Archives for category: medical marijuana

I am groggy this morning. Waking up feels more than ordinarily difficult. My thoughts wander, fractured, and disorganized. My coffee is… cold. For real? Am I drinking the dregs of yesterday’s cup, left carelessly on my desk? That’ll teach me. (No, seriously, I learn some of the best and most useful life lessons by way of carelessness, haplessness, and basic fucking up. lol) I take steps to correct my mistake.

I kill some helpless minutes by making a numbered list, simple steps, for learning from mistakes. lol

  1. Experience the error.
  2. Recognize the error.
  3. Correct the error.
  4. Move on from the error.
  5. Learn something from the experience.

I listen to the traffic outside the window. The morning is still quiet. The sky is still dark. Plenty of opportunities for new beginnings of all sorts. πŸ™‚

I refill my vape; trying to do so while driving is poor decision-making, and just not a good choice, so I do it before I get in the car. Strawberry lemonade. I know, I know – all sorts of places are banning flavored vapes. Well, isn’t that fairly fucking stupid? Just saying, people have been vaping since the 90s, and this whole other new storm of fear and controversy doesn’t seem to correlate to the long-time process of vaping nicotine, itself. So… something else? Sure. Obviously, something. Banning flavors, though, (we’ve got to think of the children!) is just… yeah. It’s a little weird to ban a legal substance, being used in a legal form, with the sole outcome of forcing adult consumers to use a form that is known to be harmful to health, and to also require them to consume it at higher doses. No kidding. I don’t “Juul”, though, and I don’t use a “pod system”. (I use what is called a “regulated mod”.) The nicotine in my vape is very low concentration (3 mg per 100 ml of ejuice, resulting in my own daily use being about a half milligram per day, generally, at most). Most cigarette smokers use a lot more nicotine, according to the NIH. I don’t like the taste of tobacco, and I’ve never been a smoker (I tried a cigarette, and thought that was the nastiest thing, ever, many many years ago). I do, however, like the sweet taste of strawberry lemonade, or butterscotch, or pineapple – and the miniscule amount of nicotine I use, since I started (at 56 years of age, and most definitely an adult consumer), turns out to be a profoundly more helpful anxiety medication than anything the VA ever gave me. So… fuck the flavor bans? I mean… children are not legally allowed to purchase or use nicotine products anyway. Making the laws hard on legal adult consumers to attempt to restrict child access and use seems a tad… off the mark? Just saying. I dislike decision-making driven by panic, or media hype, or hysteria; it’s generally quite poorly done.

…At the same time, I also think it would be pretty splendid if all the flavors used in vape products were tested, regulated, and safe for vaping – that seems appropriate, and alleviates consumers of having to pursue chemistry degrees to ensure their individual safety in the marketplace. Have we not had this conversation before, as retail consumers and voters? I mean… I feel sure we have… and possibly, I mean, I think we did, even set up a regulatory agency responsible for, you know… the safety of the food we eat, and the substances we use… you know… something like a… Food and Drug Administration?? πŸ˜‰ Just saying; the groundwork is laid. The regulatory body exists. Maybe do something wise and reasoned with the opportunity, eh?

Fucking humans. lol We can, each of us, do just a bit better today than we did yesterday. I’ll make it a point to do so, today. Will you? πŸ˜€

Well, okay then… let’s begin again. πŸ™‚

I planned. I prepared. I packed the car before I left for work, eagerly contemplating getting out of the office “early” (I’d already worked more than 40 hours this week, before Thursday event started, and part of that on my weekend, it wasn’t going to be “leaving early” any more than my “extra” day off tomorrow is really “time off”; I was just fucking done). Looked pretty good from the vantage point of beginning the work day – at 5:30 am.

1:00 pm came and went. Pretty much every minute of the day had, at that point, be spent fighting one small work-fire or another – for other people – and data entry.Β  A fucking mountain of it. I’m not actually complaining about that; it’s part of the job, and I am both skillful and fast. It’s annoying to be offered “help” with it, and spend still more time fixing mistakes – and the more fatigued I am from the extended work hours week after draining week, more and more of the mistakes I have been fixing have been my own. So human. I’m convinced everyone I work with is pretty spectacular, and working to the absolute limit of their ability, generally. I fight back tears of frustration so much more often than people realize.

