So Much For Medical Cannabis… I’m Done With THC

I gave it a go for a little over 2 years.  I had to try it to know I’d done what I could to avoid staying on opiates, but I can’t take the increasing pain of the progressive sensory neuropathy, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, fibromyalgia, and now gout, with THC.  I’ll still take the CBD as a supplement, as it helped me to get off of one anticonvulsant completely (I’ve got a seizure disorder), and %40 of another- along with the meds to deal with the side effects.  This week, I went back to the pain management doc that I’ve seen on and off for over a decade, and got pain meds (patch), as well as an injection in my neck. I kind of feel like I failed right now, even though intellectually I know that’s not accurate.  I have to be practical, and safe.  My quality of life and ability to get anything done around the house isn’t possible with the pain. My legs shake, and I become unsteady.  There are no brownie points for needless suffering. I don’t use the word ‘suffer’ lightly, as it feels like another way to play the victim. But it’s been bad.

Something else that made trying THC something to consider is the emphasis on those who use opiates as inevitable future junkies. It’s actually far from inevitable. Studies have shown for decades that those who use prescription pain meds as ordered are very unlikely to become addicted to them. The terms tolerance and dependence aren’t explained, and everybody gets lumped together.  People who use medications AS PRESCRIBED will likely develop dependence and tolerance if they take them for a while (ever had a caffeine-withdrawl headache? Same concept.)  Those terms are not the same as addiction. Addiction is driven by emotional issues, and the individual trying to relieve emotional pain with medication for physical pain. No amount of the wrong medication for any problem will ever relieve the real issue. This explains that addiction is a combination of behaviors and substances (that can be drugs, alcohol, food, the ‘high’ from gambling, and other things that trigger positive responses in the pleasure center in the brain).

https://www.mentalhelp.net/addiction/

There are now so many restrictions on who can prescribe what meds in medical groups, that the writing was on the wall- pain medication was the new ‘evil’.  Never ask a doctor for something for pain, no matter how many documented diagnoses there are.  I felt I needed an option if the restrictions got worse. I’d like to see the statistics for the increase in heroin users after hydrocodone was made a Schedule II drug (in the class with morphine, hydromorphone, and other very strong opiates). The ‘rules’ are always made because of the behavior of rule breakers. That ‘logic’ escapes me… it’s not like the rule breakers will suddenly jump on the straight and narrow. They’ll find a new way to break rules.   The rules don’t take into account those who do what they’ve been instructed to do. Should there be good follow-up with those on prescription pain medications ?  Absolutely.  But there is no reason to make anybody “live” with pain that limits their life to the point of decreased mobility to avoid more pain even within their own home.   This article has some good explanations about the differences between tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Distinguishing Between Pain-Related Dependence and Addiction

Some of the issues I’ve had with the THC include the following  (I realize some folks have had good results with THC- this is MY experience):

–  I can’t know if the same strain is in each bottle of the stuff I got, as  no strain of cannabis is listed on the tablets/capsules/edibles containers that I’ve used (I don’t smoke the stuff- the stench is not welcome in my house. Dry herb vaping- no solvents at all- just the dry cannabis that vaporizes, not combusts- was also not going to work because of the coughing). There are literally hundreds of strains of cannabis.  Third-party testing is on the container (required by law), but not the strain, aside from a general sativa, indica, or hybrid.   I don’t know if it’s strain-consistent from batch to batch– just the number of milligrams of ‘whatever’.  Different strains are good for different things. And some have more likelihood to cause specific side effects- can’t know what might be causing what if no strain is listed.

I live alone. Some of the effects of THC are not safe on a mobility level.  My balance goes wonky if a strain is stronger than what I’m used to, and I’m already one fall away from needing help with more than just the lawn, snow removal, and grocery delivery.  I can’t risk that. My joints are already trash. It wouldn’t take much to finish off  my shoulders, hips, or knees. Or end up with compression fractures in my spine. That means my independence is at risk, and that is something I won’t even consider. If I can’t be at home with my dog, it’s over.

–  the dryness of my eyes was horrible. I was either dripping with tears (that burned) as my body tried to protect my eyes, or using artificial tears to not feel like I’d had cotton shoved into my eyeballs. That also caused blurred vision to the point of not being able to read anything without a 10x – 30x lighted magnifying glass (some print is tiny on a good day anyway… I couldn’t see individual words. Watching TV was lousy, and the computer (my lifeline) was nearly useless. A blue light filter helped a little- but not enough.

the ‘thought stealing’ sensation was too weird.  I could be thinking about something, then it would just be gone, and it was going too fast to get back.  That is unsettling, especially because the awareness of it was acute. Even harder to carry on a conversation with another actual human being.

there isn’t a consistent time when it takes effect.  I used it mostly to help ease the pain so I could sleep. If I waited too long to turn the lights out and drift off, I got a literal body ‘buzzing’ sensation (hence the term buzzed), or floating, or like I couldn’t move.  There was a sensation in my head that something wasn’t right – not necessarily bad- but not OK.  There’s a term called ‘couch lock’- and that’s what it feels like- being locked to the furniture, almost being part of it.  There was nothing about those sensations that will ever be desirable to me.

it’s useless for acute pain.  I broke my ankle a few months after getting my medical cannabis card.  I iced it, and had it wrapped (before getting an x-ray a week later- thought it might be a sprain similar to what I’d seen with adolescent patients who landed wrong while playing basketball).  I felt guilty using some Norco from 2014.  I used 3 full doses and 3 1/2 doses in 6 weeks.  And I hurt a lot more than was necessary.  I was diagnosed with gout a couple of weeks ago after a nasty flare that was a kind of pain I hadn’t felt before- tiny crystals in the joint felt like someone was sitting on a chair into the bone on top of my foot.  One urgent care a couple of months earlier, with milder but definitely ‘not right’ pain, thought it could be a blood clot (minus warmth, redness, swelling, or any other symptoms of a clot). The second urgent care a few weeks ago had a very astute nurse practitioner who knew to check my uric acid level, which came back very high.  I was on prednisone for 5 days, which jacked my blood sugars badly, but the prednisone did the trick to help that first flare. I’d already decided not to use the THC over a month ago, so was using my trusty ice packs, and the vintage Norco in 1/2 doses x 4 over a week.

Part of another disorder I have (dysautonomia) causes some similar symptoms to the side effects of THC, and I pay good money for the meds needed to help NOT to feel those symptoms. Why would I make it worse on purpose?   That is so bizarre and counter-intuitive. I don’t want to feel even a tiny bit stoned. I took microdoses after getting the CBD dose figured out (more on that in a minute), and still had side effects that are not acceptable to me.

