How I tried Medical Marijuana

A couple of months ago, a neighbour told me her 86 year-old mother who suffered chronic back pain was now on medical marijuana. Intrigued, I asked, “Is it helping?” “Well, it may not do anything about the pain, but I don't think she cares about it any more.”

TNot exactly encouraging. I have always felt that if I lose my zest for life and clarity of thought, I would have lost the whole purpose of life. No way do I want to wander in a soma-like buzz. Brave New World, my foot – or rather back. But, what the hell, I could at least give it a try.

Marijuana has been so fringe and medical marijuana is so new here in Canada, that I had no idea what to expect. I started, nervously, with my family doctor. To my surprise, she didn't turn a hair – but she had no idea how to go about it.

Bill, in an inspired moment, had googled marijuana and veterans. Up came Marijuana for Trauma, a centre run for veterans for veterans. Not only do they also take civilians, but they were in the next office to my doctor!

They shepherded me through the process. I needed a written diagnosis from my GP and a copy of my prescriptions, so the prescribing physician could check me out. Two weeks later, I was back in their office for a skype-type interview with their doctor.

He was discouraging. “I don't think it will help you.” His manner was brusque and he never made eye contact. It felt like the pain clinic version of a back street abortion.

How would I take it? Nervously, because by now I felt illicit, I said I didn't want to smoke it.

“Why not? What's wrong with your lungs?”

“Nothing. And I don't want there to be.” Surely he didn't want me to smoke?

“What you want is neither here nor there!” But he did concede there was CDB oil, which doesn't get you high and does help pain. I was to start at .25 ml twice a day and titrate up every three days.

I took my first sublingual dose of .25 ml at 3.00 on a Tuesday afternoon. By 4.00, I could still feel the pain, boring away, but it seem detached; I didn't seem to mind. By 4.30, it was gone. I was pain-free for the first time in years. And it didn't wear off till Wednesday afternoon! Much longer than expected. I went over to help Bill set up for a talk he was giving and stood for a long time chatting as people arrived, something I could never normally do.

Thursday, I was active all day, sitting and shopping. Way more than I could normally do. Friday, unfortunately, it affected my stomach and I was doubled up with cramps. These continued through the weekend, starting like clockwork three hours after taking a dose. I carried on trying just one low dose a day. It was heartbreaking to have glimpsed freedom only to see it vanish.

A week later, I stopped taking any marijuana and was surprised that the pain didn't return for three days! My stomach slowly settled. For any of you who are thinking of trying marijuana, don't be put off. My stomach is badly damaged from 25 years of undiagnosed celiac disease and it gets thrown very easily.

Serendipity: my chiropractor put me in touch with a friend who had successfully navigated colon cancer, three surgeries and chemo without painkillers, only medical marijuana. Amy explained that she made up suppositories. That way, she bypassed the liver and had no psychoactive effects. There was a good chance I could bypass the gastric effects.

Now I am on a very low dose .4 ml suppository once a day, which keeps me largely pain-free. The temptation is to do too much! For breakthrough pain, I use a canbabis cream that one of the vets kindly made up for me. It is messy, so I cover it with a non-absorbent pad – I want the canbabis soaking into me, not a gauze pad. The best ones I find, are Equate Non-stick Gauze Pads from Wal-Mart.

The next step, when I have been stable on this dose for a month, will be to reduce my meds.

 

More info:

Marijuana for Trauma

Cannabis Cream Recipes

How to make marijuana suppositories

How to get a medical marijuana prescription in Canada

 

 

 

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Sunday, Sweet Sunday

Where have all the Sundays gone? They used to be slow. I could tell it was Sunday by the feel of the atmosphere – and as a child said, “boring!” Family lunch with a roast, followed by brisk walks in English drizzle, and long, lazy hours reading, punctuated by the crackle of toffee wrappers.

Then we got Sunday shopping. The kids were half out the door to part-time jobs, complaining they no longer had one day when they could count on friends being free. Church and formal lunch were long gone, replaced by lying-in and pajamas.

This morning, I caught a radio talk between a rabbi and a minister: when do we soothe the soul? And when do we take time out for gratitude. We keep being told how beneficial it is to be thankful, but we have tossed our day of rest out with the bath water and sunk into a sea of electronic fuzz.

