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STEVE ELLIOTT

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By Jeremy Webb

One Day, Something Went Wrong

I woke up, let the dog out, and stood outside. The cool morning breeze gently blew against my face, brushing some of the night’s sleep from my mind. Nothing seemed strange about the day, yet, and watching my four legged friend run laps around my property made me smile. The kind of smile a person can only find from the innocence of a puppy, kitten or child. The kind of smile I like to start my day with. Finally, when all the outdoor festivities had run their course, we both made our way inside to conduct the rest of the morning’s routine.

As the day carried on, my smile slowly turned to confusion, then I was overtaken with horror. I don’t need to go into too many details, but my body had decided to send me a very clear message that morning; Something had gone horribly wrong with my health.

Important bodily functions weren’t working right. I should have completely woken up by then, but I still felt tired. I had no appetite; A strange thing for a guy that usually enjoys a couple bowls of oatmeal, and some fruit, with a full pot of coffee, to start the day.  My body was sore, and even bringing the trash outside took all the energy I had to give, before having to lay down again.

Panic, confusion, fear… Abruptly these were no longer just words to me. What had started as a normal morning was quickly turning into something I could have never planned for. I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of my own humanity, fragility. A victim to an unwelcome reminder of my own mortality. I was facing my darkest fears in the depths of my own ignorance and confusion, and I felt hopeless. What the hell was happening to me?

‘I Don’t Have Time For This’

Eventually, after a period of trying to “tough it out” and not improving, I made my way to a medical professional. I was too out of it to absorb any details of my visit. However, in my surreal state stuck between fear-induced-mental-collapse and some instinctual survival mechanism, I was able to retain the main facts I needed.

I was presented with a number of theories on what conditions could explain my symptoms, advised to get a number of tests, and additionally advised to go see specialists. The panic was mostly gone, the confusion was starting to fade into the shadows, and the fear was being replaced with some sudden unbridled rage.

Why was this happening to me? What had I done to deserve this? I did not have the damn time for this madness!

Then a calm suddenly overtook me. My rational mind was pacifying my primal emotions; “This happened because I’m a human, and stuff like this happens to humans all the time. I hadn’t done anything to deserve this, and more importantly I hadn’t been singled out by the universe. Medical problems, just like this, happen to people every day. That’s part of the joy, and horror, of being a part of the human race; We’re all in this crazy ride together and when the chips are down, we’re all knocked to the same level. A beast bent on survival,” I thought. I knew the important thing was to take control of the situation, before it  runs wild and free, and takes my life away with it.

I needed to get myself well, or at least functional with a clear head, as soon as possible. As I began researching the different theoretical issues I was facing, I began to notice a pattern; Many of these conditions could be treated, or mitigated, by the appropriate use of cannabis. Since I was already a medical marijuana patient, for other medical issues, I decided to utilize a ‘true’ hash oil treatment before getting an official diagnosis.

The Importance of Rick Simpson

The introduction of large quantities of cannabinoids to the system, as a medical treatment, has been most recently popularized by a man named Rick Simpson. In Rick Simpson’s public releases, one can learn that 60-80 grams of “Rick Simpson Oil,” ingested in as short a time span as possible (usually two to three months), is the recommended total course of treatment. 60 to 80 grams of this oil, done right, is roughly 54,000-72,000 mg cannabinoids total. So for safety, health, and dosage precision, I decided to only use lab-tested hash, avoiding any made with isopropyl alcohol [as opposed to grain alcohol — Editor] or naphtha.

I made the journey to one of the many medical marijuana access points in my town for my first doses of hash. I remember, in the past, thinking it was silly to have such an excess of these locations. I remember wondering “Now why in the hell would we ever need 15 access points in this town? These idiots are drawing too much attention to us with these storefronts flooding the market. Don’t they see that they’re the authors of their own demise at this point? And why? Why in the hell are they doing this? Just for convenience and to make money! Not that I’m against either, but this is not the intent of our medical laws!”

Holy shit, though, I am ashamed of that assessment now, because I could never have been more wrong!

