Medical Cannabis

Cop Eats Pot Brownies, Thinks He’s Dying

Oh my God, you guys. If you haven’t seen this yet, you must. MUST!

All of this talk about marijuana and getting my medical cannabis card reminded me: back in 2006, a Dearborn, MI cop called 911 after he and his wife used confiscated marijuana to make pot brownies.

And he though he’d overdosed.

And he was convinced he was dying.

And then someone awesome turned the actual 911 call into this little animated gem.

You’re welcome.

Fibromyalgia

Surviving the DMV with Fibromyalgia

dmv fibromyalgiaDan and I went to the DMV today to get my address updated on my driver’s license. We’ve lived in this home for more than a year, but I dread visits to the Illinois Secretary of State Driver Services branch more than just about anything in the world.

And I have fibromyalgia and IBS. So yeah.

While I sat waiting for an hour in a very plastic, very uncomfortable chair, I started feeling a little lightheaded. This happens to me frequently, but it’s more panic inducing to feel like you might lose it in public.

Oh my god, oh my god, ohmygod. What if I fall out of this chair and end up kissing those baby blue asbestos tiles? What if the mean lady who is yelling at everyone to sit down kicks me out because I’m not following her instructions? Why the heck aren’t there any Pokémon here?

“Number 63!”

If I was a homebody before I got sick, I’m downright reclusive now. But I was wearing my big girl panties this morning, and I endured. I took a few deep breaths and tried to sit tall to get more air. Eventually I had my temporary license in hand and a promise that a real license would be mailed to me in about two weeks.

The temporary ID should be good enough for my medical marijuana card application, but I’m preparing myself for the very real possibility that IDPH will tell me some part of my application isn’t valid. Because that’s how they do.

 

Medical Cannabis

Resources for Getting Your Illinois Medical Cannabis Card

Illinois Medical Cannabis Card
Photo Credit: Twitter

It’s gray and soggy here in Urbana today. I wrapped up work a little bit ago, and I was barely able to lift my butt out of my desk chair. Fibromyalgia’s pain and stiffness are intensified by about a bajillion when icky weather settles in.

I wish I had my card.

But since I don’t yet, the next best thing is to do whatever small bit I can to help other people get theirs. So, here we go…

Medical Cannabis Outreach

This is the group helping me get all my ducks in a row. If you have questions about the Illinois Compassionate Use of Marijuana Pilot Program, would like information about the medical benefits of THC and CBD, want help preparing your application, or need assistance at any step of the process, talk to these people. They are friendly and knowledgeable. You can also follow them on Facebook.

Salveo Health and Wellness

I don’t know much about much yet when it comes to marijuana, medical or otherwise. So I’ve been asking people for their opinions. This dispensary was recommended to me by another patient who already has his card. He said it’s worth the drive for better prices and selection. Plus the people here are great at answering any questions you might have. You can find Salveo Heath and Wellness on Facebook too.

Licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensaries in Illinois

If that’s too far to drive, you can purchase cannabis at any licensed dispensary in Illinois. (Note: you have to choose a dispensary as part of the application process.) As the program expands, more are likely to be added to this list. Check with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make sure you have the most recent list.

Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program

You can apply through the State’s website on your own if you like. You can also see which conditions qualify for the medical cannabis program, locate fingerprint vendors, and get information on fees, among other things.

Find a Doctor: Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois

Having trouble finding a doctor in Illinois who isn’t anti-cannabis? Type in your zip code and search.

Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois Website

This Springfield-based Advocacy group makes it easy for you to contact the Governor and other elected officials, gives you tips for talking to your doctor about the medical cannabis pilot program in Illinois, provides resources for patients and physicians, and even has helpful infographics you can read and share.

Cannabis Patient Advocacy Coalition

CPAC is a “patient advocacy group committed to making medical cannabis an acceptable and accessible treatment option for Illinois patients.” Read about current barriers to care, sign the petition, reach out to lawmakers, and join the coalition.

If you’d like to see a resource added to this page, let me know in the comments!

Medical Cannabis

The Hero of Canton / The Plant They Call ‘Jane


Firefly
fans?

Anyone?

No?

Yesterday was our trip to Canton, Illinois to meet with the folks at Medical Cannabis Outreach. The original plan was to attend an 11 a.m. informational seminar, dally all afternoon, and return for a 6 p.m. appointment with the doctor. However, once we realized that we’d be on the road for about four hours round trip, we decided to skip the seminar and only go to the mobile clinic.

Thank God. We didn’t get home until 10:00 and we were wrecked. Travel is really hard on both of us.

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Marijuana plantThe first thing MCO helped me do was sort through all the documentation. The State of Illinois may have made medical cannabis legal, but it’s criminal how difficult they’ve made it to navigate the system.

It’s apparent they don’t want patients to actually participate, and based on stories I’ve heard, if you deal with IDPH directly you’ll be treated like a criminal, a pothead who doesn’t have a qualifying condition and just wants to get baked. (I say outright legalize it anyway, but that’s another post for another day.)

“You drove two hours to be here?” one of the MCO employees asked me.