After the kids left home. Bill and I used to celebrate “holy days.” The rules were simple: they must cost nothing and refresh the soul. So we would take a picnic by the lake or cross-country ski through a conservation area. They were special days, steeped in peace and rich in beauty. We returned with clear eyes and new resolve.

And I remembered that through the ages, society calibrated the year by holy days. Today, we have sales. We have replaced Good Friday with Black Friday. We may have gained a deal on shoes, but lost out on community and peace of mind.

 

 

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Choosing Life

“I can choose to live in perpetual sadness immobilized by my loss,

or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself”.

Walter Anderson

 

Back is burning, boring – and it doesn't let up. It is fiercely concentrated – I would admire its determination if it were a person.

I am used to it – is that better or worse? The fact I had hope when starting the marijuana makes it harder. The doors started opening and I could see light through the crack: see the grandchildren, go to the theatre.

But if I am going to get through this night, I must change the story I am telling myself. I need to sleep to have a chance tomorrow – and I want that chance for Bill.

So what is my new story? After all life isn't what happens, but how I perceive it. And I don't want my story to be a victim, or bravely courageous. I just want to be normal. I don't want to build my morale by grabbing points over some other poor wretch. I don't want you bereaved, so I can say “at least I am not you.”

I am loved – and that is so huge. I can afford the help I need. I have loving friends, in whose happiness I rejoice.

I have sight – and the joy of watching clouds. I have an active mind and zest for life.

For what life, when I can do so little? For reaching towards understanding what it is to be human. And where better to start than from pain?

Now to sleep. Thank God for a sleeping pill and warmth on my back – and the purring of Thea, who snuggles so close each night and her paw creeps into my hand.

So now I hand over my pain to God and play one last game of 100! on my itouch. Placing each piece as carefully as I can.

So that one thing is perfect.

I wrote this late last night after a bad pain day, while trying not to let myself feel despair. Last week, I was tried on medical marijuana. It switched off the pain within an hour – and lasted for over 12. The doors started opening again – possibilities, perhaps see my grandchildren or go to the theatre, which I used to love. Galleries, nights out with friends – dizzying choice. And no longer trying not to mind being left out. Then as the marijuana built up in my system, the side effects came in, stomach cramps, and worse, a lost sense of self. Where was the love of life that never deserted me even through years of pain? I was pain-free but dulled and so tired, because I couldn't sleep. I tried splitting the dose, and using it topically in a cream, but nothing gave me back my self. So I came to last night. This is what I wrote to calm myself, to try to sleep. I wanted to be OK today, because Bill has an evening arranged with friends and I want him to be able to enjoy it. I haven't edited at all. This is what pain is like,

 

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Choosing Life

“I can choose to live in perpetual sadness immobilized by my loss,

or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself”.

Walter Anderson

 

Back is burning, boring – and it doesn't let up. It is fiercely concentrated – I would admire its determination if it were a person.

I am used to it – is that better or worse? The fact I had hope when starting the marijuana makes it harder. The doors started opening and I could see light through the crack: see the grandchildren, go to the theatre.

But if I am going to get through this night, I must change the story I am telling myself. I need to sleep to have a chance tomorrow – and I want that chance for Bill.

So what is my new story? After all life isn't what happens, but how I perceive it. And I don't want my story to be a victim, or bravely courageous. I just want to be normal. I don't want to build my morale by grabbing points over some other poor wretch. I don't want you bereaved, so I can say “at least I am not you.”

I am loved – and that is so huge. I can afford the help I need. I have loving friends, in whose happiness I rejoice.

I have sight – and the joy of watching clouds. I have an active mind and zest for life.

For what life, when I can do so little? For reaching towards understanding what it is to be human. And where better to start than from pain?

Now to sleep. Thank God for a sleeping pill and warmth on my back – and the purring of Thea, who snuggles so close each night and her paw creeps into my hand.

So now I hand over my pain to God and play one last game of 100! on my itouch. Placing each piece as carefully as I can.

So that one thing is perfect.