I can see where it could be useful for severe PTSD, where escape is the only way to get any sort of relief from memories and flashbacks. I guess it could help with anxiety IF someone finds a strain that is consistent (those who smoke cannabis can get strains consistently, or those who want to make their own edibles and don’t care about consistent dosing). But for folks who are using that type of quantity, I’d hope they were housebound, and had access to someone to drive them anywhere they needed to go.  I never took a dose if I had to drive to an appointment.  I’d just have to hurt, and take a dose after getting home.  Once I did take a dose, there was never any desire to leave home.

There are people who have had positive experiences– and initially, my psoriasis was completely cleared up. Then came the hyperemesis cannabinoid syndrome, with months of nausea and eventual vomiting. I’m not a puker- that’s what put it together for me.  During 20 months of daily chemo for leukemia, I barfed once on day 8.   Because I didn’t have accurate info from a very well known CBD producer about the specific amount of CBD (not the total cannabinoid dose), I didn’t have the THC dose right- CBD helps counteract side-effects of THC. I also had a gallstone that was acting up, and that blended into the symptoms of the build up of THC because of using it daily, and I was SICK.  (The half-life of THC is very long, with some still showing up in drug tests more than 4 weeks after the last use, and with dietary changes that alter body fat percentages, more can be released months after the last dose- used to freak out the detox patients I took care of years ago).  I went through ultrasounds, CT scans, lab work, surgical consults, a bitch of a GI nurse practitioner, etc because it was thought that there was something going on besides the gallstone. I had THC continuing to build up, and  I didn’t know the accurate dose on that one brand’s product (if you use CBD, you want to see the exact amount of CBD per specific quantity of product- and third party testing). Everybody and their wombat is on the hemp bandwagon, and  saying how wonderful hemp oil  is, but non-CBD hemp oil (like on Amazon)  has no CBD, and is good for salad dressing- and you can get plain hemp oil for about $20 for a quart; the “therapeutic” hemp oil can be $50 an OUNCE- for essentially nothing). Hemp oil does have Omega 3 fatty acids, and hemp hearts (I like the ones without the little shells) taste a lot like pine nuts, but much smaller. Those are just flat out food- nothing specifically “magical” about it. Just another healthy fat source.

I’m a disabled RN; I’ve been an RN for 35 years, disabled for 15 years, where I’ve been my own full-time job.  Anything used to relieve symptoms MUST be consistent.  And I can’t get that with commercial medical cannabis products.  Some of the CBD companies out there are isolating other cannabinoids (CBG and CBN are two I’ve tried, and CBN has been good for sleep, though I only take it if I’ve been having trouble sleeping for a few days. Some brands of full-spectrum are out there- just don’t generally get the amount of each cannabinoid, so I’m not a fan of those). I don’t need a state-issued card for CBD. I get it online. Just like any herbal supplement.

And that’s what they are.  THC and CBD are not medication- which left me confused when talking to my pain doc during my visit. When I got home, I realized he hadn’t seen the way I’d printed out my list of medications and supplements, putting the CBD in the same area with vitamins and Co-Q 10, under a line of *****, separating the medications from the supplements.  The person who filled out their form with the list I’d typed up didn’t need to keep the typed one- so I agree with my doc, but I was scratching my head for a few minutes, as it seemed like he felt I considered THC and CBD to be actual medications. I agree with him on the characterizing THC and CBD as supplements. They are not medications. People use them like medications, but there are no studies proving efficacy, side effects, contraindcations, doses, longterm impact,  etc- and that’s what those of us who have used medical cannabis signed up for.  We knew it was an experiment, but desperation will lead people to anything that could be a source of hope.

I needed to try it. I wanted the hope of something different. And now I know.  For me, THC is unpleasant, and ineffective for what I needed it for.

Well, No More Palliative…

And I’m more than bummed in some ways, but in other ways, I’m really OK with it.  But, considering where I live, and my experiences with the medical folks here, it’s not that surprising that it’s been frustrating.  It’s been 16 days since the nurse was here to meet with me for being on palliative.  I was told that the chaplain and social worker would contact me, to set up a time to come and meet with me as well.  I haven’t heard from anyone.   When I called the nurse today, and asked to be taken off of the list, she asked if something had happened, and I basically said “Yeah- nothing!”.   She told me people had been sick.  Had I known that (COMMUNICATION), I would have understood.  Why can’t someone just let a person know that they weren’t forgotten, and someone would be in touch as soon as they could.  I can understand THAT.  Even a 15 second e-mail… that would have been enough.  I could have sent my well-wishes for the sick staff  in a reply.

At the only meeting, I was basically told that there were much sicker patients than myself, and what did I want from palliative- which sounded like I didn’t belong.  The next day on the phone, it didn’t seem to be an issue, so I didn’t bring it up.   I know there are sicker people out there- I used to take care of them !   But this isn’t a competition !   When I mentioned knowing that they had sicker patients, she said that she didn’t mean it that way… OK. that’s fine.  Good to know.   *thumbs up*

Ended up OK- should I decide later on that I want to try palliative again.  But for now, I’m on my own. Again… or is it still?   I see the gallbladder surgeon on Friday (with a completely different healthcare system in town)… once the gallbladder is out, my days with doctors will be few and far between.   Seems much safer like that, and if not safer, at least much less frustrating.

“You Look OK… “

Well, that’s great !  I’m glad I don’t look like I feel...  I’d have to worry about the dogs mistaking me for a fire  hydrant or other excretory depository.

I’m not sure what THIS looks like: 
– autonomic dysfunction: inconsistent regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, temperature
– diabetes w/complications on insulin
– degenerative joint disease (with one shoulder now having symptoms, both shoulders, both hips, and both knees involved- and no “elective” replacement surgeries because of my history of pulmonary emboli).
– degenerative disc disease, from cervical spine to sacral spine (or neck to butt)
– severe fibromyalgia
– carpal tunnel
– TMJ
– peripheral neuropathy (progressive sensory, diabetic amyotrophy)
– nocturnal epilepsy
– neurocardiogenic syncope/POTS (related to autonomic dysfunction/dysautonomia)
– GERD (fairly severe)
– epigastric hernia (vs. ventral- still getting worked up)
– sleep apnea
– diabetic nerve pain (feels like thighs are on fire, or hot needles in feet)
– defeated patient with little hope of getting anything addressed without some sort of support.