2:00 pm came and went. I missed a ping from my Traveling Partner, asking if I’d left the office yet. He’s eager to see me and spend time together. I message back that I should be done soon.

3:00 pm came and went – more things break. More things to fix. More questions asked. More questions answered. Support this thing. Find that data. Finish this task, then that one. Swamped by low-priority non-negotiable workload, the minutes… are hard. I’m… so done. I’m aggravated by the long hours I end up choosing to work because the work needs to be done. No back up. Team of one. I have a few snarling “fuck this shit” moments, feeling, in the absence of immediate direct stimulus to the contrary, unappreciated. Here’s the thing, though; I’m very much appreciated, and valued. I even recognize that. In the moment, it’s still hard to feel overworked. It’s hard to have to choose self over profession – more often than I want it to be. I matter more. …But…but… money is a shortcut to quality of life. Fucking hell. Some days I feel so trapped.

As 4:00 pm approached, I started wrapping things up, even while recognizing there was more I could do. Of course there is. Always. Very few people work for organizations that understand structured managed workload based on organized routines and interdependent orders of operation. Most organizations just race at break-neck speed from crisis to crisis, reacting – regardless of how well or poorly they plan. I shrug thinking back on the day. It’s a business approach that keeps me employed. I manage chaos. I gently and firmly seek to impose order on chaos. Chaos won today. I don’t really feel like talking about work. lol

I finally got out of the office. Into the car. Couldn’t get myself to start the car. Stared at my phone awhile feeling… distant. Cut off. Confused. Irritated. Overwhelmed. I just wanted someone to help me figure out what to do next… which, considering I just left work, seems odd to me now; I tend to be so purposeful. I called my partner. No answer.

I called my partner. No answer.

I called my partner. No answer.

Fuck! I feel… left behind? “Ignored”? (Way to take it personally, when I know I’m… what exactly? Shit. What the hell?)

I called my partner. No answer.

I start the car and start driving… a direction. A quiet observant voice in the back of my thoughts suggestions I am not actually in any shape to be driving. I try to process that thought. It’s hard.

Where am I going?

The phone rings in the car. I click the phone button sort of… habitually. I don’t feel present. It’s my Traveling partner. Just the sound of his voice… I start crying like a little kid. I want to say that the whole day has been mean to me. I want to cry because nobody likes me (so emotional, so not a real thing – just feelings). I’m trembling all over and notice that I feel cold. We talk. He says words. I heard sounds. I hear emotion. His soft tender tone. “Take care of yourself…” I hear him encouraging me. I feel soothed. He suggests my blood sugar may be low. He’s probably right; I realize when he mentions it that I haven’t really taken the time I need to care for myself today, at all.

The phone call ends and I feel energized, cheerful, recharged… and my blood sugar is still low. And I’m still mired in rush hour traffic. And there’s no where good to stop. My frustration surges again. Tears spill over…

…Where am I going? I’ve ended up on the freeway, a small salad later, and I am apparently headed south for the weekend at a decent clip, thinking… okay, I can do this, this is fine…

Brake lights. So many brake lights for so far ahead. We sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Creep forward. Sit. Creep. Sit. Creep. Sit. The guy ahead of me is reading a newspaper with the overhead light in his car on. Creep forward. I figure maybe I should get off the highway, and take a rural route, and slowly move over just in time for the exit I want.

As I come around the curve of the ramp, I start noticing more how noise sensitive I also am. I’m also pretty nearly blinded by all the high intensity headlights that are so popular now; no divider, nothing to stop assholes with their high beams on from really fucking up my vision completely. Aging sucks ass. Fuck. I can’t see well enough to drive safely, I’m feeling reactive and noise sensitive – this shit isn’t about work at all, and it is very much about self-care. I turn left instead of right. Even though I’d been on the road at that point for almost 90 minutes, I was far closer to home than to the freeway headed south. lol I don’t even feel frustrated by the long drive home; I’m relieved to be out of the traffic.

