Ketamine treatments help Omaha Navy veteran with depression, PTSD
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Patrick Dyer is a U.S. Navy veteran. He served for nearly 10 years, which he calls a whirlwind of duty.
“I did eight years in the Navy,” said Dyer. “Three tours in Iraqi territorial waters, and one tour in Afghanistan.”
Patrick often deployed for six months at a time. He would come home for less than a year and then go right back out again.
“It’s kind of just what we did,” said Dyer. “Very fast-paced. We did boarding operations, multiple operations every week.”
And during his last tour in Afghanistan, Dyer saw some things.
“And we took casualties, yeah,” said Dyer. We lost a bomb tech. I’ve had a couple of friends who’ve lost limbs.”
In 2012, Dyer left the Navy. He came home and became a police officer in Logan, Iowa, starting off on the night shift.
“So, trying to sleep during the day, just trying to get used to four or five hours of sleep,” said Dyer.
The high-tempo lifestyle started to wear on him – and he could feel it.
“We had a homicide by vehicle that I worked,” Dyer said. “We found a woman’s dead body on the side of the road, and then I just started recognizing, I can describe it as my cage being rattled. My anxiety would be really high, and I couldn’t calm myself down.”
With high anxiety by day and terrors by night, Dyer turned to alcohol to cope and even considered giving up.
“I started having really intrusive thoughts,” Dyer recalls. “My duty gun was starting to talk to me and I would just have these thoughts like ‘Oh, pick me up and put me against your head just to see what it feels like.’”
Dyer knew he needed help. He tried numerous medications, and nothing worked. Then one day – he found hope.
“And I started doing my own research into alternative treatments and had seen a website about ketamine that some people were calling it ‘the miracle cure,’” Dyer said.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, with an array of uses depending on the dosage. It’s an FDA-approved hallucinogen now being used to heal the mind. Dr. Samuel Sneau is an emergency department doctor helping patients like Dyer at the SOMA Clinic in South Omaha.
“We put an IV in the arm,” said Dr. Sneau. “We hook him up to a 250-milliliter bag on an IV pole and we make sure the patient is involved and they can see how much they’re getting.”
Dr. Sneau explains that it’s unclear how ketamine works. However, studies show that people do benefit.
“People with treatment-resistant depression, with suicidal ideations, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of self-harm; to a lesser extent, anxiety, PTSD, are all potential beneficiaries of using ketamine in that smaller dose to help with those symptoms.”
For Dyer, the journey began in 2020 with six simple IV doses of ketamine.
“And I describe it as I went in the first time and my battery was at 5%,” said Dyer. “And when I left, I almost skipped out of the clinic. My energy was at 95%.”
Since then, his treatments have continued every six to eight weeks.
“I haven’t had any suicidal ideation in years,” said Dyer. “And I have to attribute it to ketamine and the care that I get here.”
Now, Dyer’s not only living life, but he’s also even optimistic with his family by his side.
“They’ve been with me the whole time. and they’ve seen me at the bottom, you know, rock bottom,” said Dyer. “And to take away that worry from them. I feel proud that I can do that. They don’t have to worry about me.”
Dr. Sneau says ketamine treatments are used in conjunction with other therapies to help people suffering from mental ailments. The treatments are about $300 per session and last about an hour.
Insurance doesn’t cover the treatment, nor does the VA, so it’s all out of pocket. It’s a price Dyer says he’s willing to pay for his life.