How Was The Ketamine?

I thought you’d never ask.

Ketamine. I had five treatments intravenously, dosed at 0.5 mg/kg initially. (If you’re new here, having arrived via the Rabbit Hole, the short story is that I’m slowly dying of Bipolar Disorder and in order to try every last thing to palliate the psychache, I’m trying the latest quasi-experimental thing: medically supervised ketamine infusion therapy.) The plan was to gradually increase the dose, but my body didn’t like that (weird very uncomfortable muscle spasms). So we stayed with the initial dose.

The treatments themselves turned out to be more of a chore than a vacation. My veins suck because, connective tissue badness. They are these tiny spidery things that instantly explode when touched by a needle. Therefore, I was touched by many needles in order to get five IV infusions in, and now, every halfway decent vein I had is a purple blotch, with yellow and green accents. Beautiful. Hope I don’t need any emergencytype treatment any time soon, because I donated all my veins to Vitamin “K.”

But what about my brain? You inquire. After all, she’s the star of this shitshow. The only reason I would go to such extremes of drug-taking and expense (did I mention the expense? Oy vavoy).

Let’s see…I can’t really judge how I feel by how I feel…yes, I know….really the only way to tell how I’m feeling is to look at what I’m doing, because aside from the affective part of the affective disorder, my main symptom of depression is the one where I turn into, like, a rock, moving only under extreme duress, kind of like what normal people do when they’re asleep, except in my case, I’m not asleep at all. Ever. Just. Not. Moving.

I’m still kind of lethargic, but my appetite is back. Apparently I was too depressed to notice that my appetite had gone south. I had lost over 10 lb, but my residual anorexic self was sluggishly applauding that. She’s now disgusted that I’m making omelettes at 9 a.m., as opposed to breakfasting on frozen Trader Joe’s Indian food at 5 in the afternoon. I’m moving around, noticing the extreme layer of desert dust that is covering absolutely everything. That’s a sign, noticing things. Getting up and doing something about it–that’s still in the realm of the theoretical, but at least the notion does flit through the cold molasses of my mind.

I was really hoping that the irritability part would go away. It has abated somewhat, but Atina the Wonder Doggess is still keeping an eye on me in case of explosions. I feel bad, because I grew up “walking on eggshells” around my mother, and I hate it that I give my loyal pup reason to do the same around me. I really feel like climbing into a hollow tree trunk and staying there for the rest of my assigned days.

So I would say I’ve had a partial remission. Better than none! We’ll see how long it lasts. I’m supposed to have another treatment in a couple of weeks, but I don’t yet know how or where. One minute at a time.

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  1. I read about ketamine and I am so glad that at least you have had a modicum of success. I don’t know if I have missed some of your posts because I have been somewhere in lala land and my depression is slowly abating. No energy but I have chronic fatigue and the afib thing. I like your posts and hope that my measly comments help you at least an iota. Glad to know your pup is still with you. She is a great comfort, I am sure of that. Take care dear Dr. Laura.

    • I’m glad you are emerging from the black pit. It’s such a chore just managing to keep alive from one day to the next.

      Atina just simply does not color within the lines. She thumbs her nose at the doomsday predictions from the vet. She was supposed to have died many times by now, but since she can’t read, she didn’t get the memo. Like me, she’s running on three cylinders, but what the hell, we’ll keep on chugging as long as we can. Stubborn, we are.

      I love your comments, Yvonne. They do help me! Take care.

  2. Dear Laura – thanks so much for updating us. I didn’t want to pester you, but I’ve been waiting with bated breath to hear your results. What a relief that you’re feeling a little better!

    I can only imagine how bad your depression must have been be for you to spend thousands for even a chance at relief. But I’ve felt the same a few times.

    I was so excited about the idea of such a “dramatic” treatment (that means it MUST be good, right?) that might be able to “unravel” that heavy blanket of depression that spreads over my life. But it seems that would have been too good to be true 😦

    Of course, it’s probably far too early to know how helpful it was and will be, but I’m very interested in any effects you notice.

    I would have jumped at the chance of doing this during my depression of 2015. In retrospect, I can’t be sure I would have survived without the support of a few special online friends. These days, I can achieve complete remission from my depression/anxiety if I use enough nortriptyline – enough to make me gain significant weight 😦

    • Damn, I’m sorry you’re struggling with the Black Dog. You know how much I love dogs–but not that one.

