I have been hiding a secret for a very long time now. My parents, family, and wife all know, but it is something that I have felt very mixed up about for a while. I am one of those dirty Medical Marijuana users. I feel due to recent events that have entered my life (my town has decided that the local dispensaries are eyesores, even though if you have ever been to my town they are honestly some of the best looking businesses in the town both appearance wise, and well cleanliness wise as well.)
I attended the council meeting where Council members (who have been REAPING tax profit in from at least one of the dispensaries if not all three for 4 years,) have now decided after 4 years has transpired that they don't want to be known as a medical marijuana town. I mean after all, being the proud town with 3 gas stations, one of which is at the east entrance of our town and greets people coming in with iron bars on windows and meth pipes sold as incense burners. Our most recognized spot is a biker bar (which has amazing burgers) and we're known for mine carts and a bargain grocery store that sells dented and expired goods at a low price to people who either don't speak English, or just cant afford to go elsewhere. I digress of course, the point being they said the dispensaries were entered by riff raff and people who do not look sick. The general public was forbidden to speak because it was a work session, but the place was packed with patients that despite being riff raff (thanks Pro Tem Mayor Joe Baker for that lovely term) all somehow looked no difference appearance wise then the people sitting on the council.
Multiple Sclerosis causes several issues. The first and most powerful one is of course, the way it slowly but surely reduces your mobility. You suffer micro spasms, extreme spacisity (feeling stiff like a board like you just got done working out after not doing it for 10 years, fell asleep, and woke up to the muscle fatigue.) and weakness in the limbs as they stop responding to you. Then comes the pain...oh ya called neuropathy it will start as a slight burning, pins and needle feeling, like your leg is asleep with a bad sunburn....and then it gets more and more intense over time. It does not go away. You can hit this sucker with any over the counter pain med you like but most will not even touch it. The usual drug of choice.....morphine! In various different forms morphine or opiate are used to treat severed pain by depressing the CNS system. They are extremely addictive, and have this country in a stranglehold as they are prescribed like candy for just about anything anymore.
I was faced with the choice of how to manage this. I sucked it up for 4 and 1/2 years, but when I couldn't sleep regularly (MS also likes to give you long bouts with insomnia as it activates your bodies immuno system causing endorphins to pump for what it percieves is to help fight an infection. By the way the infection just happens to be your brain and spine its nibbling on) After talking with several doctors about my issues, One suggested that while the VA could not and would not prescribe medical marijuana, there are many doctors that would for MS on the civilian side and it was actually being seen worldwide as a drug of choice for MS patients, for if taken correctly it could actually give energy back, help with spascity and the effects that help with MS related symptoms extend well beyond the duration of the euphoric effects. I talked with my wife about it, and still gave it a few more months.
Finally I went to a Neurologist outside the VA whom confirmed a lot of what I had read, and while he wasnt willing to "prescribe it due to the negative stigma but would gladly give me a script for hydromorphone" Gee, thanks Doc, you rattle off the reasons to do it then offer me liver failure, renal failure and addiction in a bottle. Anyway, I went to another doctor who wrote the presciption up, I sent it off with a request to the state and got my lovely red card authorizing me to pick up medical marijuana. I tryed vaporizing it, which was alright, but I began to have severe craving to smoke, something I fought tooth and nail to quit years ago. I have tryed to avoid smoking it as A) I have children and B) it reeks and finally C) I dont care what anyone says inhaling anything into your lungs besides air is probably a bad idea. Tar is Tar. So on to the edibles route.
I can honestly say, I had never touched a drug besides alcohol and cigarettes in 35 years up to this point. I know a lot of my friends of course had, but I still felt like as a father, I had to be very careful how I approached this. Well, frankly, I treat it like any other medication, it is far removed from being within my kids reach, (I stay away from refrigerated versions of edibles for that reason), and low and behold it works wonders. I would not call it a wonder drug BUT, I can move around again. Often without my cane crutch, (I still have to use my Brace for my right leg because I have foot drop now), but I was actually able to go outside and do things again. The tremors would all but stop, and the pain oh the pain would go to a dull roar. The best part is once I figured out the dose that worked for me, I got sleep...oh my god glorious sleep.
