Monthly Archives: April 2014

Med-iquette: How to be a responsible patient

Lately, at least in Colorado, there has been a lot of press about medicating responsibly.    Unfortunately, the stereotype of someone who uses any marijuana is that of a hippie like teenager out for a thrill.  Even medical marijuana is subject to this incorrect image.  To help change these stereotypes, and promote a more accurate image, here are some tips on how to medicate responsibly.

  • Keep ALL medication locked away from children.  Aside from accidental ingestion issues in small children, know that teens pose just as serious a threat.  Many teenagers steal their parent’s medications to take or sell.  They will do this with your marijuana as well.  While there has never been a death attributed to a marijuana overdose, treat it like your children can die from it.  Invest in a lock box or keep it in a locked room.
  • Don’t medicate in public unless you are using topicals or edibles.  No one else should be exposed to your medication.  Some people do have adverse reactions to airborne pathogens, including smoke/vapor.  Be mindful that we may not be the only sick people out there!
  • Follow state law.  Clearly if you are using any marijuana, you are not following Federal law.  However, follow state law when possible.  *Not encouraging illegal activity, but please protect yourself and your family if you aren’t in a medical state – hence the “if possible”.
  • If you know you have used a wee bit too much, hang out in your room or on the couch!  If you have children, make that time a quiet time (and if you are medicating there is a chance you need that quiet time!)
  • Educate your family.  This legal situation is not going to change if our children grow up with the same propaganda.  Discuss the FACTS about medical marijuana with your family using age appropriate conversation.  While minors should not use marijuana, it is NOT the toxic cesspool that the government says it is.  Most of the issues with marijuana stem from its legal status – not the drug itself.
  • Don’t use more than necessary to treat your illness.  Everyone’s pain, chemistry, and needs are different.   If you don’t need 5 vapor draws to help your nausea, don’t take it.  One of the benefits of inhaled marijuana is that you can titrate the dose – or only take what you need!   For example, today I didn’t need medicine until around 2pm, but yesterday my nausea was so bad – I needed a small dose every 4 hours.

Apothecanna Pain Spray – Review

Apothecanna Pain Spray on the right is one of the few topicals that has worked for me - and I have had prescription topicals!
Apothecanna Pain Spray on the right is one of the few topicals that has worked for me – and I have had prescription topicals!

Apothecanna Pain Spray  –  absolutely amazing.  These are the best words to describe the relief I get from this topical.  I specifically used this for knee pain with excellent results!  The spray has a strong smell of cloves, and provides a warm numbing effect from deep within the tissue.  Because of the permanent nerve damage from my botched partial knee replacement/ACL repair, I felt the spray work from the inside out.

Positives:  This spray does not contain capsaicin, which is fantastic for me.  I have a difficult time with swelling from capsaicin, so really have not explored many topicals.  This one however, worked better than a prescription cream that had muscle relaxers, narcotics, and lidocaine.

Negatives:  Apothecanna pain spray is actually expensive.  For 2 oz. I paid $16 and used it in 2 weeks.  It also has a strong scent, so if cloves don’t smell good to you this is not your product!  I actually am okay with the clove smell and have used cloves in the muscle creams I make.

Forced Addiction: the explosion of America’s pill epidemic

Today I am refilling my opiate pain medication.  I had to contact 3 pharmacies to find it, and this is normal.  You never know if they are being honest or refusing service.  I was blessed with youthful looking genes, but the inside got the elderly genes!  I don’t look like a sick person who has more missing or fake body parts than most Hollywood residents.  I look like I am in my late 20’s trying to score pain meds to sell.  It isn’t until you look closely that you see scars from 3 reconstructive hand surgeries, and one from a knee injury.  All the bones in my hands and feet are hollow.  Some have even been totally eroded away.  You know those 2 rows of wrist bones you have?  I have one row of wrist bones in my right hand, the other wrist’s bottom row had one bone left in it when it was xrayed in 2012.  This is just the tip.  My feet and ankles are in the same condition, and my organs have been compromised by this Autoimmune Soup.   The damage is there, just hard to see.  Most pharmacists look at me suspiciously (even when it is the day the script is due and my script records clearly indicate my opiates are DECREASING.)

As I was waiting on my prescription thinking about this situation, I can’t help but wonder why Americans are being forced into opiate addiction.  There are several theories ranging from funding the country to capitalistic multinational corporation conspiracy.   But look around.  I mean REALLY look around.  You know those heroin addicts down the road?  We are on the same substance.  Those “junkies” who are chasing the high, are basically in the same situation we are.  The physical dependence on opiates is difficult to kick – if you can kick it.  Opiates mimic chemicals our bodies make to regulate breathing, digestion, and pain among other things.  When we take a hydrocodone, we are replacing those chemicals in the brain.  Well, the brain is a smart thing.  It thinks, “Great!  You have this, so I will go work over here!  Enjoy!”  (Coincidentally, this is the same process that many steroids use with our adrenal glands.  Be careful with steroids else those may be on your radar for life!)  The brain stops production of the natural opiates and after a certain time, prunes the channels that tell the brain to produce it.    Remember what I said it regulated?  Breathing, digestion, pain receptors need these chemicals to help our functioning.  When we stop taking them, our body does not adjust well.  The longer you have taken them, the worse these symptoms can be too.    Now, we have a nation of addicts – and one of the highest addiction rates in the world.

