Archive for February, 2013

The Generosity of Cannabis Culture

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Something happened to me this weekend that filled my heart with so much good, I am compelled to share it. And yes, it has to do with weed. It was at the MMJ Universe Cannabis Farmer’s Market that I have been going to since the beginning of the year. I was making my way around the market, chatting up the vendors, smelling all the strains, and sampling when necessary.

I got around to a vendor that I had spoken to twice before. A giant bald man who had piqued my curiosity about his own unique cannabis strain for day time. As I walked up to his table where I saw him and his lady friend(?) I said, “I’m so happy to see you guys here!” This man stood up and said, “I’m so happy to see you here!” He then handed me a glass jar filled with a cannabis strain he grew, ‘Sleezstack’. A gift for me. What?

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He told me that the last time we had spoken, two weeks prior, I had complimented him on his eyes. (He does have really amazing aqua green eyes.) That simple little compliment was the only bright part during one of the worst weeks of his life. It was a very moving moment. We hugged. We cried. I accepted his gift and thanked him for his generosity. After a few moments of sharing this memory I’m sure we’ll both have for a while we said, “See you later.” I moved on through the market, tears kept welling up while I processed what had just happened.

What I didn’t share too much with him was that last month was one of the toughest that I’ve had in a while. I was in a lot of pain all month, while attempting to take a tolerance break from mmj. That particular morning when we spoke last I was having one of the lowest days. I went to the market to get out of the house, socialize, and enjoy the aromatherapy. He had given me a little nug to try his special strain of cannabis. I tried it the next day and was pleasantly surprised with how it made me feel focused, ambitious, relaxed, and it relieved pain. The perfect daytime strain! I can’t even say what it means to be handed a big jar of that medicine. Not only that, but to be acknowledged for being a nice person is both humbling and lifting at the same time.

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It struck me how easy it can be to forget the power of the interactions that we have everyday and the little things we say. How a simple kind compliment can literally lift somebody else’s spirit when they may be needing it the most. Being kind to others always comes back in some way. It may not always come back to you as a big jar of weed, but it does come around.

I am so thankful for the kindness and generosity of this man. He told me that was the last of his strain and he had been saving it for me. How sweet is that? This is another big way that medical marijuana is so different from pharmaceuticals. People within the cannabis culture have always been very generous  and kind to me. They are a caring bunch with really big hearts. To deal with nice people as part of my pain management experience feels somewhat healing in itself. I certainly have never hugged it out with a pharmacist.

Lesson of the week: When you put good out, you get good back.

-TwiceBaked

Using Cannabis for Depression

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Talking about depression is not on the top of my list of things that I like to do. Even just writing about it right now is making me uncomfortable but I still feel compelled to get out that this is one of the most amazing things that cannabis has helped me with on top of the chronic pain that I deal with because of my spinal issues.

If you were to ask the people in my life to describe me they would use words like “bubbly, optimistic, happy, or funny.” Most people don’t know about my very dark side, the depressed one that dwells in a secret closet under a very heavy black cloud. I prefer not to share this part of me to the world. But the reality is that I do deal with depression and anxiety which I feel is largely created from experiencing chronic physical pain and discomfort for so long.

On an even deeper note, which I also prefer not to linger on, I was brought into this world by parents who were newly grieving the loss of a child and suffering from depression themselves. They always put on a happy face and functioned like life was perfect, but let’s be honest here, children pick up emotions and in my case can even absorb them physically. So, I know a thing or two about feeling depressed and then repressing what you are feeling so you don’t affect the world around you in a negative way.

I have never taken prescription drugs for depression or anxiety but I have been using cannabis specifically for my scoliotic spine and with that experiencing the added bonus of relieving my depressed feelings. When I look back I can see that I totally have been using cannabis during the blue times in my life, I just would never have admitted to it that at the time.

To be really honest this is where I have been feeling kind of foggy (and oddly guilty) on whether I am using cannabis solely for pain management but also recreationally. I have always associated the getting happy part of marijuana use as recreational largely because that was its purpose as a recreational user until I got my medical cannabis recommendation. I mean, is it ok for me to use cannabis just to brighten my mood when I am feeling blue? Does that mean I am taking advantage of my medicine? Is there something wrong with me that I can’t just easily choose to be happy and calm?

The compassionate (and logical) side of me has realized that it is totally ok for me to also be using cannabis for the depression and anxiety. It kind of all goes together. Pain gets worse when you are depressed and stressed. I know that first hand. For me, depression has nothing to do with the fact that I have an awesome life and I am grateful for every single person, thing, and experience in it.

Cannabis is simply one tool that I use to keep the dark clouds parted so that I can see sunshine too. I also use regular exercise, a healthy diet, meditation, a practice of gratitude, journaling, and positive peers to keep my spirits lifted. Add cannabis to the mix and I become much more equipped to handle what this little body of mine is throwing at me on a daily basis.

There is no shame in saying you deal with depression or anxiety but it can feel that way when the person you are talking to either does not relate or is not open to listening to you talk about it. There is also no shame in saying that you use a safe, natural plant with no risky side effects that not only relieves your pain but also keeps your spirit lifted so you can experience life on a happier level.

-TwiceBaked

Taking Tolerance Breaks from Cannabis Medicine

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When I first met with a doctor to get my medical marijuana card I came prepared with a page of questions about how it was going to affect my health to be using cannabis long term. The doctor kindly answered all my questions and then he offered this advice: Take regular breaks, if possible, to reset your tolerance and give your body a rest from daily use. When I asked him how often, he suggested to take a month off for every three that you use. That sounded like a reasonable plan.