Visiting An Access Point

By the time I had reached the access point, six blocks from my house, I was so uncomfortable and sick feeling that I couldn’t have driven another block if I tried. I checked in, and as I sat waiting, my mind began to wander. By this point my thoughts had made a full turn; I was thankful for how many access points I had available. I also caught myself pondering some new questions, and a new way of thinking about this whole thing. See, I’m a reasonably active young man, in his 20s, who’s used to over-exerting himself on most tasks. Yet, it was taking all of my energy to make this six-block drive, and sit in this lobby with medical problems.

“How the hell do politicians and city council members, in this state, expect someone’s sick grandma to make a 50-mile drive to a town that allows these storefronts?” I pondered, “Clearly that’s their expectation, or they wouldn’t be banning these access points in their towns. Something seems really wrong about that, when there are pharmacies every couple minutes going down the road. But Grandma could decide to grow her own, or circumvent the medical system and go to one of these ‘state run stores’ that are supposedly going to open here in Washington?” Then I realized “Wait, that won’t work either.”

“The only way to treat, or effectively mitigate, severe medical conditions with cannabis is through the appropriate use of concentrated cannabinoids. The state-run stores will not be providing concentrates, if they ever do open. So unless Grandma plans on researching the safety of different solvents and producing her own hash out of low grade state pot, or her own garden material, she has to have a medical access point in town,” I reasoned.

“When you’re sick, going out in public can take all your energy, so if our sick and elderly need an access point in their town, the right thing, the humanitarian thing to do, and the best option for any community, is to make sure they have a wide selection of options,” I thought. “Those options should also be as close to their home as possible. If it was your Grandma or Grandpa, you know that’s what you’d want for them….”

I was jolted from my mind’s wanderings by a young woman’s voice. “Mr. Webb, they’re ready to see you now.” It was my turn to go in the main room and choose from the medication available.

As I walked in the room I was met with a familiar sight: A glass counter full of different kinds of edibles, all infused with cannabis. I quickly glanced over everything, taking in the bright packaging and clever names for the cookies, brownies, the trail mixes, jerky, the sodas, gummy candy, the hard candies, and anything else you could imagine.

All very pretty,  all decent for pain management, and every last one a complete waste of time and money to me at that moment.

Concentrating On Concentrates

Before I could even start looking over the jars of cannabis lined up on shelves, against the wall in front of me, a young man behind the counter caught my wandering attention, “So what can I help you with today?”

“Well,” I said, “I’m having some really serious issues, and I’m primarily just interested in concentrates. What do you have available?”

“Depends,” he said, “are you looking for an indica or sativa?”

“I don’t care, it doesn’t matter, I just need cannabinoids,” I replied.

Mistaking my honest comment for something funny, or clever, the young man laughed as he directed me to the section with concentrates.

I found a lab tested hash oil that met all my qualifications, and inspected it a little. “How much for a gram of this?” I asked.

I really wish someone else had been watching me, because they would have had a good laugh, at the twisted look of disgusted horror I reflexively made when I heard the answer, “$80.”

“Holy crap!” I thought, “this treatment is going to cost me about $5,500 after all is said and done. I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore!”

Despite my disgust at the cost, and my new apprehension towards my plan, I still donated for a few grams of the oil, said my goodbyes, and made my way home.

I barely had walked in the door before I sat down at my computer. Immediately I started to investigate some comparable types of treatment to this hash oil regiment, and what they would cost. Cannabis was my first choice, but if it’s going to break the bank, standard Western medicine might, surprisingly, be the better option.

As I went through, I started to realize that $5,500 was cheap compared to the other treatment options available. “How disgusting,” I thought, as I wrote myself a quick note so I wouldn’t forget anything. “Chemo costs depend heavily on drug quality, and the overall treatment program, but the best medication can be as much as $30,000 for a treatment. The average cost is around $10,000 for treatment,” I crudely scribbled on some scrap paper. I guess hash only seemed expensive because I didn’t know any better. Now, with research, compared to the garbage from Big Pharma, it seemed pretty cheap in the long run.

But What About The Side Effects?

