11 June 2015

Marijuana Milk

Wow. Yeah, this is definitely an easy way to take your medicine! It turned out to be far more powerful than I expected, so all those warnings you see about taking it easy, starting with a low dose … they aren’t kidding.

Let’s start with the recipe:

Decarboxylate your marijuana: put 2 grams of ground but not powdered marijuana* in an oven safe baking bowl or pot or lasagne pan, cover it if you are trying to keep odours down (though the low-THC strains I am working with do not have much of a smell) and bake for 17 minutes at 250 F.

In the meantime, heat a pot of water on the stove, with a 2 or 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup hooked on the side of the pot with the body of the cup hanging into the water (this makes a double boiler that is super easy to work with).

Pour 1 cup of whole milk (or cream, or evaporated milk) with a tablespoon or so of butter into the Pyrex cup and let it start to warm up. Bring the water to a boil, and stir the milk mixture with a whisk so it doesn’t get a skin on top.

When the decarboxylation is done, remove the marijuana from the oven and put it into the milk mixture. Whisk it in.

Allow the milk mixture to heat in the water bath for about 45 minutes, stirring periodically.

Filter through a coffee filter / fine mesh sieve / tea infuser to remove the majority of the leafy material, refrigerate the milk mixture in a CLEARLY LABELLED JAR THAT THE KIDS WON’T ACCIDENTALLY USE FOR THEIR CEREAL.

Right, so you’ve made your milk. Approximately 8 ounces, or one cup of finished product contains 2 grams of marijuana … so, if you drink it all at once, you will not be a happy camper. Don’t do that. :) Each ounce (2 tablespoons) contains a 25 milligram dose.

Start with one tablespoon – less if you are using really potent ingredients or aren’t used to this yet. Then *wait at least two hours* before you decide you need more. It can take a while to kick in.

It seems to me that a small dose of alcohol dramatically speeds up the onset and intensity: if you are needing a quicker boost, a tiny splash (like a tablespoon) of whiskey or vodka added to the milk dose seems to speed things up, though this may not be an accurate assessment (I’ll need to experiment a little more).

Do not try this for the first time unless you can stay safely at home and do nothing if that’s how it plays out. Dosing edibles is trickier than dosing inhaled marijuana, as the effects are slower to come on and last longer – both definite features when dealing with chronic conditions that require steady levels of medication to keep symptoms at bay, but challenges when it comes to identifying when you’re appropriately medicated and when you’ve gotten more than you bargained for and are now relegated to lying very still and waiting for the world to come clear again.

I’m titrating a new dose of medication, so I track what I’ve been taking and how I feel, and I experiment with higher doses or different extraction methods when I know I can stay safely at home in case I don’t feel so hot. The nice thing about marijuana is that although it is *entirely* possible to get more than you wanted, an overdose is not going to cause your breathing to stop (as might happen if you took too much Ativan, for instance.) Too much marijuana *can* make you feel truly unwell though, and the nasty effects might last for 24 hours, which would be awful. With the cautious approach I’ve been taking towards finding the upper limits of my tolerance, the worst of the “more than I expected” effects has been a bit of dizziness edging towards a queasy sensation, and it stopped as soon as I lay still. I felt worse than that when I started on sertraline.

So, what benefit is there to marijuana for someone with PTSD, like me?

The tension that is so constant in my body that I don’t sense it until it’s removed … that throttles back.

I sleep like a normal person: I get tired, I yawn, I feel like it’s time to close my eyes and I do … and then I go to sleep. This is quite amazing, really.

It’s easier to pace myself. Since my usual trouble is that I push and push and push myself, then crash, then get annoyed at needing a rest … this is a big deal. I’ll sit in the chair and knit for a bit after doing something like hanging laundry or watering the grass. I need to do a little and then rest some, then start again – not go hard and crazy, that pushes up my adrenaline and then the cycle starts. So being more mellow about what gets done is really good for me.

The chest pain doesn’t seem to want to go away, though – it’s not like it was way back at the beginning, when once a day at least the pain was so intense it brought tears to my eyes. It’s a nagging ache, an intermittent annoyance that I would love to see eliminated but which really is no more than a stubborn reminder of my need for self-care. The 9:9 I’m using now for daytime may help a bit more, but I’ve just started experimenting with it at full strength (the chocolates were half and half 9:9 and 4:10, the milk was extracted as one batch of each, so I can test the effects individually).