So this is the model I tried to follow. I quickly found myself challenged at how to make regular breaks happen when I am relying on that medicine for chronic pain. After my first three months of regular use, however, I dutifully took a month off.

That month was kind of hellish. Actually, it was more just the first week that was really difficult. After three months of unlimited daily cannabis use I did not like going without. I had a tough time sleeping, I lost my appetite, I was super irritable and felt really bad for my boy who had to live with my intensity. My pain hadn’t gone anywhere but into the second or third week my mood started to brighten.

After that break, I started back up with regular daily use and my tolerance had totally been reset. I loved that! The next time I went six months without a break instead of three but still took a month off and had pretty much the same experience during that break.

That last break was about one year ago and I again know that I need to take a break. My tolerance feels ridiculous and I have to use much more medicine to get the same effect. Plus, I also feel like my whole body is just bogged down a little and could use a thorough cleanse.

The only problem is that I genuinely am using this medicine for daily pain and at this point I found the thought of being in unmanaged pain for the month very daunting and scary. I was offered the suggestion to vary my strains instead of taking a month long break. That was great advice and worked for dealing with tolerance to some degree but it didn’t address (for me) that my body really was asking for a break.

So, I dug deep, felt the fear, and focused on the things that I know will make a tolerance break easier. Exercise, a clean diet, herbal supplements that promote good moods, a supply of muscle relaxers, bedtime tea, bath salts, and support from the people in my life who know that I use cannabis as medicine. I took all of my medicine to a trusted friend’s house, told them what I was doing and how they could help.

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I am now 2 weeks into my break and I am doing ok. The first week was the toughest. I had a night or two of weird sleep, my appetite was gone, and the anxiety that comes from living in a twisted skeleton was heavy. I felt like I was missing a good friend who always knows what to do when I am hurting, uncomfortable, anxious, or blue to make it all better and manageable.

But, as one day turned into a week that longing calmed down and I started to find sanctuary in the other ways that I manage my physical challenges. During week two I actually started craving a daily meditation practice as a place to find peace and calm. I have been sticking to daily gentle exercise like walking, dancing, and yoga which is amazing for calming my anxiety, brightening my mood (for hours!), and takes my pain and discomfort down several notches.

During this time I have also been able to reflect on my relationship with cannabis. I have compassionately accepted that I genuinely use it for more than just pain and that is totally ok. I also use it for anxiety and depression which I find uncomfortable to even talk about because on some level I feel like I have failed if I’m not naturally happy and calm all of the time. I have been able to really examine what I would like my cannabis use to look like going forward and what changes I can make as part of my quest to be as healthy as possible.

Now I am in the home stretch with just 2 weeks to go. I am excited to have a lower tolerance and a fresh attitude that is more balanced and compassionate toward myself and how I handle the things I have to deal with on a daily basis.

I see sunshine in the forecast, my friends…with beautiful puffy vaped clouds.

-TwiceBaked

Totally Twicebaked: Lessons of a Medible Rookie

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Ok, so I am not a total rookie when it comes to medibles, but even with two years experience of eating my medicine I was recently taught a valuable lesson that I’m sure most medicinal cannabis patients experience at some point. I simply ate too much of a very potent medible.

The day before I had gone to the Cannabis Farmer’s Market in Black Diamond and found two kinds of cannabis concentrate, one that was high in THC (for day) and one that was high in CBD’s (for night.) I had used the CBD one before so I was familiar with its effects (and it was awesome but definitely for p.m.).

Sunday morning I rose bright and early and made a batch of cannabis chocolates with the new daytime concentrate. I then proceeded to lick the bowl clean. I mean, not licking it would be a waste, right? Actually, licking the bowl wouldn’t have been so bad but I proceeded to also eat one entire chocolate as well without enough time between. Total rookie mistake.

Now, anybody who has eaten their cannabis will tell you that you should take it slow and have patience with medibles. Try a little and if you don’t feel anything in an hour or two, THEN take some more. My mistake was thinking I would be just fine eating that much since I have never had an issue of getting too baked on medibles before. I was wrong.

I had eaten the chocolate around 10am and about an hour later I had a whole new perspective on the world. While I felt very relaxed and pain-free, I was also a tad spacey and my eyes were really red. The boy took one look at me and said, “Whoa, you looked really baked.” At that point all I could do was go with it because there was no masking my state and it lasted the whole entire day.  Happily it wasn’t a negative experience but it did give me a whole new respect for the power of my medication. I wouldn’t be able to function on a long term basis being that baked. As with most things in life, it’s all about balance.

The next day I felt very cautious about how much to eat but did the smart thing and started with only 1/4 of a chocolate to find my right dosage. Over the next week I have been experimenting with my new medibles to figure out what is the least amount of medicine necessary and seeing if taking it at different times of the day will make a difference in my pain management.

Patience is key when waiting for your medibles to kick in so you don’t eat too much too soon. It helps a great deal to consciously plan ahead what time you will take your medicine. If you know that it takes a full two hours before you are going to get relief then try to plan accordingly. It certainly takes experimentation to  figure out what time to take medicine and what dosage is right for you on any given day. It helps to have a consistent product that you have used before so that you can eliminate much of the guesswork and just get to healing.

Until next time…Eat your Greens…with deep respect for what it’s doing for you.

-TwiceBaked