My Traveling Partner catches up with me on the phone later. We agree that doing my usual early morning drive just makes sense. No one has hurt feelings over it. I mean, we miss each other, and yeah, I’ll admit I was crying for some minutes once I admitted to myself that I was not going to make the drive tonight – just pure disappointment and longing for the company of this human being I love so much. I’ve been home a little while. Car’s already packed. Some healthy calories later, a couple big glasses of water, an appropriate amount of cannabis for the need of the moment, and some unmeasured time meditating, I realize I didn’t write – again this morning. The sudden blast of resentment that blows through my consciousness catches me by surprise – without surprising me. I get it; it’s time to take back my time. πŸ˜‰

It’s time to begin again.

I sat in traffic seething, most of the way home. I got home feeling aggravated, mostly without any reason for it. It had been a difficult (and weird) day in the office, but honestly none of it really needed an emotional response, so… what was up with me? 0_o

I wasn’t having an easy time sorting it out, and a flash of inspiration took me back to childhood.

…Oh, I remember… πŸ™‚

There were these coloring pages, nearly always captioned “what’s wrong with this picture”, with the goal to find the “mistakes” in the image. From that moment of inspired recollection, I moved on to visualizing myself, exactly as I was, and started “looking for the mistakes” in a self-care context.

  1. Was I in pain? Yeah, that was probably contributing to my experience, for sure.
  2. Was I thirsty? Well, I’d had nothing but coffee yet… and it was well past 3 pm, so… probably. Shit.
  3. Was I hungry? Shit. I’d entirely overlooked any sort of lunch, so… yeah. Low blood sugar, too, probably. Shit.
  4. What about medication, was I on track for all that, too? Well… no. Hardly.
  5. …And I hadn’t even gotten up from my desk once aside from going to two meetings on my calendar. Yikes.

No wonder I was cranky and feeling disproportionately angry with small things. Who wouldn’t be angry after being treated in such a crappy way all fucking day? I went ahead and chilled the fuck out, calmed myself with reminders that I could, in fact, manage my behavior 100%, regardless how I experience my emotions in the moment. (What a relief, eh?)(Seriously – can be done. You control your behavior completely.)

I got home safely. I rarely take OTC pain relievers (for good reasons), and last night I made an exception; it made a difference pretty quickly. I had a big big glass of cold water – from the tap – and took time to experience and savor the moment of gratitude that I have safe drinking water on tap. I made a fluffy scramble of eggs and chopped dark leafy greens of various sorts, and enjoyed having refrigeration and a decently well-stocked pantry. I generously partook of the tasty cannabis at hand. My nerves unwound. I found myself feeling more than soothed… merry? Content, certainly.

Take care of this fragile vessel, humans, and this fragile vessel will insulate you from a lot of drama and bullshit. Treat it like crap, and a crappy experience is what you can expect to endure. Just saying. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. lol

Today? Today I’ll do better. Today? Today, I’ll begin again. πŸ˜€

…I just hurt, is all. Like… predicting a hard early winter levels of arthritis pain, here. Pain sufficiently severe to present a chronic distraction, to drive volatile moods, to aggravate me to the point of anger-driven anhedonia… the cluster-headache-pain of spinal pain. I hurt, and I’m fussy, and I’m irritable, and I’m… not at my best. The problem with the pain is less about the pain than the sabotage. No kidding; pain shrinks my world and limits my focus. Worse still…?

…You can’t see it. Some of us are pretty stoic about pain, most of the time. You’ve no idea what you’re up against when you interact with someone with invisible injuries like chronic pain. Was I terse with you? Yeah, well, I couldn’t stand up without my cane this morning, and every step hurts – except the ones that don’t require my spine. Breathing hurts. Moving hurts. Not moving hurts (actually more so than moving, over time anyway).