And I’m not sure how ‘visible’ my history is, either:
–  APL (acute promyelocytic leukemia)
– acute, subacute, and chronic pulmonary emboli in all three lobes of my right lung and           right pulmonary artery
–  multiple concussions
–  mild stroke
–  TIAs
–  falls
–  hydration issues
–  kidney injury (related to dehydration)
–  pyelonephritis
–  sepsis (r/t pyelonephritis, cancer, and post knee replacement UTI)
–  and I’m sure things I’m forgetting, including several surgeries.

Now add a doctor for nearly each of those, who don’t talk to each other.   I’m supposed to manage it all, AND manage the communication (or lack thereof) between doctors.   BTDT, and it ain’t working !   My job is to be a compliant patient.  But how can I be compliant when decisions are being made without any input from myself, and the doctors not communicating with each other before ragging on me?  I get to be a participant in my own life !!   If not, I can’t work with that physician/NP/PA/XYZ.   I can’t trust anybody who won’t hear MY concerns.   The first part of assessment is focusing on the issue at hand- and that includes patient concerns.  LISTEN- it’s cheap and used to be fairly standard.

Otherwise, if I’m not a part of my own healthcare, why should I go see those who have ME figured out without my participation?

 

 

 

Four Months Using MEDICAL Cannabis… It’s About the CBD, Folks !!

OK, so it’s been 4 months since I’ve had my medical cannabis card.  I’m still learning, but have been amazed at the unexpected effects of using CBD and THC.   I’m now getting into terpenes, which is a totally different post for the future.  Chemistry was never my ‘thing’, but I’m having to adjust a bit with that !!

I actually have this poster in front of my gas fireplace in my living room !! No hiding it !

 

CBD oils are not all the same.  You need one with a good track record.  I USED to  like Charlotte’s Web.  Then I discovered the unclear labeling that looks like the capsules are 15 or 35mg of CBD, when that is the  total cannabinoid dose.  This matters a LOT when titrating THC doses.  I got VERY sick from this unclear labeling and only noticed the change when they added the actual dose of CBD to the info on their website, but NOT on the bottles of their products. I will no longer use Charlotte’s Web, and am moving to Plus CBD, Sunsoil, and ThoughtCloud- they have third party testing of their products, which I now view as mandatory for me.   I asked Charlotte’s Web about the lack of clear labelling on the bottles, and got no reply.  THC side effects can be muted by CBD – which is a good thing.  I thought I was taking 50mg of CBD/day.  I was getting half of that, with a THC dose of 30-50 mg/day.  The THC built up in my system, and ended up with symptoms (along with a dicey gallstone at the time) that required multiple medical tests, surgery consults, scans, ER visits, and ultimately caused the beginnings of hyperemesis cannabinoid syndrome.  I only puked once- and that was the clue that led to figuring out what was going on.  (THC has a VERY long half-life, so doesn’t clear for about a month- but if folks keep using it daily, like medicine, it just accumulates; it’s not dangerous per se, but causes a lot of GI distress). I had been scheduled for surgery… what I needed was accurate info on the CBD.

Most of the time, I use the CBD softgels.  I do have the oil for edibles, or sublingual use for faster onset of action.  CBD is the base of my medical cannabis ‘program’.  That might disappoint those who hope for using more  mind-bending THC as their primary medication.  But THC is more of an enhancer.  I don’t like the feeling of having too much THC (and that amount is different for everyone).  This is a core difference between medical and recreational cannabis.  I don’t find anything “recreational” about it.    This is about a better quality of life….not escaping it.

Since starting the CBD and THC,  my psoriasis cleared up by about %95; with less THC, it has come back somewhat.  The clearing was unexpected, and amazing after years of prescription and over the counter shampoos, creams, solutions, etc.   I’ve also been able to completely get off of carbamazepine (Tegretol), cut the gabapentin (Neurontin) by %60, and subsequently stop or reduce the medications and supplements to deal with the side effects of those meds (especially the carbamazepine).

Cannabis is great for chronic conditions, and some acute symptoms (nausea).  It’s not optimal for acute pain, as I found out when I broke my ankle a month ago.  I’ve needed opiates a few times this month (6 doses) to allow me to sleep with the acute pain.  But that’s still very little compared to most opiate consumption after something like a broken weight-bearing bone.  I was disappointed about taking the opiates, but I also needed to be practical.  Since I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, I have some leeway to use opiates, but the goal is not to use them.  It had been quite a while since I’d used the Norco 10/325, and the first dose was a doozy.  I could definitely feel it (not good).   After that, I split the pill in half.


As I mentioned, my next ‘thing’ to figure out is how to use the terpenes, which are compounds in virtually every plant.  They have medicinal benefits, and I want to learn how to use them.  I’ll post more as I learn more, and have a chance to use them. I hope to use them in an aromatherapy diffuser.

So, there’s always more to learn, but it’s been an overall VERY good experience.   My primary form of cannabis is capsules, but I also use tablets, mints, candy/chocolate, other edibles, concentrates, occasional vaping, and occasional dry herb vaping.   I don’t smoke. No combustion = no products of combustion.  Vaping creates steam, so MUCH less likely to have toxins.  To me, smoked cannabis absolutely reeks, and I don’t want to expose my dog to that (or get her stoned), bug the neighbors, or stink up my house.   I also have distillates of CBD to use with cooking, should I ever get some culinary bug after my ankle heals.  Watch “Bong Apetit” on Viceland if you want some great ganja cooking tips.

By getting the small dose products, it’s easier to titrate the THC dose. That’s one reason I love the Ascend THC tablets- they’re only 2.5mg each, and can be split if need be (I use a whole one).

These come in different ratios of CBD:THC… I like the 2:1. Ends up being about 12-14mg of CBD and 6-7mg THC in each capsule.

2.5mg THC tablets.


SO, if you aren’t getting the benefits from medical cannabis that you hoped for, I’d encourage you to take a look at how much CBD you’re using.   
An example of the doses I use per day (and it is different for everyone, and you ALWAYS start low and go slow when increasing doses !!).  My current dose is 44 mg CBD (take 18 mg in the a.m., and 26mg in the evening) and 2.5-7.5mg of THC in divided doses per day.

CBN and CBG are also available now in ingestible oils. CBN is great for sleep, and CBG has anti-inflammatory properties.  I can’t take Aleve/Motrin because of kidney disease, so these have been great. I like the products from ThoughtCloud.  Not cheap- but worth the relief.

EDIT:  Because of dosing confusion on the Charlotte’s Web capsules, I’ll be changing to Elixinol and/or Plus CBD.  I went through a lot of craziness with the THC dose because of the CBD dose not being clear- it was off by half.  TOTAL cannabinoids are NOT the same as the CBD dose.  Charlotte’s Web wouldn’t accept my product review.

