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Christina Kolanovic introduces herself and discusses what it’s like to receive TMS treatment

Tell us a little bit more about yourself?

My name is Christina and I’ve been here at Northshore TMS since late January. My background is; I was a mom for many years at home. I went back to school for; certified occupational therapy assistant. But at interim, I met Dr. Carlsen and I came on board here. I’ve been working with the TMS, I’ve been administering TMS and I also help out administratively.

What kind of questions do the patients ask you about TMS when they’re first starting out

When they first start, they want to know if it’s going to hurt. They really want to know, “What session am I going to notice a change?” and we cant really answer exactly what session that is. For some people, we see it as soon as the seventh sessions and sometimes it’s later, after a week. Also, it’s not necessarily linear, so it’s not that on day seven they see improvement and then day eight and day nine they continue to improve. They sometimes have ups and downs, which is something that we’ve seen, but ultimately, if they’re having some improvement, they might go through those – like I said – ups and downs, but then it improves.

When we work here, we do the 30 sessions with an additional 2 weeks of 3 times a week. So at the end of treatment, they notice a huge improvement in their mood if they have an anxiety election. The anxiety is better and they are more engaged in life, so they’re looking at activities that they hadn’t been doing before.

How do you descibe TMS for somebody who’s never felt that before?

Well, I’d say it’s like somebody’s knocking on their skull. More and more patients are saying it’s like a woodpecker kind of pecking on their skull. Most people get used to it by the end of the first week. Even by the end of the second day, most people adjust to it and they don’t really have that many complaints. A lot of people might say its more annoying than painful.

Can you share with us a patient story that stands out in your mind? Or any personal observation that you’ve had? Maybe the patient didn’t notice right away themselves but something that really stood out in your mind?

I feel like I have elements of so many patients into one. We have patients who when they come in the first few sessions, make sure there are tissues, because they’re either dealing with some kind of loss or grieve, whether it’s a person that they lost or a relationship that they lost. They go through a lot of tissues and I just respect that they want to kind of get it out. Usually, within the first week, they are starting to talk more, instead of just closing their eyes and not wanting to communicate. They’re opening up more and telling you more and in that process, that’s when I see the difference. I see – as I said – someone might say, “Oh, I don’t know if it’s making a big difference.” But I notice they’re sharing more with me and they’re also telling me stories about, “Oh, I went out the other day.”

I had one patient that kept saying she was working with her therapists and they were trying to come up with some kind of hobby because she kept saying, “I have no hobbies, I have no interests.” But as we were talking more and more, I was learning she really enjoys fishing and she really enjoys baking. All of these activities were coming out of her and she started doing a little bit more in that area. About midway, to the last couple of weeks, she joined weight watchers, she joined a gym with a friend of hers and she was really getting out and trying to make positive changed in her life.

We had another patient who just had so many different interests that by the end of the treatment, he had asked if we could come with him because he said we were his hype-squad. He felt like he needed that in his life. So I just think overall that people go from tearful to looking forward to getting involved again. It’s an investment of time so they also have all this extra time now to pursue some of their interest.

How many total sessions – these two patient stories that you just shared with us – were they undergoing?

Our patients here come five days a week for six weeks and then we have a tapering off process. So for the last two weeks, they come three days a week, or we can possibly do three weeks of 2 days a week for an extra six sessions.