Brownies

Brownies

I wrote extensively about my foray into the world of medical marijuana in 2018, but after penning five posts from July 2018 to November 2018,  I didn’t want to come across as the High (no pun intended) Priest of Pot, and haven’t talked about it since. That doesn’t mean I’ve fallen off the bandwagon, however.

During my almost two years of being on the state’s program, I’ve tried a number of what I guess you would call delivery systems. The old stand-by has always been the mini-vapes, primarily because they are the most affordable (which is especially important seeing I still haven’t sold my house), and because I can control the dosage.  My one concern about vaping is the fact that I am inhaling shit into my lungs that doesn’t belong there, so I have tried other forms of the product to see if I could replicate the experience and get the same results.

These other forms have ranged from edibles to pills. Pills, which were almost as affordable as the mini-vapes, were a miserable failure because they were too strong and left me feeling paranoid for a long period of time. The edibles (honey) were expensive and tough to dose.  I would put it in a cup of tea, but either used too much (more paranoia) or too little. So I stopped looking for other alternatives until the other day when I saw something new on the menu.

Hello Brownie Bites! Where have you been all my life?

If it wasn’t for the cost, I would ditch the vapes and gobble these treats exclusively. Unfortunately, they are the same price as the vapes, but where the vapes last a month, the number of brownies dispensed last only a week. Having said that, the experience is far superior to anything I have tried.

The great thing about these bite-sized goodies, besides the fact that they taste great and have no aftertaste whatsoever, is that the feeling you get is very consistent and mellow. The vapes by comparison come on strong, then recede to a pleasant plateau before fading away completely. And if you aren’t paying attention, one can take too much and experience the same paranoia as with the pills and honey, except it doesn’t last nearly as long.

Brownies sneak up on you. You get a warm sensation, and shortly therafter the warmth and relaxation spreads throughout the body. All of a sudden it dawns on you that you have a complete head and body buzz. The feeling isn’t overpowering, and your body and soul are completely relaxed. Talk about Nirvana! Anyone who suffers from anxiety would love them.

The other positive is that the sensation lasts three to four hours and there are no peaks and valleys. It’s like talking a slow, smooth elevator up a very tall building before coming back down in the same smooth, deliberate manner.  You don’t feel sloppy, and could interact with people without acting or sounding like you are stoned. It’s also inconspicuous because it’s food. You could pop one in your mouth in front of anyone and nobody would be the wiser.

And while this could be my imagination, I swear I walked better and more confidently the two times I have tried them.

So I have definitely found a winner, one that I will use to supplement the vapes to give my lungs a break. I just wish there was more stuff like this at a more affordable price. Of course, I could economize and reduce the frequency in which I use the stuff, but why bother? Like the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts

THoughts

 

I’ve been staring at a screen that is as blank as my well of inspiration, so I’ve decided to fill this space with some thoughts that have flittered across my mind recently but don’t have enough meat to stand on their own.

If you have MS or another chronic illness, have you ever gotten to the point where you seriously wondered what would happen if you just stopped everything on the procedure and medication front? I have, except for the MMJ. I mean, I’ve been receiving monthly apheresis procedures for almost seven years now, have been getting intravenous meds for about ten, and have taken a host of pills ranging from Ampyra to Low Dose Naltrexone, but the progression continues. The IV meds and other procedures no longer produce a noticeable difference or relief. The costs aren’t insignificant either, so why bother continuing getting poked, prodded and stuck with needles? Because while all this is true, the progression has been slow and confined to one limb, and I’m afraid that if I abandon this course of treatment the progression will accelerate and I will join the ranks of the completely disabled sooner than later. It’s kind of like believing in Santa Claus, so I continue. But I know the day is coming, probably once I don’t need to work full time anymore, where I say fuck it and let the chips fall where they may.

Speaking of MMJ, my preferred method of consumption is vaping because I can control the dosage, and choose the amount of THC. Plus it’s cheaper than many of the other options. What I’m finding however is that with all the concern and, in some cases, hysteria, surrounding vaping and its potential health consequences, the vaping options have become very limited. I use to be able to literally choose from two to three dozen options. The last time I looked, it was down to three, and I am not talking dozens. It’s quite annoying!

