Going down the K-hole

I slept no more than five hours last night, partly because I rarely sleep well anyway and partly because I was nervous about having cataract surgery today (I'm posting this two days after I started writing it, so the surgery is over), but mostly because I'm euphoric over the prospect of receiving my first Ketamine infusion next week. The pain that I've lived with for years has various causes and afflicts me in various parts of my body, but the worst of it consists of soft tissue back pain that started when I broke my back in 2016. J___, my pain specialist, has done everything he knows to do, but nothing has worked, and I've often thought about seeing a pain specialist named L___ who gives Lidocaine infusions, something that J___ isn't set up to do. I didn't because I had little confidence that Lidocaine would work, but mostly because I feared losing my monthly oxycodone allowance. When I heard that L___ is offering Ketamine infusions, I ran not walked to make an appointment. I saw him yesterday, and he agreed to start me on Ketamine next week. The treatment will take two hours, and will have to be repeated every month or so. I figure that even if it doesn't relieve the pain, it will surely diminish the severe depression, and anything that helps with the one helps with the other.

Ketamine is sold illegally as Special K. The common term for the high is falling into the K-Hole, but it's also called, and I kid you not, God. It got these names because it takes users out of their bodies (some people even forget that they have a body) and causes hallucinations. Because such things can lead to panic, L___ adds a benzodiazepine (a family of downers that includes Valium and Ativan) to the IV. He said that, even with the downer, those who enjoy Ketamine most benefit most, and that some of them drop from a chronic pain level of seven all the way down to zero. 

I anticipate a lovely trip, but Peggy doesn't see it that way. Peggy says there's something wrong with people who enjoy drug trips. Peggy says I shouldn't even talk about such things, even with her, and this inspired me to chant, "I'm going to get wasted in the doctor's office; I'm going to get wasted in the doctor's office!" Peggy then complimented me on my emotional maturity, and I complimented her on hers. Ours was a veritable love-fest of respect and affection.

I reminded Peggy of what L___ said about Ketamine's efficacy being enhanced by enjoyment, but she wasn't swayed. L___ said I'll need her to drive me home. L___ said that she can be at my side during the infusion as long as she's supportive, but I worry that such support as she is able to offer will ring false, and that I'll be too vulnerable to shrug it off. 

Many years ago when I took every hallucinogenic that I could find, I discovered that if I took them on a sunny day amid beautiful surroundings, and was either alone or with a trusted friend, I would have a good trip; but if I took them at night, at a party, among people I didn't know or trust, and in an unfamiliar place from which I couldn't easily escape, the result was so frightening that I couldn't move or speak. When people noticed my distress, they would stop talking and stare at me, causing me to feel like an insect upon which the sun was being directed by a a magnifying glass. An infusion lab means strangers, strangeness, clinical sterility, and the expectation of decorum, but L___ suggested that I bring peaceful music (I anticipate Bach or Vivaldi), and I anticipate sitting with my eyes closed.

But why did I take drugs that cause hallucinations and dissociation in the first place? Three reasons: curiosity; a desire to test my psychological strength; and the hope of seeing God. I failed the mental toughness test, and God never came, but the visual manifestation of creatures more frightening than a Bosch painting did, but only when my surroundings were wrong. When my surroundings were right, the universe became physically beautiful and morally benevolent. On the night that I went on my worst trip, I eventually founding myself alone in a completely darkened room, where I spent the next several hours enthralled by an ethereally beautiful kaleidoscope of light, safety, and color. When dawn came, I watched water oaks do a joy dance across the Louisiana Delta. On another occasion, my mind created the wildest and most beautiful electric guitar music I had ever heard, and the music lifted me into the air while I sat in a chair. These unreal experiences rank among the most joyful, memorable, and enriching experiences I've ever known.

Next week, I take a drug that will hopefully cause my spirit to soar, both in the short-term and the long-term. "Some people walk into the clinic with a pain level of seven, and walk out with a zero," L___ said, and I am happy to think that it might be so.


Elephant's Child said...