“Yep, all the way from Urbana.” Looks of shock turned to nods of agreement when I explained that it was easier for us to travel that far than it was for me to figure out the application process on my own.”

For instance, when the state website didn’t remember my login and denied me access to my saved application a couple of weeks ago, I threw up my hands in attrition.

(I am not a dumb person; I’m also not historically frightened by bureaucracy. I navigated the court system and filed for my own damn Indiana divorce back in 2008. So believe me when I say trying to get this done on my own was a fucking nightmare.)

Fingerprints & Photos

If you want your medical cannabis card in Illinois right now, you have to be fingerprinted and have a passport-style photo taken. This complicates things if you’re applying on your own, but MCO collected my fingerprints and took the photo according to specifications right there on site. It wasn’t long before I was off to meet with the doctor.

Seeing the Doctor

The doctor working with MCO at this weekend’s mobile clinic was a good guy. His wife and office administrator (same person) greeted us warmly.

The doc asked routine questions about my diagnosis, my health in general, and the medications I am currently taking. I told him about my terrible experience with Cymbalta and my mostly losing battle with IBS.

“That’s actually a part of fibro,” he said. “I hope one day they will add IBS to the list of conditions.

“How about your sleep?” he asked.

“It’s horrible.”

“People with fibromyalgia rarely enter REM sleep. That’s the sleep the body needs to heal and restore itself.”

It wasn’t news to me, but it was validating to hear it said out loud. You don’t get that every time you see a doctor, believe me.

He also asked me if I had ever tried Lyrica. I told them that I hadn’t. “I’m not pushing that on you,” he assured me. “I’m just trying to get a complete picture. I believe medical marijuana is a much better treatment option.”

He spent some time talking with me about how marijuana works on the body, explained the difference between sativa and indica strains, assured me that I couldn’t OD on it, and promised that I would not suddenly find myself craving heroin just because I’d used marijuana.

Dan and I laughed a little, because OF COURSE NOT. But there are people out there who believe a lot of ridiculous bullshit about marijuana. In fact, I’m still a little pissed about the outright lies I was told about it in my youth. I mean, if you think alcohol and marijuana are bad or they’re against your religion or something, fine. Don’t use.

Lord knows it’s easier to get a prescription for Percocet.

Wait, a Traveling Doctor? Really?

Many patients in Illinois are hitting another roadblock when trying to get their card: their doctor won’t sign off.

It’s not just a matter of physicians stubbornly denying their patients the alternative, though. One employee remarked that he’d run across several cases where doctors were open to their patients using medical marijuana but the administration at the hospital or clinic where they practiced wasn’t having it.

There could be a number of reasons for this—resistance to change, issues with malpractice insurance that maybe haven’t caught up with the times, God complexes, sadism. Who knows for sure? It’s bad for patients, though.

That leaves people like me to seek out independent doctors.

“Do something for me?” the director asked me, “When you go back to your primary doctor, make sure they know you are using medical marijuana. Not only do they need to know for practical health reasons, but we want doctors to see the changes in their patients, and join us in advocating for medical marijuana where they work.”

So, hell yes. Three cheers for non-affiliated MDs who set up clinics within 2 hours of where I live.

And three cheers for his wife who gave Dan and me hugs and wished us well on our way out the door.

The Price Tag

On my GoFundMe, I had originally posted the total cost for the card application, fingerprinting, photo, and doctor’s visit was going to be $1,125. Long story short, I was adding up prices not realizing that the different fees I was hearing were totals, not itemized prices. So when all is said and done, it costs $685—$300 of which is the State’s fee for a three-year period. I updated the page to reflect this lower goal and I’m 20% of the way there!

Getting My Card

I’m hoping to have a card some time in October. There are a couple of things I need to follow up on to make sure my application isn’t kicked back to me. But at least now I understand what’s going on and there are people dealing with the submission process for me.

It was so worth the drive.

Medical Cannabis

Just Say Maybe

Just Say No 1988 Washington MonumentNone of the kids in this picture with Nancy Reagan are me, but they are all my peers. And in 1988 they all pledged to “Just Say No.”

At my small town school, I was bombarded with those god-awful health class videos about drugs, drinking, and peer pressure.

You know the videos I’m talking about. Or maybe you don’t. The plot went something like this: Timmy didn’t smoke a joint, but he hung out after class with a friend that took one drag of the devil’s lettuce. THEN THEY ALL FUCKING DIED.

Naturally, after many years of learning by fear, I promised to say no to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. The adults were sufficiently pleased that I was terrified of anything and everything rolled up in paper and set on fire. That I looked down on kids who questioned authority and experimented was an added bonus for them, I suppose.

I’m bringing up this part of my insular past because it has influenced my decision to apply for medical marijuana to treat fibromyalgia—a decision that gives me some anxiety. Though I’m no longer worried that looking at a joint will kill me and everyone I love, I have reason to believe that some people I care about (and plenty of people I don’t care about) will think me irresponsible, lazy, depraved, and forsaken by God.

But I feel strongly that to remove the social stigma associated with the use of marijuana, we all need to start talking about it like the legitimate alternative it is. More on that in future posts.



Support Em’s Med Cannabis Application Fund on GoFundMe.

