After putting it off for too long, I had another dreaded colonocopy screening done recently. Chugging the salty "prep" is usually the worst part of these procedures, but this time I had a different clean out drink --- it required drinking only two liters (in two divided doses) instead of the usual gallon, and was much more tolerable, in terms of taste and results.
During my pre-procedure anesthesia conference, I mentioned that I have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and so I received a milder than a "total knock out" dose of proponol, so as not to compromise my breathing -- in the form of a "cocktail" of proponol and ketamine.
The ketamine induced some mild, colorful pattern-like hallucinations, and was very pleasant. Although a child of the fifties and sixties, I have taken a hallucinogen before, and at a low, monitored dose the visual effects were quite striking, and my overall mood was highly elevated. The "doors of perception" were opened a bit. From earlier reading, I recalled that low doses of ketamine are sometimes used to treat severe depression and suicidal ideation.
When I researched ketamine online, I found out that it is often used as an animal tranquilizer, and also has long been used and abused as a "recreational drug" by dance and light show ravers and clubbers -- with results somewhat similar to Ectasy. I can understand how ketamine use could become addictive. Apparently, a tolerance to the drug is quickly built up, and the addiction becomes much, much harder to feed. Here are some charts from a Wiki entry on Ecstasy (MDMA) on the comparative risk factors of the various "recreational drugs."
Comparison of the perceived harm for 20 popular recreational drugs from a poll among medical psychiatrists specialized in addiction treatment. Ecstasy is ranked the 16th most addictive and 12th most harmful of 20 popular recreational drugs.
Enjoyable as it was, I think I'll wait the recommended five years for my next go-around to experience it again. Still and yet, it made for a much more interesting procedure.
Ketamine 'Exciting' Depression Therapy
By James Gallagher, Health and Science reporter, BBC News
Ketamine offers an avenue of research into a field that has struggled to find new treatments for depression.
The illegal party drug ketamine is an "exciting" and "dramatic" new treatment for depression, say doctors who have conducted the first trial in the UK.
Some patients who have faced incurable depression for decades have had symptoms disappear within hours of taking low doses of the drug.
The small trial on 28 people, reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, shows the benefits can last months.
Experts said the findings opened up a whole new avenue of research.
Depression is common and affects one-in-10 people at some point in their lives.
Antidepressants, such as prozac, and behavioural therapies help some patients, but a significant proportion remain resistant to any form of treatment.
A team at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust gave patients doses of ketamine over 40 minutes on up to six occasions.
Eight showed improvements in reported levels of depression, with four of them improving so much they were no longer classed as depressed.
Some responded within six hours of the first infusion of ketamine.
Lead researcher Dr. Rupert McShane said: "It really is dramatic for some people, it's the sort of thing really that makes it worth doing psychiatry, it's a really wonderful thing to see."
He added: "[The patients] say 'ah this is how I used to think' and the relatives say 'we've got x back'."
Dr McShane said this included patients who had lived with depression for 20 years.
The testing of ketamine has indentified some serious side-effects
The duration of the effect is still a problem.
Some relapse within days, while others have found they benefit for around three months and have since had additional doses of ketamine.
There are also some serious side-effects including one case of the supply of blood to the brain being interrupted.
Doctors say people should not try to self-medicate because of the serious risk to health outside of a hospital setting.
"It is exciting, but it's not about to be a routine treatment as where we need to be going is maintaining the response... it's not about to replace prozac."
However, it does offer a new avenue of research into a field that has struggled to find new treatments for depression.
David Taylor, professor of psychopharmacology at the Maudsley Hospital, London, told the BBC: "In these kinds of patients, spontaneous remission almost never happens, people going to these clinics are at the end of the road."
"It shows that depression is something chemical, that it can be reversed with chemicals, it dispenses for once and for all that you can just pull your socks up."
"What restricts it is the potential for disturbing psychological adverse effects and the route by which is given - intravenous - does restrict it to a small number of people."
He said in the future drug companies would develop a chemical that had the benefits, but without the side-effects, and that could be taken by something such as an inhaler.
The Home Office is reclassifying ketamine in the UK to be a class B drug, although it is already used in medicine for the treatment of back pain and as an anaesthetic.