I have always had a fascination with Tug Boats – they help other boats that are in need. “Tugs move vessels that either should not move by themselves…or those that cannot move by themselves…”
Cannabis is my tugboat. It is helping me navigate the challenges and rough waters of Multiple Sclerosis.
I am sitting in the family changing room in Target. I’m struggling to get the bra that I just tried on, off. It’s not a normal bra, not something that I recognize from my 30 plus years of having boobs. I’m not sure why I tried it on? I’m not sure what made me think that putting this contraption on my body was a good idea. I’m not even sure what the hell I am doing here. I hate shopping. I hate trying on clothes even more. But given the fact that I am down to just one bra that fits these days, I decided that this trip to Target was a necessity. Something that I would just have to suck up and get through.
But here is what I forgot. What I always seem to forget – in the large gaps of time between shopping excursions, since I avoid them like the plague. The reason why I hate shopping and trying things on is that the whole event is a guarantee that my MS symptoms will go into overdrive. Something about the process obviously doesn’t agree with this “fantastical” disease and like a petulant child prone to temper tantrums, it seems to act out during every shopping trip.
This visit is no different. I am sitting in the changing room, now topless, having managed to wrestle the stupid bra off my body. I have ceased my desperate search for a damn bra that actually fits and that I can get on, and off my body because my head has gone completely foggy and my vision has gone to shit. I am literally a mess!
I’m not panicked about any of this, because it is alarmingly familiar to me. It is what happens. It has simply become a part of my life and I have learned to push on and ignore it for the most part. But as I sit here, hoping sitting down will help, it does occur to me that I feel like I have just had 2 or 3 shots while visiting this lovely fitting room. It strikes me as funny – and more than a bit ironic that I constantly express that a big concern for me with using cannabis for my pain is that I don’t want it to mess with my mind, that I don’t want to feel “funny” or “high.” That I want to be clear headed.
Yet here I am, in middle of the day, in the changing room in Target, half naked and I feel pretty “funny.” It is certainly not “normal” – my mind is not clear. But it has nothing to do with the fact that I use cannabis daily – it’s actually been hours since I had a few small puffs. That is not what is messing with me. It’s not as if I stopped off at a bar on my way and had a couple of shots. I did absolutely nothing – and yet my mind is messed up. Thanks to the disease, it’s something that happens a lot. I have just learned to live with it.
Because it is so familiar to me, I know that there is nothing to be concerned about. I feel funny/weird and I am absolutely certain that the whole world, each and every person that I pass as I push my bright red cart towards the bank of registers knows that I am messed up. When in reality, no one else knows. I don’t act or behave any different. My speech is not affected and even my walking and balance are no worse than usual. No one knows, no one notices – because that is what this disease is all about – all the shit that no one else knows about because they can’t see it. They don’t know what is going on in my head, in my body. Apparently what they see from the outside must be fairly “normal” because no one ever suspects.
One of the things I love most about Shawn is his complete acceptance of what MS brings to our lives. I have started a running commentary about what I feel at any particular moment in time. Whether it be an MS hug, my vision going blurry, my mind feeling foggy, my feet always feeling cold, or not being able to feel my legs and feet, I share it with him. Not in a complaining/whining way, but in a “guess what it feels like now, or guess what “it” is doing now” kind of way.
His unwavering support and his innate ability to empathize with me has allowed me to acknowledge a lot more about my disease and how it affects me each and every day. I have always wanted to project myself as being “ok,” as a strong, resilient person that can deal with anything. But his simple words “holy shit, I can’t even imagine what that is like,” reminds me that it really is an amazingly annoying disease and that I need to give myself credit for what I manage to do each day, and to forgive myself for all the stuff I don’t manage to do.
I have written about my favorite “Pain Strains” and about the relief from the chronic pain I have found. But the other thing that cannabis has brought to my life, is a sense that I can actually have control over something on this crazy rollercoaster ride MS has me on. I have mentioned that as a result of the pain being less intrusive, I have been much more aware of the other MS symptoms that are always waiting to pop up and I have said that I would let you know if I find the cannabis helps with any of these issues.
What I have found, is that many of the strains that help with the pain also help with the muscle spasms and spasticity in my legs and feet. It most certainly helps with relaxing my muscles, which often feel as if they are just seconds away from a full-blown charlie horse. I have also found that it can help ease the pressure of an MS hug – again, the relaxing aspects of the cannabis are probably to credit for this. It has also helped a ton with my sleeping issues – as in I really don’t have any at the moment. My “Night strains” do a wonderful job of helping me get to sleep in a timely manner – and most importantly I am staying asleep. I still have to make my regular bathroom visits but I return to bed and drift back to sleep within moments of my head hitting the pillow. That right there is a huge difference. No more sitting awake for hours a night, panicking that I should be sleeping, and knowing that stressing out over it isn’t helping the situation. It’s a vicious cycle, one that cannabis has pushed through, allowing me much needed sleep. I am waking each morning feeling well rested and have noticed that the pain levels I start the day off with have dropped a bit.
So far I haven’t found any strains that help with the blurry vision and foggy brain and truthfully, I don’t know that I am overly optimistic about this one. Historically, the only thing that helps with these two symptoms is to cool my body down and rest. But the good news is that I haven’t found that cannabis makes either worse – it’s not like my mind gets any MORE messed up as a result of my regular puffs. If anything, it helps me see outside the fog – to realize and acknowledge how I am feeling, which I really haven’t done in the past. I’ve never really given it any thought – I just plow along and try to get through the shit that MS has decided to bring to the party.
“Cannabis has helped me in so many ways. Sometimes it pushes me….sometimes it has to pull me. It has allowed me to step away from the pain. It has allowed me to feel rested and ready to attack another day. It has allowed me to recognize many of the things that MS does to my body and my mind and it pushes me to move past all of that and continue on my journey of actually living my life once again.”
**This is my personal blog and all opinions are my own. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one here on my blog. The content here is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. Be sure to contact your doctor before trying any new medications/vitamins/supplements, physical activities or therapies **