Dr. Oz’s Show on Medical Marijuana

Hey everybody!

My momma let me know that Dr. Oz did a show the other day on medical marijuana, and she was all excited because with me having MS & seizure disorder (and currently dealing with PTSD, though it’s starting to get much better!), it’s been a 180 in my family’s ethics going from a hardcore straight-edge no-drugs stance to being happy with the effects of medicinal cannabis, which has greatly improved the quality of my life. (One of the benefits of livin in CA!)

I believe that the decriminalization of medical marijuana is not only important but necessary to help thousands of people who share similar pains to me. Some of you might be interested in seeing the clips from the show too, so I tried to put them in the order of the show for you.

Medical Marijuana: The Hot Debate, Pt 1.

Medical Marijuana: The Hot Debate, Pt 2.
Montel makes the best points ever about how medical MJ helps and the current hypocrisy in federal law.)

Medical Marijuana and MS: One Woman’s Story,Pt 1.

Medical Marijuana and MS: One Woman’s Story,Pt 2.
My theory is that the bald guy with the glasses is totally unaware that he is the epitome of what a TV pinhead is supposed to be. Real asshole or paid asshole? You tell me. 🙂

Marijuana: Why It’s Prescribed, Pt 1.

Marijuana: Why It’s Prescribed, Pt 2.
This video actually has an epilepsy patient in it!

My seizure disorder is very similar to epilepsy and reacts very much like it. The only major difference between my seizure disorder and epilepsy is that it is not considered epilepsy because the electric activity of my seizures lines up directly with the footprint of the lesions in my brain that were caused by my MS. This is why the Ketogenic Diet (which was developed by my neurologist) won’t work for me, and why many of the usual medications that help folks with epilepsy tend to not work for me. Fortunately medical marijuana does! 🙂

Medical Marijuana: Is It Safe? Pt 1.

Medical Marijuana: Is It Safe? Pt 2.

Medical Marijuana: What This Means to Your State

Also, I thought folks might be interested in what states currently allow medical marijuana and what the laws are, so here is the NORML page that keeps current on all of that.

I hope y’all enjoy! Happy Saturday!

The Rules.

Oh rules. They’re always there in life. Whether you play by your own rules, are religious and follow the rules of your chosen path, or are referring to the laws of the land in which you live, all of our lives are bound by rules.

So some of you might be thinking, “Hey, I’m reading this because I clicked a link on Facebook, which means you posted to Facebook — doesn’t that mean that you’re breaking the rules and are not on a break from social media, Rae?” Well, yes and no, but mostly no, since I’m writing this, and am not reading it. The whole point of the break from social media is to help control my PTSD, and writing about life and dealing with PTSD, MS, and epilepsy is not likely to exacerbate it, in fact, it’s one of the most therapeutic things I do, and it’s a wonderful step toward having a better life! Not writing would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I’ve been thinking a lot about rules lately. Rules are different in different religions about what you should and shouldn’t do to be happy. The laws in different religions are enforced differently too based on whether or not that particular religion believes in an afterlife.

Me, I don’t believe in an afterlife in the traditional way that likes to get played up in American pop culture… some mix of various Christian Protestant dogmas and the finer works of Dante, Milton, and whoever else felt like playing around with hell. Kevin Smith had a good time with Dogma, and writers Tara Butters & Michelle Fazekas did a pretty good job recently with Reaper. Too bad it ended in Season 2 just as it was starting to get its own feel.

But hey, what are you gonna do? You can’t expect the world to want new mythology all of the sudden. Especially not in comedy form. And especially not when they do what they did in Reaper, where humans are dating shape-shifting demons who regularly refer to themselves as fallen angels, a guardian angel is *gasp* gay and is believed by the lady he’s protecting to be her “fairies.” (Such an awesomely inappropriate joke!) That’s really asking an awful lot of your average viewing audience. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I enjoyed the heck out of it both for its entertainment value and on an artistic level. It showed guts that networks bigger than the CW wouldn’t have had.

The thing is, the show’s primary arch – the plot device that drives the whole series – from beginning to end was “How does our hero get out of being owned by the Devil?” or put in a more universally felt way – “How do you use the rules by which we are bound to escape the pain we are currently experiencing?”

