Down The Rabbit Hole: Could Medical Marijuana Help?

I took this photo of
Alice In Wonderland’s Tea Partyat
Fredrick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

When I was 12 years old, the summer before I started 7th grade at Harrison Park Junior High in Grand Rapids, my mom gave me two books to read: Go Ask Alice by Anonymous and That Was Then, This is Now by SE Hinton. Both were life-impacting books for me. At that tender age, I vowed to myself that I would never get into drugs.

As an adult, I do not like ever not being in control of myself. I also hate a foggy, unclear brain. So, I never really got into drinking or drugs. I won’t say that I don’t know what it is to be out of my head; my husband and I tried mushrooms one time when we were camping. His roommate had sold him some. Mushrooms are from nature, right? Well, while that is a very interesting story I have told very few people; it’s not one we ever visited again. I also know what a hangover is like. I’m definitely a light-weight and after my three maximum drinks in an evening, I will be laid low for the entire next day if I have more, so I don’t do that.

As I’ve stated in prior blogs, I was VERY opposed to taking Cymbalta, one of the three approved FDA pharmaceuticals for Fibromyalgia. I finally gave in when I was so beside myself with pain, brain fog, and no strength or energy this past December. From there, I was on it for 4 months (30mg), 2 months (60mg), 1 month (30mg) and then I stopped- cold. This was a bad move. I should have actually taken the 30mg every other day for a month, etc. to taper down. Lesson learned.

I’m now two weeks into Cymbalta withdrawal and still feeling badly (mostly from withdrawal side-effects). However, the pain is there. Currently, the left side of my body from foot to left eyeball is aching so much I’m nauseous. When I wake up, my arms and legs feel as though their connective tissue has turned into wood. It’s slow going and painful to get them functioning for the day.

More Than I Can Handle

This weekend, feeling beyond what I could handle with my breathing, stretching, aerobic, and meditation strategies, I began to research medical marijuana (MM) in the state of Michigan. I had a response from a reader of my blog Feeling Like #$%&*!replied that he was able to ditch Cymbalta (and other like-pharmaceuticals) by using marijuana transdermal patches. I did bring this up to my pain doctor, but I could tell he wasn’t willing to look into it after his comment that “there’s not enough research”. However, after doing some of my own, I decided to get a Michigan Medical Marijuana Card to use if I couldn’t handle things fully on my own after the withdrawal passed.

This is a convincing video that has
helped me open to the idea of MM.

To get a Medical Marijuana Card in Michigan, I had to locate a doctor who would recommend the card for me based on my diagnosis. I found Healthy Partners and made an appointment without an issue. I had my medical records with Fibromyalgia Diagnosis faxed to their office. The DO I met with just verified my diagnosis and marked “chronic pain” for the reason, being Fibromyalgia isn’t listed by name for the accepted reasons for the card. (See list provided on Healthy Partners FAQ page.) I then applied for the card online at LARA: Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. This was about a 20-minute job once I had the paperwork from the doctor. The only other worker at the office was very informative, and I quickly found out that getting the card would be the least of my concerns.

Need to Become Your Own Expert

Being the MM Card is a recommendation from a doctor and not a prescription, the patient is the one who needs to know what he/she wants and needs. A quality resource that explains things fairly well is Although, for someone who is totally new to using marijuana, it will take some trial and error. My plan would be to go into it very timidly.

I want pain relief, clarity of thinking, and living my life productively. This isn’t what one stereotypically thinks of when referring to marijuana. Turns out there are two types: Indica and Sativa. (Below a brief description from Part 1, Sativa vs Indica: An Overview of Cannabis Types. They also list a Hybrid of the two types.
  • Indica strainsare believed to be physically sedating, perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed.
  • Sativa strainstend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects.
Next, the consumer needs to consider the strain. allows one to research based on desired effects for your treatment. I do not want side-effects that produce the “high”, munchies, tiredness, or paranoia. So, using the Advance Filter, I am able to look up specifics. Also, I researched what other consumers and doctors are saying about MM and Fibro.

