Monthly Archives: April 2015

Mary’s Medicinals CBN Pen Review

Mary’s Medicinals CBN Gel Pen

Today is a gloomy day here in Colorado, so it is a great time to write a review.  Thankfully we are getting rain, because my plants really needed it!  There are so few bad days here, so I am just now writing this!

Cannabinol (CBN) is one of those compounds that is usually only found in small amounts within the flowers. and is the product of breaking down THC as it oxidizes.  According to Medical Jane, “Cannabis is widely used as a sleep-aid for those who suffer from insomnia and cannabinol is the reason why. By all accounts, CBN is the cannabinoid responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis. Because of this, I tend to reserve high-CBN strains for night use.”    PERFECT.  Insomnia is one of my biggest issues!

Over the last 2 weeks, I have been using the Mary’s Medicinals CBN Pen 5 days out of the week.  ( I wanted to have those extra 2 days as controls and to compare.)   The first thing that surprised me was the smell.  I actually think it smells really good!  No cannabis smell at all!   While I know some would love walking around smelling like their favorite dispensary, I am not one of those!  (Though my dispensary is my second favorite smell after coffee.)    The size of the tube is actually ideal for geriatric hands as well.  I can’t grip and am missing half my knuckles, so ease of use is important.  You can twist the base to lock and unlock it (hardest thing to do), and all you have to do is push up.

This is the hand that has to use the pen! They are actually beautiful now – 2 surgeries later!

This is a transdermal gel medicine, meaning it goes directly on the skin.  Their website has these directions:  Placed directly on the skin and gently rubbed in, the transdermal gel delivery method has the same bioavailability as our patch, but is faster acting and shorter lasting. Our gel pens are accurately dosed with 50 (2mg) pumps of active cannabinoids. Each gel pen uses our unique child safe dosing mechanism. Simply rotate the top portion of the pen clockwise to unlock the child safety mechanism, and back the other direction to lock it after dispensing.

After rubbing it on the tops of both feet and wrists/tops of hands, it took about 40 minutes before I noticed any effect.  I wasn’t high or buzzed, however my eyelids would start to feel heavy.   Of the 10 nights I used it, this happened all but 2.   When I went to bed, I actually slept longer by about 2 hours.  Normally, I am up several times a night and am an extremely light sleeper.  The nights I used the CBN, my first sleep was about 5 hours straight, compared with 3 hours on a normal night.  I also got back to sleep easier after waking.  Over all, I am highly pleased with this product!

The bad part was cost.  Unfortunately, this pen averages about $40 for a 50mg tube.  Using 8mg (my “just right” dose) a night adds up quickly.  Unfortunately, I am not sure how many patients are blessed with the finances to keep that up!  Maybe ending prohibition would drive the pricing down, so be sure to come out in support of green soon!  Health should not be cost prohibitive!

Life Lesson #4 – Unrealistic Expectations

While I wanted to make it to the end, I didn’t expect to and was happy with what I did do! Snowy trail I hobbled in sandals!

 

Commercials show us people building playgrounds and golfing after taking their miracle RA drugs, movies always show the perfect romances we are supposed to have, TV shows us that most of us should expect upper-middle class, healthy lives, and somehow we are under the impression that life is not supposed to be hard at all.  It is human to have goals and expectations.  We expect that this life will be one of happiness and relative comfort.  I am still trying to figure out the “0.5” in the “2.5 kids” we are expected to have.  My third child was actually a whole kid, so guess I passed the 2.5?!    Unfortunately, these completely unrealistic expectations also contribute to a lot of our stress and unhappiness – thus impacting our illness in a negative way.  Life lesson #4 is to temper those unrealistic expectations.    This will help your mind and body more than you ever know!

