A Comfortable Presence
It was my first day on the job. I was nervous. My palms were sweaty as I gripped the steering wheel in my minivan as I had just parked the car. Would I remember all of the training I received? Would I be a good fit for this new patient? Will I even be good at this job? So many questions swirled in my head as I thought about the past few weeks and what led me to become a TMS Technician.
I had been friends with our other technician, Anna Boe, for years. By happenstance, we had connected and she introduced me to Jennifer Behnke and it was as if I had found my people! I love caring for people and it has been my natural passion for years. Whether I was mentoring teens, hosting gatherings in my home, or listening to friends pour out their troubles over a cup of coffee, I was in my element as a listening ear. My husband and I had been in ministry for almost 20 years. But this was different. Administering TMS treatment was a brand new thing for me.
I took deep breaths and finally got my courage up to get out of the car. As I took my first steps towards the building, my heart was racing. I opened the door and began to prepare for my first TMS patient. Twenty minutes passed and I was all ready to go. I got the text from Debbie (name changed for privacy purposes) that she had arrived. I took a deep breath as I walked to the waiting room and opened the door. I opened the door to find a woman with such a fearful look on her face; Clutching her purse for dear life. I could tell, this was new for her too. I proceeded to introduce myself and reached out my hand to shake hers. She was shaking from nervousness. So was I! We were two peas in a pod! As we walked back into the TMS room, we briefly chatted about each other, and mild jokes were exchanged and as we both got comfortable with each other. I began to listen to her story. She had lived with depression and anxiety for years and it had become debilitating. She was hopeless. The hour progressed, and the weeks passed, and we came to the end of treatment. There were days that were harder than others for her. There were days when we laughed, shared jokes, and talked about the things that brought her joy. Other days I sat with her and just listened and she let the tears come and shared her grief. There were lot’s of tears as memories at times came to mind during treatment. She had endured years of trauma and she had so much fear and anxiety about the future. Halfway through treatment, when she felt like nothing was changing and about to give up, I was there to assure her to keep going. I was cheering her on to the finish line, one day at a time.
I have been a TMS Technician going on 7 months now, and I can tell you, I have not yet become tired of being their person. The one who gets to listen, giving them hope, and cheering them on. It is a privilege to be a trusted person when not many in their life have been worthy of trust. For Debbie, the first day we met, she clutched her purse tightly and could barely get a handshake in. Treatment was a hard commitment, but she didn’t miss a single appointment. And by the end of treatment, she went from a person who could barely see life itself, to seeing newness and the fog of depression began to lift. On the last day, I was given the biggest hug and with tears of joy she told me, “I will never forget your comforting presence in this time of uncertainty”.
This is why TMS Technicians are so vital to TMS treatment. For most, it’s new territory, it can be terrifying coming into treatment let alone being seated in the chair as it’s lifted up and laid back. If you can remember, it’s the feeling you had as a child going to the dentist for the very first time. There is a terrifying sense of putting your life into someone's hands. Thank goodness I don’t have to put my hands in anyone’s mouth! But in a sense, patients are allowing us to touch the brain. I think that’s more terrifying. As a TMS Technician, I am there to make sure they know it’s going to be okay. I am there to keep their mind on the goal, to be the assurance when fears arise, to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel, and to give them a sense of hope when they have been hopeless. I get to participate in witnessing the changes that occur for our patients daily. Every time I park my car in the parking lot… I don’t get nervous anymore. Better yet, I get a surge of joy knowing that I get to be their TMS Technician.