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.

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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.

The Only Place I Can Write This…

….and not freak a bunch of people out.    This is the second Christmas without dad, whose family was the  core of all things Christmas when I was growing up.   Even until the Christmas before he died, those who were still around  got together to do the Swedish Christmas Eve party with a lot of traditions soaked into a few hours one night each year.  The music, food, memories- they were all part of something more than any one of us.  They were the bits and pieces of each family member who had been at any of those wonderful Christmas parties.   And now, everybody is either dead, lives somewhere else, or has more dependable people to spend the night with (and I completely understand that- I’m NOT reliable when it comes to showing up for gatherings, with the medical issues and equipment I need to lug along with me if I do go somewhere).   Christmas feels like it’s  over.  Of course, I know that the true meaning of Christmas will never be ‘over’… but everything visible that  I associate with Christmas is gone.  It makes the other pain more intense…    I did have a very nice invitation to go to a friend’s home for a Christmas brunch, which I so appreciate… but I’m just not in a mood to be around humans today.

I got mad at my older dog earlier today, and screamed at her.   My dad bought her for me after my previous dog died of heart failure at age 11 1/2.   Shelby (older dog) is my baby- my pride and joy, and best gift ever from my dad.   She was visibly upset at me being mad at her, since it’s not something she’s used to.  The little dog, Shiloh,  ( 5 1/2 months old) went and lied down on her ‘cube’ bed.  I just went and sat down, and started sobbing and repeating “I’m SO sorry”.    Shelby came over and got on my lap and didn’t seem any worse for the wear, but I feel terrible.   It’s never either of their ‘fault’ that I’m having a bad day.   I can’t take it out on them.  They mean too much, and are my only constant companions.    I feel like I’m sometimes no good for them, though I’d do anything to make their lives as good as is humanly possible to do.   My days revolve around feeding them, changing the pee pads, having them on my lap, etc.

When I feel like this, my thoughts get very dark.  I wonder why I’m still alive, and what possible purpose I could have being a disabled RN whose only hope is riding on being approved for medical marijuana.   Me.  A former detox RN in a drug/alcohol treatment center… HOPING that I can get some pain relief from MMJ.   The fibromyalgia has gotten worse, and add to that diabetic neuropathy pain and bone-on-bone knee pain (that can’t be fixed because of my history of pulmonary emboli… they call knee replacements “elective” surgery, and “pain won’t kill you”), and I don’t know what I’m going to do if I can’t get some relief soon.     Pain may not kill me physiologically, but it certainly could be the factor that decides when I’ve had enough of being alive, and make a very desperate decision to opt out.   I have opiates.  They don’t do much.   I’ve been through physical therapy, TENS units, chiropractors, steroid injections, etc.  I can’t take Aleve or Motrin because of my kidney function.   So, yeah… pain can kill.

I need to be very clear.  I am not suicidal.  I do not want to die.  I just wonder how I’m going to manage living when there is no relief from my body hurting.  Any contact with furniture, or sometimes even clothing, is miserable.   I’m relying on the hope that medical marijuana offers.  So many people are getting help from a simple little plant.   I know that I need  not to  pin all of my hopes on using weed for medication- but right now, it’s the only thing I haven’t tried.     I focus on how much I love the two dogs- and how much they depend on me.   That is huge.    I need to have very concrete reasons to get up each day and know that two little beings depend on me for everything in their lives.   They are my only immediate family.   I have biological and adoptive family all over the place, and I’m very thankful for them.  But the dogs are the only beings with me every day.

I know this is scattered.   My life is scattered.  My body is scattered.  And I need some peace and hope that feels like it’s never going to come.   Applying for the MMJ card was a last resort.   I just want to feel enough relief to make the thought of being alive in 10 years sound like something positive.   I really am grateful for a lot.  This post doesn’t sound like it, but I am.  I know that I have a lot to be thankful for… I’m just so ready for my body to be part of that.

Shelby and Shiloh
Christmas 2017

The Divisiveness is Breaking My Heart…

I’m just blowing off steam.  I can’t remember a time when I felt so hopeless about the vast majority of  humanity.   No matter who says what, there are legions of people who are at the ready to deliberately be cruel and completely disinterested in the “idea” that those who believe as they do are just as passionate- and free to do so- as I am with my beliefs.  There is absolutely no reason or justification for name calling, belittlement, shaming, or anything else that just makes them sound  ‘holier than thou’ and pathetic  (whether or not they believe an God- or anything higher than themselves).   And yeah, I’m guilty.   I’m writing this from a place of pain- sometimes that comes across as anger – but mostly it just hurts.   The people I grew up with, especially from church, are no longer people I relate with in many areas, and that saddens me deeply.  I know that God knows my heart, and that I’d never opt to go against His will. I do question what humans have done to make Christianity so legalistic.