  • Life is hard.  Don’t expect anything else.  Take a look at life realistically through the centuries.  Life is the “easiest” it has ever been in the history of man, yet we have this illusion that life is way too hard of a struggle.  Yes we have disease – been around for ages (mostly without treatments), yes we have war, hunger, struggle, suffering, and injustice.  All of these have been around since the existence of humans.  Media in the developed world has created this illusion that we deserve and should never have to struggle or weather storms.  Life is a series of storms with some incredible breaks of amazingness in-between.  It always has been, and it is those storms that allow for the true beauty of life to shine through.  How we perceive these “storms” ultimately decides how we weather them.    No trial has ever been permanently bad.  Even the disease has brought so many positives into my life, and I would venture to say it has into yours as well.  No one wants to be sick, struggling, and dependant on someone else.  However, I expect to struggle.  I am sick.  I know that my life has to be planned very differently than most people’s.  So when something goes wrong (like my photoreaction at Arches), it becomes easier to roll with the punches and be thankful for what I did accomplish, rather than what I did not.   It is unrealistic to expect that my life will be anything but hard, but I think most struggle more than they let on.
  • Doctors aren’t Gods.  We often expect our doctors to have all the answers and treat us with a magic bullet.  Considering that we can go to 15 different doctors, and end up with 20 different diagnoses means that doctors don’t have all the answers.  Many are winging it!  While they are trained in the rheumatics, keep in mind there are over 400 of those diseases that they have to keep up with!  Reasearch on the few that are autoimmunes is relatively new and most doctors training predates this information.  Unfortunately, we still have doctors that won’t recognize the potential fatal complications associated with most autoimmune arthritis diseases or that any major body trauma could kick in a flare.  Disheartening is what it is, especially when trying to get answers!  While, we should expect quality care from our doctors, we forget they don’t have the Googling time we do, nor do they have the time to haunt social media support groups for perspective.  Doctors also have over-filled practices, leaving us with very little face time and often with substandard care.  We have a responsibility to help our doctors in this situation.  When you find a good doc (hard, I know), help them out by keeping up with the research yourself and educate them!  Don’t expect them to have all the answers!  Expect that your treatment will be trial and error.  Expect that your doctor will be human.  Expect that many meds won’t work.  These will make it much easier to handle all these roadblocks as they come up, and they will come up!
  • Expect to hurt and expect to get worse.  This is a degenerative disease.  Whether by age or illness, we will all get sick and deteriorate.  Autoimmuners just do it quicker than others.  Even with the best meds out there, very few of us escape the daily pain, fatigue, and strife associated with autoimmune diseases.  We will never go back to where we were before the disease hit.  So much depression is caused because of this single expectation to life a pain-free life.   Because of the nature of autoimmune arthritis, we will also consistently get worse over time.  The most advanced medicines out there are only effective for about 1/3 of autoimmuners, and by effective, I mean “shows some positive effect” not cured.  There is no cure for our illnesses.  We will get worse, and we need to live life expecting to get worse.  Everything we do is temporary, and this is especially true for Autoimmuners.  Every repetitive motion (like typing) destroys our joints and tissues.  When I was injured and tried to learn a desk skill (PHP/SQL), within 4 months of consistent typing I needed a new knuckle.  Every step I take is slowly crushing my knee, and I think I just dislocated my navicular this last PT round.  (Navicular is a bone in the arch of the foot.  I no longer have arches in my feet.)  However, I expect this and have decided I want the memories.  The bones will muck up regardless of whether or not I hike, so hell – I want the memories.  I also know that this ability is very temporary.  I am one bad flare or major body trauma away from losing it again, so I suck up every moment I am hobbling.
  • Expect no one will understand or even care.  People can only understand what they have been through.  Again.  People can only truly understand what they have experienced.  So when you complain about the pain of autoimmune arthritis, most people equate that with a stubbed toe.  They simply have not felt the constant pain of having their bones dissolved or deformed.  Likewise, unless they have a personal reason to care – most won’t.  We are the ones stuck between what is considered to me a mild illness and those who have immediately terminal illnesses.  Autoimmune arthritis is a long-term terminal disease (trying to coin a new term here).  It is potentially fatal, but kills over a long period of time.  Again, most of the research is within the last 20 years so most doctors have not been fully updated on this.  (***At 14 I found out RA was fatal in an Arthritis Foundation brochure, so the information was out.***) Most people these days are consumed with the daily struggles they deal with (that have been blown way out of proportion as far as seriousness goes).  Since we are not dead, this truly can’t be that bad – right?  Sad as it is, this is where humans are.  Very self-absorbed and completely ignorant of the interconnectedness we have.   They feel immune to the struggles we have, and somehow justify our diseases as something we did to ourselves.  Clearly we have not eaten enough cherries, turmeric, or ate too much gluten.  While this is disheartening, it is reality.  Utopia where people actually care doesn’t happen.  We cannot expect anything other than reality.  We can hope, but not expect.   I have found dealing with healthy people much more pleasant now that I don’t expect them to have empathy.  Those that do are pleasant surprises, and the stress of an ignorant person no longer boils my blood.  It is one of those “Bless your heart” moments as we say in the South!  (That means you are an idiot.)