And speaking of THC, one of the things I have noticed is that when I am under the influence, my thought process is very different. All of the emotion that is often in play when pondering the decisions we make is stripped away, and I view the pros and cons of each choice in a very detached and black and white manner, which is usually good because it brings clarity. Of course, if you have a particularly dicey situation, such as the fact that our house hasn’t sold and I could be starting down the barrel of a winter of financial discontent, it isn’t so good because there is no bullshitting or silver lining to rationalize over and soothe one’s sole, which makes the situation feel a lot worse than it is. Or does it?

If what has gone down in the White House is not impeachable, then nothing is. It’s becoming obvious that in order to impeach anyone, let alone remove any President from office, the key is not what they did, but whether one party controls both the House and Senate. After all, how do you explain the difference between Clinton getting impeached for lying about a blow job and our current resident’s transgressions.

All of which proves that we need term limits for our Senators and House members. If they don’t have to worry about getting reelected, perhaps they’d have the courage to stand up for their convictions.

I have no doubt that if the votes in the Senate on the impeachment issue were anonymous, the outcome would be very different than what we are going to get.

My favorite thing about winter is that I can swing into hibernation mode without any guilt. Since it gets dark so early, I have no reservations about calling it a night, getting into my sweats and hunkering down for the evening by seven.

Does anyone watch the news, network cable or otherwise anymore, or do most of us get our information off the web? It’s the latter for me, but it is getting harder to get news that isn’t biased one way or the other.

Am I in the minority thinking that the world is going to hell? I swear that I’ve read about shootings somewhere in the world every single day for a week, and that a week doesn’t go by without news of someone killing a handful or a mass of people somewhere. Is it anger, hate, isolation, desperation, fame seeking, or a combination of them all? Whatever the reason, it’s scary as hell.

I’ve been telling myself lately that as bad as things seem, it still hasn’t reached the level of discord that this country saw in 1968. I was only a kid back then and didn’t have a clue about what was really happening, but having seen some documentaries on what went down that year, I probably would have been more fearful of what was happening to this country had I been an adult than I am now, which is saying a lot. Still, can we survive another four years of the current regime?

Be that as it may, it feels like I am experiencing 1984, not 1968. George Orwell’s 1984, that is.

Professional hockey players are the toughest, best conditioned athletes in the world. After all, they are in a flat out sprint most of the time they are on the ice, travelling at top speeds of 30 MPH, surrounded by and crashing into opponents who are just as big and fast as they are. If I’m not mistaken, there are more concussions suffered in hockey than football. Plus, these guys are wielding sticks that have a habit tearing flesh, smashing teeth and breaking bones. They also willingly drop to the ice to prevent a screaming puck of hard rubber from reaching the goalie. They simply get stitched up, or visit the dentist office that is in most NHL clubhouses, and get back on the ice. I admire their skill and tenacity, but often think they are a bit insane.

Only ten weeks before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Can’t wait.

If you had a chance to look into the future and see what was in store for you and your loved ones ten years from now, would you do it? Not me. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fatigue

fatigue

I get monthly treatments for my MS: apheresis (plasma transfer) every month, IV steroids most months, and Ocrevus twice a year.

Yesterday was the day I made my monthly visit to the apheresis clinic where I have the procedure done. I’ve thought of the whole plasma transfer thing as kind of a macabre, modern-day date with a vampire, the major exceptions being that it doesn’t involve my neck, and what is removed is replaced. For those of you who have followed this space for a while, you may remember me describing the process a long time ago. For those of you who haven’t, or may have forgotten and are curious, you can refresh your memory here.

The reason I bring this up is because one of the lovely symptoms MS can bring to the table is fatigue, and I’m not talking about the feeling tired and run down variety. No, the kind I am talking about is the bone crushing, soul-sucking, quasi-paralyzing kind.  I’ve read about how this can affect people through various articles and blog posts, but never experienced it for myself. Until yesterday, that is.

Now, it is not unusual for me to feel tired and a little run down after the procedure, particularly once I get home. In fact, this is something I feel all the time, but it is manageable. I might feel like I’m walking in molasses, or that my head feels like it is full of cotton, but it’s no worse than having a bad night’s sleep. But for some reason, yesterday was different.

It didn’t start out that way. I drove to the building site of our new home once my procedure was done to help K remove some of the slush that had settled onto the floors. The roof is up but the structure is not yet fully enclosed (more on that in a future post) and we have had a really strange winter so far (more on that too!) where most of the storms have involved a little snow, followed by sleet, then freezing rain and/or rain. Such was the case Wednesday night, but that was followed by sunny skies and fifty degree temps in the afternoon, and we wanted to remove what melted or plopped onto the floors before it re-froze.