“Take something for it. Duh.” Uh-huh. I like that idea. So, after I finish ruling out the OTC stuff that may be problematic for some other health conditions and the RxΒ  non-opiate pain relievers I can’t have because of some contraindication or another against those, that leaves, generally, just opiates and cannabis. I’d rather not deal with the political and medical minefield of opiates, but if I could be without pain… then? Rarely. I dislike the sexual side effects, and yes, I said it; I’d rather endure my pain and still be able to enjoy sex than be 100% pain-free but not able to enjoy sex. So. Get over that with me, I’m human, and I’ve got a lifetime of experience with my priorities – the pain management options available to most of us are fairly shitty in one way or another. It’s a thing that some of us are entirely too aware of. Cannabis? Yep. Definitely. As much as I can, and it is my “go-to remedy”, but let’s be frank with each other; it’s not a perfect fix, and it is not appropriate for all circumstances (or all pain).

This is not a quantity of pain that is easily medicated away. Pain is a signal from our body about our health or circumstances. It shouts loud because it is supposed to. Drowning it out is a major task; our body would much rather we fixed whatever is actually wrong. It’s complicated, and it’s imperfect, and there are so few days in the year that I’m entirely pain-free that they become cause for real celebration. I hurt so much of the time, and have for so long (since around 1990), that I’m seriously bored of bitching about it. (Can’t people who actually know me somehow just also know that I hurt…? Like… mostly always? lol)

I plan my life as if there is no pain. I don’t know how else to do it, really. I still want to live my life. I still just fucking hurt. Sometimes I hurt too much to hike. Sometimes I hurt too much to party. Sometimes I hurt too much to do housekeeping or even to get dressed. This weekend, I filled my calendar with cool stuff I was seriously looking forward to doing, and people I am eager to see. By the time the weekend actually came, and with it the welcome rain and the autumn weather I enjoy so well, my pain had come back, too. This weekend ended up being less about going and doing, and more about connecting (with my partner) and chilling (at home). It was lovely. So worth it, in spite of my pain.

Fuck pain.

Autumn and winter are worst. Then Spring. I get some relief in the summertime heat. Most years I even get to put away my cane. It’s been in my car, unused most of the time, since May. Four and a half months almost pain-free this year… less than the year before, which was less than the year before that. I find myself wistfully remembering years ago, when it seemed like I only hurt like this in the coldest months…

I got into the elevator at the end of my day and ignored the tears that just started spilling down. I got into my terrifically hot car with a real “aaaaaaahhhhh” moment of relief; however brief, totally worth it. “Pain management”. lol It’s more like “endurance” if you’ve got chronic pain. It is an endurance test filled with well-meaning suggestions, well-wishes, and an utter inability to communicate what this experience is like to people who don’t have it; we all feel our own pain, and can’t feel someone else’s. I’ve had some amusing experiences with people whose most serious pain in life has been a hangnail, stubbed toe, or bump in the night, who don’t understand chronic, relentless, serious pain, and how it wears away at one’s enthusiasm, and will. “I hope you feel better soon! Have you tried…” Uh-huh. Yep. That too. Yeah, and that. No, it didn’t “work”… What to say when someone who really cares tries so hard to offer support and comfort? A weary chuckle and a reminder that “chronic” pain is… um… not going go away,Β really, probably ever. That’s when I gave up the Rx pain relievers; between the fucking hassles getting them, and the constant nagging about their use, the side effects, and the fact that this shit is fucking forever…? Nope. I actually still work for a living. I have shit to do. People are counting on me. I’m counting on me.

I’m so not saying I hurt more than you do! I’m not saying my pain is worse than… anything. I’m just saying, frankly, in clear explicit terms that chronic pain is a thing I do deal with. Daily. You, too? I’m sorry to hear that. “Have you tried…” (jk jk lol)

What I am saying is that it is not possible to sufficiently well-medicated to truly stop hurting, only to get medicated enough that I care even less about the pain in the background, for a while. Shit. That sounds bleak. Don’t be sad. Sometimes it helps a lot. Sometimes it helps enough. Right now, today, nothing helps; it is the beginning of autumn, and I go through this every year… and…

I’m glad. I mean… it’s a fair trade. It could be worse. I’m still walking.

