Today I had my first ketamine-infusion treatment for depression, and OH MY WORD it was not what I expected. The information sheet I was given a week ago said I might feel a bit drunk and disoriented…Ha. Ha. Ha. Understatement alert.
My appointment was at 10:30 this morning, and when I arrived I found the team was running late. The treatment is given in the same department as ECT, and it was a bit unnerving sitting in the shared waiting room with a confused patient who kept insisting she’d seen me before. Fortunately a nurse came and led her off to the ECT room after a few minutes, and eventually a nurse we’ll call Nurse K came to get me.
I had to make myself comfy on a hospital bed stuck in the corner of a room, and an anaesthetist came and put a cannula in the back of my hand. Nurse K took my blood pressure, and then connected the ketamine drip.
The info sheet said I would start feeling the side effects after about ten to twenty minutes.
Within two minutes I was losing touch with reality.
I don’t know how to accurately describe the next forty minutes. I’m not sure how accurately I remember it. My hearing was fine, but I had double vision, and everything was moving. It felt like my body was moving too, even though I was lying still on the bed. There was some kind of delay between thinking and acting, and I could hear that I was talking without registering that my mouth was moving.
The weirdest thing was that it felt like I kept waking up/coming round, repeatedly finding myself thinking ‘Oh okay, I’m back to normal alertness now, the last however long was dreamlike’, over and over, despite never losing consciousness. Apologies if that makes no sense…I guess that was the break with reality. Deja vu x 100, staring at the picture of a penguin on the wall and using it to centre myself now I was ‘back’.
Nurse K sat next to me the whole time, and I tried very hard to try and appear normal to her, even though I felt like I was on the trip of a lifetime. I’m not sure why I bothered. We were able to chat and joke, but she knew I wasn’t all that ‘with it’, as demonstrated by some crap attempts to explain what I was experiencing. She had to do a questionnaire with me at the start, middle, and end, asking about the side effects, and it was hard to concentrate enough to answer her questions.
The forty minutes passed (I lost all track of time, it could have been five minutes or a lifetime for all I knew), and once it was up Nurse K disconnected the drip and gave me some time for the worst of the disorientation to wear off. It took a good twenty minutes to lose the double vision etc, and once I was safe to walk I was led through to the recovery room where another nice nurse made me a cup of tea and some toast. I gradually regained my sense of mental-sharpness, and was finally allowed to spend the rest of the day in the Acute Services (Day hospital) centre. It was nice to spend the afternoon chatting to one of the friends I’d made there, and it certainly beat sitting around in the recovery room until 4pm.
Now I’m back at home, and while I do feel a bit odd, it isn’t too bad. I felt sick for a while this afternoon, but that has passed. Mood wise…I don’t know. I think I might be numb.
I’m going to try and sleep the rest of the ‘oddness’ off, and I’m curious to see how I’m feeling tomorrow.
But I will say again, I did not expect the treatment to be as intense as it was. I was almost completely off my head. Nurse K said some patients have panic attacks during treatment, and I can see why. And yet, the dose we receive is only 20% of what recreational users take – I can’t imagine what the full lot is like, and I don’t want to. This was not my idea of fun.