K had done most of the work by the time I got there, but I started to push and scrape what I could find out of the structure when it hit.

The first sensation was a wave of fatigue so strong that I became a little nauseous, so I slowed the pace down. As we left the site ten minutes later, it felt like my feet were stuck to the floor, and I felt very woozy. The normal cotton in my head was replaced by thick sludge. I never said a word to K because she would not have wanted me to get into my car and drive home, but it was less than a five minute drive, and it never felt like I was going to pass out.

Once we arrived home, I struggled to get my muck-boots off, then proceeded to the rocker-recliner. Once settled, I leaned back, closed my eyes, sunk into the soft leather, and my body felt like it weighed 1,000 pounds.  It felt as if I was literally glued onto the chair. I wouldn’t lift or move my head, could barely move my arms or legs, not that I wanted to, and even moving my fingers felt like a overwhelming chore.

Although my eyes were closed, I couldn’t sleep. I heard everything going on around me, but it felt as if I was in more of a trance-like state: part of me was present but another part of me was in never-land. The experience was more weird than alarming. I stayed like that until it was time for dinner, when I peeled myself off the recliner, and trudged over to the kitchen table. I was suddenly ravenous once I saw the plate of pasta, shredded cheese and vegetables, inhaled it in less than five minutes, had seconds, and began feeling a little better.

Afterwards, I did a couple of chores, but the fatigue started setting in again. So I announced to the room that I was done for the evening, dragged my sorry ass up those fourteen stairs, took a shower, and shuffled into the bedroom. Once comfortable, I turned on the television, queued up something on the DVR, pulled out my vape stick with the MMJ, and took two long pulls off it instead of the normal one. Hey, I figured feeling supremely stoned would be a lot better than what I was currently feeling, and I was right. Consumed by what I was watching, I forgot all about the other stuff. A few hours later, I was ready for sleep, closed my eyes, and had a long, uninterrupted, dreamless sleep. The fog hasn’t completely lifted as I write this, but it’s a pin-prick compared to yesterday’s sledgehammer.

I don’t know if this was an anomaly or if it will become the norm. The one thing I did not do before the procedure was eat much. Other than coffee, I didn’t have any breakfast and had a can of soup for lunch, which I thought would be enough. I’m guessing that yesterday’s experience may become a once in a while thing, and we’d test that theory under normal circumstances next month. But March is one of the months where I get the Ocrevus in addition to the apheresis, which brings a completely different host of symptoms, so we’ll have to wait for the time after that to see if this almost-paralyzing fatigue occurs, assuming I remember what it felt like.

Today is a new day, one in which the steroids-induced hiccups have arrived and will plague me throughout the day and night, becoming worse and more frequent as the day gets longer. If I’m unlucky, they will make it hard to fall asleep or wake me up throughout the night. I hate those little bastards. But we do what we have to do to avoid a date with the dreaded wheelchair.

Besides, I can always double or triple up on the vape stick if it becomes intolerable. That always seems to settle things down.

 

 

 

Oz Update

blimp

I took the plunge last summer by enrolling in my state’s medical marijuana program, and shared the experience from a variety of perspectives here, here, and here. Close to four months have elapsed since then, and I’ve learned a lot about the various products and what works for me. I’m at the point where, although I am certainly not an expert on the subject, I can share and speak intelligently about my experience. Perhaps it might come in handy if this is an option you’re considering.

Why has it taken four months? Because the volume and variety of products to choose from is vast, and I wanted to try several to see what worked best for me. I was a blank slate in the beginning, but through trial and error I am finally at the point where I feel like I know what I am doing. The bottom line for any person dipping their toe into this pool is the two most important factors you need to consider before selecting the  product you want to try is the buzz factor, and how you want to consume the product.

Each item on the menu I choose from lists how much Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannibinol  (THC) is in the product.  You can obtain products that have more of one than the other, equal or close to equal amounts of both, or all of one and none of the other. Because CBD isn’t psycho-active, it’s legal almost everywhere. In fact, my masseuse offers CBD oil as an option. Technically, weed without THC is not considered cannabis, but hemp. THC, on the other hand, is what drug tests are trying to detect, and is what creates the feeling of being high.

