Big Pharma’s War on Marijuana

While I’m working on the next post, have a look at this.

My next post will give you a second serving of food for thought on this topic!

Patients for Medical Cannabis

On this episode of America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio discusses the reasons why the marijuana legalization effort failed in Arizona and speaks with Justin Strekal, Political Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, about what pharmaceutical companies have to gain from keeping marijuana illegal.

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Cookie Monster on the Dole – The New Yorker

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/17/cookie-monster-on-the-dole?mbid=nl_170411_Daily&CNDID=19928113&spMailingID=10801900&spUserID=MTg4OTQzMTcxMDk5S0&spJobID=1140854609&spReportId=MTE0MDg1NDYwOQS2

Feets of Dexterity

As I watch this astonishing circus act–one woman’s virtuosic dance with one fabulously flexible body, four limbs, twenty digits, and five juggling balls–several feelings cycle through me.

The first, of course, is wonderment and admiration.  What pure joyful dedication!  You have to see this.

The second is sadness, for myself and everyone else who once knew the joy of a body that did pretty much whatever we needed or wanted it to do for us, but are now struggling to come to terms with some kind of wreck.

The third is fear.  I fear for this circus performer.  Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, what will her life be like?  Will her joints and muscles and nerves continue to serve her faithfully?  Or will she, too, face the late consequences of connective tissue that behaves like a new rubber band in youth….and an old worn-out rubber band in middle age and beyond?

Will she sail into her old age like Martha Graham, the dancer and choreographer who performed her final ballet at age 75?  I hope so, for that is the dream of every dancer, every artist whose body is the medium for not only the expression of life, but the medium for experiencing life itself.

Martha Graham wrote about what happened when she retired from the stage in her memoir, Blood Memory:

It wasn’t until years after I had relinquished a ballet that I could bear to watch someone else dance it. I believe in never looking back, never indulging in nostalgia, or reminiscing. Yet how can you avoid it when you look on stage and see a dancer made up to look as you did thirty years ago, dancing a ballet you created with someone you were then deeply in love with, your husband? I think that is a circle of hell Dante omitted.

[When I stopped dancing] I had lost my will to live. I stayed home alone, ate very little, and drank too much and brooded. My face was ruined, and people say I looked odd, which I agreed with. Finally my system just gave in. I was in the hospital for a long time, much of it in a coma.

Dog Sacrifices Life to Save Wedding From Terrorist « Clarion Project

https://clarionproject.org/dog-sacrifices-life-to-save-wedding-from-terrorist/

A heartwarming story, 21st Century style.

My Body Talks Too Loud

This afternoon I had to get out and see someplace that wasn’t the inside of the van I live in.

It’s been in the 40’s and 50’s here in Northern Arizona.  Very beautiful, too, when not spitting “wintry mix.”  Still not terribly comfortable for those of us with loud bodies.

To be truthful, I’m sick and tired of this body.  I’m grateful for what it’s done for me, carrying me around my life, into and out of some truly wonderful and outrageous and sometimes horrifying adventures.  I love that it carried me on horseback all over the place, allowed me to throw it down mountains on skiis, glided me through water salt and sweet.  It grew me a baby 32 years ago, and then fed and nurtured that baby, who is now his own human being with his own life.

I feel as if I’m saying goodbye to that nice body, the one that danced and played music night after night after night after dizzy exhausting night.

That body is, for all intents and purposes, gone.  That body, the one that I knew I had because it felt so fucking amazing lifting weights, powering up mountains, inching along rock ledges, is changed for one I can’t ignore, for entirely different reasons.

This new body tingles and buzzes.  Sometimes it bangs on pots and pans, other times it feels like zippers zipping up and down my arms.  Reaching for an object gets me electric shocks.  


My previous body had pain. Lots of pain, most of the time, in fact.  But as long as it still worked, carried me around, worked its way into the asanas I loved, I put up with the pain. As long as there was that confidence that if I kept on putting one foot in front of the other, I’d reach my goal, no matter how distant–the pain served as evidence of my progress.

There have been times when the pain put a stop to my activity.  I’ve had stretches of months at a time when simply getting out of bed took half a day’s energy, and getting back in took the other half.  This is discouraging.  But I’ve always pulled out of those nosedives, got back in the saddle and rode away.

Not this time.  