I really, really hope your pain is relieved. Chronic pain outsucks Dyson.
I hope the cataract surgery went well too.

Tom said...

I'm thinking you're right, that the setting and circumstances make a big difference in how you experience the drug. Anyway, hope it works. I trust the cataract surgery was successful. (My wife B had both eyes done recently; it took a little getting used to, but now she can see a lot better ... now she can even drive at night!)

Andrew said...

Good luck with it. I expect your experience of drugs in different situations to be what others experience too. Good trip? Bad trip? Seldom in between.

Strayer said...

Have a good trip, there and back again.

Snowbrush said...

Thanks, Child.

Tom, I only had the one cataract. I assume that when people have both eyes done, they always do them one at a time, and only get new glasses six weeks or so after the last one. My question is how do they see in the meantime since their old prescription is wrong in BOTH eyes. I'm three days out, and the dilation in my eyes has finally gone down, but I'm still seeing flashing lights around the periphery. One thing I'm going to complain about--to the clinic--is that the anesthesia nurse seems to have stolen my Versed (injecting my IV port with water, I assume), which meant that I had the surgery under local anesthetic only, and that wasn't enough. How do I know he swiped my Versed? It's because I've had the drug many times, and I know that when it's placed directly into a vein, the patient instantly either passes out completely or becomes blissed-out with large gaps in his memory. I certainly didn't pass out, and I can give you a play-by-play of the surgery. I even asked for "more" Versed during the surgery, saying that I was in pain, to which the nurse responded that I was acting like I had had a lot, and that if he gave me anymore, I would pass out, which for some reason was deemed undesirable. For his part, the doctor was stayed out of my exchange with the nurse.

Snowbrush said...

"I expect your experience of drugs in different situations to be what others experience too."

I also wonder about how the effects of hallucinogenics vary with age, culture, religion, and philosophical orientation. For instance, I once imagined that surviving an hallucinogenic was sort of like surviving Marine Corps boot camp in that it said something good about me, but then I noted that some really screwed-up people survive all sorts of things that would cause me to have a horrible time of it. For instance, I had a brother-in-law who took a hit of acid one night, and spent that night binge watching The Exorcist with the sound muted while listening to Alice Cooper with the volume on high. I therefore determined that the reason that some people (me for example) react so strongly has more to do with sensitivity than strength. I have never known anyone who was even close to my age of 70 who took hallucinogenics, people my age saying they're glad they once did (or not glad they once did), but that they would never do it again, and there hasn't been a day of my life when I would have gone off to South America and tried what might be the strongest hallucinogenic of them all, ayahuasca, because I always realized how susceptible to over-the-top reactions I was, so I always tried to use moderation.

As I mentioned, Morris adds a little Valium-like drug to the Ketamine in order to keep his patients from freaking out, but he also says that it protects against brain damage. As to whether he really believes this or has evidence for it, I have no idea, but he suggested that my memory might even improve post-Ketamine! I thought this sounded a bit far-fetched, and I also questioned his statement about people's pain level going from a seven to a zero because, as the saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is--not necessarily but probably. I was also a little surprised by how easy it was for me to get him to give me what sounds like a truly a kick-ass drug, and this makes me wonder if he keeps the dosage pretty low. That said, I rarely go to a doctor who doesn't give me what I want. I've literally requested prescriptions for Dalmane, Restoril, Fentanyl, Dilaudid, and Demerol and got them. Of course, I suspect that some of those drugs would be impossible for me to get today, and I try to avoid putting a doctor in a situation where he feels that he has no choice but to say no.

"Have a good trip, there and back again."

Hopefully, or else when you don't hear from me for six months, you'll write to Peggy and ask her what gives, and she'll say, "Ever since he took that Ketamine, he just sits in a chair at the Oregon State Hospital saying to his mother (who has been dead these 31 years) that he hates the first grade and wants to drop out.

Anonymous said...

Ketamine has been used for pediatric dental procedures, not sure if it still is. Kris

PhilipH said...

Hope your cataract op has done the job on your imperfect eye. I've had both eyes done and it makes a marvellous improvement almost immediately.