I looked at the hash I had donated for earlier, sitting next to my keyboard, and a new concern started to rattle around my mind. I had weighed the financial burden, but what about the acute side effects of cannabis? How was I supposed to run a small business, take care of animals, maintain a home, or function “right” in any way consuming copious amounts of hash oil every day?

It was a challenge I was willing to accept, but the fact it would be a challenge hadn’t dawned on me until that moment. There was no backing out now though; I’m stubborn and my mind was made up — I had already passed the point of no return once I’d gotten the hash. I knew enough about myself to accept that. All I could do now was hold on for the ride, remember life isn’t that serious, and laugh at anything ridiculous that happens. I would start the treatment the next morning.

At this point, I was already a regular medical cannabis smoker for pain and nausea mitigation. I knew, though, as I woke up and got ready for the day, this was going to be different. The first step was deciding how much I should take for my first dose. I have been told I have a “high tolerance,” being able to smoke up to a half-ounce or more a day for pain, and so I would need to adjust my dose to that. Three grams of dried buds, an amount I knew I could handle the effects from in one sitting, has roughly 450-600 mg of cannabinoids. Taking this into consideration, I decided to ingest a half-gram of the oil for my first dose, which would also have roughly 450 mg.

First I tried just putting a bit of hash on my tongue, and instantly regretted it. It seemed to permeate every nook and cranny of my mouth, and leave behind an intrusive taste of bitter burnt grass. “Nothing like starting out on the right foot” I thought, tongue in cheek, as I tried to get awful the taste out of my mouth with big gulps of orange juice.

Getting It Done and Getting It Down

“Well, self,” I thought. “We’ve got two options here. We can either figure out how to mix this in with some food, or we can figure out how to get it down quick, and just get it over with.” As I tried to make up my mind, I noticed a can of coconut milk. “Option two it is” I muttered to my dog, who’d come over, concerned at the scene I made when I put the hash on my tongue.

I set to work, slowly mixing the rest of my half-gram of hash in with about an ounce of the coconut milk, over low heat. The mixture was thick, and almost as unpleasant as eating the hash raw, but that was quickly fixed with a sip of juice. Overall, much more tolerable than before.

I walked over to my computer and started reading through emails for the day, seeing no reason to change my routine due to a bit of hash.

Up and Down

After about a half hour, I realized I had spent the last 10 minutes blankly looking at words on the screen without reading. I had been distracted by an album I’d listened to more times than I could count, rolling the lyrics around in my head like a long lost memory I was tenaciously clinging to. “Black and Blue/And who knows which is which and who is who/Up and Down/And in the end it’s only round and round and round.” The lyrics to Us and Them by Pink Floyd were taking on a new meaning for me, bringing some new bit of clarity, or maybe I was just really really starting to feel that oil.

I looked over from the computer monitor and saw my four-legged pal laying on my bed. Resting my eyes for a minute was suddenly sounding nice, and so I followed his cue.

Next thing I knew, I was waking up to a paw pressing on my leg and a whining sound. I knew what he needed, “Oh hell bud, do you really have to go to the bathroom right as I’m starting a nap?” I opened my eyes, and realized that my room was darker then it should be. “I think it’s stormy out bud, it’s dark, let me get a coat and shoes first.” My puppy gave me a look of disgruntled understanding as I got ready, and we went out.

“Sweet lord!” I exclaimed as I stepped outside, groggy and confused. I thought it was 10 am, but I was looking at a starry sky. I realized I had fallen victim to the most severe and dangerous side effect cannabis can cause in large doses, sleep. I had been asleep for at least 10 hours, if not longer.

After making our way back inside, I prepared myself another dose of hash in coconut milk. As much as I didn’t like being a vegetable or asleep all day, it sure beat not doing anything, and feeling like crap too, which was the alternative. After choking down my coconut half-gram hash milk, I started to prepare for the next day.

Time

I understood my first obstacle now, which was making sure some sort of schedule was still being adhered to, despite my illness and the side effects of treatment. There was no point in giving my body some of the tools it needed to heal itself, if I wasn’t also maintaining a healthy diet and moving around a bit.

