B&W Photo Challenge Day 5

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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

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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.

B&W Photo Challenge Day 4

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I’m feeling lazy today, so if you want to know the rules and how I got roped into this, look here.

Today’s nominee is Karyn, a no-bullshit kind of gal who authors KC Place . I know Karyn is into photography from previous posts, and therefore assume she’ll take to this like a duck to water. But she is also experiencing some trying times, as you can tell from the link I provided, and this is my way of sending the love and good vibes she deserves. Hopefully, you will to.

Stay strong KC!

B&W Challenge Day 3

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I was invited by Grace, who I think I might start calling One in A Million Grace, given her propensity for experiencing things most of us never will (see her last spam folder post) , to participate in the challenge.

The rules are simple: post a black and white photo that does not involve people and has something to do with your life for seven days without comment. Then invite a person each day to come along for the ride.

Today’s nominee is Damn Girl, Get your Shit Together. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know the author’s name, but I am nominating her for two reasons. The first that a lot of what she writes is quirky and funny,  which I enjoy immensely. The other reason is that I haven’t heard or seen anything from her in almost a month.

Hey girl, are you out there?

 

B&W Challenge Day 2

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The Rules: A black and white photo every day for seven days that says something about your life. No pictures of people, no explanation of the photo, and invite someone new to play along.

Yesterday I invited Bojana to participate, but in my haste did not provide the proper introduction. All you need to know about B, besides the fact she is a wonderful writer and has written about a variety of topics, is that she survived the war-torn Bosina-Kosovo nightmare of the 1990’s and emerged with her sanity intact. She has written extensively on the experience in Morality Park, and it is a gripping tale of man’s inhumanity and resilience. A must read. She also pens a blog call Bojana’s Coffee and Confessions To Go. I don’t know if B will play in the sandbox, but I’m anxious to see what she comes up with, given it’s only pictures.

Today’s victim is Superman aka Billy Mac. How do I begin to describe Superman? Funny, brutally honest, eloquent, resilient, and a hell of a writer who is a tad too hard on himself.  Billy’s blog, Superman Can’t Find a Phone Booth,  is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get, but it will be a tasty morsel. Find out for yourself.

By the way, I am trying hard not to invite a person who has already been tabbed by someone else who is enjoying this challenge, but I am late to the game, and can’t promise that won’t happen.

The Land of Oz.

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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.

 

 

B&W Photo Challenge – Day 1

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Yesterday, I was tagged….no, challenged, dared and publicly taunted by my good friend Grace to participate in the black and white photo challenge. I believe Grace threw the gauntlet down in this fashion for two reasons. First, she knows that I know that if I refuse her request I will never hear the end of it, and secondly, she probably knows I have had a hard time saying no to good friends.

Anyway, thank you Grace, for taking time away from the next installment of my journey to Oz to accommodate your request. By the way, if you haven’t checked out Grace’s blog, you don’t know what you are missing. Grace is an ingenious and courageous soul, who is not afraid to let you in on the inner workings of her life and her mind. She writes with unfiltered passion, humor, and intensity, and no subject is sacred, which is one of the things I love about her. If you haven’t had a chance to see her work, do yourself a favor and check out her site.

The challenge’s rules are simple: for seven consecutive days, post a black and white photo with no explanation to accompany it, and invite someone from the blogosphere to play along.

Now, this photo is more monochromatic than black and white, but I thought a black and white view would not capture what I was looking for. So yes, I am taking some liberties here. Sue me.

Bojana, you’re up.