There is also  hypocrisy about many of  the ‘hot button’ issues.  In this post, I’m focusing on abortion- and being a Christian.  I can’t stand the idea of terminating a pregnancy.   BUT,  I understand why a woman would consider it, after being pregnant as a result of being raped in 1987.  I was very naive for a 23 year old and nearly immobilized by the options I had, for the situation I was in.  I couldn’t go the abortion route.  I just couldn’t do it, because my own values.     I never told  my mom about the pregnancy- the first question my mom asked me after I called to tell them about the rape was “Are you pregnant?”… like 6 hours after getting out of the ER, and 2 hours after leaving the police department, where I talked with the Sex Crimes detectives, in a hospital gown and gnarly raincoat from the hospital lost and found box.   Later, the dementia made it inappropriate to discuss it with my mom.  It would have confused her.   She had already told people I was moving back to my home to be a truck driver, because all she remembered about my moving back was that I was driving a U-Haul truck.

Adoption was a touchy subject as a viable option (though probably would have been the outcome had things not turned out as they did).    I’m an adoptee, and while I landed in a great home, there were always the questions about ‘why’ (I had some idea- young mom, couldn’t keep me… my birth mom and I  have a great relationship now), and the sense of “something” missing.  And what would I tell a kid later on in life, should he/she come looking for me, about the circumstances of their conception?  There is no way to make it sound like they were nothing more than a horrific, felonious mistake.  How does someone bring that into the world?   I realize that God can do a lot to help someone get through things (believe me, I prayed a LOT during the rape, and it was a huge source of comfort).  But what if the kid was not a person of faith, and had no belief system to get through something like that?  I would have done all I could to ease the blow- but I would not have lied.   Lies don’t ultimately soothe catastrophic pain.

I certainly didn’t want the kid, because of the ‘how do I explain the conception?’ issue, “who is my father?”,  and never wanting to have a negative bias towards the child in how I raised and treated it.  I didn’t want the reminders of that disgusting day every time I saw the kid’s face, though the child was never at fault.  I was frozen in terms of making decisions, but mercifully, God took care of it one morning, with some nasty cramping, and an unceremonious expulsion into the toilet.  I saw the placental side, freaked, and hit the flush handle.   I was about 12 weeks along.   When I told my dad about the pregnancy after I moved back to my hometown (16 years after the rape), he told me he would have sent me the money for an abortion… and he was a member of an evangelical church for about 60 years.   He understood the torment of that decision.  

I find using abortion as birth control out of laziness or not wanting to be inconvenienced by a child appalling and inexcusable (call that judgement if you want to- I call trivially expelling a pregnancy out of simple personal convenience horribly irresponsible).   There are plenty of good sources of birth control- the most reliable requiring a prescription (which makes Panned Parenthood a good source of medical care EXcluding abortions; they have doctors who will see a woman to do a physical  exam, do a PAP and screen for STDs,  take her medical history, and recommend the safest options to prevent pregnancy- you know… ‘planned’ ).   There are inexpensive prescription birth control pills out there, but they require a physician.  For those without a family doc, PP is a very good option.   I doubt that many right wing Christians will ever believe that (including family and longtime friends) and that’s fine.  Maybe some of them will open their homes and pay the medical bills for a woman facing an unplanned /unwanted pregnancy, and help place her child for adoption-  maybe keep it until the adoption agency and adoptive parents are sorted out.  That’d be great.  Unless someone will step up when they remove options, and offer their own solution on an active, personal level, I don’t think that they should have much say in what someone else does.

Condoms are good for a lot of ‘safe sex’ reasons… but they’re not %100 for birth control… still better than nothing- and anybody who has ‘frivolous sex’ with either multiple partners, or one with a known STD, is irresponsible if they don’t  keep a stash of more than they think they’ll ever need… At.  All. Times.   They are very good at preventing  many STDs (sexually transmitted diseases- some of which can be fatal, in a prolonged and nasty death, i.e. syphilis is easily treated early on, but can lead to dementia after decades with the  untreated disease).

