Back in August of 2010, I created a post called "Psychedelics." It dealt with scientists revisiting hallucinogenic drugs long abandoned from the ’60s and ’70s due to their abuse and stigma. Some of the base chemicals in these drugs have been shown to be effective in treating depression. One of them has been around a long time. Primarily used as an animal tranquilizer by veterinarians, Ketamine made its way into the recreational arena and became known as "Special K." It's still around in the streets and used as a party drug like Ecstasy.
When I first mentioned it in this blog almost four years ago, it was making headlines as a "breakthrough" treatment for depression that quite literally showed positive results in hours instead of days or weeks. Now Ketamine is really gaining steam and being tested by more and more scientists, doctors and clinics. I just read about Ketamine being administered in a nasal spray form. There are similar drugs in the same family being tested with the same results. The only problem for me was there was no testing or clinical trials in my area. Most were being conducted in the midwest and northeast. I'm in California which you would think would be on the cutting edge of this type of research. For several years I've been checking clinical trial sites, emailing clinics and doctors trying to find out where and when Ketamine would be coming to a theater near me.
Finally today, I happened upon a link that had the attached flier.
At this point in my miserable journey, I don't get excited about potential "breakthroughs" or even remotely get my hopes high. I read the flier, studied the website it originated from and then decided to make the call—full well knowing I would be diving back into the red tape ladened bureaucracy that is the medical field.
There are two doctors listed on the flier. I actually got a human on the other end and asked for the first doctor. That doctor was not at that location which was confounding. I then asked about the second doctor which of course I could only leave a voicemail for. As each hoop was placed in front of me I jumped through them like a trained circus animal.
Surprisingly, two days later I got a call back from the secretary of the doctor I left the message for. She asked if I was under current psychiatric care. I replied not at this time. She then told me it's mandatory that I have a referral from a psychiatrist. I told her nowhere is that information anywhere on their website or on the flier. She said she would ask the doctor if an exception could be made and would call back in a couple of hours. Hours later, after not hearing back, I called and managed to contact the same lady. She reiterated that it was mandatory to be under psychiatric care for follow up reasons. Perplexed, I asked what the role of the doctors were in this trial if they're not following up on the results. She said there would be a short visit with the doctor "after the infusion" but the main follow up would be with MY doctor. This now means I have to either find a new psychiatrist or contact the previous one I had in order to participate in this study.
This is why I loathe the psychiatric machine. It's cold, demeaning and bureaucratic. These people are in the profession to help the downtrodden and yet one can literally be driven crazy by the process itself. It stinks and should be changed.
After the weekend, on a Monday I left a voicemail with my former psychiatrist. Amazingly, she called me at day's end and was happy to help in any way she could. She gave me her email address to send her the details of the study so she could transmit a written referral. The next day, I got in contact with the trial doctor's assistant and told her the referral would be faxed to them in the next couple of days. That was good enough to prompt a pre-screening on the phone which I apparently passed. The next step after they received the referral was to make an appointment. I'll be damned if this wasn't speeding along fairly quickly.