The Three Magic Words

Happy

“I love you,” are not the three words men most yearn to hear. This may have been the case early in our courtship when we were drunk with love and romance, and the mere mention of these words would make our hearts flutter and groins stir. No, as the relationship matures and the question of love is no longer debatable, those three words are supplanted by a new trio. These words always turn our heads away from the television, the I-Pad, or otherwise remove our focus from whatever world we currently inhabit.

These words have the same effect as a cold shower, but in a positive, refreshing way. Instead of pretending to pay attention but only hearing wah wah, wah wah wah when our wives or girlfriends are talking, and our attention is divided between whatever it is they are saying and the sports page, we snap out of our stupor in a nanosecond and focus like a laser beam on the conversation we were mostly ignoring. What are these magic words? You….are….right!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not minimizing the significance of “I love you.” I never want the day to end without saying those words to K or Shodan. Even though we sometimes say them with the same gusto as “honey I’m taking out the trash,” they are nonetheless meaningful, and shame on the poor fool that takes them for granted.

But to hear, “you are right”… is almost orgasmic because it’s so rare. Not winning the Powerball rare, but more akin to witnessing the perfect sunset, observing an underground lake, or discovering crop circles, where an intrinsic feeling of wonderment and awe overwhelms the senses. It puts a spring in our step, gives us reason to have faith, and otherwise makes us feel that perhaps we not as obtuse are we are led to believe.

Most women I know would derisively scoff at this premise, flatly stating that the reason we don’t hear this very often is not because they are loathe to admitting this. No, the reason we don’t hear these words very often is simply because we are right about as often as you’ll see polka-dots on a zebra.

I don’t remember that last time I had to choose between being right and being happy, primarily because I don’t keep score. If I’m rational, I will choose happiness, be satisfied in knowing that I’m right, and not belabor the point. I’d much rather concede the issue and keep the peace because I know that if I let my stubbornness get the best of me, and it’s usually over really stupid inconsequential shit, I may win the battle but lose the war. You see, the thrill of victory is fleeting and once the narcotic wears off, the hangover sets in. I’ll realize I’m deep in the doghouse, and for what?

K will still think I’m not only wrong, but an insensitive flaming asshole to boot, and is now doubly pissed that I disputed her omnipotence. I’ll cower like a scolded pup, wonder how the hell I did this to myself (again), apologize after an appropriate cooling off period, and swear upon everything I hold sacred that I won’t put myself in that position again.

Later on when the dust has settled and I’m alone I’ll replay the events, be my own judge and jury and render an unbiased verdict on the matter. More than half of the time I’ll concede I was wrong, but the ratio is a lot closer to 50% than 0%.

In the end it doesn’t matter, and all I can do is wait for the next time those three magic words are offered without prompting or hesitation, and bathe in the warm glow of redemption.

 

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program For This Important Announcement

leg

This was one of those weeks where coming up with a topic to write about was a chore, and writing about said topic was tedious at best. For the better part of an hour and a half, I fought my way through writing about something my heart wasn’t really into, and trying to make it sound entertaining and relevant. When I was done, I had my typically shitty first draft completed, and was poised to make it look pretty and shiny today.

Then the obvious hit me like a bolt of lightning.

As you know, most of my recent posts told the story of my decision to dip my toe into the medical marijuana world, and what the experience was like. A lot of readers were enthused about the journey I described and asked for updates. My plan was to go back to that subject in a month or two, but after I had closed the file on the draft I was going to polish today, I had an epiphany about something that happened within the last week.

I am walking better. Better than I have in years.

When I had my last flare, the symptoms moved from just below my knee to my lower thigh above the knee. This was a game changer because I no longer had a firm foundation below me. My leg felt like a broken kickstand, one that could easily wrench violently to one side, tearing ligaments in the process. My limp became more pronounced, my balance became infinitely worse, and the leg felt like it didn’t belong to me. Performing any physical task became more difficult and potentially dangerous, as my tales of woe about snow removal this past winter described.

But as I rose from my recliner to grab a can of seltzer from the fridge last Saturday evening, it occurred to me that I was actually bending my knee as I walked, and moving the leg in more of a normal walking motion rather than having the knee locked, and swinging the leg forward by the hip. The knee felt strong and stable, which meant the entire leg felt more controllable, and I felt steadier on my feet.

Keep in mind I was a little buzzed at the time, compliments of my PM dose of CBD oil, so I asked an impartial observer, Kim, if it was my imagination or if I was actually walking better. After watching me move around the living room and head back to the recliner, she agreed it appeared that way.

Talk about a holy shit moment!

I wasn’t going to take this as gospel though, because part of me was wondering if I was over dramatizing something because I wanted to justify taking the new med. It just so happened that I had my quarterly neurologist visit two days later, and I told Dr. G. on Monday that it felt like the leg had improved, that I had reclaimed some strength and control in the knee, and was walking a little better as a result.

He put me through the paces, and lo and behold, it wasn’t my imagination. I’m not going to bore you with the details of what the “paces” are, but he confirmed what I suspected. There was measurable improvement.