The “morning after pill” is often misunderstood –  sometimes for deliberate political purposes,  to stoke the fires of misinformation.  The morning after pill DOES NOT TERMINATE pregnancy.  It prevents implantation.  There is no pregnancy without implantation.  There is no life without implantation.  Many women “miscarry” these unattached zygotes throughout their life, and never know that fertilization ever happened.  A fertilized zygote (with the potential to become a baby) is essentially nothing without implantation.

Bottom line:  Women are responsible for what goes on in/with/to their bodies when it comes to sexual activity and pregnancy.   Don’t do the “well, he should have brought the rubbers”.  Nonsense !!  If you’re having sex, you are the one who needs to be responsible for the consequences.   

About late term abortions…  I think this is often misunderstood as well.  There are times when ‘pre-term delivery’ (what it is called medically) to end the pregnancy is the only way to save the mother.  With neonatal intensive care being what it is now, there are  maximum efforts to resuscitate the baby and care for it with the hope that it will survive, and hopefully thrive.  Babies as early as 23 weeks are successfully cared for in NICUs. (I’ve heard of a few at 22 weeks, and seen 24 weekers with my own eyes)  That’s before the third trimester !  Pre-term deliveries are ONLY for medical emergencies.  They are not abortions.  (Could there be heinous individuals out there that do them?   Yeah- there are heinous individuals who do just about anything… but pre-term deliveries aren’t the same as abortions. Period.).   Look at the Duggars and their little Josie… they’re about as conservative as folks come- and they “got it” about the reasons for doing the pre-term delivery because of Mrs. Duggar having eclampsia, which is fatal if the pregnancy is not ended. Pre-term delivery IS the cure.  There was never any thought of Josie not getting care.    But the ‘far right’ loves to use inflammatory terms to garner support for candidates.  Unfortunately, inaccuracies abound, and that just fans the fire. Those that say that the mother dying is “God’s will”,  when there is a way to save, her baffle me… to me that is deliberately letting the mother die.  God doesn’t give us ways to take care of emergencies and then not expect/allow us to use them. Why lose two lives when you can save one pretty much for sure (nothing is every %100 in medicine), and probably both?

But bottom line about abortion, in my eyes?   It’s not my decision to make for someone else.  Legislating morality is muddling the religion and state line.  We are not a “Christian” country.  Many of the founding fathers did have a Christian background, but they were very careful to design our country to separate church and state to avoid legislating morality.   We are a country of freedom OF religion.  Once we impose Christian values into law, we open the doors to have parts of Sharia law, or Buddhist values, or whatever, into laws for everybody.   Laws don’t stop abortion.  And just because something is legal doesn’t mean I have to participate!   The government isn’t responsible for determining my decisions.  I have to answer for my own choices- NOBODY else’s.     Again- I don’t like the idea of termination a pregnancy at all.   But I’m not going to focus on people  I can’t control at the expense of ignoring things that could make a positive difference for more people (cue the “but the baby is a person” folks… yeah, I do believe that there is a blooming human in the uterus- and that’s why I wouldn’t choose to have an abortion myself). What is the benefit of being  judgmental over an issue that is between the woman,  HER conscience, and God?   I can’t live her life. But,  I’m also going to extend to her an ear to listen to her fears and conflicts- and gently talk to her about other options, helping in ways that I can.  And prayer is always going to be heard… God can direct the outcome.

So where do I find hypocrisy?  The same folks who are furiously self-righteous about being pro-life couldn’t care less about the health care availability for the “post-born”.    Jesus was ‘into’ taking care of folks medical issues.  You know- that whole “Great Physician” term?   He didn’t ask if people had a good job with adequate coverage to reimburse Him.   He didn’t ask if they were  purposely out of work just so they could stay home with bills piling up and no hope of a better life.  He didn’t ask if their medical needs were the reason they couldn’t find suitable work.  He didn’t deny ‘medicine’ because someone’s prescription drug plan didn’t cover His ‘medicine’.   He just healed them out of compassion.  Everybody remember that?   I know.  It’s not talked about much anymore.  Compassion isn’t a great political word, so it gets lost.

