Old Dog, New Tricks, Holy Smokes.


Before I begin this post, let me assure you that marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. Entirely legal. Got it? Nonni here ain’t heading for the slammer. Not anytime soon, anyway.

So here’s the story.

It all started a couple of years ago. My adult sons were home for Christmas. I had been telling them (as in, complaining and moaning non-stop) about my various aches and pains and terrible insomnia. “I haven’t slept in weeks,” I groaned. The kids knew I had tried everything from SleepyTime Tea to Ambien in search of decent sleep.

Because they love me, and because they no doubt wanted to shut me up, the boys made a suggestion. “Mom,” they said, “Come smoke a bowl of weed with us.”

I knew that my kids smoked marijuana, but I had been adamant that it not be done in the house. I didn’t like it, even when it stopped being a crime. It just made me uncomfortable.

I mean, I had tried a joint or two back in the day, but it just made me giggly and stupid. I preferred a couple of glasses of wine. And the stuff available now was nothing like what we used to have. It had none of the alluring Indian incense smell that I remembered from the 70s. This stuff was more reminiscent of an angry skunk. I wanted to no part of it in my house.

But I was desperate, I tell ya, just desperate. After hosting various holiday crowds, I found myself in the middle of a fibromyalgia flare and every inch of me hurt except my hair.

So I gave it a try. Two puffs on the boy’s magic peace pipe, and off I went to bed. I remember reading under the covers and thinking “This stuff is useless. I don’t feel a thing.” I closed my book and turned on my side.

The next thing I knew, the sun was in my eyes.

It was like a freakin’ miracle.

I had become a convert.

For a while I smoked marijuana to help me sleep, but I didn’t like the taste or the burning in my throat. Sometimes it gave me asthma. I moved on to using a vape device, but didn’t love that, either.

Finally, through the incredible generosity of some friends, I found the delight of cannabis butter. Mmm-mmm good!

Weed butter. This miracle cure is a simple concoction of marijuana and real butter. Every night now, I put a tiny bit into hot water, mix in a little turmeric and cinnamon, sip it and drift off to peaceful sleep. The aches and pains subside. I wake up feeling rested.

This old dog has learned a whole new trick!!!

Here’s where it gets dicey, though.

Nonni doesn’t exactly have a lot of contacts in the world of weed. I don’t want to depend on the generosity of friends who are too kind to charge me for my medicine.

(Plus, those friends are away for the winter, so…….)

I asked my boys to get me some weed for Christmas. They did! In fact, they gave me enough to last me probably two years (people their age go through it quite a bit faster than I do….). I took a little bit and made my fist batch of butter.

Oh, boy! I was excited! I carefully followed the recipe that I found on-line, after reading all about the process. I even took notes.

Everything was fine as the butter and weed simmered on the stove. The house smelled more like a bakery than a skunk den, so I figure it was fine.

Until the unmistakeable smell of burning popcorn seeped into my consciousness and I jumped out of my chair. I rushed to the stove, where I saw that my mixture had faded from creamy yellow to a dull brown. The butter had begun to burn, which accounted for the popcorn smell. I quickly pulled it off the stove, and hoped it wasn’t ruined.

I strained it and cooled it until bedtime.

Then I took a tiny bit in my usual cup of hot water. I sat down to watch a movie with my husband.

An hour later I felt like I’d been slammed with a dose of morphine mixed with vodka. Holy headspins!!!

I managed to brush my teeth and fall into bed, but I couldn’t read because my eyeballs were rolling around in my head like marbles. My mouth was so dry I thought I’d choke on my tongue.

My night went like this: Roll to the side, sip water, roll back, experience the thrill of riding a giant rollercoaster. Stay still, taste the entire Sahara in my mouth, roll over for water, take a sip. Now experience the delights of riding out a hurricane in a rowboat.

So.

I learned a few more things last night.

One: all marijuana is NOT the same.

Two: it’s really really hard to get the right dose.

Three: Even riding a roller coaster in a hurricane is better than staying awake all night.

Now if only I could get the marbles to stop rolling….

This is what happens when old dogs try to self medicate.