My go-to blogger on for solid information on Fibromyalgia is Her article was just what I wanted:Fed Up With Fatigue: Best Strains for Fibromyalgia. She’s written several on the topic, and I’ve come to trust her factual presentation.

Finding a Provider

Next, I have to find a provider. (MRA-Licensed Michigan Medical Marijuana Facilities)I want a licensed (monitored) facility that I can rely on to have a pure, quality product. Also, I don’t want to smoke (or have the marijuana smell). I’d prefer to find transdermal patches, but this looks like it might be difficult to find. The difficult part, after finding what sounds like the best fit strain and delivery system, is finding a place in Michigan that I can buy that product. I can already see that I’m going to have to call and visit a few places. The strains I’m most interested in: Harlequin (High CBD and lower THC)for day time and then, Tahoe OG Kush for nighttime insomnia. The problem I’m encountering is that MI facilities don’t have these specific strains in the exact delivery system I would like. So, actual calling and visiting will be needed.

Why I’m Considering MM

There are several reasons why I like using MM versus Cymbalta and like-drug. The main reason is that I can decide the dose. I don’t think I’ll have an everyday need (we’ll see). I’m following the program that I got from my 10 weeks in Mary Free Bed’s Fibromyalgia Program. I’m continuing to grow in being present and meditation. With Cymbalta (although the side-effects aren’t major for me, they do impact my quality of life), it’s an all or nothing commitment. I have learned the hard way that stopping its use every day is very difficult for my body from which to rid itself. I also don’t like feeling trapped by it.

So, being I haven’t yet tried MM, I can’t say if it’s going to work or not. However, I’m finding good evidence to say it’s worth a shot (and way less invasive than the prescribed pharmaceuticals). I will keep you informed on what I find out and what happens if I choose to use it.

*If you are not in Michigan, I would imagine that the path you take would be similar. However, Michigan has recently joined the states that have approved marijuana for recreational use.

There are many resources to give you insight into the use of medical marijuana:

What are your thoughts of using THC? There isn’t a lot of research on it’s effects for chronic pain/Fibromyalgia, what there are is promising. Possibly more research will be coming since it’s becoming legalized in many states.

Thank you for visiting my blog today.
I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through
as planned.
Thank you for your understanding.

Whatever Makes You Hopeful and Lightens Your Heart Just a Little…

This is one important part of my yoga space

My long-time friend, Mindy, sent me this card a while back. I framed it because I think it’s beautiful and fits in with my candle and vase. The saying in the circle is “Whatever makes you hopeful and lightens your heart just a little…” After finally feeling well enough to get up, take a shower, and attempt yoga at home, this was a great reminder for this day and every day.

Today, I did a slow Yin yoga (a routine that popped up yesterday in my Facebook feed) from Yoga Journal. I added in a few other poses and used my yogi blankets, bolster, and Coregeous ball liberally.

I did each of the poses to the station I’ve made on Pandora: My Yoga
With Deva Primal

with Krishna Das

with Eva Cassidy

with Carla Bruni

After an hour of practice, it has made me hopeful and has lightened my heart. I’m ready to face the day.

*My Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms are lessened this morning. Not FULLy myself, yet, but I feel myself immerging.
What are some of the things that bring you joy and lighten your burden?

Thank you for visiting my blog today.
I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through
as planned.
Thank you for your understanding.

Feeling Like #$@&%*!

Believe me, I feel like SHIT!

For those of you who know me, I don’t swear….much. In fact, it’s only been in the last few years that I even swear at all. This has been the base of much teasing for me.

As a teen, as my volleyball teammates would use the full out “S” word or “D” word after missing a serve, I would really strongly say things like “bananas!” My partner teacher for 16 years, feels proud that she has encouraged and trained me to open up to the use of the vulgar vernacular now and then when there are no other words that really capture the sentiment.
So, I am going to just say it; I feel like SHIT! I have not felt this bad since I had viral meningitis (I’m not as bad as that time in the emergency room, but man, it’s reminding me of it). Since the purpose of this blog is for me to record my true journey (for healing through the writing and remembering where I’ve been) and to possibly help others who are dealing with Fibromyalgia, I’ve decided to write this (as I can today because doing anything and nothing are both really difficult right now).

