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Preparing for Your Ketamine Infusion

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Preparing for your ketamine infusion is incredibly important. Let me say that I am NOT a clinician of any sort. The information I am presenting here is simply based on my own research and on my experience as a ketamine patient of nearly five years. Everyone reacts differently, and has different experiences.

Perhaps you have had medical procedures under sedation with drugs such as midazolam (Versed), and can recall that woozy, fuzzy feeling. This is nothing like that. Your ketamine infusion will create experiences that you've probably never encountered before (unless you have used psychedelics, with which the experiences are similar to ketamine, but different). Don't be afraid of new experiences, they are part of helping your brain create new pathways and your mind find new ways of processing.

If you're experienced in mindfulness or meditation, draw on those skills. If you're not so experienced with those practices, search Youtube for legitimate tools. Sam Harris has a phone app called "Waking Up," available here. He offers a free trial and, if you cannot afford a subscription, he offers a very generous discount and you cannot afford a subscription even full scholarship program. It is a great daily meditation app. I always thought the mindfulness and meditation classes I took were hooey...UNTIL I met ketamine! You can use mindfulness and/or meditation before your infusion to help clear your mind and just be present during the experience.

During the infusion, about ten minutes in, you will begin to experience the dissociation that is so prominently discussed with ketamine. You will likely feel that your mind is its own entity, somewhere just away from your body. You may lose all sense of having a body, or at least most of your body.

For me, I no longer even feel the blood pressure cuff inflating. The ONLY bodily sensation I am aware of is my breathing. This is where mindfulness and meditation come in. As my music plays (more on that in a bit), I am aware of it and my breathing. I lose myself in the music, but also either consciously or subconsciously control my breathing. I take slow, huge breaths, filling my lungs just as full as I can. I feel my chest expand. And I hold that breath in for a few seconds, feeling (or so it seems) the oxygen molecules trading places with the carbon dioxide my lungs want to give off. Then, I slowly breath out again just as fully as I can. Now, I pause, giving my lungs a chance to send that wonderful oxygen to my body. Now, I repeat. I have no way of knowing what my breathing rate actually is, but it is a very few breaths per minute, perhaps 4-6. I can always tell when I've hit the peak concentration of ketamine in my system, because that's when my breath focus kicks in. Similarly, I can tell when the concentration has lowered because my breathing rate returns to normal. I do think this breath work is automatic to me from practice. So I really encourage practicing before your infusion.

Let's talk about music now. For my infusion experience, music is critical. Not just any music, but music that is full, rich, and with lyrics that are meaningful. I've started a YouTube playlist here. I'm slowly transferring to that playlist many of the songs from my Pandora playlist here. (Keep in mind that, though I am atheist, I find a lot of gospel music very meaningful by simply replacing mentions of God or Jesus with my notions of universality or nature. Plus, a lot of the songs on my playlist are just rich with music and voices!)). In both cases, of course, I hit "shuffle" because I want variety even though I typically build my playlist artist-by-artist. The music will be instrumental (no pun intended) in helping form the images you may perceive during your infusion, so choose wisely. And be sure to wear an eye mask (sometimes called sleep mask at pharmacies). If you forget, ask clinic staff for a towel or something to cover your eyes. Earbuds are fine, but I much prefer over-the-ear headphones for added comfort, richer sound, louder volume, and of course, to help block outside noises.

Go into your infusion being as clear of mind as you can. Don't set any expectations. Your experiences will vary with each infusion, so don't expect one to be just like the last. The only thought you should perhaps carry in with you is that you will allow yourself to enjoy the experience, and that it will be helpful regardless of what it brings... that it WILL "change your mind" for the better! (Salute, there, to Michael Pollan!).

Going into the experience with the right intentions and a little bit of preparation, your infusions will result in quite a personal transformation!

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