I wrote this late last night after a bad pain day, while trying not to let myself feel despair. Last week, I was tried on medical marijuana. It switched off the pain within an hour – and lasted for over 12. The doors started opening again – possibilities, perhaps see my grandchildren or go to the theatre, which I used to love. Galleries, nights out with friends – dizzying choice. And no longer trying not to mind being left out. Then as the marijuana built up in my system, the side effects came in, stomach cramps, and worse, a lost sense of self. Where was the love of life that never deserted me even through years of pain? I was pain-free but dulled and so tired, because I couldn't sleep. I tried splitting the dose, and using it topically in a cream, but nothing gave me back my self. So I came to last night. This is what I wrote to calm myself, to try to sleep. I wanted to be OK today, because Bill has an evening arranged with friends and I want him to be able to enjoy it. I haven't edited at all. This is what pain is like,

 

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When a Friend Dies …

 

 

When a friend dies, it catches you in the throat. The loss, the flavour, the timbre of him – for this time he is a him. We remember his cadence, humour and kindness. But also deeply ask, what is it all about, that life can be over – and what is life?

The places he traveled, sights seen, music heard can't go with him. What does it mean to look at a view, listen to a song? Where does that feeling go, when we are no longer here?

We can, by our acts, make statements to history. Integrity draws a wide brush stroke across the canvas of our common world. We remember Rosa Parks and Mother Theresa, but also the quiet neighbour who donates a kidney or Robert Charest who, despite chronic pain, takes his walker and picks up litter each day.

And on a personal scale, I remember acts of truth by my father and they seem timeless; Granny's wise sayings I pass on to my grandchildren – spanning 5 generations. Camping in the South Arican bush, by a flickering fire, I retail my grandsons with “Grandfather stories” for, despite fierce integrity, he was eccentric and always in trouble.

So, perhaps we need to kick our bucket list aside for it is not the bungee jump thrill that lives on. Not what we did or saw, but HOW we lived.

 

In memory of Kit, a kind and good man, beloved by his family. He will live on through his grandchildren.

 

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New Horizon

Wishing you all well and a better 2017. Our son and I agreed in a recent call that we just wanted to see the back of 2016 and didn't feel very optimistic going forward.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in that frame of mind, nor do I want to jolly myself along with false bonhomie – it always feels fake.

Then I remembered flying back to England for my mother's death. Down through a hole in the clouds, I could see grey, misty, chilly England. I looked around at the clear blue and rolling clouds we were about to descend through and turned to the man sitting next to me, who was flying to his brother's deathbed.

“We must remember this in the says ahead!” And I did through the sorrow that came – and it helped, having a safe space to rest.

So my resolution for 2017 is to choose have my being in that sunlit space of joy. Not ignoring the hurts and fears of the world but to keep my essence in a place of light and joy – in God's space.

 

 

 

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Choosing our Choice

 

We are not victims. We are not the product of our pasts. We are the products of our choices.

We are response-able meaning we can choose our responses.

The power to choose is a reflection of our independent will.”

Steven Covey – Primary Greatness


Victims? I have struggled all my life not to be or feel a victim. I have chronic pain, and spend a lot of energy refusing to let it be my identity. And 30 years ago when my body collapsed on me, I recognized that this was partially caused by my very stressful childhood. Dwelling on this was not healing.

Finally, I said to myself, “You have a choice. You can blame someone else or you can look at what it was in you that enabled this to happen. Because that you can change.” This sounds like “blame the victim,” but it put the power back into my hands. I didn't blame myself or negate what was done to me, but I could see where my reaction amplified it and what in me made me a target. So I was able to start the long journey up into wellness.

I started with anything I did that weakened me: how I talked to myself, how I reacted to stress. You name it, I had very bad reactions. Take my tendency to react to crisis by running in all directions like a headless chicken. Why? I discovered to make a smoke screen that would stop any other demands on me. So yes, I am with Steven Covey on this one.

But we are products of our pasts, subliminally. Kids start out knowing nothing. We have to decode life and weave it into a coherent narrative. We learn what is safe and what hurts us. We also, by osmosis, learn the values of our culture.

I certainly learned that girls were less valued than boys. I learned many 60s survival skills: not appearing more intelligent than my boyfriend, for example. Sounds crazy today, but not back in Mad Men days. And many of my beliefs were deep down inside, buried. I didn't know I had them – except sometimes they come up near the surface, so I can grab them and say, “of course, this comes from way back.” A huge wave of relief as I take that filter out of my vision. I never knew that I was interpreting my life through a lens distorted when I was five. I just thought “this is what life is.”

So, Steven Covey, yes we do have choices, but only if we understand that what we believe is the truth on which we base our choices is often only the survival interpretation of a child.

 

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