That assessment was reconfirmed yesterday, two days after I saw the neurologist, during my annual physical. My PCP put me through similar paces and drew the same conclusion. There is therefore no doubt I’ve regained some territory from my MS foe, and the functionality within my leg has improved to where it was before the last flare.

Great news, yes, but let’s not get carried away. What I’ve described represents a subtle, incremental, improvement. If I were to place a percentage on how much better I think I am, it would not exceed ten percent. I still need my cane, my balance still sucks, and I still can’t run, jump, or even consider going on a dance floor. I remain disabled.

However, walking with the cane doesn’t take as much effort, and I can actually walk faster and in a straight line with the cane instead of meandering from side to side. I can also lift the leg a little where before I had to grab it around the thigh or calf to lift it, particularly when getting into and out of my vehicle.

Most importantly, I have increased confidence in my ability to do stuff, where before I shied away from tasks for fear of falling or hurting myself. I’m actually looking forward to resuming my exercise routine, and am curious about how the leg will feel when I push myself.

After years and years of things slowly getting worse, this is the first time something sustainable seems possible. So what caused these changes?

I started taking Super Biotin about seven weeks ago, and the CBD Oil began a little less than three weeks ago. These are the only new items that have been introduced into my routine. I’m sure the CBD oil is at work here, because I was on Super Biotin once before for a longer period than the current six or seven weeks, and nothing changed at all. I don’t think it is any coincidence what I have experienced occurred shortly after I began taking CBD every day.

Is the improvement here to stay? Logic says no. In the past, I experienced improvements when new treatments or a new medication was introduced, but they were short term in nature, and faded as my body got acclimated to them. I’m therefore trying not to get too giddy about this recent development. While I would be sad, it would not shock me to see these changes regress over time, and have the weakness climb back above the knee.

Hopefully I am wrong, but I’m not dwelling on this possibility. Instead, I’m cautiously optimistic for the first time in a long time that maybe, just maybe, I’ve found something will actually help control my symptoms, and am enjoying every minute of this new feeling. I am a true believer in the benefits of medicinal MJ for MS.

As a matter of fact, I’m going back to the dispensary Saturday morning to re-load.

Zen

Bliss

Mind floats downstream

Void of thought or worry

Detached, yet acutely aware

Body, prone and uncoiled

Surrenders to gravity

Melting into itself

Light as air

Heavy as lead

Random debris

Floating in the periphery

Becomes conscious thought

Alive, vibrant and textured

Is fondled, savored, consumed

Then jettisoned

Body centered

Limbs extended

Palms flat

Floating in the stillness

The music of breathing

The one audible sound

Inhale…..exhale

Inhale…..exhale

Inhale…..exhale

Perfect stillness

Stark simplicity

No anxieties

No sadness

An empty vessel

Fortifies itself

For the new dawn

B&W Photo Challenge – Day 7

BW Final

Last day of the photo challenge. When Grace nominated me last week, my initial thought was, “Oh, great! Here’s something else I have to do.” You see, I can’t say no to Grace.  Her personality shines through in her writing: Unabashed, funny, engaging, self-effacing, free-thinking, and honest to a fault. If you ever need cheering up, check out her blog. I guarantee you there is something there that will make you laugh and, as she likes to say, smh.

The Rules: I’m not going to repeat them again. If you want to see them, refer to my last post. I think one of the rules for these things going forward should be that you don’t have to repeat them each and every time you post. Talk about a buzz kill.

So for my last great act of defiance relating to this challenge, I am going to open this up to anyone who wants to play. I’ve tried to identify people whose blogs I follow, and who haven’t been tagged by anyone else, but that isn’t possible in a seven day stretch. So Walt, Jay-Lyn, Caz, Jeannette, YouTwoHearts, the MS Lab Rat, and anyone else who I may have missed that follows this blog, have at it.

 

B&W Photo Challenge – Day 6

B&W6

 

I was nominated by Grace, blogger extraordinaire who isn’t afraid to write about anything, and who wanted to see the world through my lens.

The challenge’s rules are to post a black and white photo of something representative of your world (no people) without comment for seven consecutive days, and invite someone new each day to participate.

Today’s nominee is Alex, a fearless little dynamo who is determined to not let MS rule her world. Alex attacks life with a zeal and determination I admire. While she might like to portray a don’t screw with me persona, deep down I think she’s a softie, and I think this post on her MS with MS Alex blog proves it.

B&W Photo Challenge Day 5

BW7

I was nominated by Grace, blogger extraordinaire who isn’t afraid to write about anything, and who wanted to see the world through my lens.

The challenge’s rules are to post a black and white photo of something representative of your world (no people) without comment for seven consecutive days, and invite someone new each day to participate.

Today’s nominee is Wendi. Her blog, Simply Chronically Ill it is a mixture of prose and poetry, and her posts are meaningful, wistful, brief and direct. Check her out when you get a chance.

 

 

Oz Fest

free

When I visited the MMJ dispensary for the first time, the choices were staggering. There was stuff you could smoke, stuff you could apply topically, stuff you could inhale, drops and wafers you placed under your tongue. There were edibles ranging from cookies to gummy bears to honey. Each item had a specific THC content, presumably designed to target specific pain or anxiety levels.

