Friday, March 22, 2019

My Introduction to CBD Oil and Vaping: Part TWO

Greetings, Internet friends and neighbors, and family members of various subsets!

This is PART TWO of My Introduction to CBD Oil and Vaping. If you haven't read Part One, then I recommend you do so now.
Also, I said in Part One that I would post this 'tomorrow,' and I actually had almost all of it written, BUT I realized I needed to expand and extend the transition, and then...I don't know. Life.

So, at the end of Part One, I said that in early 2013 a (relatively) new pain treatment gave me another chance at life. That treatment, the Butrans patch, managed my chronic pain from the auto-immune condition I have called ankylosing spondylitis. It does so without goofing my head, putting me to sleep, causing constipation, and it's administered through a weekly patch I stick on my arm. It's a much, MUCH smaller dose of medication; it's so small, that it has NEVER shown up on  ANY of the drug screens I've taken over the last six years.

Most of you will just accept my word for it: the patch works for me. If you need some data to back that up, I've got the citations and the computations, and I can send them to you. Just make the request in the comments.

Now, the Butrans patch ONLY replaced the 120 mg dose of long-acting morphine. For breakthrough pain, I WAS being prescribed (3) 15 mg tablets of morphine per day; but since I was refusing morphine, they gave me (initially) a scrip for (4) 10 mg hydrocodone + 325 acetaminophen per day, later decreased at my request to 3/day. So, for the past six years, almost every day, I have taken 30 mg of hydrocodone and 975 mg of acetaminophen. 

I looked for other options, but they just didn't exist for me. A couple of years ago, I started walking regularly, and I've lost about fifty pounds, and that helped A LOT. It's a two-edged sword, though; sometimes the exercise triggers a pain event, and I'm shut down, possibly for days. I know walking in a swimming pool would help, but for some reason/reasons, none of which are money, I just can't seem to make that happen. 

I keep my eyes and ears open for drug trials, but nothing has come up that fits. I even tried acupuncture, just because, and experienced no benefit. I've had spinal injections, and radio-frequency treatments (that's where they burn off a nerve), and I get no lasting improvement.

And I just kept on truckin.' 

Until about six weeks ago, when I began to experience  VERY different pain than I am accustomed to; it came in the form of sharp, piercing pain in the back, striking in different locations. Ice-picks. EXCEEDINGLY localized. Not related to any injury or event I could recall.

 I used lidocaine in an ointment or a patch, sucked it up, and waited it out, while trying to carry on life as well as possible. The pain frequently is in an area I can't reach, so I taught my kids and grandkids to paint Papa's back with the big fat pen. Three-year-old grandson Eliott LOVES painting Papa's back!

It wasn't going away, so I finally sought help, from my pain clinic, and I made my first appointment with a chiropractor in 12 years.

I was flabbergasted when two different health professionals, from OPPOSITE ends of the spectrum in terms of philosophies and practices, suggested that I might want to try something called CBD oil for some of the breakthrough pain I was experiencing. 

I had been prepped, a very little bit, for the recommendation. An artist friend asked me if I would do some copy for some websites he is developing for a hemp farm, which was just recently given federal and state approval. In researching it, I discovered that not all of those plants are the same; there are some that produce THC, which is the chemical that gets you high when you smoke pot, and there are others that produce little or no THC. Those latter are the plants receiving approval now, and the fibers are used in making rope, clothing, and paper; and from the other parts of the plant, they extract this substance referred to as CBD oil.

Now, CBD oil has been legal to own and use in Georgia for a bit; however, they forgot that to own it and use it, it needs to be produced. So, this year, the legislature is fixing the law so that you can manufacture, sell, and transport it. THIS IS NOT POT! This is an extract that has less than 0.3% THC in it; you could smoke a ton of it, and not get a buzz. And the oil has been demonstrated to be of great benefit to patients with a seizure disorder, and anecdotal data shows it's good for....everything.

Please note: any time I hear that a substance is good for everything, I immediately think it's not good for anything. That's true, whether we are talking about soap, tools, or plant extract. If you over-promote it, then I'm sitting on the Skeptic Couch; extravagant claims require extravagant proof.

And that proof simply is NOT available. Why, you ask? Well, that's an excellent question. And the answer is based on all of the run-off from The War on Drugs. The War on Drugs says pot is evil, it will hook you, it supports terrorism, it has no medical use; and because the DEA classifies it as a Schedule I drug, it's (practically) impossible to do any research on it. Schedule I drugs, including heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. And up to VERY recently, that was the final word.

No longer. The non-THC CBD oil has been gradually introduced, and ANECDOTAL evidence supports certain health benefits. However, the oil has NOT been accepted as a food supplement by the FDA, and it's CERTAINLY not a medicine, so the companies that produce it are not making any claims.  The claims seem to come by word of mouth, whether technologically boosted or not.

