First, off, I want to apologize for the bluntness of my previous post. I don’t often do this. But I didn’t think through the fact that the information I was sharing hadn’t actually been disseminated throughout my close friends and family yet, and that it might be not only shocking, but that it might feel like a betrayal to read something so important online rather than hear it from my own lips.
I guess the fact remains that I am braver in print than I am in person. I’m often willing to admit a lot of things here in my blog that are difficult for me to talk about in person, especially with family. You see, for them, it isn’t just an academic exercise, and I can’t pretend it to be. They care about me, and their emotions justifiably get entangled and so when I post something on my blog that is controversial or shows me in what they perceive to be a negative light or whatnot, it is easy for some people closest to me to take things personally.
I just want to apologize because I didn’t take that into consideration with my last post. I was attempting to be honest about my experience and I knew that if I just ignored the “green” elephant in the room I would end up just never talking about it in my posts.
But I am serious about wanting my blog to be an accurate and honest reflection of my experience. Of course, it will always be my experience, which means it may not always coincide with the experience of others, even when the same events are involved. I think there is some universal moral truth, but for the most part, I think that what is true often gets muddled in the eye of the beholder. I know that my perception of what other people say and do is always, ALWAYS colored by my prior experience of those people, of their actions, their relationship to me, the time of day, how I’m feeling, and a host of other things, up to and including things like the weather.
But I want to do my best to describe my experience accurately, and to tell the truth as best I can as I have experienced it. I am, of course, always open to comments. But if your experience and mine don’t match, there’s no need to get angry. We just have to find the commonalities in our mutual experiences – they are always there.
Anyway, I may have erred in posting about the medical marijuana issue so quickly after my return home from the hospital. It just seemed important, and I knew that if I made it OK to skirt around it, I might never actually post about it, and that would have felt like lying to all of you.
So, that’s the first part of my apology.
The second part is that I think I made the assumption that those who were reading my blog at this point either already knew about the medical marijuana or were a part of my generation who are more used to such things. But in my haste to be honest, I hurt some people’s feelings, and I think, gave them the wrong idea entirely about my desire to use/not use substances as a medication.
So to finish, I’d like to make a couple things abundantly clear:
First – I am NOT using marijuana recreationally. Not at all. I am not looking for a “high”, or to “get fucked up”, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t want to completely numb myself out, the way I used to while using opiates. I want a legitimate medical option to treat the chronic (but intermittent) joint pain and headaches caused by my CF while also helping to treat my anxiety/panic attacks and improving my appetite while decreasing my nausea. I obtained my medical card for exactly this condition and these symptoms. And I want to re-iterate something here: my pulmonologist, (I won’t name him here cause if I were him, I wouldn’t want these words online attached to my name if I was a physician) who actually recommended medical marijuana use to me as a viable option and signed all the paperwork allowing me to get the card, told me very clearly, “Nathan, I would rather have you smoke two whole joints a couple times a day, every single day, than to continue to do what you’ve been doing, constantly going on and off narcotics and taking anxiety meds that are also dependence forming. I think that possibly medical marijuana could be a really helpful option for you. I have had several patients in similar circumstances to yours who have tried it and who had a lot of good things to say.”
Now, this doctor is no yahoo. He’s in his sixties, he has numerous accolades, and published papers. He has practiced privately at the Oregon Clinic and publicly in the Providence Medical Group hospital system for years. And he has known me for years, and knows my history and my health condition intimately. He has shown me a lot of compassion over the last couple years. I haven’t been the best patient. So I was actually pretty shocked at his thought process when it came to cannabis.
Anyway, I have had the paperwork done and the medical card in my wallet since early November 2012. I tried it out a couple times back then, but it was very difficult to find a correct strain and dosage, and it cost money, and I was already getting sick, and didn’t want to make it worse, so I didn’t try it systematically the way I am doing this time. I also didn’t have any oversight or supervision.
This time, since I am still living with my parents, I’ve asked them to speak up right away if they find my behavior to be weird or if I seem “stoned”. Because I don’t want a medication with side effects that will make me unable to function. Opiates do that to me. So, to a certain extent, do benzodiazepines. But in correct dosage and when I use the proper strains for the proper effect, it seems possible that cannabis may provide some occasional relief with a lower side effect profile and no chance of physical dependence.
And yes, I’m aware psychological dependence is a real thing. I know what it is like to be addicted to something psychologically, to the point that I’ve done stupid things. That is why I am making sure to be open about what my experience with cannabis as a medicine is/was/will be. I also want to point out that this is one small part of my new Wellness Quest 2.0. But it is by NO means the focus.
I got some criticism last night which I felt was perhaps invalid, but regardless, it deserves mentioning. A close family member told me that in reading my last blog post he/she felt like I was just trying to find another substance to be addicted to and that nothing had changed and that I wasn’t going to follow through on any of my commitments because all I cared about was myself and getting drugs.