Utopia is a nice concept, but isn’t reality.  A healthy, upper-middle class life is nice, but not reality for most.  A pain-free, struggle-free life is also not reality.  When we expect these things, life becomes a lot more bearable.  Mental stress is notorious for aggravating our diseases, and this is something we can actually control (with some practice).  Why add the stress and anxiety from unrealistic expectations into the mix?  Frustrations will happen and someone will annoy the living hell out of you at some point, but this will help to curb as much as possible!  Remember: You can only control your actions and thoughts, not those of anyone else.  So temper your expectations.  It starts with you!

Why I Cherish April 20th

Shamelessly stolen from http://www.colorado420.com/

 

April 20th is known as “The Stoner’s” holiday.  Cannabis Cups from around the world gather on the sacred ground that allows them to consume a single plant that is banned in most of the world.  The holiday usually comes packed with younger people clad in the standard “Bob Marleyesque” attire, giggling about munchies or discussing heavily philosophical topics like which constellation looks more like their dog.  This is all awesome, but doesn’t sum up my holiday.  For me, 4/20 is life.  It is health.  It is hope.

As a patient, I see cannabis very differently.  Before coming to Colorado, cannabis was that hush-hush thing you did in your garage to relax.  All your neighbors used cannabis, but it was a recreational thing.  Then I was put on methotrexate and had 2-4 days of nausea depending on the week.  I was aware that cancer patients used it for their nausea, so I started using cannabis differently.  Even so, I had no idea just how medicinal cannabis actually was.  Then I moved and my world changed.  That January, things went south with finding the only opiates I could take, and I started actually researching cannabis as a medicine.

Cannabis is life.  I mean this in a very profound sense too.  Our endocannabinoid systems are one of our most essential when it comes to our ability to heal.  Cannabis is one of the few known substances that interact with this system (and led to its discovery) and can help to regulate it.  Healing and repair is essential.  Cannabinoids are needed to protect the neurons (nerves and brain cells), and to help regulate our immune systems!  Cannabinoid therapy has been around for thousands of millenia, helping to heal our bodies from what ever stupidity we could throw at it.  Until now.  Around the mid 1900’s something changed.  We started introducing weird chemicals into our foods, water, and bodies at rates never before seen, and increasing exponentially every day.  Everything we touch now has chemicals and petro-chemicals at that.  We have modified our foods and added pesticides directly into the plant.  Then we wonder why we are ailing as a species and our world is suffering.  Enter cannabis.  Cannabis protects our cells, and can tell them when to switch off or on.  It promotes the healing that our bodies so desperately need.  Cannabis is life.

Cannabis is health.  Notice how sick our developed world is, but mainly the US?  The United States actually has the highest pill consumption in the entire world.  According to the World Health Organization, ” In 1999, the 15% of the world’s population who live in high-income countries purchased and consumed about 90% of total medicines, by value. This concentration in the pattern of global sales and consumption has increased over the past 15 years, with the share of the low-income countries falling and that of the high-income countries growing. The market share of the USA alone rose from 18.4% of the world total in 1976 to over 52% in 2000.”    That is HUGE.  Something in the developed world went terribly wrong and has caused ridiculous increases in illness among its population.  Autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, and many more illnesses are being diagnosed at rapidly rising rates!  This is fantastic, but how does cannabis fit in here?  Oh how I love the CB2 receptors!  Those snazzy little things are prolific within our immune systems and even have this uncanny way of popping up on damaged cells waiting for a substance to interact with it!  Our bodies actually make a compound called 2-AG that regulates our immune systems.  2-AG doesn’t have a singular function, but seems to be able to decide what action needs to be taken and executes it.  CBD is the cannabis equivalent to 2-AG.  Ahhhhhhh – see the connection?  CBD hype has been all over the news for its amazing healing powers!  This compound has even been touted as a cancer killer (as has THC)!  Clearly, the endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in our health and wellness.  Cannabis is health.