      The thing is, like any of the “treatments” we have for depression, ketamine is a miracle for some, an improvement for others, and an expensive attempt for the rest. There’s very little good literature on ketamine for depression. I hope someone will be motivated to do some high quality studies. One problem is that you just can’t do a placebo controlled study because, well, ketamine is psychoactive. You definitely know when it’s going in.

      For me, it’s been a very expensive vacation. More than that, I’m not spending every moment obsessing about how and when to do myself in. So I guess I’ll use it for palliation when I relapse…until the money runs out.

      And I think I’ll look into growing some mushrooms. A whole lot cheaper, probably same effect…I just have to get over the last time I did shrooms, when my buddies decided to put me in charge of this guy who was a dead ringer for Tiny Tim (remember him?), except instead of a ukelele he played a violin that was made of aluminum. It sounded horrible and he could not play in tune or on time. Plus which, he was addicted to cayenne pepper and dumped cayenne powder all over his ice cream! So that was not among my all-time best trips.

  3. Glad to hear that you’re in partial remission, eating an omelette for breakfast, and noticing dust.

  4. Thank you so much for writing this article. I’m sorry you had to go through it, but I’m grateful you shared the experience with us,

  5. It sounds cautiously optimistic.

    My apologies for taking so long to reply, life gets rather hectic in the run up to Easter/Pascha. I have been thinking of you and praying for you and for Atina. Xxx

    • Yes, “cautiously optimistic” is right! How was your holiday? Atina and I are truly grateful for your prayers. I am convinced that the wonderful prayers from you and others are the only reason she’s outlived the doomsday predictions of the vets…this makes 2 1/2 years past her official “expiration date”! Her labs are terrible, she’s quite delicate, and yet she continues to love life like a Malinois loves life: savagely, with teeth and claw, and tenderly. 😘

  6. I found your blog because my 16 yo son was diagnosed with bipolar 2 two years ago, and has been on lithium ever since. It’s been pretty effective, though now without the severe anxiety (he also was psychotic twice in two months before starting to take medication so you don’t think that was the only reason he was diagnosed…), his grades aren’t all A’s. Oh well. Depression continues to be an issue, without the psychosis. In the last two months he has had bloody diarrhea and now is in severe pain as well. He will see a gastroenterologist on Mon., but it’s colitis, and they’ve already ruled out bacterial infection (he’s been at urgent care and emergency room this week and had a CT scan). I’m just looking for possible links between bipolar and chronic intestinal issues (which seems the preliminary diagnosis). I’m sorry for your own struggles and hope to learn from your experiences as well.

    • I’m very sorry to hear of your son’s illnesses. Yes, in the not so distant past, they used to claim that GI symptoms were “psychosomatic.” I’m sure that by the end of the century, the genetics will be worked out and hopefully even effective treatment.

      A piece of potential good news: in the same way as seizures, bipolar disorder in teens has a very real potential of permanent improvement if treatment is closely adhered to for minimum two years. My own son, who was totally out of control behavior-wise, needed institutional care in fact, is now a very high functioning individual (Ph.D.). It was a long and hard journey. He still has issues, stays in therapy, and I can never say he’s out of the woods but at least he’s made himself am excellent support system. I pray that your son will make it too….don’t worry too much about the grades at this point. Mine blew college and had to go to work for a few years in order to get into grad school.

      Have you read “Touched With Fire”? It’sl my one

    • Whoops…it’s the one book I recommend for parents or anyone who loves a bipolar person.

  7. Thanks for this post. I’m going to try my first dose for multiple issues on May, 7. Fingers crossed.

    • Wow, hope it helps you! I’m not cured, but I did get a good number of weeks of considerable relief. Was worth it. If you have any questions about the experience, I’m happy to share.

  8. Pam

     /  July 22, 2018

    Wow – I can relate way too much. And it really is a fucking shit show. I did find yoga to be pretty grounding for quite some time. But of course, I can’t maintain. Thank god I am getting some pool time in this summer and there’s no doubt that exercise helps, eating more fish, practicing fighting off the negative thoughts, etc. But when I swell up (aka get triggered) and have some kind of manic attack – all ability to not be overpowered by the chemical changes in my brain has so far, proven to be impossible. Except for one thing I tried when I had to go to family court. My Dr. gave me a blood pressure medication that stops adreniline from shooting up. It worked flawlessly in court and I was able to maintain my composure. However, after the next court date, I noticed how tired I was and even worse the next time. It was turning me into a zombie. Wish there was something in between mania and zombie-like states of being. Think I’m
    going to talk to my Dr. about a lesser dose… Thanks for sharing your pain, I have felt soooooo alone for the last 6 years…

  9. I hope it is still helpful….
    Love and light.


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