Pre-Ketamine and Post-Ketamine are almost the difference between living and being dead. As I look back at a mere 6 weeks ago, thinking that our daughter was “at the top of her game” I am utterly in shock. We were so thrilled that she was going to school and coping. We were thrilled that she could manage to go to the mall for an hour, or to the movies as long as it was planned in advance. We had learned how to head off a meltdown, and to give Aly frequent breaks in social situations. Most of all, we had learned to walk on eggs, because Aly’s rage was not only upsetting to us her parents, but also to her sister Kelsey. But the worst impact by far was to Aly’s self esteem. Even when she was “doing well” she viewed her self as a monster. This feeling had been reinforced many times because although she may use her tools and self control and have a great day dealing with visitors, or going to a park, inevitably things would fall apart that day or the next. It was a cycle that we seemed not to be able to break. Her stress level was just too high. Winter meant depression and summer meant mania. In between was just a wild ride of emotions, trial and error and accomplishments marred by out bursts. During this time Alyssa also suffered from terrible nightmares, horrific imagery through out the day, and urges to hurt herself. She made friends but did not know how to keep them. She kept everyone at an arms length, literally she did not enjoy being hugged or touched.
In the last 6 weeks things changed dramatically. It began slowly; to our amazement the time Ketamine helped Aly could actually be counted in hours. At one point we consistently had 57 hours symptom free, for three sets of Ketamine in a row. As the medicine wore off, her “heat” would return, then the imagery. Then we added a spray and the duration of being symptom free became longer! After a month we were giving Aly Ketamine every third day, and she was symptom free for 72 hours at a time. For Aly, and her family this was nothing short of a miracle.
During this trial and error period many things in our lives began to change. Some are hard to explain, it is more of a feeling; there is happiness in our house. The tension has lifted. There is laughter, and it has replaced the out bursts and tears. There is communication, companionship and love. Aly will hug us, for no reason at all. She smiles so often she looks completely different to me. Aly makes plans with friends, discusses ideas with her family, sings, and swims! She goes out with friends; she went to the fireworks for the first time in her life because she was not afraid of the crowds. She is learning to be more independent; executive functioning tasks used to be arduous for her, now she simply gets her chores done, and then asks to help out! She has empathy, she hugged her sister as she cried, comforted a friend who was sad, and asks how we are. She can now show appreciation, at her birthday she was genuinely thrilled and interested in what her friends had written in cards. She replied with awe as they told how special she is to them. Aly can now love. She can freely give and receive love; she talks about her feelings, shares them willingly, and listens to others in return. It is in her eyes, her attitude and her voice, and we are forever grateful because Aly is learning to love herself.