What causes so many pain pill addicts?  Who are they?  A quick glance around the room at any pain management center will tell you.  These people usually started with some type of injury, and were not people who went out seeking a high.  They eventually became physically addicted to a medicine that keeps needing increasing doses to be effective.  As their scripts became higher and higher, and their brains started hyperfocusing on getting more drugs – their pain levels increased significantly.  Thus began the cycle.  Some never make it to the point where they are increasing doses periodically, but many have to tweak their levels.  A lot of addicts, bona fide addicts, just needed to be able to work and feed their kids, but it spiraled out of control.  These scenarios are more common than we think.  People with legitimate issues, getting hooked and years later their bodies are broken even more.  Don’t get me wrong, these medicines are necessary.  People also do have a choice, but I do wonder if there is a point within chronic illness where we no longer have a choice and fall.

Now for the big question.  Why?  Why does America suffer with opiate addiction from hydrocodone to heroin, especially when there is an alternative, nontoxic treatment available?  The answer is very convoluted and involves everything from big business to politics and hippies to patients, however the short answer is MONEY.  Of course.  What did you expect?

Let’s look at 2 areas profiting immensely by medical marijuana prohibition:  pharma and prisons.  Both give money to anti-marijuana candidates and groups openly.  Both have products or services that would significantly lose if marijuana were available for medical treatment.  Pharma makes all those opiates you use and makes billions off them every year!  They KNOW marijuana has medical benefit, which is why they need it to be illegal.  With the legalization of medical marijuana, they know thousands of jobs and private islands will be lost.  Prisons make their bread and butter on marijuana and drug charges.  Private prisons even go into depressed areas, pitch prosperity and jobs in exchange for full prisons!  Too crazy to believe?  Google.  You will find it easily.  Some states are even starting to ban them because it encourages people to be incarcerated for draconian periods of time.  This allows the area to use inmates for labor, while the town gets jobs to manage it.  Billions are tied up in both of these industries, and we know what that type of money creates.

Okay, so there are a few corporations that highly benefit by keeping opiate alternatives out of our hands.  Surely the government cares and will protect its citizens!  Well, a major part of the government is the judicial system.  Not only are many Congresspeople lawyers who benefit from marijuana prohibition, but law enforcement and courts are also doing well when we are not.   Also keep in mind that these laws were admittedly made to target minorities and immigrants, which they still do.  Our FDA is stacked with executives from multiple private industry, pharmaceutical executives especially.  Our legislators salaries are paid by corporations and lobbyists, and that doesn’t include what stipend they get from taxpayers.

Where does that leave us?  According to an article on Leafly, the #1 reason doctors recommend cannabis is to help patients wean off toxic opiates.  In states without medical cannabis availability, the ONLY option for pain relief is opiates.  Many can’t take NSAIDS or have used them for so long that their bodies revolted.  This leaves one path for those with chronic illnesses – addiction and all that comes with it.   Most of us have worked and paid taxes.  Even so, those who have not didn’t ASK for this genetic illness.  We deserve better.  Our nation deserves better.  Multiple studies show that where medical marijuana is legal, opiate use declines.  People get their lives back, and can even get their medicine for what it costs to grow it.  No one over doses, no one steals to support their pot habit, and our kids have safer communities.  At some point, we need to stop this madness and end America’s explosive opiate addiction.

Afghan Kush – Strain Review

One of the most uplifting, relaxing strains around.
One of the most uplifting, relaxing strains around.

Type:  Afghan Kush, indica
Uses:   nausea, mood enhancement, mild pain
Medicine Replaced:  zofran, promethazine, any mood enhancing medicine, anti-anxiety, anti-depression, anti-stress
Smell:  The smell is not as spice-like as the taste, but it has undertones similar to those in Afghan food!  I really enjoy Afghan food, too!
Commentary:  This strain is the purest indica that I have tried.  It has a very spice-like taste, and almost reminds me of Afghan food!  This particular indica is very smooth, which makes taking medicine much easier!  I was expecting a strong, jolting indica – but what I got was a gentle relaxation of muscles.  Afghan Kush did not make me tired, although I was incredibly relaxed and uplifted.  The only word I can really describe my experience with Afghan Kush was mellow.  Cliche right?  Mellow is truly the best word for the experience though.  I wouldn’t use Afghan Kush for moderate or stronger pain, but it seems to be a natural anti-depressant.

Northern Lights – Strain Review

Excellent for moderate to severe pain and insomnia.
Excellent for moderate to severe pain and insomnia.

Type: Northern Lights, indica
Uses: moderate to severe pain, muscle spasms, muscle relaxation, nausea, insomnia
Medicine Replaced:  tramadol, NSAIDS, oxycodone, narcotics, zoldipam
Smell:  This strain doesn’t have as strong as smell as most.

Commentary:  The past couple days have been really rough for me.  My left knee has been under excessive strain the last 2 years, and it finally protested.  The pain has been excruciating – to the point I have not been walking well.  For comparison:  I have had a torn ACL and a torn meniscus and walked miles with no issues.  I have had ruptured tendons and still did class outdoor – on crutches.  After my hand surgeries, I was back at work within a couple of days.  It takes A LOT of pain to keep me in bed!   Anyways – I broke out the Northern Lights today and I can definitely feel a positive difference.  While still insane pain, it is much duller than before.  This is going to deaden the pain enough that I think I will be able to sleep!  I will still take Alien OG this evening because of the knee issue – but Northern Lights is a great insomnia fighter in its own right.  Without the pain issue – I would probably be feeling happily drowsy.