The marijuana is replacing three other meds for me: Prazosin (which reduces trauma dreams and helps keep the adrenalin down in general); temazepam (milder opiate sedative, used to induce sleep), and Sublinox (non-opiate sedative, works amazingly well but costs just over $2 per pill). I still have both the Temazepam and Sublinox here, for nights when sleep just won’t come, but I’ve only used them a few times since starting the marijuana – and before, I needed one or the other every night to get any sleep at all.

I’m still on sertraline, my Mean Girls need that to keep them quiet and I have no ill effects from it at all. And it’s only about $12 per month.

So that’s the med report for today … I’ll keep the blog updated as I find my comfortable dosage plan.

* The Cannimed product arrives in the perfectly prepped format: it’s ground but not powdered or shredded.

04 June 2015

Swedish Loom Rescue: Part 1

Someone posted on Ravelry that there was a loom looking for a home. It was in pieces, had belonged to the lady’s grandmother, and was more of a restoration than the new weaver could conquer.

I couldn’t resist.

So, I came home with a pile of wood and got to work.

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The shape of the body and those overhanging arms make me think Swedish loom. The lady said they lived in a Scandanavian community near Camrose, so … that would fit.

I get the impression it’s had several incarnations. The loom frame is put together with pegs (no nails, no screws), even the ratchet is attached with a wooden peg.

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The overhead bar that the heddles hang from isn’t quite right though, nor are the metal heddles … this kind of loom would traditionally have string heddles on pulleys, and the beater bar (which is made partly from plywood) doesn’t rock properly …

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I need to build a cradle, and add some adjustable support pegs, like this:

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(A piece of wood with holes drilled through it then sliced in half on the table saw oughta work.)

Regardless, the adventure has been keeping me out of trouble for the last couple of days. So far I have:

  • Sanded everything with the palm sander
  • Stained (many many coats)
  • Waxed
  • Rubbed dry
  • Cleaned all the metal bits
  • Reassembled treadles and lamms (with better spacers than the chunks of wood that were on it – I used lengths of garden hose between the treadles as it’s nice and quiet, and the round rings you use for connecting PEX tubing were exactly the right width for the lamms)

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Next up :

  • Fix the hanging beater (add cradles and pins so it rocks properly)
  • Figure out what’s up with the heddle support (I think it’s too wide, and the pulleys have an extra hole I can’t figure out – I think I’ll make a new heddle support that can be pegged in place / lifted out)
  • New warp beam (I’m thinking a big-ass fence post … )
  • New tensioning system – probably a live weight system like this
  • Possibly a new cloth beam, or just a new apron on the existing beam – I need to see if the crack in the beam is making it uneven or not
  • Add a crank handle to the cloth beam (I’m looking at a ship’s wheel, which would be an easy way to get something like what Glimakra uses on their looms)
  • Make heddle bars and horses
  • Order Texsolv heddles and loopy chain stuff for tying up treadles

 

This is fun. :)

27 May 2015

Med update: three weeks in

I’ve been using the medical marijuana for about three weeks now, so I figured it was time for an update.

First and foremost: I sleep like a normal person. I take my nightly dose (a pinch of 1:13 vaped in my second-hand-purchased-via-Kijiji-Arizer-Solo,  plus a few mL of Green Dragon tincture) about an hour before I want to go to sleep, and I … get tired. I start yawning. I go to bed and put my story on, and I know I am asleep in about 30 minutes because I put a timer on my story and I rarely hear it turn off. I can wake up in the night and get a glass of milk or something and go back to bed and go back to sleep. And remember it all in the morning. Very cool.

My daytime energy is improved: I have been using 4:10 in the daytime, vaped once in the morning and once in the afternoon, plus edibles occasionally … still not sure where the edibles fit in the grand scheme of things, but I think they help keep blood levels at an even keel, so I should probably plan to make more. I can do stuff, and take a break, and do a bit more, and take another break … and I don’t feel bad about taking breaks yet I have more get up and go than I did before. This could also be partly attributed to the weather, I always do much better in summer. The big test will be to see how this works in the dark of winter!

I don’t feel impaired at all – no dizziness, wooziness, or weird sensations.

The chest pains are still breaking through: I’ve just ordered some 9:9, I may need the higher THC in the daytime to ease those pains. It’s not too uncomfortable, but it is a signal that I’m not quite at the level of relief I need.