I've not looked up Ketamine before reading your post today. I think it seems quite a complex medication, mainly anaesthesia in the human and animal medical fields but also as a cure for depression. If used as a "party drug" it's probably life-threatening.

Here's wishing you all the very best with your K infusion. May it work as well as the cataract operation in that it shrugs off your pain and lets you get a peaceful sleep for as long as possible. Philip.

kylie said...

So have you had it yet? how was it? how do you feel now? How's your vision?

I really hope you can find relief from pain.

Starshine Twinkletoes said...

'I anticipate a lovely trip, but Peggy doesn't see it that way. Peggy says there's something wrong with people who enjoy drug trips. Peggy says I shouldn't even talk about such things, even with her, and this inspired me to chant, "I'm going to get wasted in the doctor's office; I'm going to get wasted in the doctor's office!" Peggy then complimented me on my emotional maturity, and I complimented her on hers. Ours was a veritable love-fest of respect and affection.' - Hahahahahahaha. Brilliant.

I'm in catch up mode as you can see. Placebo, a band I follow have a song called 'Special K' about ketamine and in the UK there is a breakfast cereal also named 'Special K' which I find hilarious.

Snowbrush said...

"In the UK there is a breakfast cereal also named 'Special K' which I find hilarious."

Special K, the cereal, was introduced here in America in 1955. I have no idea when Special K the drug appeared, but in the'70s and '80s when I sought out such things, I never heard it mentioned.

"Placebo, a band I follow have a song called 'Special K' about ketamine"

Naturally, I've never heard of either the band or the song, but the chorus goes: "No hesitation, no delay You come on just like special K," but I don't know WHAT "comes on just like special K," a lover, another drug, perhaps? Actually, the way I received Ketamin--though an IV, the dosage was increased gradually, the early part of the trip being intriguing, with me hoping that I would go higher still rather than fell victim to an overly cautious doctor. Well, go higher was what I did, but it certainly wasn't a good high. If I could have taken it in what felt like a safe setting, the outcome might have been different, but taking strong drugs with hallucinogenic qualities in darkened, windowless rooms among strangers, and without any good means of escape, has ALWAYS led to a bad outcome for me.

I received the Ketamine in conjunction with another drug, the benzodiazepine Versed (I'm sure you've had it many times), and because Versed is infamous for impairing memory, judgment, and coordination, I really don't know how much of what I experienced was caused by the Versed, how much by the Ketamine, and how much by the environment. For my eye surgery--five days earlier--I received many rounds of anesthetic eye drops plus Versed (only the nurse stole my Versed, something that I'm in the process of filing formal complaints about with the doctor, the clinic, and the nurse's licensing board). I took the Ketamine knowing that, with regular use, the drug is brain destroying and insanity producing, but then chronic pain is also brain destroying and insanity producing. However, I felt even while taking the Versed that it was way more detrimental that I expected, but was this feeling simply a fear that I should ignore, or an inner knowing that I need to trust? I'm operating on the latter assumption, and am therefore scheduled to try a Lidocaine infusion next week. Lidocaine is the stuff that puts your mouth to sleep in the dentist's office, so I have no idea how it will affect me to have the drug going through my body intravenously for two solid hours, but it can't be worse than Ketamine, and unlike Ketamine, it has a reputation for safety. I would have taken it instead of the Ketamine, but because Ketamine is supposed to help both pain and depression, I was intensely interested in it as something that I might be able to take temporarily to lift me out of the pit that I've fallen into, but I saw no positive benefit.

While we're on the subject of such things, what I would really, really like to try is Mescaline, which, like Ketamine, is supposed to be good for depression as well as the fear of loss and death that I find myself faced with more and more as I age, but it's illegal here, and I have no thought of buying it illegally from questionable sources, both from the standpoint of safety and because it would cost me my access to legal narcotics if it came up in a urine test. But put in a lovely place with a knowledgeable shrink at my side, and I would JUMP at the chance to use Mescaline. What I have taken was LSD and Psilocybin, and I had positively