a look even though you shouldn’t use the word ‘should’ and neither should I.
But ‘should’ is a discussion for another day.
For today, find something that gives you hope.
I have hope now that my life can be about living.
That’s not what it was about before.
It’s not that I didn’t want to live, it’s just that the OCD kept telling me to do violent and harmful things through constant intrusive thoughts I could not stop.
Medications helped me to manage those thoughts so I could hold a job and keep cartooning, but managing a life is not the same as living a life.
Now I have hope that I can live my life.
And now I have the ability to help other people figure out how to live their lives too.
A long time ago, I became a professional problem solver. In some parts, they call that a lawyer. In other parts they call that an advocate.
Now that my brain has backed off from sending me violent, harmful intrusive messages I can devote myself to advocacy. Just the way I always dreamed of.
Check out the resources. They are really good.
Today is a great day to do something different to make your life better and you may just find it right here.
I hope it’s at least a start.
I hope your Saturday is really great.
And green. Something about green, apparently.
💚 💚 💚
xoxoxoxo, dee (and bella)