Because of this, cannabis is hope.  I was really sick when I came to Colorado.  Honestly, I came for the weather – not the pot.  The cannabis just found me, and thank goodness.  Now I have hope that I will get better and maybe not deteriorate so fast.  I have hope that I may be walking at my granddaughter’s graduation, and I have hope that I can still live my life.  Hope is the singular thing that keeps us going everyday.  We hope things will improve, regardless of how bad they are now.  We hope to find the right medicine/lifestyle combo for the fabled “R” word – remission.  We hope to live and not just exist, even if it isn’t today.  Without hope, all light in human eyes fades.   Cannabis has given me hope again, and in a big way.  This last year, I have improved so tremendously, but I haven’t even touched regular high dose oil or juicing.  (I have used oil for occasional use.)  Cannabis is hope.

For these reasons I will always love and cherish 420, which is now my second favorite holiday.  (Not by much – Halloween will always reign supreme in my home! Costumes and candy!)  April 20th is a day to celebrate life, health, and hope.  So blast the Bob Marley and smoke some George Bush – because 420 is so much more than getting high…..though most will get high.

I Swore in My Doctor’s Office Today

http://kubalak.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Swear1.jpg
Picture taken from http://eclecticdad.com

 

Yes I did.  Fucking too.  I said fucking, which is VERY rare (except in my head).  Now before you start thinking this isn’t a big deal, I don’t swear a lot.  Grew up Catholic and still won’t swear around my parents.  I am also patient – to a fault (my ex is an alcoholic and we were together 12ish years, I waited until my bones were dissolved and almost unsavable before going to the surgeon, I didn’t get loud enough with my knee surgeon, I can go on).   It has to stop.  One has to be realistically patient, but there are times a full on fucking tantrum is not only acceptable, but needed.  Here is why, and it will not include the story of today since I am still with that doctor.

Bad Record Keeping

This is huge.  I dare you to go get your medical records.  Do it!  You won’t get the results you expect, especially if your physician uses electronic record keeping.  I experienced this MULTIPLE times in Georgia, and with one of the “best in the state”.  The highlight of it was when I was injured and had knee surgery.  The surgery didn’t have the expected positive outcome, and I needed longer opiate care.  My surgeon called and spoke with this doctor every month, and sent written letters.  I also was in there – specifically to document the bad knee and that this wasn’t RA related!  She did not keep the documentation on the opiates, so when the pharmacy called about the prescription – she claimed she had no clue what was going on.  Now, I was in the week before SPECIFICALLY for this issue and documentation.  My knee documentation was in there though right?  Nope.  There were a few things, but not the majority of the issues.  When I got the call from the pharmacy, I even brought them AND this doctor the documentation she was lacking (from the surgeon), but she refused to take it!   I was livid, so I got a copy of ALL my medical records and fired her.  This is why we are being targeted by the DEA folks!  My doctor’s lack of record keeping could have resulted in something very serious for me, and I know I was not the only one in that boat.  Thankfully, I kept records and now I keep my own medical as well.  I get copies of everything before I leave the office.

Too Many Patients to Care

Yes, most doctors are good people who truly care about their patients, but not in an “I know you as a neighbor and human” care.   I know this sounds mean, but when your doctor has so many patients, it is impossible for them to deliver that gold standard of care.   The practice becomes more about numbers than people.  Wait times to get into doctors that only see you for 15 minutes are atrocious.  Generally, you can get a thorough check on your first visit, but after that – nada.  You become very numerical.  Ever have a physician see you get worse, yet keep you on the same treatment for over a year?  I had one that would talk about switching things around for over a year, but again never document anything.  When I asked the office staff or a nurse, the usual response was “let’s wait until the next time I see her”.  I actually got to the point I stopped ordering Remicade, because the drug was no longer working and I wasn’t paying that much for nothing.  When I did that, the doctor’s office ordered it without my authorization and it was charged to my card.  Needless to say, that was also stopped immediately after a tantrum with both Aetna and their office.  That did, however; finally get her to switch me to Actemra.  She had so many patients that the average wait was 2.5 hours to even get in a room, so the documentation was something that never happened.  That causes my next issue.

Autoimmune Marginalization

Most doctors are trained without the current research, and most of the symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases are still scoffed at.  We are the “too sick, but not sick enough” to matter in society.  We don’t look sick (most of us), and we aren’t going to necessarily going to die soon.  I truly believe a lot of our doctors buy in to this mentality.  Many rheumatologists don’t  consider autoimmune arthritis potentially fatal, and others don’t even recognize certain organ involvement with ones like RA.  (Despite the extensive documentation.)

