I’m back! Two more infusions under my belt, and now I have a 5-day break (infusions next Fri and Sat). I’m glad because I’ve basically not been able to do much of anything but sleep after the infusions–they are very draining. Everything is going well, though. I’ve not had to take pain medicine since Thursday, and that is a big win! Let’s hope things continue to improve and that this treatment does its job to reset pain pathways and make my brain healthier. Before I go into my experiences, I will again caution that this is something that should be done under a doctor’s care. The hallucinations and feelings can be very intense, and I’m sure that being in a safe place is very much a part of why I’m doing so well with it. It’s definitely a trip through the looking glass!
The infusion on Saturday was at the same level as Friday’s, though the doctor administered another dose of versed midway through treatment. This med is supposed to mediate the visual craziness–but I couldn’t really tell a difference. The one thing I’ve now noticed is that each infusion is different in terms of what the visuals and feelings will be like. Whereas the first infusion was very much a feeling of being a part of a bigger wholeness, the second one was more introspective. Not feeling alone–far from it–but more of an objective look at things in my life. I was able to visually analyze the love I have in my life and look at it from all angles. It manifested as a large field of gold crystals that kept growing and melting, with a hot pink cloud winding through the peaks. I was flying through, seeing representations of my family and seeing how deeply my emotion entwined with their consciousness and my own. It was objective, too, which was kind of overwhelming. Like I was able to analyze it and see how intertwined things were, but not have a feeling about it. I guess that is part of the disassociation this medication causes.
There were so many more things–after all, it’s almost a two hour infusion. Music was like waterfalls today, bouncing in depths off the rocks and crystals and changing colors and depth with tone. (I listened to Green Day again) There were infinite falls along my peripheral vision–oddly, in the same place as the disks before. They grew and changed, the water viscous sometimes–like molten metal, or even thicker, like mud. I soared over a landscape that looked like a cracked open geode. The weird thing is that every visual had a representation. They weren’t labeled–I just knew what they stood for. Love, loss, growth, pain, stress. Again, no feelings about them–just objective analysis.
I was so tired after that session, maybe a little hung-over feeling. But content. Later in the evening I felt what felt like a dehydration headache trying to start, so I took motrin and it went away. I was very draggy the rest of the day.
Sunday (today), the infusion was early morning, so I didn’t have much time to assess how I was feeling (other than sleepy, lol). The doctor upped the dose today. The goal is to bathe the brain in as much of the medicine without causing the patient to be anesthetized. He only did one dose of the versed so that he could tell if the sleepiness was from the ketamine or the versed. I did get zofran in the IV again–I have every time. It helps keep the nausea away. Ketamine raises blood pressure heart rate–another reason you feel tired afterward. He told me we’d monitor the hallucinations–if they were too much, he’d do another dose of versed.
I switched music today to Queen’s greatest hits. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could do this without the tether that music provides. To get the benefits of the treatment, you have to deal with the hallucinations. Music helps!!! Things seemed to start a little slowly and I was able to ground myself by opening my eyes–though I could barely move. The room was super distorted (like every time), and I knew where I was and what was going on. Once the medicine really ramped up, I flew over alien landscapes and through space–it was just amazing. You know the ride Soarin’ at Disney? It was sort of like being on that, but with more 3D movement and faster. I flew over a city (today’s colors were primarily grays, sparkles, deep purples, aqua, and gold, with some pinks like yesterday) that at first I thought was some sort of post-apocalyptic city that sprawled across miles and miles, but when I looked closer, the buildings were crystals–some broken. I then got the sense it was a vast computer of some kind. At another point, things were aqua blue with fringes of
white long hair that blew in the wind, and at another, I seemed to be flying over a blue planet with lots of puffs of clouds that spiraled and swirled.
The standout moment for me was when “Who wants to live forever”. If I had been standing, it would have brought me to my knees.
“There’s no time for us
There’s no place for us
What is this thing that builds our dreams
Yet slips away from us?”
At this point, crystalline growth was taking over, kaleidoscoping and swirling, and the first manifestation of a person was singing–but it was only a skull. It wasn’t scary. It was profound. I just observed and watched the world rise and fall, building higher then crashing down, and that voice penetrating through it all. Again, it wasn’t scary at all. It was a feeling of acceptance. Love. Meaning. Transcendence.
Does this all sound crazy? I feel like it does. I never ever expected to have such experiences while trying this treatment. The doctor said it’s a two for one–migraine treatment and self-analysis. lol. I’m ever grateful to have experience this–I’ve had flashes of this before in dreams or listening to music, but never like this. I wish I understood what ketamine does and what I’m seeing! The big difference in the visuals from dreams, is that you have no outward control of what you see. For example, if I wanted to see my daughter’s face in a dream, I can visualize that. Not in these hallucinations–they are totally movies controlled by my brain. Yes, I know that means I’m controlling them, but I have no control over them in the moment, if that makes sense.
I can’t wrap up and mention all the hallucinations here–there were so many! Toward the end, I did listen to some Marilyn Manson music (Mechanical Animals album, including the song “dissociative” lol) but the infusion ended early into that. I plan to start with that album in the playlist next time because like Green Day and Queen, it’s music I already feel in my soul. It already reaches me and I think that music is the best to be introspective with.
Again, the actual infusions are necessary for the medication’s work on brain plasticity and neuron polishing (my term), but I had no idea it was going to be so intense. It’s so much a bonus to doing the treatments–it’s like therapy on steroids or something. I’m really hopeful that this is going to be a game-changer for my migraines–time will tell. And if I have to go for an infusion every few months, that will be okay (other than it is very expensive). I’m very glad to have a few days off, though, because I’m extra weepy and sensitive, and still feel a little out of phase. I’m sure that will all subside after the medication is out of my system.
I hope my posts help reassure people who are thinking of trying ketamine for pain or for chronic depression. I’ll do my best to answer any questions–just email me or leave a comment.