June 22, 2024

How I Climbed Out of a Dark Hole with Ketamine Therapy

I experienced my first blinding, unbearable migraine roughly five years ago. It was the day after my last Bronchiole surgery. Since then, the headaches have gotten progressively worse and I have been diagnosed with Cluster Episodic Headaches. Within the past six months, I have been bedridden or in the ER. Everything was a struggle ─ even just to sit upright involved heaving and screaming from the amount of pain I experienced in my left temple.

During an ambulance ride, the EMT’s strongly believed I was going to have a massive stroke due to my high blood pressure, which was caused by the pain. During Christmas I spent most of the time in bed, crying, heaving, screaming and also making multiple trips to the ER. I was not aware of just how terrible the pain had gotten and how this darkness had overtaken my life, until the last ER visit when I was treated very poorly. It still hurts my heart to know that doctors can be so cruel to those in such distress.

I have tried everything to help alleviate the pain, from injections, Botox, Emgality, meditation, chiropractors, hyperbaric sessions, Reflexology, herbs, oils, diet change, daith piercing and medications. Nothing has helped. However, I remember the day I called the ketamine clinic and this calming, soothing voice answered. In that moment, I felt sheer positivity from him and knew in my heart this was the right place to break the pain cycle, manage the symptoms and further reflect on my journey of excruciating pain.

I have had two separate treatments. The first was the five-day pain-breaking cycle-session. I felt relief during the first infusion. However, it wasn’t until the last infusion that I felt the dagger in my temple retract. I took many journeys and have been journaling those moments and places so they do not fade as I believe they are important in my healing process. I just returned home from having my second two-day maintenance session. The first day was what I refer to as my “Grey Day.” It was gloomy and I just felt off. I remember being very anxious and scared. However, I’m glad I was able to get through this session with my nurse and mom because I let go of so much pent-up darkness.

The following day was completely opposite. The colors were vivid. I felt warm, safe and at peace with only a teeny headache. I distinctly remember asking for my mom’s hand. This to me signifies an unspeakable bond. She made me feel the safest I have ever experienced. I hold that moment very close to my heart and continue to reflect. Also, the nurses, receptionist and Nurse Practitioner/Program Coordinator create such an inviting and healing environment. They are all so wonderful and I know they just want people to feel better.

I am beyond grateful that I responded well to the ketamine treatments. And I know that in future sessions I will be surrounded by positivity and an amazing support system. I’m also just beyond grateful that I can sit upright without crying or screaming from pain. Now, I can help others through my journeys, experiences and photographs. I want to help alleviate people’s pain because I know from experience, it’s easy to lose yourself in that dark hole of agony. Currently I’m writing and drawing. I also set daily goals. And just try to embrace my surroundings ─ especially nature. I am a photographer and am surrounded by true beauty.

Lastly, I sat on my deck for about 30 minutes last evening just listening, smelling and watching the stars. I have a long healing journey ahead; however, I know it’s filled with love, support and peace. And the amount of gratitude I hold can never fully be expressed. Thank you.

Jenae Zaharko is a photographer and ketamine therapy patient. Learn more about her photography at Jenaemariephotography.zenfolio.com
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