Suicide Secrets- Time to Spill It… Secrecy Just Makes It Worse

With all of the suicides of notable people in the last couple of weeks, it has stirred up my own battles with depression and suicidal thoughts.  Not to worry- nothing ‘serious’ has gone on for years.  When the physical pain becomes more harsh than usual, or there are more health scares, I do think about the ‘what ifs’ of a longterm and debilitating illness, but I’m nowhere near wanting to end things because of the medical issues that have me housebound. But in my past, I’ve had some pretty dark times. They also followed eating disorders- either initially or relapses. My parents never asked my why I attempted suicide. It was never discussed.  It. Was. Never. Addressed. That. I. Was. In. A. Coma. For. Three. Days. So I felt it was ‘bad’ to acknowledge that I’d been in serious trouble emotionally.  I choose not to deny my past any longer.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s still part of the story of my life.  And I know that there are millions who are afraid to speak out.  It’s OK to talk about emotional health. It’s OK to talk about suicidal thoughts. And most important, it’s OK to need and ask for help.

“Flaws”  were never discussed in my home, even after I’d talked briefly with our pastor about suicide when I was in 8th grade. There were some hard times in high school (murders of skating coach’s kids by her husband, grandma I stayed with a lot died after  9 months of hell from cancer, dealing with what I now think was a math learning issue- and getting reamed for not “getting it” when report cards came out, etc).  An English teacher who was on her assigned hall monitoring,  that I did not have as a teacher,  reached out to me after noticing I was struggling (had 8 classes, and no lunch when I was taking driver’s ed), and did an old, quick depression assessment.  I didn’t do well, and she told my guidance counselor who’d known me since I was two years old.  He talked to my dad (the principal of said high school) , who was furious that I’d made some “not perfect life” comment to those outside of our house.   I was given strict instructions loudly to never tell anybody that anything was wrong.  Verbatim:  “If someone asks you how you are, you say “fine”.  I don’t care if you have an arm dangling by a thread.  You are FINE.”  When I worked in psych and alcohol/drug rehab, “FINE” translated to ‘f-ed up, insecure, neurotic, and emotionally disturbed.   I guess I have been ‘fine’ a few times in my life 😉  My parents never told their respective families where I was (except for one)- just not being enrolled at the U of IL was somehow not questioned. I’d essentially disappeared, and except for one of mom’s brothers who came to the hospital with my flute and Oreos (which terrified me at the time), I never saw anybody except my folks when they were allowed to come and see me. My mom’s mom later told me that she wasn’t told where I was.

Back to the suicidal stuff.   In my early teens, it wasn’t something I considered seriously (mostly because I was terrified I’d get in trouble, assuming I’d mess things up and survive). And I didn’t really want to DIE. It was never about death.   I just wanted to feel less confusion, fear, and emotional pain.  I felt a lot of pressure being the principal’s kid (some self-imposed, some overt instructions from my folks).  Then I went to the University of Illinois after a summer of becoming anorexic.  I was a mess. I’d been born there, and given up for adoption; I wondered if every 35 year old woman I saw was my birth mother, not knowing where she actually lived at that time.  That was the fall semester in 1981.  I was fully entrenched in anorexia, with the malnutrition impacting my thought processes, and adding to the development of clinical depression. I was never suicidal without that malnutrition and internal war over food.

I’d been told I had to see a university therapist to stay enrolled in school, after being shipped to the hospital the first week of classes. My resident advisor decided that someone wearing six pairs of socks and a winter coat in my room, still shivering- in late August in Central IL- wasn’t right. I struggled a lot just to get to and from classes, and there were multiple ambulance trips after passing out.  I’d made arrangements not to go to Florida with my parents for Christmas break, which lead to an irate father telling me I would be going to Florida, so get over it. It was a miserable time, though I was able to ‘escape’ and work at a Christian conference in Urbana, ironically working as a food service forewoman for the local kids who were also working there; I was barely 18. By the first couple of weeks  after Christmas break  in late January 1982 I was at home.  I was an emotional  disaster, with the anorexia getting worse, and being alive felt like torture. Dodging meals was worse. Laxatives were my reprieve.  With my brain starving, my thoughts were not ‘normal’, and dying seemed like the only way to make the eating disorder end. It was about ending pain, not ending my life- but my thought processes saw no other options. But I couldn’t do anything at home.

By the first week of February 1982, I had a plan, a private dorm room, and the whole thing figured out- except I didn’t really want to die. Plan:  I would overdose on the tranquilizers I’d gotten to (presumably) make me less anxious about eating, involve some sort of booze, and go into my lockable dorm closet, locked from the inside, and also make sure my dorm room was locked.   I finally fessed up to the university student health center counselor I’d seen my first semester there, and was still seeing (I don’t think the woman knew I could say anything but “I don’t know” until I told her I had a plan).  She had the university fire department  (overkill much, so to speak?) take me to McKinley Health Center, where they ‘babysat’ me until an adult friend (for a long time, from church) could come and get me- I did NOT want to face my parents.  I was SO ashamed for not being ‘perfect’ enough.   There was a blizzard that made most of IL a skating rink that February, so it took a few days for everything to happen to get me to the hospital near Chicago.   Where my parents were waiting in the lobby (I hadn’t considered them needing to be there to sign me in, since I was on dad’s insurance).   They were allowed to see me briefly, then ‘banned’ from any contact for a month until my assigned psychiatrist tried to sort out the family dynamics. I was there from February through most of April.

I returned to the U of I the following fall semester. I wasn’t a teenage drinker.  I’d  tried a few things here and there, but I hated the whole going across state lines thing on Friday nights,  where the drinking age was 18 at the time.   I was not coping well with feeling like  the designated nut job.  I tried SO hard to make it look like all was well, but it wasn’t.  I started going to bars and drinking 4-5 drinks in less than 2 hours, then stagger back to the dorm.  On September 2, 1982, I got  back from the bars, and was SO tired, but couldn’t fall asleep. I still remember taking the prescription sleeping pills (from the shrink I was assigned to at the hospital near Chicago).  I just kept taking them (there were 10 Dalmane 30mg capsules left, and I took them all), like some sort of automated prescription Pez dispenser was dropping capsules into my hand, that went to my mouth seemingly of its own accord.  I didn’t think about dying, but after taking the sleeping pills, I was told (and stomach contents confirmed) that I then went on to take about 50 imipramine tablets- I remember none of that.  No matter what was going on in my head, my body went into a 3 day coma.   My roommate didn’t notice anything alarming enough to call an ambulance until the day after I’d taken the meds on top of the alcohol.  I told her I was just tired, until I couldn’t speak anymore.  I was told more than once that I physiologically shouldn’t have survived the type and quantity of medications along with the booze, and the length of time before my stomach was pumped. At best, I should have had brain damage. I was sent back to the same hospital, and was there from September 5th through the first half of January, 1983.  I was inpatient for essentially 8 months of 1982 through a bit of 1983. It was never discussed after I got back home– I was sent off to the community college to keep me busy with nursing school required classes (nutrition, sociology, chemistry, English, and anatomy & physiology). And I worked at a local gift shop/dollhouse shop.  I was driven into Chicago 1-2 times a week for months to see the psychiatrist I’d had at the hospital.