My whole family noticed a big difference in me. Even through relapses, it has helped to shorten the span of the relapse without my having to get a hefty dose of steroids. All in all, I feel like I got the best possible sort of life I could have back for the condition I am in. Worse case scenario, I might eat that leftover sandwich in the fridge, but other then that I sit and watch tv with Wendy, write, read (I must admit books are amazing whilst a little euphoric) or play games. Only on my very worst days do I use the mini vaporizer with Sativa to get a little pick me up for doing outside stuff. My need to nap has waxed and waned but over all I have been much better about not needing to nap as much.
Still I was feeling bad. I was legal in the state of colorado. I went to a legitimate dispensary which looks more like a walgreens then a head shop, and you would be hard pressed to ever know I used it unless I told you. My children know I use it and why, but of course have never seen me do it. I had to be open and honest about it with those close to me, because well, it still is a drug, and even though I can say after almost a year and half using it, I can go days without having to take a nibble on anything edible wise. I don't feel I need it, (not like I use to wake up at 1 in the morning needing a cigarette, realizing I was out and driving to a gas station just for a smoke) It doesn't control me it just gives me a measure of my life back.
So why talk about it here, publically? Because I want to help folks understand that this medicine can be used non recreationally and for good purposes. I won't go on a tangent about the many uses of the Cannabis plant beyond medicine. Leave it safe to say, Its a real shame more people with extreme pain issues and mobility problems don't have access to this. I intend to go in and fight this Monday at the council meeting to ban our dispensaries. My Dispensary, Dacono Meds is a clean, professional environment. Its not a head shop with some stoned out 20 year old behind the counter talking about his bong of choice. This medication in conjunction with Yoga actually works wonders on returning lost flexibility due to MS related problems.
Just remember, love it or hate it, if its helping someone to regain their life, there has to be something positive about it. I am all for regulation, control and keeping the MMJ business clean cut and clear. Please card me, Please verify that I am not over using, Please treat it like any other controlled substance. And finally, Please treat me as a patient and not a criminal. Yes there are people with red cards who don't need them its a fact. but that total is not even a fraction of the people with prescription pills that do not need them and abuse them.
So there ya go, the clean cut boy from brown county has joined the legion of people who have used marijuana in their life. I do not feel bad about the choice I have made any longer. I will fight tooth and nail to keep our dispensary open here in Dacono. Because frankly without it, I will have to search long and hard for another dispensary that is as professional as this one.
Keeping my chin up
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
It came to my attention about 3 months ago that something was up with my body. Multiple Sclerosis has always been a rather unwanted houseguest in my body, but a good portion of the time, once you adjust to the pains and oddities you can sort of adjust to it. However about 3 months ago, my left side started a numbness and tingling thing. I was of course at first freaked out a little, but then I played it off as just another new symptom. I didn't have chest pain or pressure, I was just tingly like pins and needles all over my left side from my foot to my jaw. I started the usual batch of calls to my doctors, with the "Hey just figured I would update you, etc etc" to be responsible about it. As is common with the VA, of course it takes months to get the ball rolling on anything, so I am still in the middle of getting my MRI scheduled on my spine and brain, just so I can see what new lesions I've acquired. (I am secretly hoping to one day have a lesion that looks like Elvis or Jesus, after all wouldn't that be a conversation piece!) Of course such an urgent MRI was given the uptmost importance of being booked in July (sarcasm on) But after spending a pleasant amount of time explaining to the obviously well trained phone rep at the VA (Federal employees are almost as nice as state DMV employees!) that in the cases of brain and spine issues time is tissue, and lets just skip the whole my calling my doctor my doctor calling them and yelling bit and actually get the MRI done within the next 30 days. It worked, sort of, though I am pretty sure they probably spit on my records or something. Anyway, having spent as much time in the medical field as I had, having worked with some incredible doctors in my military days, I have truly made it my business to learn the ins and outs of my disease. It has helped me SO many times. As such, I know that while I am still walking right now, if my legs keep getting worse (I have to wear a brace permanently on my right foot to keep it from catching and now neither foot can feel anything) I will have to make some choices. Essentially I have accepted