The bones in my neck are getting worn down because of ligamentous laxity.  I love that term, don’t you?  Say it a few times.  It’s fun!

Actually it’s not fun.  When your ligaments get over-stretched and no longer hold your bones in place, the bones slip around and rub against each other.  The cartilage wears off.  Bones grate against bones.

It’s not quite so awful if it’s one or two bones that are loose, but if you have a whole spine full of them, you have a problem.  I have that problem.

It’s not just my cartilage that is crumbling, either.  My muscles seem to have jumped into the act.  I’m nursing multiple rotator cuff tears, in both shoulders.  I have tendons that are shredding.  Ligaments, too, are becoming frayed.

We know this because of MRI information.  We also know this because my recent hand surgery revealed tissue damage that has been going on for decades, a representation in my wrist of the destruction in my whole body.

Of course now the nerves have come on board.  They buzz, they vibrate, they pinch, they stab.  They ache.

Something in my neck has changed for the worse, so I made an appointment with a local spine surgeon who I’ve seen in the past.  Unfortunately for me, he retired at the end of the year, so I saw his successor: a nice young man, full of algorithms and theory but not much experience.

“When did this start?”  His opener.

“In 1983.”  I felt myself slip away into dissociation.  

“Oh, but this time.  Did it start yesterday?”

Patience, Laura.  It’s not his fault he doesn’t know you.

“I have a genetic defect of collagen structure.”  I gave him a quick rundown of my history of spontaneous dislocations, spinal badness, surgery, injections, etc.  His eyes glazed over.

Fortunately, I collect CDs of all my MRIs, and they were on his computer already.  We aborted the attempt at oral history and just looked at the pictures.

Oh look, he says, you have at least three unstable levels in your neck.

Yes, I nodded (not much of a nod, because I can’t look up because my neck is stuck that way).  And something has very much changed, and that’s why I’m here.

And luckily, when the nitwits at the Cleveland Clinic did the Whole Nervous System 3 hour long MRI looking for MS, they used contrast, which showed the benign tumors that are inhabiting my vertebrae.

Did the New Guy think that hemangiomas (benign tumors made of blood vessels) would be a problem for surgery?

Certainly, he said.  But if you have a collagen problem, that alone might contraindicate surgery.

Yeah, I kind of thought so, I mumbled.

There must have been something on the floor, because we both stared at it for an awkward interval.

Well…he fidgeted with his cuticle…I guess the first thing is to get a new MRI.  Make an appointment to review it with me.

The MRI is in a couple of days.  Then I’ll get the news: something I can live with till the next thing?  Something that’s going to cause further damage unless fixed?

Right.  I’ve already had that opinion.  In fact, I’ve had three separate opinions, from three separate spine centers, that all say the same thing: no surgery, not much life left.

I’m feeling like a box of cereal that’s past its expiration date.  Stale.  Crumbling.

And sooner than later, full of worms.

In The “Needs To Work Out More” File

Alleged burglar attempts to flee Tucson school, pants caught on spiked fence

http://www.abc15.com/news/region-central-southern-az/tucson/alleged-burglar-attempts-to-flee-tucson-school-pants-caught-on-spiked-fence

Watch “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm | Mary Roach” on YouTube

Well, maybe you did know one or two.  But really, this is very entertaining!  Orgasm trivia.  Have fun!

Snoop Dogg’s controversial new music video gets attention of President Trump

http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/03/16/snoop-dogg-trump-video-gun-marijuana/75673/?obref=obinsite

You really need to just click on over and watch the video, then read the accompanying article, then watch the video again.  It is just so right on.  I have nothing more to say.

Johnna Stahl’s Blog Memorial

Memorial for Johnna Stahl, aka painkills2 of All Things Chronic, is happening NOW. Click on the original post and stop by to read, watch, and listen to tributes to our dear Johnna, and to leave one of your own, if you wish.

Life of an El Paso Woman

Hi everyone. Today we celebrate our fellow blogger and friend Johnna Stahl’s life. Johnna’s loved ones held a memorial for her Friday in Houston. Johnna’s sister, Mary shared this beautiful video of Johnna’s photography and memorial with me. She asked me to share it with the blogging community. Please feel free to share any memories you have of Johnna aka painkills2 from the All Things Chronic blog in the comments. Feel free to also share poems, quotes, music and/or general comments. Johnna will be missed by many.