I didn’t want to die.  I wanted the expectations and pain to FEEL less intense (they weren’t imposed by anybody but myself at that point, though the fear of facing my folks for not being ‘intact’ was still present ). I wanted the emotional torment of anorexia to end. I was stunned to wake up in the ICU at the same hospital where I’d been born prior to being placed for adoption.   The first thing I remember was someone putting an oxygen mask on me (then I fell asleep again), and later,  a syringe going towards my crotch (at the time, I didn’t know that a syringe removed the water from the balloon of a catheter that keeps it from falling out.  I didn’t know I HAD a catheter… so that was awkwardly confusing).  I remember the results of activated charcoal exiting my back door with intense urgency (I’d unhook the monitor leads to hurry to the bathroom, and end up with a bunch of people thinking my heart had stopped; they asked me to call for help to avoid thinking I’d croaked- my heart had taken a bit of a beating with the overdose). I had pain in my throat where a tube had been, as well as a deep bruised feeling on my breast bone, where they likely took their knuckles to try and wake me up.  For those who know the Glasgow Coma Scale, I was a 3.  It doesn’t go lower.   I also remember not being able to follow the Saturday morning cartoons they’d put on TV, after sort of propping me up in a chair. Bugs Bunny was confusing.

One therapist I saw years later would ask me about suicidal thoughts, and told me she would NEVER ask me to give them up, since having that option to think about helped keep people from feeling backed into an inescapable corner.  She would ask me to hang on just until she called me at whatever pre-determined day/time she came up with.  And that was helpful.  Someone knew I hurt, and having the feelings was fine. Just not acting on them (though she never put it that way).  She never shamed me for essentially just looking for ways to not feel emotional pain.   I never liked “contracts” because I didn’t want to sign something I might not be able to uphold- but the simple verbal request to hang on for  a phone call was enough (everybody is different, and some folks need more supervision, so more formal contracts or even interventions and required hospitalization might be the first step some folks need).  At the very least, I knew that someone cared enough to take 5 minutes to call and see if I was OK the next day.  Sometimes, when things were chaotic in my head, that external reminder that I wasn’t alone was sufficient. I existed, and it was OK.  Even being a mess, I wasn’t disposable. It was OK not to be perfect. And to acknowledge it.  I never thought I was perfect- I felt like a defect. But I felt that being perfect was the only acceptable goal.

I hope someone reads this who is a survivor of someone who completed a suicide attempt, not surviving it.   You need to know that it isn’t about not loving family/friends enough to stay (or reach out). It’s not about wanting to die.   In that state of mind, people truly do believe that the world (meaning their family and friends) would be better off without them.  It’s about not being able to imagine things ever getting better.  It’s a desperate, last-ditch attempt to find some peace.  But it’s generally NOT about wanting to die.  It’s about not wanting to have to endure emotional pain that feels like endless torment that steals every other part of life. It can also be physically painful to be that far down emotionally.

Don’t be afraid to be blunt if you are concerned about someone.  Asking about suicide will not make someone suicidal !!   The best thing someone can do, especially if they don’t know what to do, or don’t have training in crisis negotiations, is just to listen. If they can’t speak, just sit with them.  Don’t judge.  No empty “it’s going to be fine”.   And NEVER “oh, it’s not that bad”- that just says “you don’t care enough to try and understand me”.    Let the person know that you realize that they are doing the best they can.  Let them know that you understand that their pain is overwhelming.   NEVER “I know how you feel”…. you have no clue if you’re not in their head, even if you’ve experienced the same traumas, or identical upbringing. People respond differently.  Depression is often biochemical. It’s not a “get over it” kind of thing.  There are different types of depression- some are expected to some degree (like with grief), others are chemical imbalances in the brain- just like someone with a physical illness caused by a deficiency of some sort.

Empty platitudes are not helpful.  Saying something like “how can I help you?” can be helpful, but at some point, the person may have NO clue about what could be helpful- or that they’re worth helping.  Thoughts get stuck. Attention spans dwindle. It’s all the person can do to simply keep sucking air, and moving in baby steps.  Letting them know that you don’t have the answers, but will do what you can to help is SO much more helpful than someone who is clueless, trying to help someone when they don’t take the time to really understand the situation, and can’t admit that they don’t know what they are doing. Look for a sudden change in mood that looks like the person is doing a lot better, when the days before that were grim. Watch to see if the person starts giving away meaningful possessions. Those can signal that the person is at peace with the decision to exit life. If going to a treatment center is discussed, emphasize that the person can rest, and not fight alone. Tell him/her that it’s OK, and nobody is disappointed or ashamed of the person’s illness that they can not get out of on their own.

Everybody needs support at some time in their life, and treatment centers/hospitals are a safe place to tell staff counselors how bad things feel. I know that in other times that I checked into facilities for eating disorder relapses or PTSD from a violent six hour rape, it was a relief that someone else thought I was worth helping, and recognized that I was drowning on dry land. Some people will fight the idea, and if given an ultimatum where they finally accept inpatient help, expect calls the first week or so that sound like the person has ended up in an inept circus- it’s a lot to cope with being in unfamiliar surroundings with people that are strangers along with the depression that got them there… but when I worked as a nurse in adolescent psych or chemical dependency/detox facilities (adults and adolescents), the first week was hell, the second week was tolerable, the third week was pretty good, and by the 28th day, they didn’t want to leave- they had people who understood them in treatment, and felt safe.

If you feel like you are in over your head with someone who is suicidal, call 9-1-1.   If the person gets mad, they’ll either get over it or not- but don’t put yourself in a position to have unimaginable regrets if the person can’t hang on. It’s better to lose the relationship than that person’s  life.

