Sunday, January 30, 2011

HempCon 2011

Just when I thought I was done writing about marijuana for a little while, HempCon came to town.

Reminder: Medicinal cannabis (pot, marijuana) is legal in my neck of the states, and I have a prescription. I adhere to all laws to the best of my knowledge, and encourage you to do the same. I also encourage you to seek out whatever gives you pain relief, in the best way you can.

I spent the afternoon before our evening HempCon trip panicking a little. I'd walked the dog just a quarter mile too far in the morning, and was worried that I'd already spread myself too thinly and would end up crying in the middle of a crowd. There were no food or drinks allowed, so I was afraid that they wouldn't let me bring in my own huge bottle of water and smaller bottle of coffee. I knew there'd be a lot of walking, and there was a strict "no smoking" policy on the grounds, which made me curious as to how all of the medical marijuana patients were going to medicate themselves, if need be. And we were originally going to take public transport, which is a whole other ball of worms.

So, after calming my panic with soothing noises and vague promises of solving all my problems, my boyfriend carefully planned it so we had the use of our neighbor's van (I love you guys!), he called someone he knew who was working the event and was reassured that they had no interest in my non-disposable beverage containers. There was no organized smoking situation at the venue, but my so-smart boyfriend reminded me that we could always take a walk if I needed to medicate. Convinced enough that I wouldn't be walking directly into a viper pit of pain, we went.

The convention wasn't as big as I expected. It was split into two sections, the first was accessible to everyone over 18. There were pipes and grow lights and a booth with several massage chairs and clothing stands and even hemp ale, which we didn't try. This first section was worth a quick walkthrough, but nothing held our attention for long. Then, there was an area you couldn't get into without a hand stamp. We showed our IDs, my recommendation and the boyfriend's caregiver paperwork, got our stamps, and stepped behind the curtain into the true HempCon.

Free Edibles! Cannabis delivery! I've found my happy place.

There were many food booths, candy bars, "potcorn", cocoa rice krispie treats, chocolate, brownies, lollipops, and fudge.

Cocoa Cannabis Rice Krispie Treat. The best medicine ever.

There were even more elaborate pipes and bongs, and some truly beautiful glass pieces. They weren't selling marijuana directly, but there was one booth where you could buy a water bottle and get a substantial "free sample" with it. They also had clones (cuttings of fully grown plants, which would then grow and flower for your consumption), but none of them were robust enough or cheap enough for us to bite.

The experience was exhausting. It was a huge tent/warehouse thing. It was loud. It was bright. And it was crowded.

A busy booth with a Bob Marley print displayed.

Another busy booth.



There wasn't adequate seating around the booth area. I ended up sitting on the floor, as far out of the way as I could get, for probably 45 minutes total. (Hence the perspective of the above three shots.) My boyfriend would go register us for this or that, bringing me papers to fill out and samples to try, while I rested and drank water. My boyfriend did all the talking for me and collected information on delivery services and strange and interesting methods of ingestion, which I may be experimenting with soon.

As I previously panicked, er, mentioned, there was no smoking on premises, or so the rules stated, but I was shocked (shocked!!) that the edibles seemed to help and I really didn't feel a need to medicate the entire time we were there. I mean, I kept both earplugs in and my hat on the whole time, but I brought my sunglasses, minty "headache oil", and various emergency pharmaceuticals and didn't end up needing any of it. Then, I got home and still didn't need to medicate! For the rest of the night! Apparently, my previous edibles experiments have been defunct either because I wasn't consuming quality goods, or because wasn't consuming enough. I can't, unfortunately, be eating brownies and fudge and gobs of thc butter every day, but I like knowing I have the option, if I'm stuck somewhere where smoking is impossible or difficult. Also, my recent sleep anxiety is null with the edibles. I'm still very early in my experimenting, but it's looking promising.

If you are interested in learning more about HempCon, click there. If you have the spoons and the cash, it's an interesting event. Take a look at the schwag we scored!

Chocolatey treats and t-shirts and coupons and stickers and pamphlets galore. Photo and lovely arrangement on the busiest bedspread ever courtesy of Boyfriend, My.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Creativity Keeps Me Sane

And I'm sick again. The hell.