So, decision number one should be whether or not you want the feeling THC provides. A glass or two of wine may provide more of a buzz than items with a low THC content, but I don’t know what that amount is. In my case, I like the feeling THC provides, which I have termed “cruising with the blimp.” It makes listening to music, watching television and sporting events, specifically the just completed World Series, more compelling. Writing on the stuff is interesting too.

So yes, I enjoy the buzz, but only to a certain degree. I remembered that too much THC can create a sense of anxiety and paranoia, at least for me. This was a non starter because one of the reasons for taking MMJ was to reduce my level of tension and anxiety. I wanted something with a decent amount of THC, but not so much that it could become problematic. So I had to find that happy medium.

This is where the type of product comes in. The only item off the table from the start was the pre-rolled items that one smokes. Ours is a smoke-free house, and I have a twenty year old at home who is definitely not pro-drugs. The last thing I wanted to do was act like a felon, sneaking away somewhere to fire up a doobie. Besides, the smell lingers on clothes and skin. There was also the issue of what smoking could do to my lungs, so you can see why this option was never considered.

Instead, I have tried three categories of MMJ over the last four months: vaping products, something called sub-lingual strips, which is a small square that dissolves under your tongue, and edibles. The edible I used was honey, because it was something I could easily hide. I avoided the other edible options, (cookies, brownies and granola) because they were a lot more expensive, dosing was trickier, and I could see Nidan, who is a supreme mooch and excels in finding hidden treats, unearthing my stash and eating everything in one fell swoop. Nor did I employ the creams or topical balms, primarily because I didn’t have joint or nerve pain, and assumed it wouldn’t do anything for me.

I started with the vaping stick because it was affordable, and I could easily control my intake, and therefore the high. I tried the other products because I didn’t think there was any difference as far as my lungs were concerned between vaping and smoking, but finding the proper dose for the other product types was challenging.bitter The sub-lingual strips, which have a strong peppermint flavor and taste like shit, don’t provide much in the way of relaxation unless you consume the entire square. Since there are only ten strips to each container, that becomes expensive very quickly.

The honey, which was the priciest item of the bunch, was the most difficult to dose. A half a teaspoon didn’t do anything, and a heaping teaspoon turned out to be too much. Too much in the sense that the high was too strong, the paranoia would come and go in waves, and I often felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin.  The other issue with edibles is that they take longer to work, because the components need to be digested before they are released into the bloodstream. But once the “high” came, it took hours for it to leave. You see, when you smoke, vape, use a spray or a topical cream or ointment, 100% of the product is not consumed. That isn’t the case when you eat the product. The impact is therefore more dramatic when it hits, and it takes a lot longer for the THC to leave your system.

So I am wedded to the vaping for now. These come with a wide selection of THC content, which is nice, and I can easily control how much I ingest, which means I have more control over the effects of the medicine. The downside to this method, besides the fact that I’m putting something in my lungs, is that the effects aren’t as long-lasting, so I tend to consume more of it. But it is also the most affordable option I have tried, so it does not break the bank.

I can see myself keeping some of the honey available for future use, in addition to the strips, if for no other reason than to have a little variety. The bottom line is this is now part of a my night-time routine. I am not as uptight as before, my leg rarely twitches, I sleep better, and rarely wake up before the alarm rings. I swear it has helped relax my leg muscles too, which helps with the walking.

Why do I think that? Before I started the MMJ, my right foot did not point straight ahead when I planted the foot while walking. It stuck out sideways at a forty five degree angle instead, which would make my hip and lower back bark. I’m not back to where I was before the MS set in, but the foot is much closer to ninety degrees (pointing straight ahead) than forty five, and the corresponding back and hip soreness has disappeared.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to visit the web site that I order from so see if they come up with any new product that sounds appealing. I’m secretly hoping for THC infused ice-cream.

ice cream

A THC infused beverage wouldn’t be a bad idea either. It’s a pity the brand name Mellow Yellow is already taken.

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.

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.

The Land of Oz.

OZ

Once the decision was made, the first thing I had to do was select a dispensary to call my home. This was important because once the facility was selected, I was wedded to it. There aren’t a lot of locations in the state to choose from, and even fewer that are close to home, so the choice boiled down to two places. One is in a suburban area that I knew would be in a “good” location and easy on the eye, and the other in a more urban area. The urban location was fifteen to twenty minutes closer, so that’s the one I selected.

I had a general idea of where the place was located, and left home sooner than I needed to because the person I scheduled the appointment with urged me to arrive at least fifteen minutes early to complete the paperwork. It’s a good thing I did, because even though I had the address and knew the street the office was on, it was not easy to find. In fact, I drove by it twice.

