K-day three: this is your brain on ketamine

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I’m now at what I hope is the maximum dose of ketamine I’ll be given, at 20mg. Not the largest dose available, mind you. They could still whack it up a few notches. But I think I’ve had my fill: any more might end me.

(Update: apparently I have to have it jacked up to 24 in the next few hours. Hooooo boy …)

Today I have nausea that ebbs and flows, and a ginormous headache (direct from the devil’s personal stores laid down for special clients), big enough to encompass the world and resistant, so far, to paracetamol, a good shower, water, coffee, cautious attempts at eating, yoga, tears, self-massage, lavender oil and a thumping great helping of ketamine. Plus my usual pretty serious painkillers.

The headache is so big that I am composing this post a sentence at a time, in between bouts of lying very, very still.

It is probably a migraine, I do get them about 3-4 times a year, and if you are a sufferer you will be nodding your head knowingly now. If so, it is a migraine that has been shaped by ketamine into something rather different than usual. I’m praying it will end soon because I can sort of tell that behind it, I am probably feeling generally okay.

Anyhoo. I have learned something good about myself: my brain on ketamine defaults to Happy La La.

Last night I had many wacky ‘k-dreams’ and I had been slightly dreading them in case I thought of something bad and ended up plunging into a rabbit hole of nasty, scary nightmares.

Nope, not my brain. My brain apparently lives in Disneyland.*

It started with a glorious, fractally-unfurling landscape of many colours and pretty lights. Eventually it focused into a magical stoner journey: I was this, this fish, okay, and I lived in the Great Barrier Reef. It was amazing.

I have been to the Great Barrier Reef before, and so my brain had lots of lovely memories to access. But my brain was getting stuck into this k-dream like a bandit, so no way was it sticking to just one lot of memories, nope. It managed somehow to incorporate a ridiculous amount of beautiful images gleaned from a lifetime of David Attenborough programs ** and magazine articles and films and lord knows what else.

It was vast, and deep, and just kept unscrolling as I swam and swam, all the corals and fish and plants and turtles and crabs and jellyfish and weird squiggly things … all different and all beautiful and all sort of … unfurling in a friendly way as I swam past …

It wasn’t all limited to underwater fantasies either. My brain, given the opportunity to really really amuse itself, threw up all kinds of natural scenery: I swam and wriggled and flew variously through crystals and rocks forming, leaves and plants growing, insects flying through forest canopies, the obligatory stars and galaxies***, and even at one stage a nursery-rhyme landscape made up of rather lovely childrens’ book illustrations on textured paper.

But I always returned to the Reef.

Amazing.

I’ve had a firm conversation since with my over-stimulated brain about not always being able to do this sort of thing; treats only, and so forth. Because it’s actually the first time I could possibly imagine anyone wanting to take this dreadful stuff recreationally.

I had no concept that it would be so physically gruelling. It was fun, no doubt, and I am very proud of my brain for making the best of it; but if migraines, nausea, icky tastes in the mouth, disassociating and vertigo are also part of the deal – as they appear to be – the only thing that could ever make it worth doing is the longer term relief that you might just get for your pain, depression, BPD or anxiety.

My migraine is starting to lift as I write this which means I might just be able to make it. Phew!

I know I got myself into this situation in the search for a few more daily spoons, so all suffering is essentially self-inflicted.

But I’m glad to have gotten a bit of a holiday out of it after all.

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Me, tripping.
* Who’d have thunk it? Would you? Nope, me either. Good brain.

** Thanks again Sir David.

*** No drug-induced trip must be without them: I think it may be a law somewhere.

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