I started setting alarms on my phone for the next day: One at 10 am for breakfast and my first dose of hash, one at 2 pm for lunch, one at 6 pm for dinner, and one at 8 pm for my second dose of hash. I figured when my alarm went off and I ate, it would give me the opportunity to tend to the animals, and any other duties that needed taken care of.

By the time I was done inputting the alarms into my phone, I was already tired again. With no urge to fight sleepy feelings at night, I retired back to bed for my second time that day.

I’m Hungry!

The next morning, when my alarm went off, I woke up to the same groggy head fog I’d felt the night before. It wasn’t a sick or dizzy feeling, it was nothing like a hangover. It felt more like I’d just woken up from a short nap, instead of a full night’s sleep. This was either a side effect of the hash oil, or a side effect of over sleeping, either way, I didn’t mind.

First order of the day was taking my next dose of hash oil, which I did with coconut milk again. The taste was already growing on me.

Then, I tried to struggle through the sleepy feeling, and do my morning routine. I noticed two things immediately: My hunger had returned ravenously, and I was really thirsty. I grabbed the biggest glass I could find, filled it up with water, drank it down and then filled it up again. “Now, how about this hunger?” I thought.

I started cooking oatmeal, preparing yogurt and fruit, cooking toast, cooking hash browns, cooking bacon, cooking eggs, and juicing fresh apples. It was excessive even for me, and I knew it, but the issue was I didn’t feel like anything in particular. In fact, with this sudden new and welcome appetite, I felt like eating everything that kitchen had to offer, and even logic wouldn’t stop me from trying.

The Oil Dance

I started eating some of the fruit and yogurt, as I stared at the hash browns and bacon frying on the stove top. I was almost hypnotized. The beads of oil jumping off the pan seemed to be gracefully playing with each other, as if they were taking part in some amazing dance I was only seeing parts of. The sizzling and popping sounds were making the music for the oil’s soiree “tsss pop pop tsss pop pop”. The whole thing seemed so beautiful.

“Wait, am I really staring at hash browns and bacon like some piece of art right now? That’s weird, this is weird, maybe this hash is kicking my ass. I should go put on music.” I suddenly thought to myself.

With my juice and yogurt in hand, I wandered into the living room and put on music. Next, I set to the task of building a fire in the fireplace, a fairly uneventful ordeal, even while I was out of my right mind. Finally, I sat down to let the feeling of the hash really take effect.

This was only my third dosage, but I was already starting to like it. It meant comfort, it meant seeing things differently. It meant getting to discover some of the beauty simple things, I otherwise overlooked in my hectic life, had to offer. I wasn’t fully functional yet, but I was comfortable, and I had a quality of life that was happy and bearable, instead of the living hell I’d been enduring.

What’s That Smell?

I sat there, basking in the comfort of feeling somewhat normal, when I started to hear my dog whimper. “Strange,” I thought. “That’s a different kind of whimper than he usually makes; wonder what’s wrong.” Almost the moment my brain finished that thought, I started to smell the smoke. “OH SHIT!” I yelled as I jumped up, and ran to the kitchen, to see if I could salvage the bacon, eggs, hash browns, and oatmeal I had forgotten about.

I was too late; everything was ruined. I guess I had learned about cannabis’s second biggest side effect, acute memory issues, the hard way. “Thanks for letting me know bud,” I said to my puppy friend. “At least I got some fruit and yogurt, right boy?” There was nothing I could do but laugh at myself, this was ridiculous.

The next week blurred together into some groggy, music-filled, personal time between me and my bed. If it wasn’t for those alarms I had going, I probably would have slept the whole time away. There were some rules that I had established for myself that helped me through this period though.

The first rule was to always follow the schedule my alarms were making. A couple times I almost went back to bed right away, I was feeling so tired, but in the long run the consequences of not giving my body regular sustenance would be detrimental to my recovery.

The second rule was pretty simple: If I started anything I had to finish it. No wandering away and leaving lights on, or letting the bathtub overflow, and definitely no burning another meal. If I kept things right in front of me, it became almost impossible to forget about them.