In 1986 I broke my back. It was pretty bad. My spinal canal was more than 60% occluded by a piece of vertebrae that had broken off from the impact, and gotten jammed into my backbone. There was real concern I would not even walk again. I was kept on a backboard for a couple days, very still, and partially restrained while we “worked out the next steps”. I wasn’t allowed to roll over, ever, without calling for nurses, who would ever so carefully roll me onto my side, re-secure my body so I couldn’t roll forward, backward, or move much at all, and put supporting pillows here and there to try to make me comfortable. I was heavily medicated. My back was broken in two places. My wrist was broken, and I had a head injury. I was not in the best shape for decision-making, but I had a good medical team. My surgeon offered me an option; a somewhat experimental procedure that could result in staying on active duty, being able to walk, and fully recovering from my injury, with some lengthy convalescence…, or, well… some less than perfect outcome in that basic “still walking” context. I took the deal. I absolutely did. (If he’d told me I’d be facing a life time of pain, would I still have made the same choice? Well, sure; we don’t know what we don’t know. I’d never known a lifetime of physical pain of this type or magnitude, and would not have been able to imagine what it might be like.)

I was in the hospital for months, then recovering on active duty long enough to be certain that I needed more time. It was going to be two years before I could “go back to work”, but that was in some rosy optimistic future I couldn’t yet envision any differently than “a full recovery”. Arthritis? That’s something that happens to old people, right? I worked hard throughout those two years of convalescence – and I returned to active duty feeling pretty fucking triumphant, no kidding; I was lean, strong, fit, and flexible. The pain came later. About a year into being back on active duty. Something definitely felt wrong… I kept going back, appointment after appointment. I wanted a diagnosis, and then I wanted to be treated, and I wanted to recover.

“Well, it looks like you’ve got a touch of osteo-arthritis…” I got my diagnosis. Shortly afterward, and feeling fairly heartbroken about it, I also got my discharge. That “touch of arthritis” has continued to spread over the years, commandeering my spine and my experience one joint at a time. I’m still walking. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the hikes, for the downtown shopping on foot, the strolls through gardens, the slow dash to a meeting… all of it. It could be so much worse in some way. Most of the time, it’s just pain. It’s mostly manageable. It is… what it is. We age. We feel pain. We are mortal creatures.

I live my own personal Little Mermaid allegory. lol

But fuck. I hurt. Damn it. Sometimes I’m so fucking tired of hurting, and I forget myself, and end up taking it out on… maybe you? People. People who matter to me. People who couldn’t have known. People who have things to get done and need something from me. People who want to enjoy my company. People who have never hurt. People who, also, always do.

In spite of my pain, I feel very appreciated. πŸ™‚ I could do better at demonstrating that.Β 

…I tryΒ “not to bitch”. (My results vary.) I do my best to manage my pain without making it anyone else’s issue. (Again with the varying results.) It doesn’t always work out well. This weekend, my Traveling Partner reminded me gently how much better a shared journey can be, when each moment and step is taken from a fully present place, in a completely authentic way. We talked about the pain. I’m glad we did. It stopped feeling like a shameful secret. It stopped feeling like a weakness. It’s just an experience.

Suddenly I’m not sure whether to post this one. Too many words about an experience no one likes to have (pain)…

…It’s time to begin again. I’ll go try some things… maybe I’ll feel better soon. πŸ˜‰

Damn. Fuck this week. Already. Shit.

I say “this week”, but in all reasonable ways, and well-considered perspectives, this has been building slowly, event by event, detail by detail, day by day, and stitched together by threads of good intentions, affection, kindness, and commitments. I’m still having some moments of major anxiety as delicately balanced circumstances teeter on the edge of not going very well at all, which is stressful on a level I don’t recall feeling in a long time. It’s hard.

…Every new responsibility adds to the burden.

…Every new need piles on still more to a growing list of shit to do.