To those who are struggling now- you are worth helping. You have value, even though you feel unable to do anything through the dark clouds. You may have tried a lot of different things, or you might be terrified of what inpatient help is like.  It might help to talk to someone anonymously at first…  please reach out. There are options, and things can get better in time with the right treatment.  I do not regret surviving. I’m glad I lived. And I’m not defective for having gone through some really hard times, or for overdosing. I understand when pain feels like it will never end.  It can ❤

Call these guys:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

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The Ongoing Journey With Medical Cannabis

I’ve had my medical cannabis card for 6.5 weeks now.   It’s been a very educational and hopeful thing to find a natural product that makes such positive changes.  For so long, I have been tolerating life.   Now I have glimpses of actually having a better life (at least with the stuff I am taking the cannabis for).   It hasn’t been all perfect (takes some time to get the dosing right), but that’s operator error and inexperience).    For years, I didn’t believe that marijuana could have anything positive to give to the world, and wow… was I ever wrong.  

I had been cutting down one of my seizure meds because of kidney and liver issues, but had only gotten down to %50 of my usual dose, because of wide mood swings with getting off of the stuff (I’d dealt with it in the past, so knew to go slow).  With the medical cannabis, I’m off of it completely, and have cut down another anticonvulsant by %60- with no known change in the frequency of seizures (they are nocturnal, so I only know I’ve had seizures if I wake  up in the morning with the inside of my mouth chewed up).   I have only taken opiates two times in 6 1/2 weeks.  That’s it.  Before the medical cannabis, it was 3-5 days a week; the rest of the time, I just put up with the pain to avoid any sort of physical dependence or tolerance.   I’ve had chronic pain since 1995- so 23 years- and while I don’t expect to be pain free (gotta keep expectations reasonable), there has been improvement.   Also,  I am definitely  sleeping better and my mood isn’t as wonky. 

The sensation of using cannabis isn’t what I expected.  For medical cannabis patients, the goal is to find the dose that takes care of the symptoms without altering psychoactivity.  Getting ‘stoned’ is NOT the goal of medical cannabis.  It’s more like a ‘thing’ that I didn’t know I was missing, and suddenly feeling like life is more good than miserable.   With CBD oil (I use capsules and vaping more than the sublingual oil, but I have used it that way), I do feel a mild sleepiness, and I take the larger of two daily doses around supper time, so that I’m ready for bed at a decent hour.   With THC, the doses are very small.   CBD is the cornerstone of cannabis pain management.   THC is the enhancer.

Depending on the strain of cannabis, the effects are either more sedating (indica strains) or uplifting (sativa strains).  It’s %100 possible to customize pain relief with the level of relaxation desired, to make daily life less interrupted by the symptoms being medicated- or the side effects of the ‘treatment’.  With traditional pharmaceuticals, fatigue and sedation were the only options.

I have had a couple of times when I overshot the dose (homemade edibles usually), and the feeling of being ‘buzzed’ is not pleasant to me.   There is a literal, physical ‘buzzing’ sensation that isn’t painful, but noticeable.   The ability to form memories is altered- though there isn’t a sensation of being messed up.   It’s a very “aware” feeling, and initially it scared me- but it  is fairly easy to take care of with some CBD (I usually vape when I’m trying to counteract any ‘bad’ THC effects, as it acts faster than edibles).   But there is also a very relaxed feeling that is welcome after days when pain is really lousy (i.e. taking trash cans to curb, laundry, etc).   I’ve decided to buy most of my edibles because the consistency in dosing is better.

I don’t smoke.  Anything.   I used to smoke regular cigarettes, and did try a couple of puffs from a joint, but didn’t like the coughing fit that seems to be fairly standard for smoking the stuff.  I like vaping (steam, not  smoke), capsules (yep, just regular capsules), edibles ( gummies and chocolate, and an infused granola bar), sublingual sprays, concentrates and RSOs,  making my own topicals, and some homemade edibles (baked goods- easier to get the dose more consistent, at least when I’m making stuff).    I use cannabis 3-4 times a day; morning,  early afternoon, suppertime, and just before going to bed.  I don’t feel ‘altered’ with the dose that is working now.   There is no urge to jump in the car and drive all goofy.  There haven’t been a bunch of ‘munchies attacks’ (thank GOD).

Initially, it’s not cheap to use medical cannabis, since there is so much trial and error that goes on with finding the strains and doses that work the best.   I recommend saving up money (gotta take cash to the dispensary) while waiting for the medical card to show up (took me 113 days to get mine).

Bottom line:  this prior anti-weed snob is SO thankful for something that works so well, has few side effects (and those are dose dependent), and WORKS for so many things.  It’s not the evil herb that I was preached to about as a kid.   It’s not about being stoned, like I saw when I worked as a detox RN.  It’s about getting better, and having a better quality of life.   It offers hope.   It very well could be a lifesaver, as there is only so much constant pain a person can take.  I had a doctor tell me that pain doesn’t kill anybody.  Well, maybe not physiologically, but emotionally and mentally, it’s an absolute life-sucker.   I’m getting a bit of life back.

Marijuana For the Pot Virgin

First of all- and this is very important- in the world of medical marijuana, it’s not ‘weed’, or ‘pot’.   It’s medication.  This is not recreational usage. For many of us, it’s our last hope for something to help with whatever our qualifying conditions are.   We don’t “use” marijuana, we “medicate” with marijuana.    Don’t ever imply that  a medical marijuana patient is looking for a buzz.  We just want to have a life that is a  little closer to what is considered normal.    This former detox RN would never have considered medical marijuana if smoking it was my only option (though many MMJ patients get good relief with smoking their mj).

Prior to getting my MMJ card, I’d never smoked marijuana.  I’d smoked regular cigarettes on and off for many years, starting in the hospital for anorexia when I was 18.  I’d quit for a few years, then start up again.   I quit for good the day I was admitted to the hospital for blood clots in my lung, back in April 2007.   Before my dad died, he asked me if I’d ever consider using medical marijuana, and I told him that if I didn’t have to smoke it, I’d be willing to try it.  I’m glad we had that conversation.  It means a lot to me that he would understand, and be happy if I found something that made my life better… he always wanted my life to be better, and even though he’s been gone for nearly two years,  I still feel his love and hopes for my life after he was gone.

Back to what it’s like to use medical marijuana…  The biggest factor is how it’s used.  Since I’m not smoking (using combustion to burn the product), my other options are vaping (no combustion- just convective heat to produce vapor), edibles, tinctures, sprays (under the tongue),  and using it to cook with in mainstream foods (like ramen, spaghetti, etc).   I don’t want regular meals to have MMJ in them… it would waste some of the MMJ since I’m not a fan of leftovers.  I know some people sprinkle the decarboxylated flower on foods… but I’m not there yet.

My first exposure was edible infused chocolate, before bed.  One little square of a hybrid, in one brand  of commercial chocolate bar has 18mg of THC (or the part of marijuana that has psychoactive effects, depending on the dose) which was perfect.  I slept incredibly well, and while I woke up with some pain, I went back to sleep immediately instead of tossing and turning for the rest of the night.

