Wayne and his wife Trudy live on a farm in Smith Center. About a year ago, Wayne was diagnosed with severe psychotic depression.
"It's so hard to see someone you love go through this," Trudy said.
During his depression Wayne quit eating. He lost 40 pounds, couldn't read, and even stopped communicating.
"I just had a hopeless feeling like it would never go away," said Wayne.
Wayne suffered from severe delusions as well. He would often wonder his farm looking for an imaginary group of cattle he thought had died. He even tried to commit suicide.
"I took a fuse and put it in water," he said.
He was prescribed a multitude of anti-depressants, but none of them worked. That's when doctors suggested ECT.
"It's a scary thought, we were scared at first," said Trudy.
It's a relatively simple procedure that lasts about an hour. Doctors give patients anesthesia and a muscle relaxant so the body keeps from convulsing. Electrodes are placed on the temples which are then connected to a machine that sends an electrical current to the brain. The doctor pushes a button to release the current; the body goes into what doctors call a therapeutic seizure.
"The only sign that the body is going through a seizure is a twitching of the foot," said Dr. Matthew Carey.
Doctors aren't exactly sure why ECT works. There are many theories, including one that compares the treatment to re-booting a computer. They say the electrical current along with the seizure helps the brain clear out and reset.
"While we're not sure why it works, we do know it does work and that it's safe," said Dr. Carey.
No one can testify to that more than Trudy. She has seen her husband get more than 12 sessions of ECT, and with each has seen a dramatic difference.
"It's amazing what it has done. It's been a blessing. We have him back," she said.
Wayne is back living a healthy happy life. But what makes this procedure so controversial are the side effects. Critics of ECT say patients suffer short term memory loss. And in fact, Wayne can't remember much about his treatments. He even celebrated his 50th Wedding Anniversary in the hospital, and can't recall much of it.
"It would have been nice to remember that," he said.
But Dr. Carey says there are going to be side effects with any treatment, even anti-depressants, and says the trade-off is worth it.
"It's a valid, successful, and powerful form of treatment against depression," he said.
The Wehe's agree. They say this procedure saved Wayne's life.
"Sometimes I think, 'Why didn't we do this a long time ago?' When you're as bad as he was, anything is worth it. ECT saved my husband," Trudy said.
Via Christi Regional Medical Center in Wichita also offers ECT. Doctors warn that the procedure is considered heavily invasive and is not for everybody. It is, however approved by the FDA and by the American Psychiatric Association.