And really, that’s what life is all about, I think – figuring out different ways that we can use our bodies, minds, and hearts within the parameters of the rules by which we are bound to experience joy and to improve the world around us for ourselves and for others, so that we all may live in less pain and with more happiness.

I believe that as adults, we mostly choose the rules by which we are bound.

We choose where to live and thus choose the laws to which we submit ourselves. As adults, we choose our religion or lack thereof. We choose the friends we surround ourselves with and the family members that we communicate with, though I am of the opinion that you should always communicate with your family, even if they’re dicks. (Hey, assholes need love too. They’re usually jerks because they didn’t get the love they needed at a crucial time!)

But the thing that sucks about choosing your own rules and being an adult is that it comes with a built in bullshit detector – meaning you know when you let yourself down. Sure G-d is watching you, but so are you! And I don’t know about you, but I have always been my worst critic and strictest rule enforcer… which has often lead back to suicidal thinking. Clearly, I need to learn how to lighten up on myself. Still haven’t figured out the “how” on that one. If anyone has helpful suggestions, I am all ears.

But anyway, back to that whole afterlife thing. If you think about it, there is only one of you in all of time and space. One genetic specimen with the exact environmental experiences that you have had. And therefore, I believe that both Heaven and Hell exist here on Earth during life and that any “afterlife” means literally after life.

For example: I can tell you from experience that having electrodes glued to your scalp for a week while they take EEGs of your seizure activity is Hell.

After I’m dead, and there’s no more me, after all of life is said and done and the whole of the universe has gone kaput, I would still have spent that week in hell in July of 2008. For all eternity, that will be true.

I think that’s what the bible was trying to say about an afterlife to begin with. Just that when you die, you’re done. So choose to not do things during life that will bring you pain. If you look at the list of sins in any religion, it’s all stuff that would bring you pain or death when they were made sins.

Basically, what every religion says to me is the same thing: that the creator does not want you to make choices that cause you pain, because this life is all you’ve got. What you do to change the world in a positive way and the memories you make with each other are the legacy you leave behind – and that is your true afterlife, the presence that will be felt of you long after you are gone. No more, no less.

The rest of it, I think just comforts people or scares them in line. But that’s just my take.

A Hard Look at Intellectual Honesty

One of the things I have been lead to believe in life is that everything happens for a reason, both good and bad. Everything makes you who you are. It is because of the life I have lead that I am not afraid to stand up and say that something very wrong is happening in our country.

We are currently fighting a war against fascism.

This is what fascism looks like.

The video is of what’s actually happening in WI. A Democratic Representative – a lawmaker – was treated like a criminal by police for trying to enter the statehouse to get his own clothes. This is what Walker is doing. You are looking at a video of a police officer, under the power of an official who was elected because of a corporation’s money being funneled into his campaign, brutalizing a lawmaker.

When corporate interests are running the government as though it is their puppet, and the police are being used to enforce the government’s will, that is fascism. Here, in video evidence can you all can see a democratic lawmaker being unfairly treated by a police officer who is doing the will of a governor who was placed in power by the unfair influence of a corporation. This is, undeniably, fascism.

Normally, I would keep my mouth shut, but I cannot do it. Because I am a Jew. And my family had too many family members die in the Holocaust. And I cannot and will not forget the Holocaust or how it happened.

And I was raised in Memphis freakin Tennessee, home of racist shame, and I LOVE Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and deeply believe in his dream, because I have lived in the same room during college with a black woman who will always be my soul sister, and know these bastards stand against everything he believed in.

But more than that, I’m not afraid to stand up and say something, because I am in therapy for PTSD from a long-term relationship where I was abused, and my family has questioned me numerous times as to why I stayed and why I didn’t tell them. So I’m speaking up before it’s too late for all of us.

People do nothing when they are afraid.

Hell, we like to repress things! It makes life easier. That’s what the majority of folks in this country are doing, repressing that anything’s going on. Even when we have the Mother Jones article telling us straight up that as a country we are in denial about how much money we have, but we’ve got the Wall Street Journal letting us know that the politicians are in denial about how much we care about our relatives.

Calling Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Welfare entitlement programs instead of social insurance programs, is spin doctoring.

