Has Cannabis Helped?

Cairns at Canyonlands National Park

This week, I found myself actually looking forward to my infusion for the first time in a LONG while.  At first, I was thinking that maybe the cannabis was not as effective, but then I really starting comparing why I am sore and swollen this week.

Last year around this time, I just was well enough to come off Arava.  I was weaned off opiates and down to tramadol, and my ability level was starting to seriously increase.  Our vacation is a great point of comparison actually, since we did an almost identical one this year.  At Arches,  I was barely able to hobble the Double Arch loop, and that was it.  I had a terrible photo reaction and that completely killed the trip.  The next day, I was sore and swollen like I had an internal Godzilla on a rampage.  Going to the ghost towns was quite strenuous and Mesa Verde kicked my ass as well.  By the time we went to Mesa Verde, I was able to see the Cliff House – though those ladders were the bane of my knees.  Everything else had to be driven to, and the only reason Cliff House happened was because I refused to miss it despite knowing I wouldn’t be doing much else later.  (In my mind, I kept imagining older Native Americans trying to do those ladders and HOLY COW they were badasses.)  I could hobble about 1 mile of flat land given a decent amount of time and resting points.  That was my Roche limit, before my body spun out of control.  That was also total for a 3 day period.  So for every mile I went, I needed 2-3 days rest to control swelling.   Because of this, last year we broke our vacation up into long weekends for the month of June.  This year, we just took a week and went.  So we crammed everything into one week, which meant we needed as few down days as possible.

Glenwood Springs

The death place of Doc Holliday, 2014 trip

Last year:  We stopped in Glenwood Springs for the day on our way out to Arches, but really only stopped for lunch at the Lost Cajun!  It was delicious, but just walking from the car down was a bit much!

This year: We not only walked the city, but made the walk uphill to pay our respects to Doc Holliday and the pioneers that built the West.  We tried to actually get into Hanging Lake, but that was a blessing in disguise.  I don’t think I could have made that hike based on how I hot it was that afternoon.    Both trips, these were the day before our Arches segment.  While I was worn out this last trip from the Doc Holliday hike, it didn’t affect my Arches performance like the Caverns did the year prior.



Last year:  I missed Landscape Arch because I could not make the hike.  Nor did I see Delicate Arch (not on my list so I was okay with it), or anything other than the Double Arch/ North-South Windows that wasn’t visible from the road.  After lunch,  I didn’t really leave the car and we were truly done for the day.  I was swollen, hot, and disappointed because I didn’t see the one arch that I wanted to.   Landscape Arch is incredibly fragile and is actually crumbling rather quickly in geological terms.

Landscape Arch bitches! I made it this year!

This year: I made the hobble to Landscape Arch which was 2 miles just in itself.  We also walked along that trail further until it was really dangerous for someone without a functioning ACL or proper ankles/feet.   On the way out, we also decided to follow another trail to see Pine Tree Arch (and the others in the area).  It was slow going for me and we rested as needed, but I was still okay.  That surprised the hell out of me.  Completely.  (It was also cool, so that worked in my favor.)  We decided to head out to lunch and rest after that.  When we got back to Arches, we also decided to see Double Arch again.  I was starting to feel a bit rough at that point, but not bad.  Once we got out to the car, we decided to push our luck and see if we could hike out to Delicate Arch.  That we didn’t make, but I am okay with that!  We saw the hill we had to go up and NO WAY I could do that.  We did end up walking about a mile into it, turned around and did see the petroglyphs.  So, despite the activity and fatigue from the day before, I was able to do all that this year!  (I do want to thank Mother Nature for helping out with the temps too!)   After Arches, we still had the energy to drive through Canyonlands National Park, but we both had hit our max for that day and stuck to things closer to the road.

Glenwood Springs #2/ Aspen

Ashcroft Ghost Town outside Aspen

Last year: Last year we took a weekend and went to the Glenwood Springs/Aspen area.  In Glenwood Springs, we walked a few blocks in the city and saw Glenwood Caverns.  The caves were cool, which helped – but this was really hard for me physically.  I had to rest and really couldn’t keep up with the group on the last cave we saw.  (One was really flat and not very long, and both weren’t more than a half mile combined.)  Even walking along the top of the Caverns was difficult and I was completely out of breath from the elevation/heat.   In the Aspen area, we saw Ashcroft and Independence, both ghost towns high in the mountains.  Independence was pretty difficult for me to walk, because the terrain is uneven and hilly.  I was really struggling to keep up and found Ashcroft a wee bit easier to navigate.  Ashcroft was flatter with better pathways for the physically challenged.

Maroon Bells outside Aspen.

This year: Instead of the ghost towns and caves, we headed into Aspen itself and saw the John Denver Sanctuary, Aspen city, and Maroon Bells.  We made the hike out to the first lake, then along the creek back towards the north.  This segment of the trip was our rest portion.  We rented a cute cabin near Snowmass, and just relaxed near the Roaring Fork.

Mesa Verde/Grand Mesa

Cliff House, Mesa Verde

Last year:  Last year, took a weekend and went to Mesa Verde/Grand Canyon.  We stayed in hotels/cabins the entire time, and actually took a few days for Mesa Verde with a day trip to Grand Canyon.  I was able to see the Cliff House, but after that we drove everywhere else.  Thankfully, in both parks you can see most everything directly off the road.  We would go out in the morning (after having the sun reaction at Arches last year, we changed how we took trips), then rested during the heat of the day.  We say a lot at Mesa Verde, but weren’t able to see the petroglyphs or do much else other than the Cliff House tour.

Grand Mesa National Forest.

This year: We didn’t go to Mesa Verde this year, but in between our Arches segment and the Aspen segment, we primitive camped in Grand Mesa National Forest.  This meant gathering our own firewood and supplies without fail.  We did get caught in a storm the first night, so we had to also be sure the camp was weather proofed.  Camping above 9,000 ft. was incredibly interesting and a lot of hard work.  I was able to help set up camp, get firewood, walk to get help when the SUV got stuck on a snow bank, and track moose.  The activity level was far greater than what we used at Mesa Verde, and to even get to camp – we had to climb cardiac hill!   That hill probably wore me out more than anything, but it was really nice to be in the middle of nowhere camping.


Last year, we had to break up the vacation into 4 segments on weekends, with serious recovery in between.  This year, we did everything back to back, which means my recovery/healing time has gotten significantly better!  When we got back, we immediately planned another primitive camping trip to a BBQ festival the next week (so delicious) and 2 days after I got back from the fest, I took my youngest daughter backpacking for the first time.

Leadville BBQ Fest! So delicious!

Now I am sore, and really have hit a limit, but I was able to actually do over twice what I could a year ago with less recovery time.  My infusion is also 2 weeks late now (we have been gone), so that is a contributing factor to my soreness!  During the last 2 weeks, cannabis oil has been what is keeping me moving!  Without a doubt, my inflammation reduces better than any NSAID I have ever taken when I  use the cannabis oil (indica).  I will be curious to see how much the oil helps when I make my own this fall!  We have enough plants to do it, and I am hoping to use several whole plants for it!  So, I would say despite being sore, my activity level and quality of life has been improved beyond what I would have ever hoped for.  Definitely not a cure, but it is a game changer for me.

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