And last week, the medical professional at the pain clinic told me that it HAD been effective for a LOT of people, and there was no research to support that, because the government won't authorize it; and that I would just have to find a combination of method and amount that gave me results. She told me that vaping got the medication in my system quickest, but that using the sublingual tincture had a longer lasting impact. She warned me not to go cheap, and assured me that this would NOT cause me to fail the drug screens performed on me randomly. And I had to get her to repeat all that, because I was stunned the first time through, and I needed to take notes.

The next day, I had an appointment with a chiropractor, the first time I'd seen one in at least 12 years. Before 2007,  I went regularly, the combination of adjustments and massage gave me great relief from back pain. However, in 2007, things collapsed for me, and I stopped going. 

This chiropractor, a dear, sweet kindly grandmother-type, with SUPER-POWER strength in her hands, ALSO recommended I try CBD oil for pain. And then, she patted my shoulder and spoke kindly to me when I burst into tears. She heard me out, and gave me the EMOTIONAL assurances I needed to try this.

You see, I had one minor and two major concerns about the use of the oil. 

The minor concern had to do with the legality of the treatment. In Georgia, that's a strange situation at the moment, because it IS legal to have and use CBD; it's not currently legal to sell it, produce it, or transport it. A bill to legalize the entire process passed the Georgia House earlier this month and is now in the Senate committee. 

Major concern #1: I have 31+ years sober, and I fought a pretty good fight to get here.  I don't want to do ANYTHING that would jeopardize my sobriety.

Major concern #2: Back when I was an idiot, in the late 1960's into the 1970's, I DID try to smoke pot, and it was not a good experience for me.  It made me psychotic and paranoid, and the effects lasted LONG after any intoxication wore off. I don't want to do ANYTHING that would jeopardize my sanity.

What else might happen? I've also experienced some degree of social stigma in the past, because there are those who reject the idea that, as an alcoholic,  I use narcotics for pain management. (I used to be one of those, before MY pain became an issue.)
I also know that there are those who don't like my hair, my beard, my interracial family, my motorcycle, my accumulation of sharp pointy things and boomsticks, and the fact that I have two cats and no dogs. I'm not worried about that; meepers gotta meep. 

But I based my decision on GOOD information from the two medical professionals who suggested this might work for me, and I did my homework. I talked to people face-to-face, and did a LOT of reading and google-fu. And I talked to a pharmacist. What I found reassured me.

Straight CBD oil has no THC; it will not get me high, and it will not trigger a drug screen. It's very fast-acting, if you vape it; if you drop the oil under the tongue, it acts slower, but lasts longer.

So, with fear and trembling, I entered the store, and made the purchase.

NOTE: There ARE 'blended' oils available that have some measurable amount of THC in them. Some patients have found that a higher amount of THC makes the sought effect of the CBD more likely. These blended oils are also permitted in Georgia, but there is a "Low THC Permit" issued by the Department of Health for the user to be protected from criminal prosecution.
So, what am I using? This: 
The white part is the battery. The yellow fluid is the CBD oil.

And what has been the result? Well, if you remember, I am prescribed (3) pain pills per day for break-through pain. Each contains 10 mg hydrocodone and 325 mg acetaminophen tablets. Here's how the week has gone since Sunday:

Yup. What you are seeing is the number of pills I had LEFT OVER at the end of the day.  On Sunday, 1.5 pills; on Monday, all three; on Tuesday, two pills; On Wednesday, all three; on Thursday, two pills. At as of lunch time on Friday, I've had to take: nothing. Since Sunday, I've taken 3.5 pills; in the past, I would have taken at least 16, depending on how today was going.

I CANNOT give you a definitive statement that vaping the CBD oil has resulted in lower pain. For one thing, that precious, PRECIOUS kindly grandmother-type chiropractor popped my back and neck a couple of times; it was so loud, YOU probably heard it. For ANOTHER thing, I WANT it to work. This MIGHT be a placebo. 
You may notice that I'm not including a picture of Dr, Kim Vaccaro. That's because the only picture on her website has her holding what I assume to be a grandchild, and the smile on her face is so huge that it lights up the picture. So far, I have been able to satisfy my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, that this woman who is putting her hands on my body is a sweet, gentle, kindly grandmother type. The website picture would get me in hot water. Look it up yourself if you want to, but I'M not providing a direct link! 

It might be a real effect, and it might not. You know what? I don't care. Pain is all perception, anyway, and so if I THINK it's working, then that's a win. 

I'm gonna close here. There is SO much more to say, and what I REALLY want to say to all those other chronic pain sufferers out there: Let's all go to Washington, and camp out in our congressional delegations' offices, and ask them nicely to please let the government test this stuff. It MIGHT set some of us free!

Peace be on your household.


  1. An older version of cannabis oil has been legal and prescribed for decades. CBD is the new hotness.

    1. Real McChuck, I don't know much about this. I DO know that the current hotness lit cites hemp oil as something that exists, but claims it isn't carrying anything that is of benefit. Of course, without any peer-reviewed study, it's all little boys in the playground, boasting about who has the strongest daddy (metaphorically speaking).
      Is the older version something I should know about? Where can I look?

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