…Every new moment of stress dials up the intensity of the anxiety in the background.

…Every day… each moment… add another… then another… now one more… still standing? Here, have a little more extra… and more… and again… and still… and even… and then… and now… wait…what?? No time for questions – go go go!!

I caught myself “screaming into the void” on the commute home – a solo rant, with some ferocity, something on the order of a spoken word performance, or poetry, only much less pleasant. lol Not tearful, not exactly frustrated – just mad… about feeling anxious. Mad about feeling ill-equipped to be fully adult, even now. Mad at circumstances that could be just the tiniest bit better and end up quite splendid. Angry just to feel these ancient-seeming feelings of “shouldering the load” again. It’s not any one thing. It’s not any one individual. It’s not specifically work orΒ specifically personal. It’s not lacking in context. I’m not “in it alone”. I’m just one human, having this human moment of mine, myself, and really feeling it. Which is… uncomfortable.

Mid-rant I remembered something I have been finding important; I don’t grow much through experiences that are comfortable, or reliably pleasant, or completely planned and predictable… or easy. That’s just real. Ease does not correlate with personal growth. That thought shut me down completely for a moment. I even stopped being so aggravated by that ludicrously slow driver ahead of me (15 in a 25 – one lane, no passing room) maintaining easily 3 car lengths of distance from the car ahead… during the evening rush hour commute… down a road with intersections more frequently than every quarter mile… with bumper-to-bumper traffic behind him for many blocks (I could see when I got a good view from the top of the hill in my review mirror). Yep. Even that stopped bugging me in the moment that I realized I’d been handed something precious – discomfort, anxiety, and a chance to work through those things and grow.

I’m pretty committed to my personal growth as a human being – I don’t know how much time I’ve got to complete this project, really, and I’d like to get as far along as I can toward being the human being I most want to be. It’s a real and true thing, that “doing better than I did yesterday” is a bit more complicated if the days roll by so gently that what I feel most of the time is delicious simple contentment, wrapped in the affection and high regard of those who hold me dear. I can choose change, but I won’t kid you; I’m not likely to choose to be uncomfortable, stressed out, anxious, fearful, worried, nervous, or in dread of what comes next out of this craze-tacular fun house of chaos and human drama. I like it easy.

Well it doesn’t feel fucking easy right about now. I’m having to bring a lot of attention to maintaining good self-care practices in the face of a lot more stress than has been commonplace for a couple years now. I’m having to skillfully practice “letting shit go” when holding on to it only creates more stress, and has no productive outcome. I’m having to really search for perspective, really work to find balance, and really practice the practices that have brought me so far in such a short time – as if failing to do so could send me crashing into a pit of despair (which it easily could). So many verbs. So little time. πŸ˜‰

Tonight I’m not doing beginnings – just practicing. πŸ˜‰

…A soft autumn rain begins to fall beyond the open window. I chat a bit with my Traveling Partner. The scent of petrichor wafts into the room, filling the space with fragrant reminders that this too will pass. Summer is ending. The tightness in my chest and shoulders begins to diminish. My breathing becomes deeper as a smile starts to transform my face. I’m okay right now. I let my thoughts glide over my day gently, finding a kinder truth in tense moments that are now behind me. I listen deeply to my internal dialogue, pointing myself to a compassionate path, reconsidering human beings in the context of their humanity. Reminding myself to assume positive intent, each time I note that perhaps I had not done so. I take time, too, for gratitude; a lot of people came through for me today, in so many small ways. My smile feels pretty steady, and I feel pretty much at ease; the anxiety in the background is subtle now, less a plague and more a pimple. (…Maybe if I don’t fuck with it, it will clear up on its own?)

I listen to the traffic go by outside. The house is very near to the street, and the walls don’t keep out much noise. Right now it isn’t bothering me; I am aware of the open window. That makes a difference to me for some reason. The noise doesn’t matter. The smile matters more. This gentle moment matters more. Taking a little time to enjoy the moment matters more. Following through on moments and smiles may not save the world, but right now, in this moment, it’s enough. πŸ™‚