Medical Cannabis

I’m Applying for Medical Cannabis in Illinois

UPDATE: Support Em’s Med Cannabis Application Fund

I’ve been in unrelenting pain for two years. I’ve suffered through numerous tests and procedures, all with the hopes that a doctor could tell me what’s wrong with my body. Not just 46 different blood tests, but a CT scan, an EEG, an ECG, a heart stress echo, an upper endoscopy, three hydrogen breath tests, and (with my sleep-deprived memory) probably a few more I don’t remember.
Cannabis sativa (Köhler)

Mostly I’ve agreed to be poked and prodded so much because I’m hopeful for answers that could lead to relief and a better quality of life. But there’s also always been a part of me that would be really happy to find out that my current diagnosis—fibromyalgia—is a misdiagnosis. Because I don’t need the baggage that comes with that shit, you know?

I mean, have you ever hoped to be diagnosed with lupus or celiac disease? Plenty of people with fibromyalgia have.

Sometimes the stigma is a result of actual things people have said to me. (That’s not a legit medical condition. You need a new doctor.) And sometimes the stigma is a result of things I’ve heard other patients report, and then I get paranoid that people are thinking those same things about me; they’re just not bold enough to say it out loud.  (You’re fine. You’re just looking for pills and attention.)

Regardless, it adds to the stress of dealing with my symptoms.

I’ve tried different therapies, different medicines, and different diets without success. In every case with severe side effects or worsening symptoms. I’ve got a full-time job I’d like to keep. At the very least, I need to be able to maintain.

So I’m unapologetically proclaiming my intention to participate in Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program. Because, almost unbelievably, fibromyalgia is a qualifying health condition. The process is kind of involved and the application fees are significant. They need $300, proof of residence, a passport-style photo, my fingerprints, probably a kidney. (Oh, and did I mention I’m sick and doing stuff is hard?) So I’ve reached out to a couple of different programs for help navigating the red tape.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Pets

Mizzy Loves Company

About, oh, a week or so ago, I asked Dan if he was cool with us being pet foster parents.

At least I like to think I asked for his input. I might have made him feel like he didn’t really have much choice in the matter, even if that wasn’t actually my intention.

Fortunately, he and I are on the same page when it comes to pets. We love animals, and he knows I am especially soft when it comes to senior dogs and cats. That’s the short version of how we came to be fosters for Hospice Hearts, and how we ended up welcoming Mizzy (pictured above) into our home.

Our cat wasn’t particularly enthusiastic that we let a thirteen-year-old rat terrier join our ranks. She smelled the newcomer suspiciously and hissed at her. Our dog, however, was adorably smitten with the tiny creature, guiding her around the house,  running to her aid at any sign of distress, and checking on her constantly.

***

Truth be told, until Tuesday when Mizzy arrived, I wouldn’t have described myself as a lap dog type of person. My experience with small breeds mostly involved shoelace chewing, nonstop frenetic play, and incessantly shrill yipping. But Mizzy, she was different. She was old. She was sweet. She was quiet.

Hospice Hearts didn’t have much information about her, either. All we really knew was that her owner had entered a nursing home and the owner’s family had surrendered her to a shelter. Mizzy was hard of hearing and mostly blind due to cataracts. She was missing several teeth, and—bless her tiny, punkin heart—had the breath of a dragon with gingivitis.

She was small and frightened. In an unfamiliar house with weird smells, the only way to keep Mizzy from shaking was to hold her and pet her. So that’s just what I did. We bonded in the first ten seconds. She sighed a tired puppy sigh, and fell asleep in my lap. She slept beside me in bed.

***

The first 24 hours went smoothly enough, but on the second night Mizzy had a seizure at 2 a.m. Then over the course of the next 12 hours, she had three more. We made arrangements to get her to the vet, and as we were about to place her in the pet carrier, she had another.

Yesterday evening, Mizzy crossed the rainbow bridge.

And. I. Lost. My. Shit.

Even Dan was surprised how hard I took the news. I mean, our goal in being fosters wasn’t to keep her, you know? We were working under the assumption that we would provide her with some TLC until she went to a new forever home. But when she needed more from me, I gave it. And she instantly went from being my house guest to being my sweet little Mizzy.

I cried so hard I couldn’t really talk. My face got snotty. And when I was so dehydrated I didn’t have any tears left, I started sucking in air with a quivery lip. Like a toddler in the throes of a tantrum.

***

“Are you sure you’re cut out for this fostering thing?” Dan asked me, concerned.

“Yes!” I answered, a little defensively. “That Mizzy died so soon after she entered foster care was just one of those things. It was unpredictable. It won’t end this way every time.”

“I know, it’s just hard to see you so shaken up.”

Even if I knew for certain that every foster would end so tragically, I’d still volunteer. Being sad isn’t the worst thing in the world by a long shot. But opening your home to a creature in need just might be the best thing in the world.


Hospice Hearts is an all-volunteer rescue based in Champaign-Urbana, serving senior cats and dogs whose owners are no longer able to care for them due to nursing home admission, serious illness, or death. Support Hospice hearts on GoFundMe.