Drugs, Quality of Life, and Dilemmas

I’m still kinda grumpy about not being able to take the Ketamine. Here’s why.

I’m not disagreeing with my doctors – their points on why they aren’t keen on my taking it are very good. Ketamine apparently can push up blood pressure and is associated with tacychardia (rapid heart rate). And long term heavy use is associated with bladder infections and damage and possibly liver damage. And it may be addictive.

It should be noted though, that since Ketamine is used primarily as an anesthetic, most people would never be exposed to it more than once or twice in their life. The only long term users are those taking it recreationally. So there’s not really a heck of a lot of information on how toxic it might be if taken as a prescribed drug.

I will grant that not knowing the long term effects of a drug is a pretty darned good reason for a doctor to not want to suggest or recommend it it.

So much for why I shouldn’t take it. Here’s why I should. Ketamine stops my depression in its tracks and my quality of life goes up dramatically. And I’m not talking about the ‘poor self image’  type issues either – though those are critically important. I’m talking about productivity and health related gains that are unambiguous and easy to measure.

Let’s focus on weight. It is generally a good idea to keep one’s weight at a healthy figure. My healthy weight is about 150 lbs (68 kg). However, whenever I am depressed, I eat incredible amounts of junk food – sugary stuff and any ready-to-eat food that can be purchased in a bag. In general, whenever I am depressed, my weight goes up and the quality of the food I eat goes down.

If the depression episodes are very close to each other, as they have been for the last year or so, then I don’t have time to lose the weight, so I keep on getting heavier and heavier (I can’t bring myself to say ‘fatter and fatter’). And the weight gain can be impressively fast.

Let’s put some information and numbers on that. I was mostly depressed / non-functional for most of September 2012. I also had a major depression episode from the 27 Sep 12 to the 15 Oct 12 during which I did not leave the house except for when I went to buy food. And the food was generally junk food – KFC or Burger King or large pasta dinners from the local pizza shop. Alternatively, dinner could be a party bag of Chex Mix and 2 Sprites. And a family box of Cocoa Krispies could be my breakfast and be finished for lunch. Or, my favourite, a meal could be two bags of microwave popcorn and a Coke or two. During this period, I also ate bags of biscuits and pints of chocolate ice cream. You might notice there is no mention of fruits – that’s because there was none. No fresh vegetables either. In short, I was on an extremely high sugar, high salt, low everything else diet, with absolutely no exercise and spending between 12-18 hours a day sitting in front of the computer. For two and a half weeks non-stop.

My weight on the 22 Sep 12 was 168.6 lbs (76.6 kg)
My weight on the 15 Oct 12 was 175.6 lbs (79.8 kg).
That’s an increase of 7 lbs in 23 days.

In summary – Being depressed keeps me overweight and unhealthy.

Then, I took the Ketamine on the afternoon of the 15 October 12. My moods stabilised immediately and from the next morning I started eating the way I wanted to instead of being driven by depression related cravings and the depression related inability to focus and control my actions.

When I am not depressed, I eat the way I want to, and how I eat is extremely healthy. The results are equally dramatic…

My weight on the 15 Oct 12 was 175.6 lbs (79.8 kg).
My weight on the 11 Nov 12 was 165.6 lbs (75.3 kg).
That’s an decrease of 10 lbs in 27 days.

It gets better. As long as I stay with Ketamine, my depression will stay at bay and my weight would keep decreasing towards my recommended 150 lb weight. And I will lose many of the health risks associated with being nearly 30 pounds (14 kg) overweight.

That’s just weight. I haven’t started back exercising yet – one thing at a time – but I plan to in early December when my weight drops below 160 lbs. Once this happens, and I stay stable, by the end of December I’ll be able to comfortably run 10 miles. My cardiovascular fitness becomes substantially better. So does my flexibility and my strength.

In summary – NOT being depressed keeps me at a healthy weight and in good cardiovascular and general fitness. 

That’s just one indicator. Since stabilising with Ketamine on the 15 Oct 12, my cholesterol reading has dropped from 182 to 106 and my lipid profile risk factor has dropped from 3.37 to 2.21.

My productivity – and I’m not exhibiting manic signs either – is also doing well. I’m also less tense and more laid back about getting things done generally. Basically, all the indicators of having a satisfied, healthy lifestyle are going up.

So.

Well.

This is a real problem.

I have a drug that apparently works for my depression, but I can’t tell if it is dangerous to use it again. How do I decide? Suppose I play it safe and not take it. That’s a good decision, right?

Is it? Not taking the drug for depression means that I will still be getting depression episodes. That will also mean that I will be frequently functionally useless and having the poor diet and exercise habits I describe above. So I’m likely to be overweight and unfit and exposed to the health risks of obesity. And since I don’t take any of my meds when I am depressed, including the Crestor for cholesterol, not taking the drug for depression increases my risk of heart disease too.

Not taking a somewhat unsafe drug can actually be more unhealthy for me. But I am not certain. While I can recognise what the risks of being depressed are, I don’t have accurate information on the potential dangers of Ketamine to assign risk adequately. So I’m not sure what to do next.

By the way, if anyone has useful links on Ketamine risks, please add them in the comments.

Bottom line – Looking at the dangers of the drug in isolation doesn’t capture the whole picture. It is necessary to look at how much the drug improves both general health and the overall quality of life too.

note: The dates for gaining weight during depression don’t quite match up. My major depression episode was from 27 Sep 12 to the 15 Oct 12. However I was sufficiently unstable before the episode started that the closest weight reading was on the  22 Sep 12.

2 thoughts on “Drugs, Quality of Life, and Dilemmas

    • Have done so. The numbers are clearly off, but in odd ways. My doctor and I are trying to sort this out. Will post the information on the website as soon as I have it properly organised.

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