My anesthesiologist Dr. Butler told me that he was going to use a drug called Ketamine. He went into some details about the drug. Apparently Ketamine is closely related to PCP. It puts you in a “disassociative mind state.” He explained that I wouldn’t be unconscious but I’d have no idea anything was going on. Basically it makes you just crazy enough and out of touch from your brain that you don’t realize what is going on…or feel anything.
Butler asked me if I like any specific music. I hesitated for a minute and my mom jumped in and said that I like Pink Floyd. She was exactly right; I do like Pink Floyd. Butler told me he had Tool covering The Wall. I thought, ‘should be interesting, good enough.’
Dr. Maling, my podiatrist and surgeon, walked up and Butler asked him, “Do you have any Pink Floyd on your iPod?” Maling’s response…with a big knowing smile ”Why, you giving him Ketamine?” I knew right then I was in for it…what ‘IT’ was wasn’t clear.
Butler injects my IV with the pharmaceutical PCP and a few moments later things get fuzzy. I’m not out though. In fish-eyed lens vision I see the strange lights above me as I get rolled into the operating room. I then hear the music and the words, “We don’t need no education.” It was indeed Tool covering Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 by Pink Floyd. Since I was still “coherent” I tried to make a joke about how the 4 or 5 doctors around me shouldn’t listen to the words and that they should be educated so they don’t mess up my leg. That was the last clear thought I had for about an hour.
Next thing I know I’m rapping the song Business by Eminem; precisely, I was later told. As they wheeled me out I could feel the movement. This is when I realized that my being had split into two. Basically there were 2 of me from this point on. Let me try to explain.
My eyes weren’t working…but they were. Huh? Yeah, exactly. One side of me was active, talking, seeing, interacting with my surroundings. Call this person Caleb. The other side of me that was there was trying to comprehend it. It was like a passive observer, like a driving instructor, just there to watch and maybe keep things in line. Call this person Dan, not my dad but my middle name. It was like I was split in two and they were very distinct and separate from each other.
It was as I was being wheeled out of the OR, finishing my Eminem song, that my two sides formally were introduced.
Dan: Wow you are really trippin out right now.
Caleb: I know, it’s awesome Let's see where this goes.
A hallucinogenic curtain rushes over me. It’s light pink but turns to pale yellow. It is a flowing, wind blown curtain, almost like water in a river, fluid. I actually see the curtain. I know I’m trippin. I also know there is nothing I can do to stop it. So I embrace it and coast into Ketamine’s special world.
A doctor on hand told me that as I was being wheeled to recovery there was a cute nurse that Caleb decided to flirt with. “Hey there cute nurse. How are you? You should come to my recovery station.” Dan remembers none of it.
Slowly Dan became more aware of his surroundings and found that Caleb is a real blabbermouth. The kid won’t shut up. He’s talking and talking and singing…it is nonstop. As Dan’s vision starts to come back in millisecond flashes, Caleb talks about everything that is being seen. Dan realizes Caleb is socializing, making jokes, and that he can’t stop him. So Dan just takes notes.
Caleb: Ketamine, kids buy this stuff on the street. They shouldn’t be doing drugs but I can see why they are. This stuff is awesome. Ketamine, Ketamine.”
“Recovery. Recovery Phase. Recovery Phase 1” (I was reading the sign hanging from the ceiling.)
“Hey what’s your name?” She tells me but like in normal life I didn’t listen closely. “Hey your hair has blonde streaks in it. That’s not natural is it? I like it.”
Caleb starts talking to the nurses. “My mom wants some Kentucky Fried Chicken.” The nurse tells me I shouldn’t eat any KFC. I babbled on about this and that. Sometimes I think I was shouting. The nurses yelled at me a couple of times telling me I was scaring the kid next to me in the recovery room. Dan pipes in, “I’m sorry kid. It’s the Ketamine. I’m not accountable. Don't do drugs.”
I knew what was happening...kind of. I knew it was funny and probably a one-time thing. I was enjoying myself as I tried to grip a piece of reality here and there. Dan was constantly fighting to get in control of the situation. I wondered if I would remember any of it so I tried hard. I remember talking about how I knew how awesome the experience was. “Is anyone filming this? This is the funniest thing ever! You know how much money you could make on a TV show for this? Is anyone recording this? Where is my mom? Is she seeing this?” I needed a witness. I wanted a record of it.
Me: “Tell me I’m funny!”
Nurse: “You’re funny”
Me: “No, I want you to mean it. Tell me I’m the funniest person ever.” I’m pretty sure she ignored me. Seriously though, how many other people were possibly as funny as I was feeling?
“Babies! I love babies! Babies, babies babies! I want lots of babies!” I found out I yelled this after the fact on a subsequent visit to see the Doc.
I see Dr. Maling sitting behind the nurse’s station, “I see you laughing at me back there Maling.”
“No I’m not laughing at you.”
“You liar. I know you are.”
I look over, “Baxter! Barker!”
The nurse whispers, “It’s Bulter.” (the guy who injected me with this stuff.)
“Bulter! This stuff is awesome! Gimme a high five.”
“I can’t I have a patient on the table right now.”
“I’ll remember this!” I yell with a vindictive tone.