I am always shocked at my doctors reactions as I tell them my symptoms.  Every single one seems utterly surprised that I have the issues I do.  Surely, I am not the only person with dissolved bones, organ involvement, muscle seizures, etc.  I cannot be the worst or even close!  Judging by the groups on social media, there are many more like me!  So why the shock and awe every time they see an MRI or x-ray?  Because they don’t believe we hurt or feel THAT bad.  The doctors have marginalized our symptoms and are treating only the squeaky wheels.  So time to be a fucking squeaky ass wheel and unleash some “bite-chas”!  I stole the “bite-chas” from an awesome friend!

Tantrums Can Be OKAY

While I do encourage you to be patient and always use kindness (I did not personally insult anyone today), there are definitely times you need to let that dragon out.  We are also allowing them to get away with these things otherwise.  No one wants to be angry, heck it uses MORE spoons than I get in a month – but I am done being nice.  I am done waiting until something is broken beyond repair before I push to get it fixed.  I am just done with people screwing up my health.   I always wonder if I had started Actemra earlier, and at the right dose (another issue with this doctor), if I could have avoided some surgeries.  I wonder if I wouldn’t have lost so many knuckles had I gone to my hand surgeon sooner.  (Best hand surgeon EVER actually.)  This also means I need to get my undiagnosed, diagnosed, my knee looked at, my back xrayed, and my feet xrayed.  So this will be a “hear me roar” year for all these doctors involved.  I somehow sense several tantrums and some “difficult patient” labels.  Bring it.  This may not be the last time I swear at a doctor’s office.

Finding an Autoimmune Friendly Career

Market at Campo De Fiore in Rome, Italy. No where near my house, but it IS a farmer’s market!

 

Lately I have been much better  physically and have been considering going back to work part-time.  As Autoimmuners, it is very difficult to find a job flexible enough to cope with our ever-changing bodies, and management that will be supportive.  From day-to-day, flares come and go limiting our activity levels dramatically.   While I am feeling amazingly better than I was living in GA, I am still flaring and dealing with significant pain levels.  (After so many years, the damage is permanent regardless of the level of disease activity.  My disease activity is mild right now, but my damage is severe.)

Over the years, I have had several types of jobs ranging from optics to herpetology and pizza maker to educator.  Every career I start, I know isn’t going to last.  Any repetitive movements dissolve bone super quickly.  A few years ago after my knee injury, I tried to learn SQL and PHP.  I started a course in May, and by October my knuckle was eroded so badly it almost could not be saved.  I had it replaced, but lost all the length off that finger.   As an educator, I landed a knee injury after being wrongly placed in a severe autism room.  I loved those kids, but had restrictions on file.  Within a month, I was injured and needed a new knee (that was never fixed properly.)   So we have to be careful.  This isn’t as cut and dry as it looks!

Employers also do not want to hire sick people, and who can blame them?  If a healthy person is guaranteed to be there and be productive, why would you want someone who you KNOW is going to be sick?  Sadly, losing the ability to work a “normal” job is one of the most devastating experiences an Autoimmuner can go through.  It causes so much emotional grief and distress knowing you NEED someone else to take care of you.   What if there is no one there?  What if that amazing spouse gets sick or worse?  Lately, it seems many Autoimmuners are in that position.  Our diseases are not perceived as “bad enough” for community compassion, yet they are so bad that we cannot operate like every one else!  So what are we to do??

Being home working on my mobility has allowed me to pick up some new skills like bread, jam, and body care product making.  I have been considering working some of the local farmer’s markets here to see if that avenue would provide some extra income!  I am not sure how my body will cope, or even if it will do well – but I will be documenting the experience for y’all!  I have also considered setting up an Autoimmuner Business Exchange where those of us with crafts (etc.) can peddle their wares!  I am finding that the ONLY way to continue a career, is to diversify what I do in order to preserve my bones.  Besides, I don’t think we can count on Social Security OR the compassion of the community anymore.  We need to work together to lift each other up so we survive!   So fingers crossed that I can set up a small business that will do enough!  Ultimately, I want my husband to retire in his 50’s.  He is a former Marine that has served his country and our family well.  Without his support, I really would be so lost.  I need to contribute and make this dream of his come true.  He does so much for me and is so patient – even when I am prednisone grumpy!  Wish me luck!