Dear CVS, I Hay Chew


Generally speaking, I live a pretty easy life. I’m retired, I get to spend the days gardening, reading, playing with my grandchildren. I don’t have many stressors.

And that’s a damn good thing, because the ONE huge issue in my life is my ongoing war with CVS.

The trouble started a couple of years ago, when my Mom realized that it was time to give up her car keys. She came to this difficult decision after her kids and grandkids gently persuaded her that she had become a menace to herself and to everyone else on the road.

It only took a few weeks of endless haranguing, but Mom eventually agreed and gave up both keys and car.

Phew.

At that point, I had the brilliant idea that we should switch Mom’s prescriptions from the local CVS to the online Caremark/CVS system. Smart, right? No more worrying about needing a refill every thirty days, because with Caremark, we can get three months worth sent right to the house!

No more multiple texts to figure out who can pick up the medicine, and who can call the doctor to reorder.

So.

Smarty pants me went online and signed Mom up for Caremark. Awesome!!!!

I checked all the boxes, filled in all the information, clicked where I was supposed to click.  Thirty days later, right on time, Mom’s three medications were refilled! Huzzah!!!!

Annnnnnd….30 days after that (even though CVS/Caremark had sent us 90 days worth of meds), Mom got a call from her local store asking her if she wanted to refill her scripts.

Huh. I thought I had clicked the “no longer refill at local CVS” button….Oh, well. No big deal. I called Caremark and spoke to a nice lady. She promised to fix things.

One peaceful month passed, and then, you guessed it. CVS called Mom again. She got confused but figured they knew what they were doing. So she got refilled AGAIN.

This time I called both CVS and Caremark. The local store promised to take care of it and change the status in their computer.

But Caremark, the same place I had called four weeks earlier, told me that they couldn’t speak to me about my Mom.

“But you did speak to me a month ago.”

“Well, we can’t speak to you now. You need to prove that you have power of attorney.”

“Uh…Will her medicine be refilled when it’s due?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

Grrrrrrr.

Fast forward about 4 weeks. My older brother has sent proof that he has power of attorney. I have walked into our local CVS to explain the situation. I’ve been reassured that they won’t try to refill her meds at the store any more.

Time for the Caremark three month order.

Which did. not. come.

Double grrrrrrrrr.

Log back into Caremark, click more boxes, check more checks, remove Mom’s phone number and replace it with mine. Fill out the “Automatic Refill” form. Again. Put my name on as “medication manager”.

Feel satisfied.

Until Mom calls to tell me that……CVS CALLED HER AGAIN TO REFILL THE MEDS!!!!

This has been going on for months. Months, I tell you!!!!

I have called the local store 3 times, been in there twice, called the 1-800 corporate number twice and gone to CVS online at least five times.

The last time I went into Mom’s local store, I begged the pharmacy lady, “Please, please, forget you ever knew Mom! Pretend she died! Can you mark her record as deceased??”

They were horrified, but I was getting desperate.

I swear, I don’t know what to do!

Two weeks ago I had to get on line again because one of the Caremark medications, one that is marked “automatic refill”, failed to refill.

SCREECH!!!!

Got that sorted out without resorting to any felonies.

And three days later I got a text from CVS. The store. The one that is supposed to  think that Mom has crossed that rainbow bridge. The exact same frickin’ text that I have been getting every thirty days for eons.

“If you want to refill your prescription for C, text YES. If not, text NO.”

I kinda lost it.

I texted back, but it wasn’t NO. It was something more along the lines of “What the FUCK is wrong with you people???”

Answered with: “Invalid response.”

This went on for a while.

“Go to hell!”

“Invalid response.”

“Stop bothering me!”

“Invalid response.”

“Never darken my door again!”

“Invalid response.”

“I fuckin’ hay chew.”

“Invalid response.”

Finally I started to feel a little silly. Also a little vindicated. So I texted NO and figured we were set.

Nope.

Mom called me yesterday, feeling confused and embarrassed. It seems that CVS, or the tiny brains that run the place, must have decided that I was too insane to deal with. So they apparently dug out the old phone number that I had spent a year getting them to delete. They called my poor Mom, who tried to tell them that she didn’t need any refills because her kids are taking care of it.