A couple of photos to illustrate my options:
Medicine Drug Pills on Plate (Photo credit: epSos.de)
English: Organic cannabis Indica purchased from a Medical Cannabis dispensary per California Proposition 215/Amendment #420/ Health and Safety code 11362.5 and 11362.7 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This? Or This?
I can see how his/her opinion could be lead there, especially after the difficulty of the past couple months. I won’t make excuses, but it did feel like going back several steps. Taking narcotics (legitimately or not) messes with my motivation and with my brain and my ability to examine reality in a dispassionate way. Combine that with being sick and dealing with pain, anxiety and lack of sleep…It has been disappointing. November through January have shown me that I wasn’t perhaps as strong as I thought I was.
They have also shown me that even when I do everything in my power to maintain my health, it is still possible for me to get sick. That means I have to push myself, work myself back to “full strength”, in a timely manner, and that I must be extremely diligent about my CF treatments to make sure that when I DO get sick (because it is, in fact, a “when”, not an “if”) it doesn’t get as bad and if I keep up with it and monitor it, there’s a good chance I get get to any infection before it gets out of control and, for lack of a better phrase: “nip it in the bud”.
But still, after having reach such peak condition for myself near the end of September, it has been very disappointing to me to realize that even when I am in the absolute peak condition possible for my body, it can still betray me.
But I am trying to come to grips with that.
So please, if you can, take the cannabis factor into account as one single option. There are many others, including treatment that doesn’t include anything for pain or for my mental health issues. I have to talk to a professional about my mental health, because these last couple months have been painful, and the last five years have been devastating, and if I’m honest with myself I need a psychiatrist, sure, but I also really need a therapist who will just work with me on how to move past this history I have with drugs and help me understand my reaction to cannabis and advise me professionally as to whether or not it is possible for me to use any substance for pain/anxiety relief without becoming dependent.
But one thing is sure. For all of you out there questioning my decision here, I want you to know that I question it as much as you do. Even as I have gone about attempting to try it, I am constantly questioning: “is this the right thing? is this working? is this giving me a feeling I want, or is it just making me feel sluggish or out of it? is this going to make me want to use other drugs? how do I feel, right now, and why do I feel like I need to modify or change how I am feeling mentally/physically at the moment?” And those are just a few questions running through my head that I thought I’d share with you.
While I am pretty certain that while in and of itself, cannabis is not harmful to me, I am not yet certain about whether it can be used as a viable medical option for me.
Just like I wasn’t sure about Tai Chi at first, or about my diet affecting my health, or about many of the suggestions made by my aunt and uncle at the start of Wellness Quest 1.0. While I am making up some of the new experiments myself this time, the idea is the same: to promote Optimum Wellness – mind, body, and spirit, while using an absolute minimum of unnatural substances in my body.
One other option I want to mention right now as it may actually be more promising than the cannabis idea is the option of bio-feedback. A physical therapist came to visit me in the hospital this last time and gave me a huge packet of information on how pain works (not a revelation to me, but still, nice of her). If I enroll in a a two part workshop that helps education patients with chronic illnesses about pain and how to deal with it it sans pharmaceuticals, I will be able to make an appointment at their specialty rehab/physical therapy/pain management clinic where they have true bio-feedback machines.
Bio-feedback is simply a way of giving you a way of visually seeing the way your brain waves are reacting to stimulus and giving you the opportunity to learn to modulate them to do all kinds of things. Once really trained in biofeedback, a user should be able to calm his/her heartbeat, quiet pain throughout the body, focus and engage more effectively, and stop a panic attack in its tracks. It is being used experimentally to treat chronic pain, ADHD, Anxiety disorders, and even being used for athletes, to train them how to get their brain into that state we would call “The Zone” where the body and mind function as one unit. Because studies show that if an athlete can practice “The Zone” in a lab or even at home in bed, it is the same experience to his/her brain as experiencing “The Zone” in an actual competitive situation.
So needless to say, I am pretty excited to try this out. I know it will take quite a bit of work on my part, but if I can truly learn to train my brain, it should greatly enrich my life and allow me to take advantage of opportunities that have been out of my reach for a long time.
Thanks for reading this long post.
I don’t often refer to previous posts, nor do I usually offer apologies or disclaimers. But my blog isn’t about being inconsiderate or just writing whatever the hell I want. I can’t claim journalistic license. I simply didn’t think about the consequences of what I was writing – I didn’t consider how others might feel or react to an issue that could easily seem huge, when to me, it seems a piddly little thing. Perhaps that is denial on my part, or minimization. But I know that the less energy I put into it, the less I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t work, and frankly I am skeptical. So I just haven’t given it a lot of attention aside from some research and some conversations with “experts”.
If you have questions about this or the bio-feedback idea, email or leave me a comment.
But unless there is an important event or change, I probably won’t write another post about this for a while. As I said before, this is one small part of my revised quest for optimal wellness, and it may not even work out in the long run. I am just happy to be writing again, and grateful to be home and to have a vehicle and to have a supportive family and doctors who continue to encourage me to do what is best for my health.
Peace to you all,