The dispensary is in a non-descript brick building that I wouldn’t compliment by calling an office park.  It looked more like a square bunker with a lot of doors, and a few windows.  Actually, all the businesses at that location had the same street address and a unique unit number. There was no signage at all, nothing to announce the name or street address of the location. My GPS kept announcing that the location was on my left (then right as I passed it a second time). By then my bladder was about to erupt, so I pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot to heed nature’s call. As I did, Ms. GPS announced I had reached my location, and I had a WTF moment. Through my windshield, I saw the building I described in the next parking lot, and figured that must be the one. Once I finished my business, I pulled out of the lot I was in, turned left, and took a semi u-turn into the new parking lot. As I did, I spied the name of the place I was looking for on a small sign affixed to one of the doors.

After I backed into my parking spot and left the car, I surveyed the area. One of the negatives about choosing this location is that it is not in the greatest neighborhood, as it lay on the fringe of a hood that I would not want to visit when darkness falls. It was not an isolated area, the buildings aren’t decrepit, and the ground is not littered with trash or broken glass. There are a couple of large car dealerships were nearby, so I don’t want to give the impression it is in a war-zone. But the area is urban, and you can see the razor wire of one our state’s high security prisons in the distance. Better Homes and Gardens, it is not.

As I approached the building there were two doors, only one of which had an intercom, so I pushed the intercom button, and the receptionist buzzed me in. As the secure lock clicked behind me when the door closed, I walked up to the receptionist who was behind what looked like bullet/shatter-proof glass, and gave her my temporary certificate and driver’s license. She looked those over, then released another secure door that was to my left, and met me as I walked through it, handing me a clipboard in the process.

The office, which could be better described as a botique, was u-shaped, tastefully decorated, clean and modern. A high definition flat screen television was mounted on a wall in front of a variety of sofas, tables and chairs, with a rolling loop extolling the virtues of and the different kinds of medicinal pot that was available, but there was no sound. I didn’t do much investigating, so I don’t know what might have been on display.

The paperwork was straight forward and took about fifteen minutes to complete. It asked, among other things, my condition, my symptoms, and what I would consider using. The receptionist re-emerged as I was signing the last document, and I handed it over to her. She showed me where the restrooms were, a refrigerator that was filled with bottled water, and the exit, which happened to be the door next to the one I entered. Apparently, patients had to leave via that door, on the opposite side of the office, for security reasons.

Ten minutes later, as I sat pondering what would happen next, one of the pharmacists, called my name. A young, attractive woman approached, introduced herself and shook my hand as I rose from my seat, and escorted me to a private meeting room. For the next twenty minutes, this person reviewed my symptoms and the choices that lay before me.

The number and variety of these choices made my head spin. A five page color-coded laminated notebook, similar to a restaurant wine list, lay by her side. There appeared to be at least two-hundred items on the menu, and that might be a conservative guess. If this kind of thing were available in my twenties, assuming it were all legal, of course, I would have been like a kid in a candy store.

The pharmacist also had a little box with some of the paraphernalia that came with many of the options, ranging from rolling papers to something that looked like a communion wafer container. As she reviewed the choices, she removed an item in that box through which the drug was delivered. It was all very professional, thorough, and non-judgmental. She made comments such as, “I like this..,”  or “This is really nice…,” which made me wonder if they have to sample the product and delivery systems before they can meet with new clients. If that’s true, what a gig!

I asked a handful of questions, made my selection, then waited outside in the lobby while they prepared my selection. Now that the bloom was off the rose and I wasn’t on edge about the entire thing, I looked at the menu more closely and began to people-watch. I don’t think a single person in that office who wore a white coat was much older than thirty.

Clients like myself ran the gamut. Most people there appeared to be in their sixties, and a few might have been in their seventies. Nobody looked younger than the staff who worked there. Some were very professional looking, others looked old and haggard, and there was one guy there who looked like a total burn-out. Think of the “Reverend” Jim Ignatowski on Taxi. I was the only one with an obvious physical disability, which made me think most of the others were either dealing with a PTSD issue, anxiety, or some other kind of pain.

The best part of the deal was the sticker shock I expected did not transpire, but I will delve into that more with my next installment, where I will share what was on the menu, what I ultimtely chose, and how it’s working so far.

Stay tuned.