Matthew 25: 41-46   41“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Yes- those verses talk about visiting the sick, and not healing…  check this out:
Ezekiel 34: 11-16.    11“ ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”       It’s all about care, compassion, and bringing the ‘sheep’ together.  This is talking specifically about Israel- but I can’t imaging God not wanting those who love His Son to be treated differently.  And He will strengthen the weak !  He’ll help the injured.  Because of love for His people.  In the Old Testament that was directed at the Jewish people.  In the New Testament, and after someone makes the choice to believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, He extends that to us as Christians as well.

There are SO many other things that are saddening me these days- but this is one of the things that separates me from the people I grew up with.  That’s hard, but I’m not going to simply follow the herd when I have strong feelings and thoughts of my own, based in compassion.  I became a nurse to help people.  I miss that.   It’s hard to feel like an outcast- and I don’t anticipate anybody being willing to have a discussion – not to change minds, but simply be heard and maybe even understand a little of where I’m coming from.  But I know God does.  People who aren’t part of the community I grew up with (at church) understand… but within that church group, I feel like something they’d just as soon throw out with the trash. And that hurts.  Lots of talk.  No action.

But, whatever.  I’m rapidly losing interest with humans in general.  It’s “safer” to write here, or just keep the front door locked, and screen calls.   But I won’t lie.  I’d love to hear someone with the same spiritual background tell me that they ‘get it’.   That they understand.  And that I’m not “bad”.    I realize that in the grand scheme of things, the opinion of a human is pretty meaningless.  But it would still be nice to be understood.  I do find intense comfort in knowing that God hears my cries, and knows my heart.   ❤

 

Furnishing a House And Keeping My Parents Living There With Me Through Memories and Decorative Items

The past few weeks since dad died have been the days I’ve been most dreading for quite a while (starting in earnest last summer when he was too tired to go on a private yacht for a week.  He claimed seasickness- that didn’t fly as he’d been in the navy and had a sailboat with two other couples.  Then it was too much fatigue- which was a huge change; this guy ran around ALL the time.   He was changing, and his mortality slapped me upside the head.  With both parents gone, I feel like I’m about 12 years old some days (and younger on other days, for bits of time) when nothing seems like it’s going to be OK, even though I know eventually the pain dulls, and the memories of good times will again get brighter.  Right now, it’s just a rat maze going through the paperwork things, keeping up with two ‘abodes’, and working to get the decisions made for what I want changed in the house without removing either of my folks from it.   I miss my daddy… haven’t called him that since about first grade.   Tonight I asked my uncle Russ if here was still a pair of shoes (or something ) that I could put with mom’s on a Welcome Mat inside the door.  I’ve got a pair of mom’s (with San Diego animal park shoelaces) that will work well- and Russ has a pair at the house in mind for dad’s.  ❤

My dad designed that house with his cousin (who is an amazing architect), and put a lot of time into it. I want to keep those special touches that remind me of him.  There are bricks from the streets of Chicago from the time of the Great Fire that make up the living room fireplace – 14 feet tall on one half of the ‘Great Room’ (remember Mrs.  O’Leary’s agitated cow?), a custom stained glass window in the gable of the vaulted ceiling in the kitchen, and an acre in the back of the house, with partially wild grass and trees- very private, and beautiful during seasonal changes- snow is gorgeous back there.  There are a lot of birds, squirrels, sometimes deer, wild turkeys, and other critters, which I love.

It was all put together by a family friend who is a great contractor (still in business), which has been HUGE in helping me get through the various updates I want to get done- the guy who built it has been out measuring, and his son and project manager have been walking me through all of it; they’ve been wonderful.  What they don’t do, they know someone who does that works with them often.   The carpet is the original stuff from 1976.  It’s gotta go- it’s got green tints where there were no drapes (on purpose).  Window treatments must be changed- the drapes are ‘nice’, and in good condition, but not my thing- I MUST have something that directs light away from me because of the dysautonomia and temperature regulation in my body.  The windows face east-west on either side of the house, so sauna material if I’m not careful.  The bathroom wallpaper is “disco era”, with foil.  It’s in outstanding condition, so for now, it stays.  I can live with that.

Dad and I had talked about things I liked and others I’d probably change long before he died.  His taste was “House Beautiful” (with antiques and high end collectibles- that  are  now at an auction house)… I’m more “House Standing”, with comfortable furniture and a casual vibe that I hope is inviting, as well as a place I’ll stay in as long as I’m still breathing air.  There were a couple of things that I hadn’t anticipated (isn’t that how it always goes?) that ate about a third of my original ‘goal’ budget… but I want to get it all done right, so it seemed like a no-brainer.  I found an alternate for a pantry that will work well, and saved me a few thousand bucks.