Since I've been unable to leave my house without abject misery, keeping happy and entertained is essential. The internet provides me with all the movies and tv I can zone out on, and for that, I am so grateful. But all that passive input tends to leave my brain feeling soft-boiled, and it does nothing for the claustrophobic panic that can set in when I've been trapped indoors for too long. So, today, I am going to share with you some creative pursuits that have kept me from going off the deep end.

First, some migraine art. 


Also, a while back I was feeling angsty and depressed, during a similar stretch of not leaving the house. Instead of stressing out, or taking meds that I'd rather avoid, I was able to keep myself present and lower my stress significantly with some empowering collaging. I made these from a few women's magazines. You know the ones that tell you how to keep your man and lose ten pounds and how to do this season's eyeliner and what clothes you should be buying? It was damned therapeutic cutting those up. Here are the results:

And 8.5" x11" piece of paper of covered with scraps of magazine headlines. The messages are all positive, and include phrases like: "You'll never need plastic surgery", "You need to live", "smart food", "more than beautiful", and "everyone deserves to be healthy and wise"

A second collage is covered with yet more happy thoughts, like "wild at heart", "It's ok", "go forth", "I've always been a strong girl and I never took crap from anyone", "yes!" and "live for comfort".There are a few messy spots because I made the glue from flour and water and pretty much slopped it everywhere.

I've listed a few of the phrases, but if there are any you can't read, or if you'd like me to transcribe them, let me know.

I've had the collages hanging on my wall in the kitchen, so I see them, and their positive messages, every day. I don't usually stop and read, but I'll glance as I pass by and catch a happy message or two, and if I'm not feeling well, it can really improve my state of mind to take a moment and soak in the self-love.

Art is the most wonderful therapy.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Again With the Marijuana

So, I've gone over my usage of marijuana for pain relief. In real life, I'm not exactly secretive about it, but I certainly don't volunteer the information unless it's necessary. There are a few reasons I avoid the subject of my pain relief. The big one is stigma. I'm already a young woman who accepts government assistance because I am severely disabled by my chronic migraines. I count five reasons in that sentence for the general public to give me the stink-eye. Now I get to be a neurotic, hypochondriac, malingering, pothead? It's just too much for the casual observer to take in without suspicion. Apparently.

Then, there's the party crowd. The custom among them is to share marijuana with any immediate company who wishes to partake. Of course, I never offer mine. First, it's illegal for me to share any of my prescription drugs with another person, whether it's a pill or a plant. Second, even if it was legal, I don't have the cash or inclination to be passing out my pain meds. I need them. For pain.

To avoid these uncomfortable confrontations, which usually end up taking place at the worst times (while I need to medicate), my habit has been to find somewhere private if at all possible, go around a corner where no one can really see what I'm doing. But secrecy leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so I've recently been exploring confronting the situation head on. It definitely takes spoons to explain myself, defend myself, and not show my irritation that ONCE AGAIN I am explaining myself and defending myself, but it's worth it when people get it. And when they don't, well, that's really not my problem. It's legal and I have a prescription. I try to be respectful of other people's discomfort, but also, I'm going to take care of myself without apology.

I feel incredibly lucky that marijuana works as well as it does for me. After the first year of chronic daily migraines with no relief, and useless prescription after prescription, I was feeling pretty low. I just couldn't function through the pain, and I was miserable. I clearly recall the first time I smoked marijuana after my migraines started. It was a normal pain day, and I really hadn't gotten off of the couch in a week. Just a few minutes after smoking, I was smiling and laughing and talking with passion, and it was just shocking because I really hadn't laughed in months.

Marijuana changed everything. Now I'm only suicidal a few times a month, at most. (No, really, that's good.) I can usually keep up with the dishes and laundry. I get out of the house at least weekly without it always being torture. And I'm enjoying things, without the pain having to be the focus of everything. And that feeling, of having pain but it not mattering so much, that carries over into the rest of my life, and makes dealing, the constant dealing, a little more dealable.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

River of Consciousness

I've been spending WAY too much time on the computer. Though, I've been getting on the treadmill regularly enough, and I've been doing my stretches, so I forgive myself for my inactivity. I'm trying to stay mobile, but I've been on the crappier end of the head spectrum pretty consistently since christmas. Here's my theory as to why:

Firstly, christmas was super christmasy. But, I was actually bouncing back pretty well when I fell off my bike on New Year's Eve. I fell HARD. It rattled my whole body, including my head, for several days. Then I got my period, which always starts off with a bang. Then I got a cold, complete with head stuffiness and coughing. My birthday was somewhere in there, mostly ignored. Once the cold started to fade, I managed to score myself a very painful crick in my back, which is still shooting death rays of lightning torture into my skull. And then, yesterday, I pulled up those bootstraps, slapped on a little blusher and some accessories and faked the hell out of it at a smallish birthday dinner, which may or may not floor me for the next week.