The vaporizer is still taking a bit of getting used to, as I’ve never smoked so I’m not quite as adept as some might be at having irritants in my lungs. I do think I’ve found the settings that work well for me: I heat it to about 4 or 5, then inhale gently, with the corners of my mouth not sealed tight to the tube so that I also get room air. This dilutes the vapour a little bit, and lets me still breathe in slowly and deeply … hold, then exhale. There is a little odour if you are right next to me, but it dissipates as soon as I’m done. It leaves no smell in the house or anything, so it’s not like puffing on a joint and having that stale smoke smell hang around on everything afterwards. When I start to cough, I know I’m done – pull the glass mouthpiece out, dump the browned herb into a container and save it for making Sleepy Dragon tincture. Already vaped material has higher concentrations of CBD remaining, and is worth tincturing … so that’ll be the next adventure. I may try a coconut oil extraction and see how that goes.

I haven’t used Prazosin or Sublinox or Temazepam since starting the marijuana with a couple of exceptions: I used Temazepam one night when I was still awake after a couple of hours, and I used Prazosin when I was away this past weekend because vaping wasn’t convenient. I had forgotten, however, that I’ve been off it for over two weeks – my blood pressure tanked pretty intensely, as apparently I’m not as adapted to it anymore! I’d taken it at night and in the morning my BP was still only 105/74, though I perked up again by afternoon. Mental note: just because you used to be accustomed to something, taking a couple of weeks off can change that!

I’m still taking the Sertraline daily, I have no ill effects from it and keeping the Mean Girls at bay in my head is important. I may try to go off of it if I have another solid winter of feeling well, but getting adapted to it required six weeks of feeling rotten so I don’t want to stop taking it just for the summer and find that come fall I need it again. Better to wait and see how the winter goes, I think.
PTSD is no fun. I still have trouble concentrating and remembering things. I do best with mindless activity like watering the lawn or planting things or moving straw a bit at a time rather than doing paperwork or anything that needs a lot of thought. However, the marijuana is helping to ramp down the constant jitteriness that I live with, and is doing so without any noticeable negative effects. I don’t have a constant case of the munchies – in fact, I still have to pay attention to the time and remember to eat. I can still enjoy a glass of wine – but I don’t need three of them to get to sleep at night. In fact, I don’t need a glass of wine at all, which is a very significant benefit. I sleep what feels like a normal kind of sleep, not the utterly unconscious (though restful) black out of the Sublinox, nor the gradually woozier warm fuzziness of the opiates. I still need 9-11 hours of sleep to feel like I can function well, but that is just my new reality, and I’m mostly okay with that.

I suppose, if you think about the classic stoner hippie image of the laid back, hang ten, take it easy sort of dude and overlay that on the constantly vigilant, over achieving, never resting PTSD sufferer … you end up with something that is much closer to a comfortable happy medium.

I’m grateful, that’s for sure.

I see my psychiatrist tomorrow, should be an interesting conversation.

14 May 2015

New Meds: so far, so good.

As of last Monday, I’ve been on new medication – and so far, things are going pretty well. I’ve not used the Sublinox (my favourite, knock-you-out-in-twenty-minutes-and-leave-you-unconscious-for-eight-hours-minimum sedative) nor the Prazosin (which eases the chest pain somewhat, and helps prevent trauma nightmares … just sorta keeps the adrenaline levels down to a reasonable level) … haven’t used either one in the last week. I am still on Zoloft (sertraline) – not messing with the antidepressant dose at this point in time, though if things stay stable for a bit longer, I might talk to my doctor about attempting a taper-off. For now, I’ll just keep taking it: I have no negative side effects from it and getting off of it is bound to be unpleasant, even if it turns out I can safely stay off of it. For now, yellow pills at suppertime.

Over the last week, I have had some chest pain breaking through and I’m taking longer to get to sleep (not surprising since I’ve gotten used to just dissolving a Sublinox under my tongue and going unconscious), but as I’m still titrating dosages, I’m quite pleased with the results so far.

What is this new drug?

Marijuana.

Yes, after a lifetime of never experimenting with weed (not even once, truly, and not just the “I didn’t inhale” thing – I never even wanted to try it) … at age 46 I now have a legal prescription for medical cannabis.

