The Ketamine Chronicles

Part 1: Why ketamine

As you know I have been seeing a new pain specialist. Dr Raath is in another city, an hour away from me but well worth it. In my 16 year battle against chronic pain I have yet to meet a Doctor who understands chronic pain and Fibromyalgia as he does. He believes me. I don’t have to try and convince him I’m in pain or have weird symptoms. He gets it. I will be doing a post about my treatment plan with his so you can understand just how deep he gets with treating all the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

I came for my post neck surgery follow up but was in really bad pain with my back. He decided that we would immediately started the infusions. I will discuss the infusion treatment in my treatment blog. I have been inundated with questions about the Ketamine so I want to get to that first. After my second infusion session, I was in so much pain in the infusion room I could hardly sit. The amazing woman who runs the infusions said “Tracey, it’s time. You have got to start the Ketamine. Can I book you in on Monday”. I stuttered “umm, ok, yes, I think so”. I didn’t have time to think. I knew that because of the dosage and risk your first Ketamine sessions had to be done in hospital so you could be monitored. I knew it was going to be a week. I had to do it. Bite the bullet. I had wanted to start the Ketamine so here we go.

I was literally thinking of paying for Ketamine infusions on my credit card. They’re incredibly expensive but you know, when you’re desperate. However, this was being done in hospital so I would not have to be paying cash for this. Thank God. My medical bills are ridiculous. I could be funding Ukraine with missiles with the kind of money I spend in a year. Monday morning came and I got a call from his receptionist. The medical insurance had approved the pain flare intervention and I needed to come in. I quickly packed a bag and we set off for the hospital.

We signed in and I went up to the ward. All of a sudden a nurse appears with a theatre gown and those dreaded panties. Ummm what? Theatre? For what? I got nervous. No one had told me not to eat or drink. I had only had a cup of coffee in the morning and it was now 12pm. Next thing the green anathetist papers arrive that I have to complete. I’m still confused at this point but complete the paperwork. I’m taken down to theatre and the anethetist explains that she will be inserting a line in my vein. Again.. umm what? So I ask “Is this for the Ketamine treatment?” The nurse who I later saw works with my doctor explained to me that it was for the Ketamine and infusions. It is too difficult to try and find proper veins everyday for 5 days to run all the infusions, take my blood for the PRP treatment and to make sure I get the most out of the Ketamine. Ok. Let’s do it then. I’m so glad that I thought it was an IV line. I only later found out it was a catheter with a valve inserteted into my jugular vein that ran to my heart! I think if I knew that I would have been freaked out. So for most of the week I just thought it was a double IV line that was inserted!

They started running the infusions but for some reason I had a violent reaction to one of the IV’s they gave me. Weird because it wasn’t my first time. I started shaking uncontrollably. My extremeties were ice cold and I couldn’t stop myself from shaking, shivering, convulsing. Nurses came running, my doctor was callled. They put something in the IV that stopped it, thankfully. My husband who was there because it was visiting hours, stood by nervously. Visiting hours were long over and the nurses had allowed him to stay. Since I was now stable they told him it was time to go. He asked them to please call him. It was an hour drive home so if they could just let him know he would be happy. They assured him I would be okay and he left, still filled with trepidation after what he had seen.

After he left I suddenly became very hot. I felt like I was overheating. The nurses cames again and took my temp. 38.8 degrees. They pulled all the blankets off the bed. I still had the theatre gown on and they opened it completely. The aircon in that ward is always set on “antarctic” but even that brought no relief. I felt as though my organs were cooking. Literally. I wondered what the temp was needed to cook meat. I mean I’d seen it on so many cooking shows right? Eventually and also because of my medication I drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow would be a new day. Tomorrow we would start the Ketamine!

I woke up excited but with a little apprehension. I had done alot of reading about what the Ketamine session would feel/be like. I don’t like to not be in control of myself and essentially with Ketamine you are less inhibited at least mentally. I didn’t know how to prepare myself for what was to to come! My doctor’s offices are at the hospital. His staff prep all the IV’s for the patients in his rooms and then bring it across to the hospital. I patiently waited. 11 am rolled around and in came 2 of his staff from his infusion section. They sat with me and made sure I was feeling comfortable and okay. We were 4 people in the ward. His one staff member literally addressed the room saying that I would be having a Ketamine session and it’s different for everyone. She has a patient who likes to sing, “we’re not sure if Tracey is going to be a singer too but please be cognisant of the fact that she is going to be doing this to start breaking the pain”.

I was given calming medication and then the Ketamine IV was started while they stroked my hand. With that my Ketamine journey began.

I needed to lay the foundation of how I started my Ketamine journey. I will be providing a day by day account of each session I had. What I found worked best in terms of getting the best out of your session and learning to harnass this new found way of thinking and being.

I can tell you, and this sentiment has been echoed by some of his other patients, that week was life changing for me. There is alot to discuss around it and I hope it will answer most of your questions as I delve deep into what it’s like to go through the Ketamine journey. I am not saying Ketamine is for everyone but Ketamine was a life saver for me – literally. I cannot wait to get deeper into this. If you have any questions you’d like me to address, please put it in the comments below so I can ensure I add it into my blog posts.

Tomorrow I go for my infusions after missing two weeks. I took a mental health break by the sea to sit with myself and all these epiphanies I had – to really absorb and establish congruence with my new normal.

It was a great addition to my Ketamine infusions (more on this later). Tomorrow I will have some more Ketamine. I am already setting my intentions for my sessions. Specific things I want clarity on.

What do I even mean? This will all be explained over the course of the next few blogs! I really hope you come back to hear the all about the whacky but life changing week I had. Especially for people considering Ketamine treatment, I will provide as much information as possible that may help you in your decision. Again, Ketamine is not for everyone and you can’t just go for Ketamine treatment. I do however think it is groundbreaking. Not only in chronic pain but also for mental health issues.

Be back soon!

Sending Light and Love

Tracey

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