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On K

 

07.05.17

While living in heavily-polluted Shanghai in the eighties I developed serious symptoms affecting my well-being that, after two years of suffering, were diagnosed back in New York as deriving from a sinus infection. The infection was treated, but the symptoms—eye pain, headache, severe fatigue and lethargy, irritability—persisted. Accompanying these symptoms were feelings of depression, and I fell into a dysthymic state with occasional lapses into so-called “double depressions”. Anti-depressants helped to temper the symptoms somewhat, but they were still there, all day every day...until last week.

The anesthetic ketamine, administered intravenously over six hour-long sessions, has been recently shown efficacious in the treatment of both depression and chronic pain, and so, after a long deliberative process, and after agonizing over the very non-trivial costs, I decided to undergo the treatment. Prices are lower on the east coast, so on a recent trip back home to New York I set up a series of appointments at New York Ketamine Infusions, located way downtown just off Wall Street.

After a brief intake interview I was led into a small room with a reclining chair, a few medical devices, and little else but a hook on the wall to hold the ketamine solution. A needle was inserted into my arm, and after five to ten minutes, the ketamine began to take effect. It is said to induce a pleasant "dissociative" effect.

What I sensed:
Visually, I found that the effect was more intense if I closed my eyes, and so technically I didn’t experience any visual stimulation. Nonetheless, I did have, well, visions. I imagined being in a grand hall that seemed to be made of engraved lacquered wood. The walls of the hall were a glowing deep burgundy, and were in a state of slow motion, so the patterns of the lacquer slowly shifted up and down as time went by. These visions enhanced the sense of calm I began to feel.

Aurally, I was still quite aware of my surroundings. I heard the voices of other people in the office outside my room, and, this being New York, I heard intermittent car horns from the streets, seven stories down. They did not annoy me. Rather, they were soothing and reassuring. After all, the horn-honkers were agitated and impatient while I was calm and serene; I felt they could learn a thing or two about patience from me. The hums and buzzes emblematic of a temperature-regulated building coalesced into a beautiful ensemble of glowing chords, cellos and French horns mostly, and I felt as if I were listening to some heretofore unknown psychedelic Beatles masterpiece. It was both calming and indescribably exciting to be the sole witness to a new Beatles creation.

Tactually, my limbs felt remarkably light and lithe, I could lift them suspended off the recliner with practically no effort whatsoever. I touched my face and arms and they felt a bit like woven straw. It was not unpleasant in the least.

Regarding smell and taste, there is little to report, although a slight synesthetic feeling could be said to have been present, as my mouth tasted, well, slightly machine-like as I opened and closed my jaw. Again, this was not unpleasant at all.

In all, I felt a sense of serene near-bliss. I did not want it to end, and when I peeked up an hour later to see the end of my drip, a sense of mild disappointment set in: no drip no trip.

What I thought:
Calm prevailed; a sense of safety and lightness. I was aware of the immensity of the universe and the incredible smallness and immateriality of my own little life. I could examine my problems from the perspective of an objective observer. They seemed manageable and almost trivial in the context of the universe of which I became acutely aware. Our ethnic divides and cultural clashes melted away in the context of their miniscule differences, and I felt peace was attainable. I thought of the arbitrary trajectory that our human culture has taken, and how, on other planets, things may be unimaginably different. Again, I wanted so much to hold on to these feelings as the infusion came to an end.

Afterwards:
When I came down from my little trip, I was slightly disoriented and a bit dizzy. My head and eye pain were partially subsided, and I retained elements of that objective analysis of my problems, though this state could hardly compare to the bliss I felt as the ketamine was coursing through my veins. This boost began to dissipate as my day went on.

But several hours after my second infusion the following day, I began to feel genuine and lasting benefit. My eye pain subsided considerably, and with it, my lethargy and irritability.

Over the next four infusions the improvement waxed and waned, but was always there to a significant extent. I feel less troubled, less depressed. My headache and eye pain are much improved. I would say that I have had a 70% improvement in my feelings of depression, and an 85% improvement in my physical symptoms. As of this writing one week after finishing my treatment, my symptoms remain in remission.

I'll need booster infusions every four to six weeks over the course of the next year in order to help solidify the effects of the treatment, but in the meantime I feel better than I have felt in the last thirty-two years.

I have never before written about my inner world here at . This is the first time I am doing so.

I am forever grateful to Dr. Glen Z. Brooks and Nurse Janet at New York Ketamine Infusions for providing this life-changing treatment. It's simply amazing how much better I feel, after so many years of suffering.

 

 

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