I started with edibles – I’m not a smoker, and I absolutely cannot stand the stench of skunk weed (though I have to say that the stuff I got smells pretty good, actually – very herb-y, definitely green, but not skunky in the least). I made some pretty awesome brownies (yes, I know that’s cliché, but they were really good), one batch from each of the two strains I purchased. I am registered* with CanniMed, I chose them because they’ve got a few low-THC blends. THC is the stuff that makes you feel more stoned and is best for physical pain, CBD, the ‘other major chemical’ in marijuana, is more sedating and better for people with anxiety issues (like PTSD).It’s been discovered that people with PTSD have deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system in the brain – basically, we are low on the chemicals that marijuana provides. So, supplement with the stuff you’re missing and you feel better.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research into various ways to prepare and ingest these (very expensive) herbs and my kitchen has turned into extraction central. Fortunately, I have plenty of experience doing tinctures and so forth, as I survived with nothing but herbal supplements for the first several years of my PTSD experience, until my body adapted to those as well and I was taking enough wild lettuce / valerian / melatonin / passion flower / chammomile to knock out a horse and still lying there awake all night. I know how to make tinctures, how to titrate doses for myself, all that kind of thing.

The edibles work well for a nice, steady state of low impact relief. I don’t get woozy, I don’t feel particularly different … but I *do* feel unwound. And, I get to eat brownies for breakfast! When I first took Prazosin, I felt that whole body wash of warm water, that sense of “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah” … the deep relief of having tension you are so accustomed to you don’t even feel it anymore finally go away. Of course once I adapted to the Prazosin, I didn’t get any subjective sensation from it anymore (just fewer bad dreams and less insane running around doing weird stuff) … and I have to say, that feeling of restfulness is so lovely. My body has adapted to a very unhealthy concept of homeostasis, so I just don’t get that feeling without chemical assistance. And now, I get it from herbs that I can titrate to *exactly* the effect I want.

I made Green Dragon: soak decarboxylated marijuana (heated to convert the chemicals in the plant into the kind that your body can use) in Everclear alcohol (which is way too strong to drink, the label even comes with a warning about flammability), freeze it, shake it, freeze it, shake it, strain it, reduce the alcohol by heating over a double boiler (to concentrate the solution) and then take one mL or less in a glass of water which you swish around your mouth then swallow (if you take it straight, it’ll burn your mouth, but absorption through the mucosal tissues in the mouth is what you’re after).

It tastes utterly vile. It really is green. And holy moly is it powerful! You really don’t need much at all.

I made the first batch from a blend of my 4:10 and 1:13 strains (low TCH, high CBD). The second batch, which I just finished reducing, is made with the 1:13 and some chammomile and Sleepy Tea added in for good measure. I heavily decarboxylated the cannabis first so it should be very sedating … that gets tested tonight.

So, am I walking around stoned out of my gourd all the time? Nope. I don’t really feel all that different (that’s the whole goal of titrating to an effective dose) – just more mellow, a little sleepier than usual, and I don’t feel the overwhelming need to have a drink after supper every evening. This is a good thing: my liver can only handle so much, and I was self-medicating a bit too heavily with liquid sedation.

It’s still early in the experiment, but I’m feeling very good about the prospects here. If I can reduce my need for sedatives so that I only have to take prescription stuff once in awhile, then yay. (The fact that my insurance doesn’t cover the Sublinox so it costs me just over $2 a night to sleep is definitely factoring into this decision.) If I can get to where I need *less* of the other meds, then that’s a good thing – cost wise, for sure, and also to reduce the load on my system. If I can figure out the best way to get the marijuana into my system for the different effects I need (mild sedation during the day, slightly higher and more physical sedation in the evening and knocked right out at bedtime) and in ways that maximize the use of the herbs (the stuff ain’t cheap at $8-9 per gram, though I’m thinking I’ll settle out at well under half a gram per day, which will be a wash cost-wise with what I’m presently taking, more or less).

Right then. I think it’s time for my afternoon brownie.

* In Canada, to be a medical marijuana user, you now register with a vendor – your doctor has to send them a letter outlining your dosage and the script is good for one year. You used to register with the government directly, but now you go through the vendors. It’s all rather gray at the moment, in many places, but it was very important that I be fully legal as The Reluctant Farmer and The Boy are both subjected to random testing and if the dogs smell something on their clothes they need to be able to show a copy of my card and say “we live with her, it’s not our stuff they are smelling, feel free to check our bags or test us”. I’m being quite cautious about processing when they aren’t around, to at least reduce the off-gassing they’ll pick up on their things.