Suddenly in a flash, Dan realizes that Caleb has been talking in a strange high pitch voice...this whole time! In that voice Caleb and maybe it is Dan that speaks up and asks a nurse, “Why am I talking in a high pitched voice? It doesn’t make any sense.” The nurse replies, “I don't know. You should stop doing it because it will make your throat hurt.” Then I say, in my high-pitched voice, “You’re right I should talk in a normal voice.” I think it took a few minutes for me to get back to my normal voice. My doctor told me the next day that another doctor passing through heard me talking and asked, “Is that his regular voice?” To which Dr. Maling said, “No, that is the Ketamine.” A sufficient reason I am guessing since no follow up question was asked.
Something switches inside me and I start talking about Nicole. She was coming to visit the coming weekend and I hadn’t seen her since we had called it quits at the beginning of January. Caleb, but I’m sure Dan agreed, “I love Nicole. I want to marry her. I love her.” Then the thought, followed by a verbal confirmation and tears, yes I started crying, “I don’t know if she loves me. I don’t know why she is coming to visit.” More tears and more apologies to the nurses. “I’m sorry. It is the Ketamine.” I can’t let it go though. I'm losing my mind. Crying like a baby over this girl. “Nurse! You need to get my cell phone and call Nicole and tell her that I love her! Please!” The nurse respectfully declined, plus my cell phone was safe with mommy. She sits me up and feeds me a spoon full of ice slush.
Caleb and Dan are joining together more as the Special-K, as they call it on the streets, filters out of me. Dan is in full disaster clean up mode. “Jennifer!” “It’s Jessica,” she replies. “Oh sorry. Hey I didn’t ask you out on a date or anything did I? This stuff messed me up. I apologize. I embarrassed myself a lot huh?” “Not too bad,” she says, “ and no, you didn’t ask me out. I think you are in love with Nicole…at least that is what you kept saying.” Wow.
Things start coming together more and more but I am still in a daze. I apologize more. I’m close to getting released, which is a shock because I can’t feel my face. It feels like I am looking at stuff from 2 inches inside my head. No matter. The nurse asks me where my mom is, “Is she at KFC?” “No, I don’t think so. I think she’s waiting for me. Call her cell phone. The number is…925…area code 925…2…8…6…286…awe what is it…4…110? 41…00? 44…1…0?” I still don’t know what it is. They have the number written down fortunately for me. “She’s in the waiting room,” says the nurse. Jessica goes to get her. As she’s walking away I yell to her, “She’s short with blonde hair and she loves me.” Of that I was certain.
As Jessica went to get my mom, 3 other nurses gathered around to help put on my new walking boot…the walking boot that I’m not allowed to put any weight on let alone walk on. The nurses are struggling with getting the boot on and with me. One nurse grabs my foot and tries to push down on it to get into the bottom of the boot. I scream in pain and burst into tears. Whimpering in pain and pleading, “AHHHH! That hurts! Why would you do that? That hurt so bad! Just because I am out of my mind on drugs doesn’t mean I can’t feel the pain! Please, you need to be careful. That really hurt!” They stood back in some sort of bewilderment. It was like they had just seen a pig fly or a parrot doing calculus. Kind of confused, a little stunned, maybe offended, but astonished at the same time. Several more tries and a lot more careful they got it on.
Stuff is becoming clearer to me. Caleb and Dan join more fully than ever before. I can’t tell them apart anymore even though I still have a propensity to speak out about my random observations. They get me up slowly and I warn them that I might vomit. It’s happened in the past. Carefully I end up in a wheel chair and they roll me around the corner. There’s my mom sitting there patiently. I can see the worried look fade to relief when she sees I’m alive and mostly well.
The medicine at this point has faded to the point where I mostly just sit there quietly, a little dizzy, and with newborn wobbly neck syndrome. I couldn’t keep that thing straight. The nurse gave my mom a few warnings about how I may start talking about stuff that doesn’t make any sense or that I may become emotional for no apparent reason. As if! Jessica wheels me to the car. During that ride I find out that her husband, yes, the nurse I was flirting with was married, went to BYU. She was nice. I got in the back seat and tried to not get sick. I tried to not tell my mom how to drive. I just sat in the back seat…still coming down.
My sister Brooke met us at my house. I saw her look at me and I knew that she knew that I was hammered. Not my fault. She helped me get out of the car. I struggled. Leaning on her with most of my weight I inch towards my door. I had to stop every couple of steps because the hopping was making me sick.
Into bed, trace amounts of Ketamine still linger but not much. I laid there, mom and sister trying to help the helpless one. It was over. The Ketamine was gone and I had already begun to tell my story.
* * *
After visiting Dr. Maling the next day and a couple times after that I got more of the story which I included in this account. He told me I was the funniest person he had ever seen on Ketamine. I didn't even have to ask him to say it. He said that most people have a very different reaction. Most people are mean and negative. Apparently I defied the odds and Maling said I should do some stand up while on it.
* * *
The final bit of the story is that a few months later, in November, I went to get a screw pulled out of my heel. I asked the Doctor for Ketamine and he looked at me like I was crazy. "I have never had anyone ASK for Ketamine before." I explained that I had a good reaction last time and I was hoping to go for a repeat. He decline.
A nurse came up to me to finish the final prep work. This girl looked familiar to me for some reason. I look hard and ask, "Do I know you?" She replied with, "Nicole, right?" I was slightly embarrassed. She totally remembered and this was a solid 4-5 months later. My sister Brooke was there to witness that part of the story.