Since this is all new, it’s common to not quite get things right.  The next night, I tried some vaping along with a different kind of chocolate… and I was zonked the next morning, and while I got up to use the bathroom, take my other meds, and get something to drink, I didn’t get UP until 2:00 p.m.   Not the goal.   But, lesson learned.

During the day, I’ve tried some of the sativa strains (which are different than the indica, or hybrids).   Sativas are more ‘perky’…. my favorite edible for this is the gummy candies.  They have THC, but I had no “high” at all, but did have some relief from some pain during the day.    There are SO many strains.  Check out Leafly.com for more info on the hundreds of strains of marijuana.

I’ve also been using CBD oil for months, which enhances the effects of the THC, and minimizes any unpleasant side effects (which are all dose related).   The combination has definitely been helpful already, even only a few days into all of this.

Note to self:  don’t decarboxylate everything (heat to release the active components of the flower/buds) before knowing what I’m going to use it for.    There’s definitely a learning curve.   But I haven’t felt ‘stoned’ at all (just really tired that one morning).

I made my first candy bar today with Girl Scout Cookies (strain of marijuana) and mint chips.   Turned out that my math was a little off… but if I break each section of the bar in half, I’ll have a good dose- and it’s a sativa.  I’ve had hybrids at night- and now have some indica (more relaxing and sedating).

Bottom line- I feel much more alert and intact than with opiates.  I’m still learning a lot, and I’m sure I’ll make mistakes- but marijuana doesn’t kill people.  It’s safe to adjust and test to get the right dose.   In the meantime, I’ve taken no opiates since getting my MMJ card, and have no interest in them whatsoever.   And with the MMJ, there is no interest at all in getting into the car, and risking a low speed chase 😉

Girl Scout Cookies (strain) in Guittard Mint morsels and a few drops of peppermint oil (Lorann).

First Trip to The Medical Marijuana Dispensary

After nearly four months (113 days), my IL medical marijuana card came today.  I actually cried when I saw the envelope from the IL Department of Public Health, and felt the card inside.  It’s my  last hope for effective pain relief for severe fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy (made worse by chemo for leukemia), degenerative joint disease, and degenerative disc disease.  I’ve been on so many different opiates, been to chiropractors, physical therapists, used TENS units, had steroid injections, yadda, yadda, yadda.   This is it.   And I’m so hopeful based on what I’ve heard from people who are using MMJ for their qualifying conditions.

I called the dispensary (MedMar) before I started over there, to be sure there wasn’t a need to have an appointment.  The guy just asked that I be there an hour before closing so they could spend time with me.   I told him I’d be there in 15 minutes !   When I got there, I walked into the lobby area, where an armed security guard was in a glassed in corner of the room.  He was very polite as I gave him my MMJ card and drivers’ license.   He’s a retired police officer, and said it was a good job.   He told me that since it was my first time there, someone would be out to get me.   And soon, a kind young man came to the door and invited me in.   We had to wait between two doors, until the door to the outside had completely closed- no chance of anybody sneaking past.  It is all very secure and professional.

It isn’t weird inside.  It’s nothing like “Disjointed”.   It’s more like an old fashioned chemist’s office than a head shop (though they had some beautiful glass pipes).   There were photos of flowers, and various MMJ terms.   It’d didn’t smell particularly “weedy”.    Nobody was stoned.

Then there was an initial interview about  my qualifying conditions… and answering my basic questions.   I explained that I’ve never smoked marijuana before, and had no experience with it.  We then went over to where all of the product is stored (lots and lots of options).   I’d told the young man that I planned to make my own edibles for the most part, and really didn’t want to smoke the weed, but didn’t mind vaping.   I ended up with  a nice assortment of concentrated oils, ‘shake’ (ground up MJ that is good for edibles like canna butter, which requires processing), edibles (chocolates and gummies), disposable vape pens, and a bit of “flower” (or bud) to use in a dry herb convection vaporizer, or for cooking.  And, I got one package of joints (5 of them) , just for the heck of it- I can always unroll them and  use the dried MJ in something else if I don’t like smoking it.  The joints are factory rolled, and a lot bigger than I expected.  I’m hoping I can put them out after a puff or two, and not end up wasting any of it.

Anyway, that’s the overview of my first trip to the medical marijuana dispensary.  🙂

Initial Impressions of Cannabidiol (CBD) Supplementation and Hemp Products

My initial  desire to apply for a medical marijuana card is for severe fibromyalgia, PTSD, seizures, and some anxiety related to health issues, as well as the complete change in my life after the death of my dad.  My anxiety is  relatively mild compared to actual anxiety disorders, but it was still noticeable.    I’ve started with CBD products as I wait for the card.    I had no idea that our bodies have an ‘endocannabinoid’ system, and there are receptors in our bodies that make cannabis usable in therapeutic ways.

Years ago, I saw documentaries about Charlotte’s Web CBD and how it transformed the life of a 6 year old little girl (named Charlotte Figi) who had 300 seizures per week and was wheelchair bound.  Since Charlotte’s Web, her seizures are less than weekly, and she’s walking and developing much more like her twin sister who doesn’t have the same seizure disorder.   I liked that there were no psychoactive properties in CBD.  It’s the THC in cannabis that is the ‘stoner’ component.   CBD is useful for pain, sleep, anxiety, and a lot more.   The possibility of getting off of some of the regular pharmaceutical products that do an iffy job (especially with pain and sleep) was something I wanted to try.   But at the time, I didn’t know that CBD oil is legal in all 50 states, and is considered a ‘food supplement’, and not a drug, so the FDA keeps their nose out of it.   It’s legal to get online !

I got some Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil (in the olive oil flavor), as well as some of their capsules a few months ago, and it took me a while to get serious about consistent dosing.  It takes some finagling of doses before the right one ‘fits’, but the best part is that there aren’t any horrible side effects if the dose is a bit too high.  I just got really tired, and my blood pressure was a little low- but that didn’t last more than 1/2 a day- and I was very aware of it, so didn’t feel unsafe (unlike the effects of many prescription meds).   The sublingual oil is a good way to get it going in the blood stream without having to go through ‘normal’ metabolism when swallowed, but the capsules are nice as a “steady” dose.   When I do get my MMJ card, CBD can be used to cut down on any unpleasant effects of THC.  (I’ve never smoked pot, so have no clue how I’ll react to THC, and plan to use ‘non-combustible’ routes of use).    It will be another learning process to find out the best combination for me, to get pain relief without feeling spacey or ‘impaired’.

