Saturday, August 27, 2011


I've been experimenting with marijuana, and it's been good.

The last time I wrote about my cannabis consumption, I was pretty pleased with my experience. Most of the pills I've tried (painkillers, triptans, preventatives of all shapes and sizes) haven't worked, and any relief I did have was short-lived or overwhelmed by negative side effects. Not so with the pot, it's amazing to me how much it helps.

And now that I've added edibles to my repertoire, I've got a whole new migraine weapon. It's a very different effect than smoking, with some serious benefits and just a few drawbacks.

Let's start with the bad.

One time, I ate too much of a brownie. I felt mild nausea and some euphoria, and was more intoxicated than I was comfortable with. The effects lasted almost two hours, then started to taper to more sober levels. It didn't adversely effect my head, though, which smoking can, if I overdo it.

Another time, I ate accidentally ate WAY too much high-dose cookie dough and I slept for 14 hours. I spent the next day feeling sluggish and hungover, also foolish, but then again, rather proud that I had survived my first thc od. Again, without a significant migraine fallout.

When I've had to use high doses often, or even moderate doses frequently, I've built a tolerance to the effects and have had to stop all usage for a few days to sort of reset my system. Those few days are generally uncomfortable, with the sluggishness and hungover feeling accompanying a higher sensitivity to migraine triggers, but once those two or three days have passed, my tolerance and head are back to zero again, so that's pretty cool.

During a painful and busy week or two during which I was using edibles almost exclusively, and liberally, I had a rather dramatic episode of depression when I cut back my intake. It was brief, thankfully, but I've been careful about keeping my consumption moderate since then and I haven't had any further issues. But if you're sensitive to medications, or are prone to depression, this is definitely something to look out for.

I do get the rare rebound headache from over-usage, but those are situations I walk into, knowing how it's going to end. I do the same thing with caffeine and soma, overdo it in the short term and risk paying for it later. How else would I go to doctor's appointments, the beach, or make that holiday party? Drink a cup of coffee and take half a soma every two to four hours with applications of thc as needed, that's how.

Cannabis laced edibles take quite a bit longer to kick in, from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, in my experience. This can make accurate dosing difficult because there's currently no industry standard and every manufacturer thinks "one dose" is something different. Accurate and detailed labeling is coming more into fashion, but trying a new product or method of ingestion can still be a crapshoot. And by the time you discover you haven't medicated enough, it's difficult to catch up because you have another hour or wait time to find out if you got it right the second time. But this becomes easier with experience.

Effectiveness can also vary greatly depending on factors like the method of ingestion, potency of the product, what's already digesting in the stomach, and individual metabolism. This also becomes easier to predict with experience, but it can be frustrating when your medicine has a learning curve.

As for portability and discretion, it's no big deal to carry around a piece of chocolate (as long as it doesn't melt), or a cookie or even a bottle of tincture with a dropper. Smoking may have a faster effect, but it can also make you (feel) very conspicuous.

The effects of eating cannabis usually last longer than smoking and it's a gentler, less intoxicating experience. Bonus: no coughing! But if I've got a slamming headache and need to medicate immediately, smoking is the only way to go. Actually, I've been happiest when I can use a combination of the two methods, eating a pot-snack every few hours and compensating with smoke if needed.

I've actually been eating my medicine quite a bit lately, and I've been working on a detailed review post of some really great products I've been able to try. That'll be coming up in the next week, with pictures!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Loudly And Proudly Is The Goal

I had a dream that I was singing for a group of people.

It was going badly and I was embarrassed, so my song went quiet. But when I looked at the faces of people around me, they were all smiling, rooting for me, enjoying my terrible music. I shucked off the embarrassment as I flung my head back and sang loudly and proudly. As my confidence grew, my voice started sounding amazing, and I hit notes that made me laugh and cry in the same breath.

I remembered the dream suddenly, several hours after waking. At first, I thought it was a memory, when did that happen? But I quickly recognized the feeling of it, it was recent, but so faded. A dream. Just a dream.

I think it's about stepping out of my comfort zone (by starting school again after more than a decade) and learning to trust the people around me to support me. Also, maybe I need to learn how not to take it personally if they don't.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

With A Little Help From My Friends

I'm officially a student again.

Summer quarter was a bust. Between money, the classes that were available, the shorter quarter (say shorter quarter out loud several times, it turns into shoulda coulda, which totally screwed with my head), and the effect the summer heat has on my migraines, I just couldn't make it work. It was pretty depressing to make all that progress, and then to just stop. But with fall approaching, my hope renewed and I tried to make it happen.

I was hell-bent on scraping money together, but every time I'd get a little ahead, something else would come up and we'd be back behind. Early registration came and went. I realized that I was running out of time and checked class availability online; the one I really wanted was already full, and other possibilities were quickly dwindling. I emailed the disabilities secretary to make an appointment with my counselor, but she was out of the office until way after classes started. I could see John Stranger, who may or may not be saturated in cologne. At least, that's what I read. I panicked a little, but made the appointment anyway.

The appointment approached, as appointments do, but the funds still weren't adding up.

I asked for help.

Sue answered. She paypal'd me a hand up and my heart grew three sizes. Thanks again, Sue!

And then, at the last minute, I was able to call on another irl friend to cover the difference. This friend also gave me a ride, and then sat in the meeting with me, saved us time and frustration when he caught a miscommunication between me and the counselor, and listened to me squee for a while afterwards, while we ate sweets and drank coffee. Thanks again, my dear irl friend.