During all of this bodily drama, my head has been pretty displeased. As far as daily life, I'm staying mostly on top of the dishes and laundry, and I've been cooking a few interesting meals and even reconstructing some clothes, but getting out of the house has been nearly impossible. At the first truck roaring by, or the sun glinting off of a windshield or the incessant barking of the neighbor's chihuahua, I am plunged into an addled fog of nauseous throbbing. So, I've been staying in. Some noises follow me inside, like the leafblowers and the airplanes, but the muffling effect of four walls is enough to keep me from totally shorting out, though I do have to plug my ears when the fire trucks go by. Sometimes I think they honk the horn just for me.

I have a dental visit coming up, and a visit with a very special specialist. I am nervous and hopeful for both.

I'm on a hot tea kick right now. I've been cycling between chamomile, lemon verbena, mint and ginger. It's been cold, even in my temperate edge of the states, and wearing an icepack can be torturous right now. The perfect balance to the icepack is a microwaveable hot pack on my feet or belly and a cuppa warming my hands and steaming into my face. It's just delicious.

I made a really good split-pea soup the other day. Besides the peas, it involved roasted poblanos, plain and roasted garlic, onions, red potatoes, and broccoli. This was another culinary first, that I can't believe I took so long to get around to.

Oh, and then I had this weird dream the other night.

I don't really remember anything but the last few seconds of it. I was dreaming about something boring, there were some loved ones around me, we were talking. It wasn't stressful, but wasn't a super-happy dream either. Suddenly, I was jerked from that dream and was aware of laying on my right side in my bed. I felt awake. I felt a touch on my left hip. I woke up for real as I turned to defend myself and gasped aloud, "No!" I was disoriented in the dark for a moment, trying to remember what was real and what was a dream. My first muddled thought was that it felt like a ghost. Spooky! I didn't wake anyone else with my little yell, and did get back to sleep for another hour or so, but I felt extra discombobulated and sensitive for the rest of that day. But thinking about it, I get all kinds of weird dreams when I'm migraining and/or in pain, so it could be that my head caused the dream and not the other way around.

I'm not sleeping great in general. I'm getting up to pee several times a night, and waking in the morning feeling sluggish and irritable, stiff and in pain. I'm having some anxiety falling asleep too, and have been leaving the lights on. I tried melatonin, but it didn't help, probably because my problem isn't falling asleep, it's staying asleep. I'm going to try some valerian tonight. Worst case, I can take muscle relaxants, but those can be overkill. I don't want a coma, I just want REM and to sleep through the night every now and again.

Speaking of, YAWN. Wish me luck.


Monday, January 10, 2011

This Post Has No Coherent Theme

So, it's going to be my birthday in a few days. I'm keeping it quiet, don't tell anyone.

32. Thirty-two. It doesn't matter much this year. I've been really focused on making myself better lately. My head has been consistently ignoring my attempts, but my soul reacts like dried brush catching flame, in a good way.

I walked to the farmer's market yesterday morning. I couldn't handle the bike. My boyfriend rode his, however, and he ran the dog and carried the bags. It made my load lighter, and gave me a chance to enjoy being outside, for the first time in almost a week. The holidays really took it out of me this year.

So, I'd run across this cooking forum post that mentioned how tasty roasted parsnips are, and I've never had a parsnip, that I can recall, so I made a mental note to look for them next time I'm buying produce. Yesterday, at the market, I found a vegetable that looked convincingly parsnippity. The only problem was that I'd never actually looked up a picture of a parsnip, and all I'd gleaned was that it was a white, root vegetable. So, yesterday, I bought a daikon radish for the first time.

But hey, I roasted it up with some potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, etc, and it was good! Lately, the key to my happiness is learning new things, so this seemingly boring adventure of cooking with strange (to me) ingredients is actually a huge thrill for me. Food I've never had! I'm cooking it! It tastes good! The happiness is probably ridiculous.