Life Lesson #3 – leaving “human” in “humanity”

This tree made me push further. It is amazing how life can live in with such burdens. Like Autoimmuners.

 

The expression “to be human” or “only human” means that we show faults and vulnerabilities.   Some of our greatest strength and beauty is exposed during these times, yet lately the world’s people seem to be forgetting they are human.  Whether the labels are: gay, black, white, Christian, Muslim, or disabled – they are certainly flying with frequency.  Every time these are thrown out at someone, we see less of a human and more of an object.  This works both ways too!  As disabled people, I hear a lot of us griping about healthy people as if they were one annoying object.  They are our friends and family, neighbors, and not all are insensitive gits.  This extreme grouping/labeling thing crosses all boundaries.  Society is taking the human out of humanity and imposing the mentally constructed perfection on everyone else but themselves.

Why do we expect and accept this unattainable concept of perfection/normalcy?  Looking around from day-to-day, it seems that no one is the same.  Even the same person is different from day-to-day.  From minute to minute the weather changes, the river water is never the same water, etc.  See?  We can go on and on with examples.  So I think it is safe to assume the same concept applies to humanity. No person is the same, no one processes experiences the same, and no one has the same chemicals or experiences as the next.  So why then, do we use such a cookie-cutter approach to determining self-worth?

All these pains and issues will eventually happen to someone, whether by disease or age.  Everyone will eventually end up dead.  So why waste time bickering about things like: disease, sexual orientation, religion, and color?  (Just to name a few!)  It cannot be so hard to accept that some people seriously do feel legitimate pain worse than you may never know, that you condemn and marginalize those who feel it!  This concept applies to SO many things, and truly can be very spiritually liberating.  What does it matter who one loves, what they look like, or if they can walk!

When we start separating everyone into groups first, we train our minds to see that first.  We no longer see a human in front of us, we see that label.  Let me stop for a minute to say this,  labels are necessary.  They can describe us, explain things, and offer a lot of information.  It is all in how we use the labels, and react to hearing those labels.  When the labels start to polarize and illicit fear, then we have an issue – like what has been happening in the US and all over the world.  Let’s use an old example to illustrate this.  The Romans!  YES!  Those plucky Italians conquered the world, and wrote history.  Ever hear the word vandal?  What about barbarian?  Uncivilized?  Yep.  They used labels and ended up suppressing half the known world, to the point we still believe what the Romans wrote despite contrary evidence.  (Now would be a great time to Google Terry Jones’ series on Barbarians if you are lost.  It is good stuff, and Terry Jones!)  It has been a couple of millenea, so why are we acting like the Romans still??!!

So life lesson #3 is to keep the human in humanity.  Remember we are all imperfect beings, and the constructs of perfection are not reality.   Next time you see that person in the handicapped spot who doesn’t look sick, automatically assume they are an autoimmuner.  Don’t assume the homeless man can “get a job” or is using $ for drugs.  See yourself in others and put yourself in their situations.  As individuals, we like to think we are immune to certain things, when the reality is – we are always walking a fine line.  Things are always changing, and what is keeping you alive right now may not the next.  We are always having lunch with the Grim Reaper.   Always treat others the way you would like to be treated in that situation.  Never assume the worst.  Train your mind to assume the best.  Keep the HUMAN in HUMANity. 

From Pharma to Canna: Painkillers

A lovely plant from my garden last year.

 

Making the transition from pharma to cannabis was not an easy process, albeit very worth it!  There were many times I actually didn’t think I could make this transition.  Several obstacles have to be overcome when transitioning from any synthetic medicine to cannabis, including: finding your strains and dose, deciding on a method of delivery and adjusting to the nuances of said delivery method, and clearing the brain of any canna-propaganda.  In addition, you have to anticipate the flare that will come.  Any major trauma is going to cause the body to panic  and set up the potential for a flare.  During this process, I virtually withdrew from my friends and I could truly only focus on just existing.  Withdrawal and weaning are not fun processes.  Fortunately, I had no choice.  The only opiates I could take with out reaction were on the DEA’s hit list so they suspended shipment.  For that story, see this.  So know this will not be a cake walk, and be okay with that.  As with everything, we have to fight and figure this out for ourselves.  Being a stubborn horses arse comes in handy here.

You will need patience and realistic expectations.