The third rule was to write anything I needed to remember down. This rule was less helpful then the other two though, as I’d often forget I’d written something down and not follow through. Worse yet, sometimes I’d completely forget where that note had been left, but know I’d written one. Then I would be haunted by a, I know I was supposed to do something, worried feeling. Finally I fined-tuned this rule, and started pinning all the notes above the most commonly used light switch in my house, which helped a lot.

Coming Back To Life

Eventually, the persistent and overwhelming sense of sleep, that was turning me into a modern-day Rip Van Winkle, had mostly subsided. I was getting into the groove of things with the hash, and I was quickly adapting to my new mental playground. Many of the more noticeable side effects were dying away as my sense of alertness returned.

Then I hit an inevitable road block: I was out of food in the house. Ready or not, it was my time to venture out into that great diverse wasteland. That place of used-car salesmen, lawyers and politicians. That place where satisfaction and happiness are bought by the lowest bidder, broken into pieces, sent to offshore factories to be repackaged, then shipped back and sold at the highest rates to anyone willing to pay for it. That vast, fluorescent-lit desert of concrete, stretching as far as the eye can see. In other words I would be “going out in public.”

Once I had arrived at the store, I knew this wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected. I felt like everyone was looking at me, and knew I was stoned. Not that I was too worried about them judging me, but thinking every passerby is staring at you can get unnerving pretty quick. I found myself only looking for items in an aisle if I was alone there, and when someone would come to the area, I would get uneasy and leave. I was tangling with the third major acute side effect of cannabis, paranoia. It took about 20 minutes of me trying to find lonely aisles, before I realized what was going on.

I started to rationalize with myself, “You narcissist, these people aren’t looking at you. These people are thinking about dinner, or lunch, feeding themselves, or feeding their families. They’re thinking about their mortgage or rent payments, or what they have to do at work the next day. They’re thinking about whether they need to put gas in the car, their parents’ health, or if their lover is cheating on them. They’re thinking about school assignments, or what that new rash on their thigh might be. They’re thinking a million things, and time for the reality check, none of those things are you. Put on a smile, put that chin up, and don’t be afraid to look these dirty swine right in the eye. If they are actually wasting time thinking about you, just leave them wondering why you’re so much happier than they are.”

It worked like a charm. I started grabbing ingredients I'd never used before. [California Girl In Norway]
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It worked like a charm. I started grabbing ingredients for meals I’d never made before.
[California Girl In Norway]

Learning To Fly

It worked like a charm: I’d overcome my paranoia, and grocery shopping was taking on a new life now. The hash was inspiring a creative spirit in me. I started grabbing ingredients for meals I’d never made before, and started planning out meals no one had ever tried to make. I was also grabbing ingredients I had always been afraid to work with in the past.

Maybe it was the dancing oil from a few days before, but I was excited to explore these new things, instead of apprehensive to how they may turn out.  It seemed like even the simplest thing may take on a new life at any moment for me, like there was a great mysterious beauty, and order, to the way the world works, and I was just starting to see the surface of it.

I paid for my goods and made my way home. Maybe I was already much more functional than I was giving myself credit for. Maybe I was already accustom enough to the hash to get back to regular life, just with a slightly evolved perception of the world. Maybe now, the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was just getting back to it, and doing it all.

Please Learn From My Mistakes

So I leave you with these final thoughts. If you ever find yourself needing to do a hash treatment, please learn from my mistakes so you can transition into treatment easier than I did.

Please know that cannabis is the cheaper option, no matter what it seems like when you’re standing in an access point. Please know that everyone has a different tolerance, so some people will need to build up from a lower dosage, and some people will take longer than a week to get to the point of being completely functional while eating a gram a day, but everyone eventually gets used to it.

Also know that if you’re faced with serious medical issues, you’re not alone, no matter what you may be feeling in that moment. Someone, if not many people, out there relate to exactly how you’re feeling, and want nothing more than for you to get better. Not because they know you, not because they expect anything from you, simply because all seven billion of us are stuck riding this crazy spinning planet together, and isn’t that enough reason to care?

 

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