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I’m so glad I had the pleasure of meeting her last July in Albuquerque. She was very nice and fun to talk to in person and via e-mail. Johnna was a huge supporter of my blog and writing career. She encouraged me to start writing my book and continue freelance writing after a five-year break. Although I haven’t finished the book yet, I intend to finish it later this year or in early…

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Too Damned Hot Already!

95°F=35°C= too damned hot for the month of March, even in Southern Arizona.  But wait, “there’s no such thing as climate change.”  That must mean that it’s now normal to have temperatures >15 degrees above normal, in a sustained fashion, two years in a row.  OK, I’ll try to squeeze yet one more incongruity the size of Texas into my pea-sized brain.  

For reasons that are well explained by Ayurveda, my tongue got the word about the heat wave first:

That thing that looks like a small liver on the underside of my tongue is an aphthous ulcer.  It’s the classic “punched out” kind.  Makes me feel pretty damned punched out, let me tell you.

That was a few days ago.  The ulcer kind of propagated into the back of my mouth and throat.  I’ve been literally living on aloe vera juice and coconut water, which I leave in the freezer and sip on.

It occurred to me that this was rather more ulcer-ness than I’m used to.  I get them every few weeks or months.  A Crohn’s thing, you know: it’s a “mouth-to-anus” disease.  Meaning that, lesions can occur anywhere in there.  And do.  

My brain survives and at times even thrives, by continuously scanning for outliers.  That’s how the prey animal survives.  That ripple in the tall grass that wasn’t there earlier?  Lion.  That shadow in the water?  Crocodile.  

Those bizarre mouth ulcers?  Could be just the ol’ Crohn’s monsters.

And on the other hand…there’s lamotrigine (Lamictal®).

Ever since I landed in the hospital in 2001, and ever since the amateur psychiatrist who tried to kill me with every antidepressant under the sun nearly succeeded, and ever since she thankfully went on vacation and left her on-call beeper with the brilliant neuropsychiatrist who correctly identified my brain as bipolar, I have faithfully taken my “L&L cocktail” every day.  Lamictal in the morning, lithium at night.

It’s worked better than anything else.  It’s been my staple.

There’s a problem, though.  It’s been a theoretical problem, till now.

Lamotrigine has one major potential adverse reaction.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be devastating.  It’s called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.  (The linked article downplays what the syndrome really looks like….)  It’s a known and much-feared adverse event that’s associated with Lamictal.  That’s the reason for the very slow dose buildup, if you’ve ever taken it, and the huge black box warning that says if you ever get these nasty lesions, stop taking Lamictal immediately.

My tongue up and turned completely white, then started peeling.  I put my Lamictal away.  Increased the lithium dose by 25%, got out some high CBD cannabis to help with the transition.

If you take medicine for brain stuff, you just naturally deal with side effects.  How not?  Most of this shit we dump into our bodies, no one has any clue what they actually do, outside of the one thing they have to look at for the studies.  Beyond showing that this does or does not increase dopamine levels in the brain, for instance, researchers are not able to predict every single one of the thousands of other chemical interactions a medicine may set into motion all around the body.

Fortunately most side effects are merely unpleasant but not life-threatening.  Stevens-Johnson is extremely unpleasant and also life-threatening.  You just don’t want it!

Lithium has its bad side too: kidney failure holds down the position of real bad actor.  But lithium won’t kill you today.  It might take decades.

On the other hand, Lamictal’s dark side will put you in the burn unit…or the grave.  Right quick.

It’s a terrible choice to have to make: my sanity or my life!  There’s no percentage in trying to gamble with Lamictal, once these mucous membrane lesions appear.  There’s no guarantee that a break from the drug will fix the problem.  For me, this is the red line.  No more.

So what am I gonna do now?

Well, I’ve increased my lithium dose.  That means I have to be incredibly careful in this heat, because lithium can become toxic via dehydration.  And since lithium has a diuretic effect, that makes it even harder to stay hydrated.

I’m making plans to move to somewhere cooler after the end of the month, when I have my hand surgery recheck.  Oregon is sounding good to me….

And yes, my medical cannabis is once more doing yeoman’s duty.  I read an abstract of a study that looked at using CBD to treat psychosis.  Holy crap, the stuff holds up alongside conventional antipsychotics, with absolutely zero side effects!  I’m on that bus.