You are on opiates which are going to cause withdrawal.   This means that even with your best efforts, you will still feel like absolute poo until this process is over.  My best advice is to keep your eye on the prize, and keep your expectations tempered.  Cannabis is amazing, but it is a process and medicine like any other.  Very few make this transition with no bumps.  I almost gave up completely a few times, because of the fatigue and flaring.  Withdrawal is worse than having the flu and it causes everything to amplify.  Keep in mind that during this process, you are also trying to establish your dosing and strain needs.  You will feel like absolute crap.

Weaning is a slow process.  Depending on things like: how long you have been on opiate therapy, your body chemistry, and which meds/dose, this process could take over a year.  Mine thankfully was only a few months of withdrawal (5 roughly), but my body is still adjusting to this.  While, I no longer have the flu type withdrawal symptoms – I still randomly have muscle seizures and my body still seems to be adjusting.  It has been over a year.    **If you are seriously going though withdrawal – raise your dose or get medical treatment.  THAT IS OKAY.  I had to do that several times, especially right near the end of my opiate use.** You will have to bounce your dosing back and forth depending on symptoms.  Going back up for a bit is OKAY, so don’t feel defeated (I sure did!)

Often we also tend to set our expectations way too high.  We have autoimmune diseases folks, and true remission is rare.  Clinically controlled autoimmuners still have pain.  You will still most likely not be pain-free.  Kudos to those who do achieve that, and honestly we always fight for this.  To our detriment we often expect our medicines to perform miracles.  If my autoimmunes disappeared today, I have a crap load of permanent damage that I will never get rid of.  I will never be pain-free.  Haven’t been in almost 30 years.  Can’t even remember what that is like.  I am okay with that, and just trying extend what I have as much as possible.  No, I have not given up the good fight.  Quite the opposite actually, but in accepting reality for what it is (while keeping the hope alive but tempered) has allowed me to LIVE my life and enjoy what I can do.  I know everything is not permanent.  This run of better mobility will eventually end, whether via age or disease.  So enjoy your life, despite your autoimmunes.  I truly believe this is the biggest FURA one can send.  Just don’t expect to magically be able to hike Pikes Peak or skydive.  Take your time and recover, but know it takes time.  Stay positive.  If you expect certain bumps, the ride is easier to get through.  (Especially if you are strapped in for it!)

****************************************************************************************

How to avoid overdose – Take it slow.  If you are new to cannabis or it has been a while, listen up.  This is the section you need!

Inhaled medicine is going to kick in quicker, but not be as strong or long-lasting.  Take a hit or two then stop.  See how you feel 15 minutes later.  Some strains are creepers, which means the effect will slowly creep up on you, rather than being immediate.  Here is a link to information on flower as medicine.  Edible medicine is like extended release opiates.  START SMALL.  JUST INCASE YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT, START SMALL.  Edibles can take up to 2 hours before they start taking effect, depending on your metabolism.  If you eat more than your dose, you will be miserable and possibly do something uncharacteristically stupid. For an article on how to use edibles, click here.   Concentrates are what you move up to when the rest doesn’t cut it, and are unchartered territory for me.

Signs to watch for – Be mindful of your body.  Cannabinoids affect everyone differently.  If you feel your heart racing a bit, go more indica.  You may need more CBD or other cannabinoids like CBN.  If you feel too drowsy, maybe head towards the sativa side.  Know you seriously do want to have CBD in your life.  autoimmune arthritis does its damage via inflammation.  CBD is anti-inflammatory.  Your THC can be adjusted based on your needs, so be mindful of the general make up of each plant.

Don’t do cannabis alone the first time.  It is easier with someone there to reassure you and make sure you don’t go nuts and eat a 100mg edible on your first go.  Once you know what to expect – no problem.  If you ever question your health or are with someone who is disoriented, please take them or go to the hospital.  Most people seem to be heeding the warnings of budtenders and labels, but a few have not and had fatal accidents as a result.  While you cannot die from a THC overdose shutting down your body, it can disorient you enough that you do something absolutely insane like jump off a balcony or shoot themselves.  Both of those have happened here, and I can only think these poor guys would never have done that otherwise.  Unfortunately, the budtenders are meticulous in talking to tourists about dosing and the packages are labeled.  Heed the warnings please.

Hopefully this, and the links within will help you decide if this is the right path for you, then help guide and inspire you.