Friday, July 17, 2009

Joint pain

Medical marijuana is an interesting way to cope with fibromyalgia. Yes, I tried it and yes, I did inhale -- with a fury. I haven't smoked pot in about 20 years, so this was a bit of a walk down memory...
... what was I saying?

Oh yeah.
So, a friend of mine who suffers from chronic migraines has been a legal recipient of medical marijuana for about 6 months now. I was allowed to accompany him to a dispensary as an observer. I wanted to see how the stuff is sold to registered card holders and what to expect should I decide that this is the pain reliever for me. OK, this was among the most surreal experiences of my life, and I advise everyone to do this at least once. If for anything, it could be the closest any one of us gets to knowing what it's like to be in a David Lynch movie, minus the blood and breasts. The place I visited was considered (according to my escort) very clean and well run. Aside from the overwhelming smell of cannabis, the place could have been a massage therapy— or doctor's office. Everyone there was very accommodating, or was it stoned? I guess it doesn't matter, seeing how you never see people acting "drunk" when stoned. No loud talkers or people fighting and barfing on your couch. All very peaceful and mellow, just the way I like it. If I had my way, I'd insist on cannabis being part of the food pyramid the Surgeon General is so pumped about.
So, once our IDs are checked, my friend and I are escorted into large sitting area and parked on a big leather couch . Our host, a very lean, shave-headed, yoga-looking dude, is talking about the massage therapy they offer and how they are expanding their facility into a "wellness" clinic.
I'm still about 95 percent suspicious about the place, because in my un-stoned mind it just seems like a good place to come to to score some weed and just hang. I ask "Bob" about the number of fibromyalgia patients he services, and he starts beaming at me. "Right now," he says, barely containing his excitement, (excrement?) he motions to a door in at the far end of the room. "There's a soccer-mom in there getting a prescription filled for her teen-age son who is a fibro-sufferer." Sure enough, the door opens and Carol Brady comes strolling out with a brown paper bag clutched to her breast. She makes no eye contact and quickly heads for the exit. I admit, I'm somewhat impressed but fight the impulse to laugh my ass off when our host refers to her "prescription." Come to think of it, he refers (reefers?) to the marijuana as "medicine " every chance he gets. Look, I grew up in the 60s and 70s, ain't no way this old dog's gonna see it as anything other than pot.
Now, with the dispensing room empty, the "Bob" invites us in to take a look. Only one person or a particular couple, (in our case) are allowed in there at a time. I enter the dispensary and what I see is truly a wonder to behold -- a veritable buffet of all things marijuana. It's like a High Times candy store -- I'm Charlie Bucket and I've got a tune in my head and it ain't "Candy Man", it's "Purple Haze." We've entered a magical, wonder-weedorium and everywhere I look I see candies, baked goods, little baggies and pre-rolled cigarettes. Behind the counter is a proud, albeit, slightly unkempt attendant and behind him are shelves reaching up to the ceiling. Each shelf is burdened with apothecary jars, and each jar is filled with -- you guessed it -- pot. Not just your run-of-the-mill pot, it's the stuff of nice dreams, it's every pot smoker's fantasy. Every color of the rainbow, every shape and size -- it's Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes for the would-be stoner, which I guess makes me Harry POTter (I couldn't resist.) I am speechless, yes! I am without speech. I was then schooled in all the culinary uses for cannabis and couldn't believe that not only can you smoke it six ways from Sunday, you can put it in any number of edible delights, like peanut butter, suckers, tea, cookies and all magically delicious. Needless to say, my mind was sufficiently blown.
My escort then purchased a small amount of "medicine" and we departed as casually as we had wandered in.
Now, I'm not going to get into the details of how I came into possession of a small quantity of this medicine, being that I've yet to become a card-carrying reefer recipient, but I did. I informed the little woman of my intention when I got home that evening. She seemed curious about the outcome. Would I find relief from my pain and discover that the answer was right there the whole time? Would a few drags really make the pain go away?
And now a word about marijuana: What the hell happened? When I was younger So much younger than today... You could smoke a few joints between friends and even have a conversation afterwards. Maybe not an intelligible discussion, but a talk just the same. This is no longer your mother's, garden-variety weed here. I took only two drags and found myself trying to kiss the sky. I mean, my ass was kicked, if you'll pardon me being so blunt.
Speaking of goofy, why "Blunt" or "Spliff"? OK, I admit "pot" is goofy when you think about it, as is "reefer." "Grass" well ... although the stuff we smoked as young adults looked and acted like lawn clippings, it's no longer the case, is it? But now, this stuff is freaky-strong and although I think "Weed" is a timeless and endearing euphemism, I just don't think it tells the whole story. Something like "Coma Smoke" or "Brain Goo" makes more sense... I think I'd really appreciate a little help here.

So, I suspect the big question is weather or not it relieved my pain. Well, yes and no. While I was baked, I definitely wasn't thinking about the fibro. However, I'd have to smoke it every few hours -- all day to keep the affect working. My lungs just aren't that committed to the process. Then there's eating it. I didn't try any of the baked goods, and here's why. When I asked the Bob about how much I should eat he said, "It's different for everyone, you just eat some and see how it affects you." I looked puzzled and asked, "Well, what if you eat too much?" in which he coolly replied, "You just have to ride it out, I mean, at least you're not going to die."
Hmmm. I think I can say with utter confidence that Bob's P.R. skills left a bit to be desired.
Look, I'm a middle aged guy on Simvastatin, I don't need that kind of stress to my insides.
As you might have guessed, his disclaimer didn't sell me on the idea of ordering his laced, baked goods.
On a side note, I ask you this: Is it bad form to head butt a perfect stranger in front of a cornucopia of pot?

So, the important question is -- will marijuana really help with my fibro symptoms? Well, for me it helped, but I'm just not a big fan of smoking -- anything, and it really does take a toll on your lungs. Plus, the length of the relief from smoking it, although substantial, only lasts a few hours at best. That means you're probably going to develop a routine similar to that of a cigarette smoker. I haven't explored some of the newer technology, like the vaporizer. I hear it is much better, effects-wise, as well as a more intense experience. It 's supposed to be easier on your lungs because nothing is actually burnt, so you get a break from harmful carcinogenic smoke.
Then there's eating it. I hear that particular experience lasts anywhere from 6 to 8 hours and can be very helpful. Still, I haven't tried it yet so I got nothin' there.

It's always best to ask a lot of questions, because it appears that marijuana is really working for some fibro-sufferers. Here's what I suggest:
1. Are you up for the risks regarding smoking vs immediate relief?
2. Can you consume it in food and hope you can regulate the dosage to your liking?
3. Do you live in a state where medical marijuana is available? If not, do you have a green thumb?
4. Also, and most important -- do you live close to a Dairy Queen??
... damn.

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