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Ketamine Didn’t Work for My Fibromyalgia, but I Still Recommend It

I closed my eyes and slipped the mask over my eyes. The music from my headphones became louder, and I began to see a kaleidoscope of colors. The colors seemed to change and rearrange with the composition of the music. Everything felt so far away, and I wondered if I would feel like this forever.

Before I knew it, a wave of nausea hit me, and I told my mom, through slurred words, “I’m nauseous.” She quickly reacted and brought me a trash can while asking for the doctor. I vomited, but the dizziness did not let up and I felt like I was on a ship. I thought to myself, “Well, I am never doing this again.”

This was my first of six ketamine treatments for my fibromyalgia. Ketamine is an anesthetic that has been used to treat treatment-resistant depression. However, recently, it has been discovered to be useful for people with chronic pain. Six, 45-minute infusions could control my fibromyalgia pain for up to three months, with little to no side effects. I was sold, and before I knew it, I was in a fancy lounge chair hooked up to an IV, ready to begin.

Now, let’s go back to the beginning. My first ketamine treatment was rough, and I was fully ready to throw in the towel. The anesthesiologist recommended I fight through nausea to complete the treatments because they can have real, lasting benefits. The clinic found that ketamine treatment was a success for 80% of their clients with fibromyalgia or another pain syndrome.

So, the following day, I got up, put on some comfy clothes and begrudgingly went back.

I hated the feeling of being disconnected from my body. It caused me to question if anything in my life was real or why it all even mattered. I began to forget why I was even doing this treatment. Ketamine treatment is quite literally a trip. Most people enjoy feeling disconnected and far away from the world, but not me. Each time I would emerge from my trip, thirsty, exhausted and you guessed it, nauseous.

After my third treatment, I started to feel some relief over the weekend, and I was amazed! “Could this be working?” I thought to myself, afraid to say it out loud. But, by the next day I was in a flare.

The following week came, and I had three more treatments to go. The doctor said it was a good sign I felt something positive over the weekend, and we should continue. And so, I did. Those three treatments felt like three weeks. It felt like I was emerging from surgery each time. “People love this,” my doctor told me. I couldn’t imagine how.

After my last treatment, I waited to feel better. I waited for the fog and dizziness from the treatment to lift. I waited for my mood to improve. I waited for my pain to let up. I waited and waited until I knew I was that 20% who didn’t find success in their treatment.

It was a hard pill to swallow, that something so difficult, time-consuming and ridiculously expensive, failed. Yet, I would do it all again.

Although my experience was less than ideal, I would recommend ketamine treatment to those who feel they are out of options and can take it on financially. My biggest advice would be to find a clinic where licensed anesthesiologists administer the ketamine, not just an MD. I felt infinitely more safe and comfortable knowing my anesthesiologist was right outside my door. Go into treatment with a positive and open mind. Lastly, do your research. It helps to understand what ketamine is, its history, and what you might experience during treatment.

Ketamine treatment did not work for me, but who knows? Maybe it can work for you.

Getty image by m-gucci