Experiment (n=1)

©2023 michael raven

I’m trying not to let my institutionalized stigma associated with certain “herbal remedies” prevent my talking about my experience, but I can feel those nagging hooks tugging at me, attempting to shame me over my investigation into seeing it it provides a decent enough relief for my ailments. While things are changing here in the upper midwest, there is still a looking down one’s nose by the “good” folks of Minnesota when it comes down to the use of cannabis for the purposes of treating chronic pain (my situation) and other ailments. As little as ten years ago, use of the substance in polite company was considered a bit rebellious, especially if inhaled. People are starting to recognize that there might be social-political elements to this mindset, and there are fewer people who consider it a baneful habit. It is still illegal unless you have a medical exemption in this State, but it looks like that might change if the people currently making the laws have their way with it.

There are other elements impacting my worldview on the matter.

First off, it was the substance that made my best friend in high school toss our friendship into the rubbish heap. He went right for the irresponsible partaking of pot, mixed it with alcohol and guns. When I expressed some concern for his near-constant use, he told me to get lost and, if he ever saw me again, he’d beat the shit out of me. Six months later, he was in the State Penitentiary for the combined used of those three things. Our friendship never fully recovered, although we made amends to some extent afterwards.

Additionally, while in school for my chemistry and criminal justice degrees, I became a student worker at the local crime lab during the height of the methamphetamine rush. Because I hit it off with one of their chemists, I was assigned to her department in “drug chemistry”, which was basically confirming the potency and strength of meth, as well as almost anything else under the sun that could be used for getting high. I was “working for the good guys” to get drugs (read: meth) off the street.

Let’s also add the fact that I am an alcoholic, but not a generalized substance abuser. I never had (and still don’t) much interest in the euphoria that cannabis can bring. It’s not the same sensation or experience as drinking alcohol and, therefore, doesn’t have the same draw to me.

However, as I have mentioned here before, I do suffer from chronic pain associated with multiple motor vehicle accidents (three cars were totaled, others maimed), plus what now appears to be osteoarthritis (not rheumatoid arthritis, as I was misdiagnosed and treated 12 years for), some neuropathy associated with being a type 2 diabetic, and a frozen shoulder. Pain is my constant companion and I rarely sleep more than a few hours without waking because of it. I don’t recall the last time I slept throughout the night, but it was at least ten years ago and getting worse.

So I was given medical authorization to try cannabis as a potential source of relief, which I have been exploring off and on since early December of 2022. Keep in mind, I am a scientist when I am not a writer, and my scientist’s skeptical nature is in full force here. I am always wary of placebo effects and false relief — willing to stop if I ultimately don’t see the effects I am hoping to have on my pain management.

While I got immediate and relatively lasting relief from my arthritic pain between edibles and microdosed oil vape, there has been the problem of my frozen shoulder. The pain wouldn’t go away in that shoulder no matter how much I consumed or vaped. As an experiment, I decided to try whole flower to see if that was what would get it to behave (or, at the very least, give me pain relief for a few hours), with the assumption that there might be a synergistic effect with THC along with the other terpenes (phytochemicals) present in the whole flower that would give me the much-needed relief that the extracts (even with terpene reintroduction) couldn’t seem to scratch. I went old-fashioned with that experiment: a pipe.

It was the first two hours that I hadn’t hurt in ages. And, I recalled one of the reasons I quit smoking tobacco — the cough. But, overall, it was a smashing success although I overpacked the bowl for microdosing. A follow-up trial with a smaller amount yielded the result I was looking for: pain relief with little or no euphoric sensation. And a third time using a different strain produced the same result.

One of my friends who lives in a less judgmental part of the country had suggested I consider dry vaping. I had my eye on the device she was using, but I dug in and did some hardcore research about usage scenarios, goals, and cost. Eventually, while there are other devices out there, I determined I needed a convection (as opposed to conventional or hybrid) vape, as I wanted to do microdosing, not go through a whole bowl in a single session. Conventional vapes are on until you turn them off, baking your flower in the bowl; convection vapes only heat the flower when inhaling (or activating), which means you can take your time and have a dose here, wait for a spell, and the have a dose there when the pain returns.

My vape showed up this afternoon, so I waited until after dinner and gave it a whirl.

To be honest, I had a hard time believing anything was coming out until I “felt” it. Because I hadn’t felt anything in terms of heat or smoke and there was no visible smoke, I naturally assumed I hadn’t done the vape right. I’m glad I stopped to wait and see after I confirmed that there was not going to be a mouthfeel component until I got better as a user, if even then. But my lungs and throat appreciate the smoothness of the hits — no coughing at all and tons of flavor (and none of that skunk we all grew up with and associated with ditchweed).

And… like combustion methods, it gave me all of the relief I had experienced previously. There’s still a bit of tightness in that darned shoulder, but it absolutely doesn’t hurt tonight. I still have to experiment, as this particular Indica strain does indeed promote downiness (I have a Sativa strain that also worked via combustion that left me far less sleepy), but I can say I am happy that it wasn’t an expensive doorstop and seems to prove out my theory that it is not just the CDB/THC components that will help me, but the other terpenes working in concert with the rest that might finally get me some pain-free sleep.

I’ll probably update everyone as I find that balance between being pain-free while remaining euphoria-free as well.

But, for now, I am pleased with the outcome of the experiment.

13 thoughts on “Experiment (n=1)

  1. Ah nice then. You must have chosen something like firefly instead of pax. I may try it when i change over time. Admittedly hoping that it won’t be too soon. I had to use warranty last month, after 5 years of use. They did change the vaporizer without any hassle, which I was very happy with.

    We don’t hear enough of good to great consumer services nowaday.

    Anyway Micheal, I am happy that it work fine for you. Please take care. 💙💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Pax was my second choice. If it would have fit my usage scenarios better, I would have snagged it.

      I seriously considered it anyway. It was the realization that I’d be happier with a convection device that made my choice. Otherwise, my finger hovered over the purchase button more than once.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The thing with pain is that, as time progresses, the body gets used to coping with a certain degree which in some ways helps, but conversely when we do feel pain it is because it is probably worse than what we are used to, even though we think it’s the same. At least you have this option now.

        Liked by 1 person

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