Thursday, March 11, 2010

Safe, Effective, and Illegal

For the record, my drug use consists of a German white wine called Auslese.

That's it. I don't even use aspirin, because it doesn't work on me. Minimum, I need Tylenol with Codeine, which can legally be bought through the mail from Canada. I'm too lazy to get some.

However, unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale as a teenager, from ages 15 to 17, on weekends. Then I quit. Some years later, I realized my use coincided exactly with that prison known as high school, which drove me so crazy I did little more than daydream in school and party on the weekends.

But, I haven't touched the stuff for decades. Except . . . .

A few years ago, as I was walking down a handicapped ramp to my car, my feet flew out from under me and I crashed to the ground on my back. The pavement was dry, and I still have no idea what happened. It was as if the Angel of Death had grabbed my ankles and pulled from the front.

Yes, I know there is irony in the fact I was almost crippled by falling down the handicapped ramp. I was even able to smile about the whole thing after I stood up.

I hit the concrete the hardest I have ever hit the ground in my life. That includes all the tumbles I took on ice during the winter. I found that it is an instinct to hunch your back so the back of your head doesn't hit. But I now understand how people get killed by falling down.

One second I was vertical. A fraction of a second later, I was horizontal. Gravity is not your friend. Neither is the law that mass times acceleration equals velocity.

I lay on the ground for a few seconds, wondering if I was hurt. No cracking of bones, no fountains of blood. No pain, either. Bizarrely, when I fell, I rotated my left wrist, so the soda I was holding in my left hand barely spilled.

Somehow, the keys which I was carrying in the same hand ended up 20 feet away. It took me five minutes, from the point of impact, walking in an ever-widening spiral, to find them in the grass.

The fall happened on a Thursday evening. I was fine until Saturday night. Then my left hip started to ache. Badly. So badly I was ready to go to the ER. I knew there was no major damage, just a bruised muscle or tendon. But no matter which position I was in, my hip hurt. And it hurt so badly I knew sleep was out of the question.

A few years ago I had tendonitis in my left shoulder, which is a swollen tendon. It hurt like you wouldn't believe. I ended up at the ER. The cost: $500, for a shot of painkiller. "That's all we can do for it," the doctor told me.

Fortunately, my insurance paid for most of it, but I swore I would never go to the ER again unless I was taken there unconscious. $500 for a painkiller? No wonder medical costs are out of control.

As I lay there with my aching hip, I wondered what I was going to do. I had no painkillers in the house, and nothing over-the-counter would even touch the pain I was feeling.

Then it occurred to me . . . before the State in its stupidity had made marijuana illegal, doctors prescribed it for all sorts of maladies. Lack of appetite, for one, as everyone knows. That I knew about, considering how much French vanilla ice cream I inhaled on Friday and Saturday nights when I was in high school.

When it was banned, doctors opposed it. Hemp, as it was called then, was used for too many disorders to be so cavalierly dismissed by the ignorant and incompetent in government.
I remember doctors had prescribed it for insomnia, as a muscle relaxer for pregnant women, and for pain.

So, I called up a friend of mine and explained the situation. He, of course, laughed hysterically. "So," he giggled, "you're going to be a 'hepcat' and take a 'toke' of some 'reefer,' huh? I'll see if I can find a 'lid' somewhere." Lid? No one's called it a "lid" since about 1974. And "hepcat" went out in, what, 1956? Oh, he was having a fun time mocking me.

He gave me an amount about the size of a pea. He even lent me a pipe. I felt ridiculous, puffing on that tiny pipe like I was 16 again, but enough pain overcomes anything.

Much to my surprise, after about two minutes the pain in my hip started to go away. Not completely, but enough so that the pain was tolerable. And the muscles loosened up enough so that I could get up without groaning and cursing and staggering around like Frankenstein's monster. And I got sleepy. And I wasn't high, either.

I fell asleep, and when I woke up the next morning, the injury had healed enough so I could get around with a little bit of hobbling and grimacing. A few days later I was fine.

The total cost, according to my friend, if he had charged me for the amount I used, would have been a few dollars. That is obviously a heck of a lot less than $500.

Please don't tell me all about the horrors of drug use. I know all about them.

I've seen kids shoot up when I was 15 years old, I've seen them die from ODs in ditches and from sniffing paint, I've seen alcoholics act completely normal when sober and like they were possessed by demons when they were drunk.

So, the attempts to equate the responsible, occasional use of a medicine by an adult, with the collapse of society, is simply ridiculous.

As far as I'm concerned, it should be part of everyone's medicine cabinet. Unless, of course, you have no problems shelling out $500 for an ER visit, just to get one shot.

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