Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Baby steps

I'm feeling a little bit better today. And you, the readers of this blog, had something to do with it. In addition to the support of my friends and professionals, this blog, specifically your comments, helped me immensely the last few days. All I can say is thank you.

I appreciate all who took time to reach out after my last 2 posts. Your comments made a difference. You told me your stories. You decreased my hopelessness and isolation. You reminded me depression is a vicious liar! You told me I mattered. I am grateful. I am humbled. Thank you.

I've also taken some concrete steps which I think have helped my mood a bit. A few days ago, with little to no forethought, I emailed a Mayo doctor to inquire about Ketamine. If you've been reading for awhile you know I participated in a clinical trial of Ketamine in the Fall of 2017 which saved my life. It also kept me from another depression relapse for 18 months! It was a miracle.

Unfortunately, you may also recall I had a disastrous experience with poorly managed Ketamine infusions one year ago. Maybe the 2019 disastrous experience explains why I didn't think of Ketamine prior to the moment I composed that email a few days ago. The email was simple. I wrote, "What if anything are you doing with Ketamine now?" That was it. I hit send and awaited a response.

I was still waiting when I wrote my last post. Friday morning the response I got was was positive but vague. The doctor stated Mayo was still offering Ketamine infusions, but appointments were limited and difficult to schedule. She said she was holding an appointment for me, then 11 days away, and would wait to hear back from me. I hung my head in disappointment. She had basically just confirmed I was about to experience exactly what I experienced one year ago.

I hoped I was wrong, however, so I wrote back and asked her what Ketamine infusion protocol they were currently using. You see, the problem last year was the inpatient doctor didn't follow the 2017 clinical trial protocol. Appointments were scheduled one at a time and haphazardly. That didn't work. It led to more hopelessness rather than less, and it was incredibly frustrating and stressful. There was no reason to put myself through that again. I was crestfallen.

Fortunately the disappointment I felt quickly turned into irritation, and that motivated me to take further action. I called my psychiatrist. She agreed to research nearby (the nearest are 85-90 miles away) Ketamine clinics and made some phone calls on my behalf.

I also reached out to the research assistant and lead researcher from the 2017 clinical trial. I wanted to ask them for the exact clinical trial protocol which had saved my life. I needed it if we were going to have to seek treatment at one of the clinics my psychiatrist was researching.

The lead researcher, a psychiatrist who now lives and works at Mayo in another state, called back within an hour. I was so relieved. He's an empathetic, detailed, upstanding doctor who always treated me with compassion and respect. I was happy to talk with him again.

He eagerly provided the clinical protocol after I briefed him about my situation. In addition, unbeknownst to me, he took the extra step of documenting our conversation in my medical record; the same medical record the local Ketamine psychiatrist would be reviewing. I believe that extra step made the difference.

Several hours later, after my psychiatrist and I had taken steps to get my treatment initiated elsewhere, the local Mayo doc sent me a message stating she had seen the research psychiatrist's note in my chart. She then offered me 7 appointments which exactly followed the 2017 clinical trial protocol. I couldn't accept the proposed schedule fast enough. After I agreed to her plan I called my psychiatrist. We are both so grateful. I begin Ketamine infusions at Mayo Clinic, only 2 miles away, on April 14th.

But wait! That's not even the big news...

I walked today. Outside. With Jet. All the way around the block! I haven't walked more than an uncomfortable, painful two blocks since my right hip surgery 10+ weeks ago. I'm not allowed to do anything which increases my pain, and on my previous attempts my pain always increased. Today my pain didn't increase. I wasn't fast. It wasn't pretty. But I walked 0.42 miles. Outside. In the sunshine. With my dog. Hope...


Wendy Love said...

Thank you for sharing both good news and bad news. Prayers are being answered. So thankful for your latest good news.

Randy Verink said...

Congratulation on this breakthrough Etta. Your story does matter very much. Your words inspire and help me to know that there is help out there and I for one am not alone. Keep up your faith, drive, and beneficial work for us all.
Thank You !

Unknown said...

Yeah! Feeling better, got outside, and hopeful Ketamine!

Katy said...

Yes! I’m so glad you were able to walk with Jet! I’ve been camping with my family and didn’t have easy access to WiFi. We are driving back now. I’ve been thinking about you. I was annoyed that you had to wait at all for ketamine. I’m so happy to hear that you are starting ketamine using the protocol that worked for you. This happened because YOU were proactive. It shouldn’t be that difficult to get life saving treatment. Unfortunately that is the world we lice in. Andrew Solomon wrote a great opinion piece about this for The NY Times. Your actions are another step in helping make this treatment available for others.

Katy said...

Thinking about you! I think you are about to stat your next round of ketamine. I can't wait to hear how it goes. I know that it can offer fast results. Love to you and Jet!