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 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