I also picked up a few kohlrabi. I have no idea what to do with them yet. Exciting!

My body never does well with inactivity and this latest bout of largely horizontal living has taken its toll. On the treadmill the other day, my left hip started screaming at me and yesterday, it was my right knee. Usually, just slowly increasing my activity will make these aches and pains ease off, so I've got my fingers crossed.

During the holidays I'd stopped my daily head log, it was all stress and pain and caffeine anyway. I didn't need to record it. But I started it back up on January 1st, just to be a total cliche, and I've changed my format a skosh. I'm no longer recording my food intake, as it was making me feel obsessive. But I am now writing down EVERY symptom that happens EVERY day, or at least as many as I remember. (Memory loss. I keep forgetting that one. Heh.) And I'm taking note of my general activities, like whether I was unable to do anything but internet all day or if I managed a walk, or to cook a meal or two. 

One of the first things I did this year was have my boyfriend help me make a duct tape dress form. We used three different colored tapes, and didn't plan the way it came out, but we are both heartily amused by it.

My body, head cut off to keep these from ending up on facebook, wrapped in different colors of duct tape. My shoulders, arms, upper chest and sternum are gray, my stomach is green and my breasts are blue. My boyfriend says I look like the earth.
The back view: Again, gray shoulders, arms and upper back, but blue and green take over my torso, giving the form a corset-like look. Also, in this pic: flannel pj bottoms, two plastic hampers and a free calendar I got from pillsbury featuring their January covergirl, pot pie.

I haven't stuffed the form yet, she's currently hanging on the back of my bedroom door, all deflated. It took her a week to quit the nasty off-gassing, so migraineurs beware. I'm aware that I am referring to her as a she. She has my boobs. 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Dog Is Helping Me Fight the Signs of Aging

Since the holidays have sucked all my energy, I haven't been able to exercise much recently. In fact, just walking the dog down the block is so taxing and head triggering that I had to sit down for about six hours and write this post.

A picture of me (a woman with brown hair, a gray cap, oversized green sweatshirt and dark blue jeans) and my dog (a blonde, small chihuahua mix wearing a blue jacket) out for a stroll. We are walking away from the camera, and are both looking toward the right, at an intersection. It looks a little like she is helping me check for traffic, but she's not. She's looking for bunnies. ALWAYS.

We walked for a about a mile the other day, not far, but far enough for me to be getting really, really tired and woozy towards the end. But I had my camera in my pocket and I still wanted to get this cool shot of whatever, so I abruptly stopped walking just as the dog decided to enthusiastically lunge forward toward a patch of (presumably delightfully scented) grass. In the process, she yanked my arm so hard as to jar my shoulder, my back and, of course, my head. Everything went a little fuzzy and gray and without thinking, I sharply reprimanded her with, "I stop, you stop! I stop, you stop!" Then I realized I was sort of quoting Farscape at my dog and maybe I should sit down a spell.

My dog, leashed, outside, in front a wall with some climbing vines. She's looking off into the distance with vigilance. Probably she's still looking for bunnies.

My dog isn't an excessive barker, but she does get pretty insistent if someone's at the door or she thinks she hears something suspicious outside. One day she was just in a mood, barking at every other nothing noise and she just would. not. shut it. She let loose with a particularly hearty bout of woowoowoowoowooing when I turned to her and snapped her name. She stopped barking and looked at me. I spoke firmly but calmly, "Please stop barking right now. My head is really hurting." I looked at her and she looked at me. Then she laid down and didn't make another noise. I was hoping that this breakthrough meant that my lifelong ambition of making animals do my bidding (like a disney princess!) was finally within my grasp. It was all an illusion, though, because after a few hours she was back to her normal, very alert, only-half-listening-to-me state. But that moment was glorious.

A close-up of my dog's face. She's laying down, head on paws. She looks tired, or chastened, with her eyes downcast and her massive radar-dish ears relaxed. She's probably thinking about bunnies.

Having an animal around, minion or no, has been really good for my mental and physical health. She relies on me, she loves on me whenever needed, and she can make me smile no matter how bad a day I'm having. Ok, it may not always really be a smile, maybe more of a smize on my worst days, but still, that's so much better than the scowl that can take up residence on my forehead when I'm squinting and flinching and twitching and grimacing all over the place. Those verbs are doing nothing for my pretty, let me tell you. Aw, my dog is helping me fight the signs of aging. She's so multi-talented!