that a wheelchair is in my future. I was ,like anyone I think, scared at first about this. Losing the ability to walk is sort of like losing some of your freedom. I even cryed a few times about it. The big tattoo guy balled like a baby because hell, it is scary. You really take into account your own frailty the first few dozen times you fall down your own stairs or into something. However, soon I decided I would make a walking bucket list. Why wait to do things before your gonna die. I want to do things before I cant do them on my own two feet. I won't go into the whole list but there are a few things some might find odd. So I will list off the top ten things on my walking bucket list. 1) Walk with my mother somewhere outside near my old home The flora and fauna of Brown County and along Spearsville Road and Bittersweet is so unique I want to smell the dew and the flowers, fight off the dog sized mosquitos and smell the Wagler's Cow Farms. I love walking past the Wagler's farms, they have always been just decent hard working salt of the earth kind of people. I know it lowers my mom's stress which is constant due to having to take care of my ailing grandmother day in and day out 6 hours or more a day. The woman is a saint and deservds whatever break she can get. 2) Make the long walk down to Tim Parker's grave. I have visited Tim's grave a few dozen times as a grown man. I like to let him know he is missed, that I know what an incredible man he would have been had he been given the chance, and that I am thankful for all the joy I have had and how I still think of him from time to time and thank god for the chance to have known him. 3) Cut grass on the old homestead I don't know why but I love cutting grass in Indiana. Probably because its not burnt and shriveled scrub grass like we have here in the plains of Colorado. That and the urge to drive the riding mower fast and threaten to spray one of my mom's flower beds is just to tempting to pass up! 4) Walk around Nashville but not tourist style. I want to walk around Nashville like I own it again. Take all the side streets, get some ice cream my diabetic butt shouldn't have (hey im on vacation people) and stop by one of the fine eaterys. I get a bit choked up going back because there are so many magical memories there. First kisses, chilly nights and the light mist that happens from all the moisture. 5) Go to the park and take photo's I really want to take as much of brown county home with me as I can. So its time to grab a camera and go to town this time! 6) Take the kids to Mesa Verde in Colorado to see some real history. My children have a healthy dose of Native American in them thanks to my lovely wife, so I would like to visit some of the reservations we have here in Colorado so they can get some small sense of their history. I have always been very interested in the paleolithic period of native americans on up to the last 200 years or so. Its good to be humbled by history and the Anasazi were some of the coolest people around. 7) Get into school one more time with my kids so I can push kids on the swings I really enjoy helping my kids school out, and one of my favorite parts is pushing the kids on the swings. They get such a kick out of it, and in some cases I know its one of the few times they get to see an adult taking time out to spend time with them. The state of kids these days can be sad as most get neglected by their overzealous, immature and entitled parents who view their kids as possessions instead children (sorry I soap boxed that one but it is REALLY REALLY blatantly obvious with some of the kids there) 8) Find a cave and get my son into it I love my daughter so much, but there a few things I know she won't do. Getting knee deep in mud in a cave is probably not one of them. I love spelunking, and I want to do it one more time. A cool environment is the best place for a person with MS to do a little over exertion. 9) Take my kids to Dinosaur National Monument and con my wife into coming I really want the kids to see a neat Dino Dig and its on the way to Utah which means we could possibly visit her cousins. I really like her cousins Breezy and Heather. They were a lot of fun and my wife lights up and actually talks (if you know Wendy you know what I mean) with them. 10) Dance with my Daughter while I can I really want to Dance with Alanna before its too late. She is so important to me and she loves to dance. I may not get to dance with her later so maybe I can dance with her now. Besides since I won't let he date till she is 30 it may be awhile for as well I know its a simple list, but every one of these things means something to me. I also see a chance to make a memory out of them all. And frankly, isn't that what its all about. I want my kids to talk about the silly things daddy did when I am gone and with any luck, pass a few on to their kids (you know when Alanna adopts at 50 and Aris clones himself) Well, I will draw my blog to a close this time but I have already started writing the next one up. Just the aspect of writing this stuff down can be so cleansing to the soul. It is great to get back in touch with your more positive self to remind you of the good things. Besides, I am totally gonna pimp my wheelchair out when I get one!! Keeping my chin up! Chris