After getting a check from the first auction of dad’s belongings that I didn’t keep, I set off to a local mom and pop furniture store that has been in town for  a LONG time.  They’re having their grand opening of a store closer to me, which I hadn’t realized was still going on, so that was a nice surprise to know I’d get %20 off (roughly).   I’d set out for 2 green recliners  (only) that felt like sitting in a cloud, but had to swivel to either talk with guests or watch show falling/thunderstorms from the windows in the living room. If I can get the gas fireplace going, that’s another form of live entertainment.  Anyway, the chairs will be made to my preferences.   I hadn’t expected to be able to get a couch in a custom fabric for what I could afford, a beautiful Amish (simple design, well made) BED- the whole thing, headboard, frame, and foot board, and a great  buffet – all in my taste.  Very simple designs, sturdy, and fit into a contemporary house in the main part, with the Amish bed working with my quilt and a bit more retro/mild country vibe in there.  The kitchen will be a bit of an eclectic bouquet- but still keep the colors dad worked so hard to pick out for the counter overlay and bigger items.  There are a few cosmetic cabinet things that I need to get done – but all in due time.

This might not sound like an earth shattering event to a lot of people, but it’s the first  time I’ve been able to pick out everything I like !  I’m not refurnishing the whole place- I still have some nice pieces here, as well as some things I’m keeping at the house that dad had.  When dad found out that the reason I didn’t have much furniture in Texas (and nothing new) because of financial constraints, he sent me money if I’d find a second hand item in good condition.  He did buy me a new dinette set (was eating at a card table for over 20 years), as well as a group of end tables and coffee table, and a 32 inch TV when my 13 inch set that I got  in late high school  had lost so much horizontal hold that I got audio and about an inch of the “picture”, but it had lasted for about  20 years ! .   The ‘new’ TV even made it back to my hometown when I moved 1250 miles back to help take care of my mom (she died in 2003, which was unexpected), and was then graduated to the flat screen.   Now, I have at least 4 other TVs (dad had one in his bedroom, my old bedroom (his self-proclaimed den),  living room, and kitchen… I forget if one was in the downstairs living area  or not- it’s designed for visitors for the most part).

The dining room table was made for the house, and is a big, solid piece of table, covered in formica- doesn’t sound that exciting, but in the “Great Room”, it works very well.  Chairs from an old opera house from somewhere around here surround it.  Those stay.  🙂   Living in apartments for  30 years has been great in a lot of ways; I’ve moved a lot, maintenance was a phone call or e-mail away, etc.  But white walls (I will have those at the house  mostly,  except for the  wood paneling walls that are painted a shade of almond, and the disco wallpaper, which is fine- outstanding installation), the less expensive carpet in apartments, dinky refrigerators, some seriously funky linoleum over the years, and NO ‘right’ to do my own thing has been annoying.  Then there are the views.  One takes what one wants if the price, neighborhood, and location work.   For the last 13 years, I’ve had a nice apartment, but my view is of a parking lot and a tree. My second apartment in Austin,TX overlooked a relic car part lot… never saw so many Corsairs in various stages of decomposition.    I do have nice neighbors here at the apartment now- and I will miss them.  I spent time growing up at the “new” neighborhood, but don’t recognize the vast majority of the folks there.

It is fun to pick out new things, but it’s also really important to me to keep my parents’ presence in that house.  They are what made it a home.  The scuff marks at the top of the stairs from dad’s shoes will stay.  Mom’s wheelchair marks on the bedroom door will also be untouched.  There are some things that nobody but me will appreciate, and that’s fine. Dad left me a wonderful home and “yard” (more than an acre, WITH his lawn guy staying on for the weekly trims).  It gets harder to know he won’t be coming back.. it’s only been  a month and a half since he died (time gets so warped).  I was pretty sick with bronchitis for a couple of weeks after going gangbusters with “getting it done” (I’d ‘house sat’ for dad whenever he was out of town, so knew what as in the house, and what I didn’t want to keep).    I’ve slowed down a bit, but still moving forward.

But I really miss him.  Fifty-two years, I was blessed enough to call that man my dad. ❤