It suggests that the sick, the elderly, and the absolutely impoverished ought to not be entitled to any protections from society at all. Even if they were war veterans.

And that’s what’s happening right now. People all around us are dying. And the Super Rich, they’re living it up, while letting the underclass blame it on the “entitled”.

There’s my friend who is living with HIV who owes $1800 in federal taxes after bringing home $24,000 in unemployment to the Government who is living in a recovery-from-homelessness shelter (great new name for homeless shelter!) for 2 and a half months who has a bachelor of arts from UCLA. He’s been unemployed since June of 2009. He just got his notary public license and is kicking butt and taking names in trying to claw his way back to a regular life. He deserves a home like everyone else. A bedroom where he doesn’t have to listen to other people’s bullshit.

There’s me: not only college educated, but having a juris doctor – hit with MS, epilepsy, and PTSD – and the government expects that I’ll somehow live off of $600 after Medicare is taken out of my $758 that they awarded me — and I’m a LUCKY disabled girl.

Most people who are disabled don’t even get to suckle at the government teat. Check out the National Acadamy of Social Insurance – an independent organization from the government.

2010 was a very significant year for people who were very rich. It didn’t seem like it for the rest of us.

2010 was the year of the moritorium on the death tax. It was a good year to die.

2010 was also the year that they made it look, on purpose, like Social security was fucking up, when it really wasn’t.

and then there was this: The worst Supreme Court decision in American history.

When you allow corporations to have the same natural rights as actual *real* people, you give unlimited access to your courts and government to the governments and businesses and citizens of every other society on the planet.

The Supreme Court created the Fascist States of America in that decision, and we MUST find a way to fix this.

To be good, you must be honest. Corporations are not people. They should not have “certain inalienable rights.” Governor Walker is no Republican. He is a fascist acting as a dictator, and our democracy is in jeopardy in America.

Aiding Others in Empathy: A Look Into The Suicidal Mindset.

One of the goals I have always had in journaling my experience, here at In It For The Parking, is to help others better understand what life is like for someone with my conditions, because I believe that empathy allows us to better communicate and connect with one another as human beings.

This is especially true when I write about suicide, because I have fought against suicidal ideation for years.

Recently, Scientific American came out with an article that I think came very close to describing the truth of the suicidal mindset, but that missed a crucial component – A #7: Stop caring about the people who you’d leave behind.

To summarize their article, ‎here is “How to Commit Suicide in 6 Easy Steps”

  1. Fall short of standards
  2. Blame yourself
  3. Don’t forgive yourself, and be acutely aware of what a fuck up you are at every moment of every day.
  4. Begin to believe that you ought to die – either because you should be executed for whatever real or imagined sin has occurred or because it is the only way to end your pain,
  5. Stop worrying about the future, because you’ve decided there won’t be any, and
  6. Overcome your fear of painful death.

You might wonder how I can say that I have overcome 1-6, but trust me, I have.

Anyone who has a chronic illness that has incapacitated them to the point of being forced to apply for Social Security Disability has been forced to fill out paperwork describing in detail how they have fallen short of standards set for them by society. A truly soul-crushing exercise, to say the least.

Anyone who has MS knows what it is to question whether or not it is your fault whether or not you have the disease. When medical science cannot tell you why you have a disease, why wouldn’t it be your fault? And with the mounting evidence about the gut-brain connection, I wonder sometimes if I haven’t caused it with my dietary choices. I couldn’t have known… but that doesn’t matter in moments when I’m suicidal over the pain I feel from it sometimes. And who wants a future filled with ridiculous pain anyway?

And then there’s the real reason why I have been suicidal for years – the miscarriage I never told anyone about in 2000… and my fear of judgment and punishment if I asked anyone at all for help. How “It’s your word vs. mine.” and a few well placed punches convinced me to never say a word to anyone.

But #7 matters. Because you can endure terrible pain when you care about people. Pain comes and goes. It’s kind of ridiculous the kind of disgusting and humiliating and awful things that you can simply get past and go through in life in the name of love, if you’re not willing to let that part of who you are break. Your love of those other people will get you through because there’s so much more wonderful stuff out there in life than the awfulness that the suicidal badness shows you.