After making my selection, I wandered over to the front desk to study the “menu” of items more closely, and it was like reading a foreign language. Everything was sorted by category (edibles, oils, etc.), but the actual terminology is what was so foreign. I presume that with time I’ll understand most of it, but for now I am a complete greenhorn, and wish I had asked if they had paper copies I could take home to study.

Before I arrived, the only thing I was sure about was that I was approved for 2.5 oz. of product each month. After one visit, I’ve only scratched the surface of product knowledge except for one thing: based on what I selected, 2.5 oz. is a hell of a lot of product to consume in one month.

All of the available choices, and their degrees of potency (buzz factor) made this a difficult decision. Part of me would have loved to go retro and bring an actual 2.5oz bag of agriculture home, just to see how it compares with what I remembered from back in the old days. In reality smoking the stuff was a never a consideration because it isn’t something you can do discreetly, and the aroma is unique and lingers, to say the least. The last thing I wanted to do is smoke pot in front of Shodan, or have him ask what that smell is.

Edibles and stuff that I could rub into my skin was not high on my list either. For one, it takes longer for the medicinal benefit of these products to take effect, and I could envision Shodan, who is a sneak when it comes to candy, finding a stash of gummy somethings and chowing down, so scratch that off the list. Honey didn’t appeal to me either because I thought that could get messy. Plus I know I would not want to waste a drop, and have you ever been able to get every last drop of honey out of its container?

I considered the drops that go under your tongue, but passed on that too, but don’t remember why. I gave serious consideration to a wafer type thing that dissolves under your tongue, but passed because they didn’t have a version I could take during the daylight hours (weekends only or after work) that would not impact me cognitively. The only version they had in stock had a higher THC content, which for me meant it could only be taken at night. I was also a little spooked about how strong these might be when the pharmacist suggested I start by cutting them in quarters and take them in that quantity until I was comfortable with the dosage. I can see myself revisiting this option in the future once I become more familiar with what I can tolerate, because of all the options, this is the most discreet.

My selection was the CBD oils that go into a small, cylindrical container called a “slim,” that isn’t quite the length of a number 2 pencil but is similar in width. I have two slims, one for the daylight hours (less THC) and one for night time (more THC). The containers these slims come in are marked AM and PM.

The top of each slim has a small hole in it, and, interestingly enough, the bottom of the slim shines red when you are inhaling what is inside. This process looks a lot like vaping. You place the end of the slim with the hole in it, after you remove a plastic cap of course,  into your mouth, wrap your lips tightly around it and inhale, sucking the contents into your lungs. Then you hold it for as long as you can (as least that’s what I do) before exhaling. Sometimes a little vapor emerges when you exhale, which might mean you’ve taken too much, but it is nothing like the swirling cloud you see with the electronic cigarettes. It is barely noticeable, in fact, like a fine thin mist, and it works pretty quickly.

I chose an AM and PM version because I wanted something that would address the restless leg issue and general anxiety during the day without feeling incapacitated, and something stronger at night to address the leg issue plus whatever aches and pains I am dealing with. So far it has worked like a charm.

Each container has less than half an ounce of oil in it, and the pharmacist estimated that each would provide thirty hits, which if true would last an entire month. I guess we’ll find out if the doses I give myself are correct by how soon I have to replace either slim. I did the math, and I can get three sets of these each month if I had to and still not surpass my allowance.

As far as sticker shock is concerned, there wasn’t any, which might have been the most surprising development. My out of pocket expense is higher for most of the MS meds I have and am currently taking than what I paid for both slims.

The daytime slim takes the edge off without feeling drugged. The only sensation I experience is a warm, relaxed feeling, and it definitely has calmed the leg. The nighttime version, the one with more THC, does give a body and head buzz, but it is not sloppy or heavy. I’m sure I could get supremely stoned if I took several hits instead of one, but that was never my intent.

The PM version does not impact my ability to have a conversation or function physically. Having said that, if I’m laying in bed, or watching the Red Sox on my 65 inch flat screen (headphones on, of course) on my recliner, I can really feel my body and mind completely relax. It’s almost like I’m floating on a cloud both physically and mentally. It’s quite nice!

My leg has not twitched AT ALL since I started taking the stuff. I haven’t experienced any foot or toe cramps either. Nothing prevents me from falling asleep, and I have not been waking up as often during the night. I’m asleep until the alarm beckons, and feel very fresh and rested when I get out of bed.

I believe my overall temperament has been better, but K would be a better judge of that. I feel less stressed, and am definitely in a don’t worry-be happy mode when the sun goes down.  In case you are curious, the phenomenon you might know as “the munchies” does not exist.

I’ve always believed in the medicinal value of marijuana, and my brief experience with it has strengthened that conviction. I am sure that anyone who is dealing with PTSD, high anxiety, pain of any kind or has gastrointestinal issues that qualify for its use would benefit from it. I strongly encourage anyone that lives in a state that permits this medicine for specific conditions to see their doctors, and ask them to file the paperwork necessary to get them on the program.

For now, I the only regret I have about this endeavor is that I waited so long to take the plunge.