An Overconfident and Rash Decision

Last Monday, I spent the night at my daughter’s house. It’s a treat to have a “girls night” and then hang out at her house the next day. However, I realized Tuesday morning that I had forgotten to bring/take my Cymbalta pill that I’ve been on since December 7th, 2019 for a total of six months. (As explained in my postLeave No Stone Unturned, I had gone from 30mg to 60mg back to 30mg.)

On the 18th of this month, I went for my pain medication checkup. My doctor and I had planned on taking me fully off Cymbalta at that time. At my last, pain psychologist appointment, my doctor said that I’d probably go to zero from 30mg since it’s the lowest dose anyhow. (I’ve since learned that that’s not quite true. 15 mg is the lowest commercial dose available.) Then, she said they’d want me to give it a month or two to see how I’m doing without it. My thinking was that by going off Cymbalta I could then see how I am doing without the brain-altering drugs and from there, see if I would be able to manage the fibro symptoms without it.

So, this past Tuesday, I thought, Why not just stop now? Then, when I go on the 18th, I can let my doctors know-how I’m doing.I was feeling fully confident that I’d be doing pretty well because the 10-week Chronic Pain Program had taught me a lot of ways to manage the pain.

A Reminder That I’m Not Fully In Control

Thursday night, after a wonderful day of hiking and photography with my daughter and 13 teens in the woods, I was beyond worn out. I wasn’t sure I could drive myself home. I felt weak, dizzy, and a bit nauseous. I could feel a headache coming on. I scolded myself for leaving my water bottle in the car rather than have it on the seven-hour trip, figuring that dehydration was the culprit. (I did eat many grapes and had some applesauce, so I wasn’t crazy dehydrated.) By the time I got home, I couldn’t bring myself to drink water or eat anything. I did take some Bayer Back and Body with some water, though and was in bed by 6pm. As the evening wore on, I got worse. I couldn’t even listen to soothing music or my book without being bothered. Finally, I did fall asleep and felt relatively okay the next morning.

These are withdrawal side-effects from Cymbalta.
I have every one of these (except the brain-zaps).

Yesterday, feeling the edge of what I had the night before, I canceled my appointment in the morning and then had to sit out on the kayak trip I had been looking forward to with the Outdoor Adventure group of women called the Wander Women with whom I had just recently begun to connect (see my blog post Sleep, Fog, and Vampires). However, by afternoon, I could go swimming and felt pretty good doing it. I swam and worked on the beach from 1-5pm. Still feeling good, I went up for a shower because Kel and I had tickets to see the Mark Lavengood Band: Bluegrass Bonanza at The Dogwood: Center for Performing Arts because I will be writing an article for our local NewaygoCountyExploring online magazine.

I Want Off This Ride!

The first set, I was totally into the music and even would have liked to dance. During intermission, I went and interviewed Mark (very talented musician from Grand Rapids). But, when I sat down and the first song of the second set started, I felt a wave of ill-ease wash over me. I knew it was the start of what I had the night before.

Last night wasn’t good-fitful sleep and up by 4am. But this morning, man oh man! I feel like I’ve just gotten off the Whirl-A-Twirl ride that also included a Sock-O-Matic machine in the car that I was riding in. And this morning, it’s ramping up rather than going away.

One of my major fears for even starting a med like Cymbalta were all the stories of withdrawal symptoms. One friend had told me about her mom’s experience after taking it for two years. The withdrawal ended up being so bad (horrible brain shocks, etc) that she gave up and went back on it.

Not So Cocky Now, Am I?

So, today, my decision is to push on. I sure do hope these warnings I have read in online articles about the side effects from Cymbalta withdrawal can take weeks or even months to get back to my “normal” self are not correct. I do have Cymbalta pills I could take, but I’m five days without and just don’t want to start over. I’m currently sitting on the deck, in the shade, wet cool rag on my head. The light breeze and lake view are helping me feel some better.