And the people in the disabilities services department, they've been great. Both of the counselors I've seen were patient and knowledgeable, they repeated things I didn't understand, and reassured me without patronizing me. When I asked, "Which class is easier?" with faked nonchalance, I was deeply relieved when neither of them batted an eyelash. Apparently, it's ok to need an easier class.

Even their office is fantastic. I was waiting to see my interim counselor and was delighted to realize I could take off my hat because ALL of the overhead lighting in the office was covered by a glorious diamond patterned shield that kept the lights bright enough to be efficient, but took away all direct glare. Brilliant. We just need to make one of those for the sun and I'll be set.

I am so grateful to everyone who helped me that day. Saying thank you doesn't seem like enough, though. I'm hoping that this step will be the first of many that take me somewhere better than I am now. How do you thank someone for helping you change your life?

Only with help have I gotten this far. I won't ever forget it.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Love and Pain

Some days, I have no idea why he stays, others I'm not sure why I do. Chronic pain can make us intolerable, hateful, ugly people. It can make us retreat into ourselves or explode, give up and give in, cry and scream, check out or check ourselves in. It's hard to be around myself sometimes, let alone someone else with his own set of pains and the accompanying baggage.

But I need the company. I need a teammate, a friend, and someone to talk to. The upside of both of us being in pain is that we always understand what the other is going through. Maybe not exactly, since I don't need a back brace and he doesn't wear earplugs every time he leaves the house, but we're fighting the same war, just on different fronts.

Some days we barely connect. We're both struggling so hard to lead our separate lives that we neglect our joint existence. Other days, we rely on each other totally. His sciatic will flare so he can't walk without a cane, or I'll migraine so hard I can't feed myself for two days and when you can't take care of yourself without assistance, it makes you think: we're all we have. We check in on each other, call out to each other when we need help and work together to make our home as safe and comfortable as we can.

It's a difficult thing to think about on those bad days, how would we survive without each other? We're both reliant on others for help in daily life, and we both have family that we absolutely wouldn't want to task with those responsibilities. Could I live alone? I'd have to handle meat, for the dog. I'd have to deal with my own spiders. I'd have to take out the garbage. Eh, that last one's not so bad. Could I handle my migraines alone? No, I don't see that happening. Transportation, communication, medicare, ssi, going to the grocery store, getting my medications... these are some things I just can't do on my own. And there are more. If I'm alone, who helps me?

Relying on my boyfriend as a caregiver isn't easy. This type of intimacy is strange. It's embarrassing and humiliating and frustrating to let someone else be in control. It takes our relationship places I didn't think we'd go until we were old and gray and it sometimes feels like all this pain could destroy us. But surprisingly, it mostly makes us so much stronger.

This post is very contradictory, isn't it?

It's both wonderful and horrible to be able to empathize with your partner's pain.

I hate my dependence but love, so much, that I can depend on him.

Life is so complicated. No, life is really very simple.

It's all true.


Monday, August 8, 2011

I've Hit a Snag

I'm trying to go back to school. I'm severely disabled and can hardly leave the house, but I want to get an education, and hope to be able to support myself again someday. Until then, I'm resigned to asking for help.


I can take an online class this quarter through my old community college, and take that first step towards an AA, but I need $60 to register. I'm told all of my other costs will be covered by financial aid, but not the $60. I don't have $60.

In fact, we're low on food, behind in rent, and bills in general. We're drowning.

If you're so inclined, here's how you can help: There's a donate button on the right there. If you like my blog and can afford to sponsor a budding academic's first try in 13 years (hey, that's lucky!), feel free to throw me some monetary assistance. And there's no too-small donation, because if more than one person donates less than $60, there's a better than zero chance that the total will be $60. Which, again, is better than zero.

And if someone wants to donate more than $60, well then, I'm going to get me some medicine, treatment, food, and I may even pay some rent and finally have the freedom to move somewhere quieter and cheaper.

But most of all, I want to go to school. I've been feeling so powerless since I became disabled. I want to make myself better. If you can help, thanks.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Please Don't Rubberneck My Painwreck

A person in my vicinity complains of a headache**. Then:

1. They shoot me a guilty look and apologize. I (try to) smile and say something like, "I don't have a monopoly on headaches, you go right ahead."

2. They shoot me a look of sympathy and start praising me like a martyr-saint, super-strong, amazing-inspiration to us all. I (try to) smile and say thanks and change the subject.

3. They shoot me a look of sympathy and start complaining about my life for me, asking me for all the gory details of chronic pain and disability. "How can you live like this?", they almost always ask. I don't have a quick line for these people. I don't want to make a joke, or give them a lecture on conversational etiquette. I don't want to be the ambassador of migraines, chronic illness or disability. I don't want to get mad, and I certainly don't want to share intimate details of my life with every looky-loo wanting to rubberneck my painwreck. It's uncomfortable.

4. They shoot me a look of disdain and ask if I'm still "having issues", with that tone that implies I am a hysterical woman who just needs to pull up my bootstraps.

5. No one says anything. This can continue in one of two ways.

a. A so-helpful third person pipes up to inform everyone that there is a STRANGE MIGRAINE ILLNESS in the room and then we're back to situations 1, 2, 3, and/or 4.

b. I hold my breath and try not to make any sudden moves. Maybe they know, and maybe they don't. I exhale as the moment passes without comment. This one is my favorite. I love not having to talk about it.

**I could easily exchange the word headache with migraine, or sound/light/scent/motion sensitivity, or being young, legally disabled, and/or sick; they're all the same, for the purposes of this post. But the common headache is the most frequent prompt of these exchanges, so I went with it.