A picture of my dog at a dog park. She is chasing a ball, running toward the camera. The moment captured is of her in flight. Only one foot, her rear right, touches the ground. Her mouth is open, her eyes are wide, her huge mogwai ears are on the up-swing and the ball is about to get pounced upon. Like a bunny.

Another talent my dog has is as a hot water bottle. She's a small dog with a very fast metabolism and she puts off a good amount of heat, especially when she's sleeping.

My dog, sleeping on her right side, feet all tucked together and head lolling nearly upside down. The position of her head makes one of her flying-nun ears stand up straight, displaying its impressive square inchage. (They are nearly the size of her head.) Her black lips are parted and relaxed enough so just a peek of snaggletooth is visible. In all likelihood, she's dreaming of bunnies.

Then there's the agility portion of the competition. If ever I get my stamina back, I would like for us to learn how to run those courses. She'd love it.

(NOTE: This video has audio (whistling, a male voice, and background noises) that I have no idea how to delete! Make sure that your sound is off if this will bother you! Also, the camera is a little shaky.)
This video contains footage of my small blonde dog with a red leash going down a slide at a park. The dog waits at the top of the slide until called by my boyfriend, who is holding the camera. He says, "Come on, baby!" and whistles and the dog launches herself onto the slide, running and sliding confidently all the way down. She reaches the ground, shakes herself off and jumps on my boyfriend's legs. He pets her head and praises her repeatedly with "Good girl!" Just before the scene cuts, the dog suddenly turns to something off camera. Could have been a bunny.

Ok, FINE, I'll tell you the bunny story.

My boyfriend hurt his back badly two years ago. Bad enough that he had to have surgery and bad enough that one morning he woke me up yelling from the couch. He had lost his balance, or his leg gave out, I don't remember, but he was in so much pain that we decided to call an ambulance. I helped him get to the front porch, so he could lay flat on the cement until they arrived and as soon as I opened the front door to half carry him out, the dog bolted around us, down the steps, out the front gate and was sprinting for the street. "NO!" I screamed. I couldn't stop her, having my hands full of broken boyfriend, so I eased him down as gently as I could, as quickly as I could, then took off after her. I was in my pajamas, running across the (thankfully deserted) street and into an apartment complex I didn't live in, at 6 in the morning. I rounded the corner of a building and spotted my dog. I exhaled with relief, but stopped short when I realized what she was doing. In the middle of downtown metropolis, USA, my little dog had found a bunny.

She slowly crept closer, and closer. The bunny just side-eyed her. I had no idea what my adorable, precious dog would do to the bunny if she got close enough. She plays nicely with cats, but she also really likes to kill her toys. I didn't want to find out. My boyfriend was in pain on the porch, my socks were soaked from the grass and my feet were freezing and all I wanted to do was get ahold of my slippery little dog and get back home. Where the dry socks live.

So, while she snuck up on the bunny, I snuck up on her. Suddenly, the bunny jumped away and startled my dog, just enough so she ran back to me to rescue her from the big, mean, scary, fluffy bunny. I scooped her up and got back to our porch a moment before the paramedics arrived. In the hubbub, the bunny was mostly forgotten.

Then, a few months later, we were at my parents' house just hanging out. My mom stepped out front to throw something away in the outside bin, and didn't notice the small dog on her heels. We realized she was missing a few minutes later and panicked. The house is on a very busy street. She could have gone any direction. We ran outside, calling her name. To the left, nothing, to the right... holy crap she's on the neighbor's lawn sniffing a bunny. Again, in the middle of the city, my dog finds another bunny. (Possums we have, raccoons and rats and cockroaches and stray cats galore. But bunnies?? And it's not like we had an invasion or something. At least, not one that we've heard about.) So we called her and she abandoned the thoroughly-sniffed bunny immediately to gallop and skip back to us. She was as excited as she ever gets and joyfully leaped into my arms, all wiggly and kissy in celebration of finally having experienced the scent of a bunny.

Ok, one more photo for the ridiculous puppy post. Are you ready for this?

My dog, sitting on a green couch like she's people (upright, chest and belly exposed, forelegs in front of her loosely like arms). My boyfriend's arm is in the frame, offering her the phone. She looks at him as if to say, "This joke just isn't funny anymore." Oh yes, it is.