My husband, son, and four-year-old grand-daughter are taking care of me like an invalid. I sure hope I’m up to going swimming this afternoon. Tomorrow, we have family coming over for lake fun. Monday or Tuesday, I’m hanging out with someone I only ever get to see every few years (she’s in Michigan visiting from Arizona). I haven’t been able to go to my yoga class since Wednesday. This is F#$@ed-up! (While I use that word verbally now and then, I still don’t feel comfortable writing it out.)

My VOW: I am going to do every OTHER thing rather than EVER be on meds like this again!

Article on Easing Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms:

Have you ever been on any of the three FDA-approved Fibromyalgia prescription medications? What has been your experience?

Thank you for visiting my blog today.
I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through
as planned.
Thank you for your understanding.

Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email

Following My Heart…Tentatively

My husband, Kelley, and my cousin
enjoying the river, the lazy way.

I haven’t written for the past five days (in this blog at least). However, it’s been on my mind. Mostly because there are times that I am feeling defeated and times when I’m so very optimistic that it feels like I’m not telling a coherent story.

So, this 4th of July, Kelley (my husband) and I went to rustic camp at my cousin’s forested land on the Chippewa River in Shepard, MI. We set up what we lovingly call our “luxury tent”. Actually, Kelley did most of the setup. By the time we got to the river at 1:00pm, I was really tired out. The day before, I was whining about setting up our two-roomed, canvas tent. “It takes too long and it’s too heavy.” This is not my normal camping attitude, but I’m finding I want the light-weight easy setup tents. I’m game for roughing it but want to make it as easy as possible.

It really is a great tent, just heavy!

After a couple of great days (however sweltering) hanging out with my cousins, I could tell I was beginning to feel the effects of not stretching like normal, eating and drinking celebration fare, as well as the stifling heat (subdued by swims in the river and dinner at restaurants). After dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, MI, I knew I had to go lay down. Our double high blow-up mattress was low on air, so I uncomfortably laid there for a couple of hours. The pain began to throb, louder and louder in my shoulders, arms, and neck. I began to feel nauseous. I dragged myself up (Kelley and the others were a good two city blocks away, near the river) to sit in the running car with the airconditioning, hoping that this would help. It didn’t. That’s when I resorted to texting Kelley, asking him to come back to help me.

He got me my go-to pain med: two Bayer Back and Body and water. I cried as he caressed my head and back, helping me to calm down. I worked on breathing, slowly in for 4 counts and out 4 counts. Kelley suggested that he drive me home and come back to get our things the next morning. That sounded like good option, but I just didn’t want to give in. I want to go backpacking for Christ’s sake! If I went back, I felt that I would be giving up on that. So, by calming down, the pain subsided a bit, and with the air mattress at back at full support, I went back to bed and slept all night. The next day was cooler, and I was back to my normal level of manageable pain.

Kelley got a $500 gift card to Amazon
from Delta Airlinesdue to agreeing to
changes in his recent work travel.
So, I bought these itemsfor
an upcoming backpack trip-
to be named at a later time:)

So, Kel and I are planning a backpacking trip for next summer. However, we’re probably going to do it locally and for one night, possibly two, to see how it goes. I’m going to do what I love. I just may have to be a little tentative.

Do you have things that you love to do that are pushing your capabilities? Do you have goals that you’re striving for? Are you able to find ways to do the things you love with modifications? I’d love to hear ways you’re finding to live your life FULLY doing the things you love.

Thank you for visiting my blog today.
I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through
as planned.
Thank you for your understanding.

Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email

Fear of the Fibro Flare

A Fibro Flare is an increase in symptoms: all over body pain,
foggy brain, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, etc.
This can last a day or two or but can continue for
days or months.
So, last Friday, I went to yoga for a wonderful SOMA Breathing Class of 90 minutes. Joan, my yoga teacher, is a certified instructor. There were about 5 of us. Joan first guides us into a preparation meditation, then we did three rounds of SOMA breathing (see above explanation link), towards the end, she brings us back through a closing meditation, and finally Savasana. First off, Joan is a poet. Her meditation guidance is so beautiful and inspirational. Then, the deep, slow belly breathing, I know it sounds weird, but it’s calming and energizing, dreamy and clarifying. It really was profound for me this time, more so than the several times before.

I felt so strong and confident. I felt I could do anything. This is a feeling that I haven’t had for at least three years, and this past year has been so far from this feeling that I thought I’d never have it again. I came to the decision that I wanted to buy a local building/business. I could just see it being the perfect place for the meadery that my son would like to one day own and Kelley and I are interested in being a part of. I went home and talked to Andrew and Kelley about it, ignoring to the most part Kelley’s practical yet deflating concerns.

Then, I went to the doctor’s for my 11 am appointment to get the Shingrix shot (2nd dose). I knew to expect the “punched in the arm” sensation that I had with the first dose. I do wish the nurse, however, had warned me that there could be more to it than that.

Still feeling really strong and positive, I went to do some volunteer work that involves organizing a HUGE library of literacy resources. (Right up my alley!) After a few hours of moving books around in a fairly warm attic, I went home to get cleaned up and go to look at the building.

By 3:00 pm, I was starting to feel really body tired and to develop a headache along with my left arm hurting like I’d let someone punch me as hard as they could to show that I could take it. Our meeting at the building was good. Many questions answered. More and more I could feel, though, that I was really starting to disintegrate. By the time we got home after stopping for our favorite ice cream, 5pm, I had to go to bed, my entire body now felt like I’d been pummeled.

Now, the panic started setting in. I had been feeling soooo good. Yes, a bit of pain, but it wasn’t stopping me from doing what I wanted to do. Crying, I told Kelley that I couldn’t be counted on for commitments like the business. If a vaccine was going to through my body into an all-over flair of this degree (probably my first 7/10 on the Medical Pain Scale), I realized that I couldn’t count on this body and mind to allow me to do whatever I wanted with my life.

I ended up being up all night. After going to the couch to allow my husband to sleep, I tucked myself into supported savasana with my extra soft, fluffy blankets (3) and my comfort pillows (3). That’s when the unstoppable shivering and feeling cold to the bone started along with feeling nauseous. I tried my go tos: going to the couch to allow my husband to sleep, breathing, heating pad, massage, stretching, meditation, Bayer: Back and Body (still on the 30mg of Cymbalta before bed), drinking water, and bundling up. But, nothing worked until about 4 in the morning, the shivers and fever passed. I was finally able to fall asleep.

In the morning, as the sun rose, I awoke. The pain was still there all over but much less severe. I could get up, get my morning meds, and research the Shingrix shot. And here’s what I found:Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.

A sense of relief came over me almost washing away the pain completely. It was just side effects! Not my fibro-brain reacting to the shot and shoulder-site pain, turning it into an all-over body alarm. It wasn’t a Fibro Flare! My body bounced back to normal (except the left shoulder pain that lasted until Monday morning).

I know flare-ups will come. But, I’m mostly confident I can manage them. I also feel like little things like a shot won’t cause my body to go into complete alarm mode. I don’t want to live my life out of fear of a flare. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it (within the frame of self-care and listening inward). This scare, really helped me to see that I can’t live as if trying to stay away from triggers. That’s just too limiting and will mean that fear will rule my decisions. I choose courage (with the help of others) and when the flare is triggered, I chose to manage the symptoms (with the help of others), knowing I have done this before and will make it through.

PS-For a variety of reasons, we have decided not to buy the building. One of those reasons, however, is not because I can’t be counted on.

PSS-I do totally support getting the Shingrix vaccine. A weekend of inconvenience is way better than getting Shingles!

PSSS-The management strategies I have learned will be shared in future posts.

How do you handle the fear of a flare? Can you get past the fear? What makes you feel strong?

Thank you for visiting my blog today.
I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned.
Thank you for your understanding.

Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email