There’s only one you. In all of time and space and for all eternity. So you suck it up, and you bear the pain and the shame, because those people fucking matter to you, and you won’t let yourself believe any of it anyway, so you tuck it all away. You repress it. You make it “disappear” because it already is done, and you should never have to think of it again… until 11 years later you get PTSD and get to relive it in flashbacks…

And then your brother tells you that you’re *choosing* to be disabled. *sardonic smirk* Maybe this will help him understand. No one chooses to be a victim.

Lack of Nortriptyline and Red Tape Relapses, Courtesy of Anthem Blue Cross

I don’t think, prior to this past 5 day fiesta, I realized just how powerful and important nortriptyline is in my life.

I take nortriptyline for its ability to block neuropathic pain. Without it, I hurt all over. Well, not ALL over, but my legs hurt like holy hell, especially near the hip joints and knees and my forearms and my back hurt too. It’s kind of a seething, constant pain that sucks my will to live because it hurts so bad it overtakes my conscious thoughts. It stops me from moving, and it stops me from restful sleep. Without restful sleep, I have *tons* more seizures – the epileptic kind, not the kind that we’re able to affect and get rid of thanks to EMDR.

Fortunately, 20 mg of nortriptyline a night takes care of it. It also happens to be a tricyclic antidepressant, which gives me the added benefit of helping me cope with, well, all of the fun and frolic that is life with MS, seizure disorder, and now PTSD. (I think I forgot to write about that in the blog. I’ve been meaning to write a good entry about EMDR and PTSD and about how some of my seizures are actually flashbacks due to repressed memories of abuse…)

Anyway, I ran out of my nortriptyline prescription on Friday of last week, and we called it in to the pharmacy. They said they would contact the doctor. Standard, right? It would be, if Pasadena Rehabilitation Center had refilled the medication. But the doctor wouldn’t refill it because we haven’t been in for a visit this month. Not at all standard for us. Sudden withdrawal symptoms for this medication include headache, nausea, and weakness. That is, of course, unless you’re a Rae. Then it also includes “zomg-so-much-fucking-pain!!!”, sleepless nights, and lots of seizures.

This begs 2 questions in my mind. 1.) Why wouldn’t Anthem Blue Cross allow me to go back to Pasadena Rehabilitation Center for my monthly visit? I already have a $178 bill sitting at home where Anthem just didn’t pay for the visit because they said they didn’t approve that visit. 2.) Why wouldn’t Pasadena Rehabilitation Center refill my nortriptyline?

Fast forward to TUESDAY because on Monday, no one would return my calls, not even my primary care physician. Adam, my husband-turned-champion calls all the doctors. By Tuesday, I was in so much pain I couldn’t even think straight. He came to find out that it all comes down to money and protecting people. Pasadena Rehabilitation Center has a policy of only prescribing enough pills for one month because for many of their patients they have to give them opiates for their pain. But there’s no street value for nortriptyline. Thus, there’s no reason for them denying me my medication aside from the fact that they want more money from us.

So the only question left is why wouldn’t Anthem Blue Cross allow me to go back to my Pain Management Specialist. And I think that one’s pretty obvious. Anthem’s in the business of denying benefits and accepting premiums.

This means that while I give them $788 every two months for my care (And yes, you are remembering right that the government only provides me with $758 every month, thirty dollars LESS than that for those of you who are slow with mental math, they denied me access to my pain management specialist, and thus my pain medication, causing immense pain, seizures, nausea, sleeplessness, headaches (a really intense one that caused me to miss a good party to boot!), weakness, and an inability to go do things, for no reason other than that they wanted to make more money. My premium, which is more than half of the money I have to live off per month is not enough.

I still don’t receive Medicare benefits until March.

So how am I able to feel well enough to type today? Adam called the on-call doctor for Pasadena Rehab after-hours (That brilliant man of mine!), explained this whole situation, and that doctor, understanding the situation in its fullness, took pity on me and gave me 1 week’s worth of it, enough time to get the situation sorted.

Thankfully, we’ve gotten my psychiatrist, Dr. El, to agree to prescribe the nortriptyline from now on. Now to find someone to prescribe the baclofen. Maybe Dr. G., my MS neurologist, will feel comfortable with that one.