Since finding the CBD dose that seems right for me, I find I’m sleeping a LOT better- more soundly, and not waking up before dawn nearly as often.  I’m ready to hit the sack, and actually fall asleep within 10-15 minutes (I take my night meds around 6-7 p.m., and am usually out cold by 11 p.m. – this from someone who used to sleep until noon after being up until 4-6 a.m. EVERY night).    The intense PTSD symptoms re: my dad’s death have also eased enough to notice.  While I still miss him a LOT, I’m not crying nearly as much, and thinking about those last horrible 19 hours, (when he was absolutely incoherent and at best only understood very short, direct comments and questions) doesn’t bring on the same sense of absolute despair.   I made the promise to him that I wouldn’t leave his side, and I kept it- only to find that the symptoms of PTSD from that last day were worse than the symptoms from a six-hour rape when I was in my 20s (that I still deal with in the form of parole protests every 3 years).    I don’t have the  almost panicky feeling like I have to plan for every contingency for self-sufficiency, now that dad is gone.

I’m also taking fewer opiates for pain  (I detest methadone- a legitimate pain med- because of the rapid physical dependence that occurs- which is NOT the same as addiction).  I still have hydrocodone for bad days- which does not have bad interactions with the CBD, though I don’t take it more than a few times a week.  I could ‘justify’ taking it more often, but I want to use the CBD  as much as possible, and avoid the opiates unless it’s just too much for the CBD alone.  When I get my card, the hope is to not take opiates at all.

I’ve been able to get off of carbamazepine (one of my seizure meds, also used as an adjunct pain medication), which has always been very hard for me.  Granted, I  started weaning before getting the Charlotte’s Web, but it made getting off of the last of the carbamazepine less  ‘mood swingy’ and emotionally labile.     Since getting off of the carbamazepine, my brain feels less foggy.  I’m back to doing a memory/hidden object game on Facebook- and feel like my synapses are firing more quickly.   Three months ago, I was flirting with the terrifying  idea that I might be seeing the initial signs of progressive cognitive impairment… or dementia.   Having fibromyalgia and a history of intense chemotherapy for leukemia has left me with some word finding issues- but I was noticing some crazy short term memory problems as well.   I never know what causes what, but it was an unpleasant situation to KNOW that something was changing in a bad way.   I still have some word finding issues (worse when actually speaking; writing is somehow easier), but the memory issues for other things seem better.

There is another route of CBD that I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy, but I really do.  It’s ‘vaping’.  For those who don’t know what that is, it’s like e-cigarettes, but with CBD oil.  My favorite doesn’t have any glycerin or glycols, and is Limoncello flavored !   It’s a very smooth, tasty ‘hit’ of CBD oil that is a small dose compared to the capsules, but it’s very enjoyable.  There is NO combustion, so no soot/ash/etc.  It’s vaporized by a %100 convection heating element, to form the vapor.   I recently got a mint flavored cartridge that is a bit more ‘herby’ but still nice.  Again- no funky additives that aren’t necessary- just the pure CBD oil, natural flavorings, and ‘terpenes’ from the hemp plant.    I highly recommend Entourage CBD vaping oils.   There is no smell in the house with vaping.   That is a huge perk.

CBD edibles are also good.  Because any type of cannabis product is carried  by fat, it’s important that the chocolates, gummies, mints, etc are made with fat, or the CBD has been processed correctly so it blends with the other ingredients.  With chocolate, fat is built in (cocoa butter).   The flavor can have a bit of a ‘skunk’ background, but I’ve found that the chocolates with mint are the best at masking any type of weed flavor.   Some CBD edibles aren’t so tasty, but there are many brands that are quite nice.  Iris makes great gummies and small chocolates in milk and dark varieties.  Hemp seeds (I like the shelled ones) taste like tiny pine nuts.  They are very small, but a couple of tablespoons has beneficial Omega oils.  I usually eat them plain, but they can be added to cereals, yogurt, etc.   Hemp oil is a good alternative to salad oils.   I get my seeds and oil from Amazon.

I got one brand of CBD oil that is a decent oil, but the flavor (chocolate mint) wasn’t strong enough to combat the ‘weedy’ undertones in a sublingual oil (that need to be held in the mouth- under the tongue- for as long as possible to increase absorption directly into the bloodstream).   I managed to salvage the bottle by making truffles out of it, with semi-sweet chocolate.  I can have a consistent dose per piece, and though I could still taste a bit of ‘funk’, it was completely doable.  I added more mint which helped a lot.

Initially, I planned to only use CBD, but in all of the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve found that some THC is desirable to increase relaxation, and make pain control more complete.  There are dozens to hundreds of strains of cannabis that have varying degrees of THC, CBD, and the other related chemicals that each have a role in the management of medical symptoms.   Each symptom can be helped with various combinations of CBD and THC, and finding the ratio for each is a process. The ‘bud tenders’ in the dispensaries are very good at knowing what active ingredients do the most for each condition.   It is very possible to minimize the THC effects so that it’s possible to function.  Of course, it’s never recommended that a person drive after ‘medicating’ (that’s how MMJ is referred to)

I’m hoping that my MMJ card gets here soon, so I can go to the dispensary and get started on what feels like the last hope for increasing my quality of life.   Hope.  That is what all of the interest in medical marijuana is about.   I don’t want to feel wasted.  I want to feel some degree of relief just living in my own body.  I have enough qualifying diagnoses, and types of pain that the idea of living a long life without some relief is not something I look forward to- so I’m hoping to have a renewed sense of peace about having a life that is worth being here for.   I am NOT in any way suicidal or not wanting to live… I just NEED some relief.   I’ve had constant pain since 1995- and all of the things I’ve tried have been moderately effective at best, but not for any length of time.

When medical marijuana first became possible in my state several years ago, my dad asked me if I’d ever consider using it.   He knew that pain was a constant reason why I was limited in what I could do.   I told him that I didn’t want to smoke it (I’d smoked cigarettes on and off from 1982 until April 2007 (when I had the blood clots in my lungs).   At that time, I had no idea what forms would be available, but of course, I’d heard of pot brownies.   My dad was a fairly conservative person, but also considered context with the medical marijuana.   I’m so glad we had that conversation.  He was OK with my decision, and even though I’m a middle-aged woman, it mattered what he thought.

The more I read, the more I learn about the incredible benefits of cannabis.  I have no interest in ‘recreational’ weed.  I want some medical stability and relief.   I want quality of life.  I want something that actually contributes to well being without the side effects that make for more problems.    I am hopeful that medical marijuana will do that.  I’m already impressed with the benefits of CBD I’ve noticed so far.