I can’t even imagine how that conversation went.

Because not only did CVS decide to refill the meds, they also decided that Mom needed a welfare check. So the poor lady got an unexpected visit from a local police officer.

Yeah.

I will not report on the conversation I had with CVS after that. I just hope this time they believe that Mom is “in a better place” and they don’t try texting Heaven to see if she needs more blood pressure medicine.

CVS.  I seriously hay chew.

golden_rx_pharmacy_symbol_mortar_pestle

 

 

Food, Glorious Food


I am not generally a fan of food trends. I don’t follow the latest crazes (acai berry, anyone?) My Dad always taught us, “All things in moderation, including moderation.”

I eat meat, dairy, wheat, veggies, fruits, cookies and just about everything in between. I am, in a word, an omnivore.

But I am also the friend of some very intelligent, highly informed, super healthy women. When they talk about nutrition, they know of what they speak.

The upshot of these friendships is that I am now living a gluten free life.

The thing is. I don’t have a particular difficulty with wheat. My digestive system is generally pretty reliable, as long as I go easy on the brussel sprouts and black beans.

But I do have fibromyalgia, and I complain a lot. So on one of our women’s getaways we were talking about all of the potential effects of gluten. Most of the women in the room had researched gluten intolerance. In fact, 6 out of the 8 of my pals were not eating gluten anymore.

“You should try the gluten free diet, ” said my brilliant actually-a-real-live-nurse friend Karen. “It might make a big difference with your inflammatory issues.”

“I lost a lot of weight once I stopped eating wheat,” added our equally brilliant (and very tiny) friend Cindy.

So. What could I do?

I came home from our weekend and decided to try it out. How hard could it be to stop eating wheat?

HA.

First of all, I’m Italian. Pasta is my middle name.

Second of all, I am a food snob. I refuse to eat things that are processed and preserved and all that. No fake gluten free pizza dough for this woman!

So I stopped my morning toast, my noon time sandwich, my crackers for snack and my pasta for dinner. I happily ate my meat and more fruits and veggies than usual. I was careful to add in gluten free carbs, like quinoa and rice.

Healthiness, here I come!

Within two days I was shaking. My palms were sweaty. I felt weak. And that reliable digestive system? Holy rumbling grumbles. I wanted a bagel. I wanted ravioli. I wanted toast.

I wanted salt.

By day four, I found myself salivating at the thought of potato chips. I bought a bag of “Skinny Pop” and ate it. I was craving fries. Pretzels. I kept adding salt to my pots of quinoa.

By day six, I noticed that I was tasting things more sharply. Adding a little cumin to my chicken marinade made me feel like Giada DeLaurentiis (without the perky boobs.) A bit of turmeric on my saffron rice? Magnificent!

And by day 7, I had lost three pounds.

What the hell.

I wanted my bagels back, but….three pounds in a week?

As week two got underway, I noticed that I was still shaky, still feeling weak and still craving salt. And the digestion issues were not getting better. Ugh. I would have quit right then, but….three pounds.

So I reached out to my wise women of the village. My super healthy, super aware friend Maureen said, “Your body needs time to adjust. Stay with it.”

I did.

It’s now week three.

I have lost another two pounds. I have mastered the fine points of preparing both quinoa and polenta, neither of which I thought I’d ever achieve. I feel fine. The rumbles and grumbles from my slightly smaller belly have subsided.

But my fibromyalgia and the aches and pains that go with it are unchanged. My energy level is unchanged. Stuff still hurts.

So now what do I do?

Well, I certainly have given all of this some thought.

While I don’t believe that gluten or wheat are hurting me, I sure do wonder how much salt I am taking in with my store bought bread items. I definitely know that bread fills me in a way that other foods don’t, which is why I think I am losing a bit of weight.

Here is my plan.

I am going to limit my wheat consumption to a few times a week. And I’m going to go back to baking my own bread. I even have a yeast free sourdough starter going. I’ll skip the crackers with my cheese and will eat carrots instead. Or olives. Or fennel!

I’ll enjoy my newfound quinoa and polenta skills. Maybe I’ll even master lentil salad. Who knows?

I feel happy to have tried this food adventure. I can tell myself that I did what I could to control the fibromyalgia aches. I have learned that commercial breads, muffins, bagels are loaded with salt and sugar.

At last, at last, I can whip up a batch of quinoa or a big pot of polenta and cheese with basil.

So even though we are heading into the hot part of the year, I’m going to renew my efforts to make my own pasta (which has a really unpredictable success rate), my own bread and my own (yes, I mean it) bagels.

And I’m going to NOT give in to my potato chip cravings.

Instead I’ll eat an entire jar of pickles.

Thanks, wise women of my village! I love youse!

 

The Question of Mental Stability


Like approximately 99.99% of the people in the Northeastern United States, I have a wicked bad cold.

And like approximately 99.99% of Americans today, I am thinking about mental stability and the signs that a person is a little “off kilter.”

Oh, don’t worry. I’m not worried about that guy. I made up my mind about his mental state a long time ago.

Nope. Today I am fixated on the question of my own mental stability.

Did I mention that I’m sick?

I have a cold. A really bad cold. In fact, after two weeks of endless nose blowing, hacking, wheezing and general goop producing misery, I finally went to my doctor. I have bronchitis and a sinus infection. I came home with pills, cough syrup, inhalers and orders to “rest as much as possible.”

Now. Let me ask you this. What would a mentally stable person do in this situation? Probably take the medicine and go lie down, right?

Ha.

That’s what I tried to do. I came home, made some tea, took my various potions and puffs, wrapped myself in a blankie and put my feet up. Where my mucus clotted brain proceeded to have this conversation with itself.

“You aren’t really that sick.”

“Yes, I am! I have bronchitis! I can feel the crunches and crackles every time I breathe!”

“Yeah, well, it’s not like you have pneumonia. Some people are really sick. You slacker.”

“But the doctor told me to rest. This isn’t just a cold, I have a real sickness. I have prescriptions…”

“Probably got sick because you don’t exercise enough.”

“Nuh, uh. I caught it from the kids…I’ve been wiping noses and snot sucking every day…..”

“Probably because you don’t eat healthy enough.”

“But….I….”

“Chocolate eater.”

“I know, I’m sorry, I….”

“Alcohol drinker.”

“Well, yeah, but hot toddies…”

“Get up. Slacker.”

Could you keep yourself wrapped in a blankie after that?

Either could I.

So I decided to do a load of laundry. You know, real quick. Just do one load. Just to shut myself up. I grabbed an armful of dirty, sweaty sheets (from me FEVER the night before, just sayin’) and I wobbled my way down to the laundry. Tossed it in. Done.

Since I didn’t pass out or anything, I figured I should put away the dishes on the counter. Take that, snot brain.

At that point I was ready to hack up a lung so I wobbled back to the recliner and the blankie. With a fresh cup of ginger-lemon tea in hand.

And goopie brain started in again.

“See? I knew you weren’t really sick.”

“What?! Of course I am! You told me I was a slacker!”

“What, you like the word malingerer better? If you’re so sick, how come you’re able to do laundry and clean the kitchen, huh? Wimp.”

“Sputter…wheeze…whimper…”

I put my aching head in my hands and tried to make Goop Brain go away, but he hung around. Big green slimy jerk.

It’s always like this when I’m not feeling well. Truthfully, I’m hardly ever sick. I haven’t had a fever before this in about 10 years. For a flabby middle aged grandmother, I’m actually pretty robust.

But on the rare occasions when I do get sick, it’s always the same internal argument. It’s always the same guilt game.

I was raised Catholic. What can I say? Guilt is kind of our thing.

I’ve spent the past four days alternately pitying myself for how awful I feel and berating myself for not getting the hell over it already.

What a loser.

So I put the question to you. Do mentally stable people argue themselves out of getting better? Do they yell at themselves that if they weren’t such lazy slackers they wouldn’t be sick in the first place?

I didn’t think so.

sickie

I look awful, right? See?