09 May 2015

More Yard Updates: trees!

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I transplanted a bunch of little pine trees from the back where they were clustered too close together to grow up well anyway (I found a couple of clusters of little evergreens when I was out for a walk with my neighbour today) … so I thinned them out and brought them up to make a wind break by the west edge of the yard.

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Raspberry bushes and a gooseberry bush, also wild, from the back.

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Couple more trees, by the fountain & wildflower-bed-to-be. :)

02 May 2015

Motor home Refurbishing

For one reason or another, my attention wandered to motor home refurbishing, updating, and redecorating images on the web. I love our motorhome – it is an affordable way for us to get away, we rarely go very far but we can go fishing for several days or The Reluctant Farmer takes his kids off to a campground to play and cook hot dogs over the fire and not have any responsibilities, and we have used it at the Fair and other events as a “home base”, meaning we can snack on ordinary food instead of concession food and have a bit of a break from the noise and bustle when needed.

It’s a 1995 Tioga, no slide outs, nothing fancy, just a bunk over the cab, a built in dinette that can turn into a bed, a wee little kitchen, a fridge, microwave, and a double bed at the back.

It wasn’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but the pink and teal floral print was not really making me say “ooh, that’s awesome”. So, I went to the fabric store and hit the bargain shelf to find about eight metres of coordinating fabrics in some colour OTHER than pink. And, I wanted to have some variety in the fabrics: coordinating, yes, but not all exactly the same. Variety being the spice and all.

I settled on greens and browns and yellows, having found three nicely textured heavy cottons that all seemed to go well together.

First job: take down the drapes and the wooden frames around all the windows. The venetian blinds rattled (not just when you were driving – if you rolled over in the night and banged the string with your elbow, the whole thing clattered), the roller blind by the dining table was getting weary, and the frames were upholstered in dusty rose, teal floral prints, and gold trim. I’d made a green curtain for the back window a few years ago, but it wasn’t really ideal. Besides, having the windows surrounded on three sides by three inch fabric covered wood felt … clunky. The one by the dining table made it impossible to lean up against the wall, too.

Down it all came:

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Around the bed, I wanted darker curtains so it wasn’t so bright in the mornings (if it’s warm enough to go camping, it’s probably going to get light around 5 am). The brown floral print I’d found worked well for drapes though I may need to add a lining to get it a bit darker:

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The privacy curtains around the back bed were on a ceiling mounted track that curved around the corner of the bed. I took that down and replaced it with a tension rod that goes straight across – easier to use the loo in the night without having to deal with the drapes right at the edge of the bed, and they pull nicely out of the way during the day. These drapes are some old white curtains I had, dunked in a bit of yellow Rit dye for about five minutes … they turned into a lovely buttery yellow, very cheerful.

The window by the table got the same brown fabric, but with a yellow ruffle at the bottom (leftover from the privacy curtains): much nicer than the plain white roller blind that had been on this window before.

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And yes, the seats have been recovered! I was going to leave them … I tried overdyeing the dusty rose original fabric, but it wouldn’t hold the Rit dye. And it was PINK. Very pink. Really didn’t go with all the new greens and browns. I had intended to use this fabric, which has a linen like texture and is very lovely, as the privacy curtains for the back bed, but there was just enough to recover the cushions and I couldn’t bear the pink clashing with everything else. The reupholstery job is a very temporary thing at this point (gorilla tape and strategic folds), but I will do a proper job of it now that I know I like how it looks.

The upper bunk got new curtains to close it off from the main space as well as dark curtains over the two side windows. I still need to do something about the front angled window, but that’s a bit trickier to deal with … I’m still pondering. I have one smidgen of green fabric left … I’m thinking cup hooks and elastic loops at the corners.

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The bunk met with the approval of the Small People:

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(Photobomb by The Reluctant Farmer)

It’s not really obvious in the photos, but the wall by the dining room window has been painted – the wallpaper was getting weary, and it was a sort of swirly rose pink. I’ve left it in several places, but I painted over the wall by the table and around the bathroom sink, as those spots were easy to get to and looking pretty worn. I used some leftover beige paint from Princess Girl’s bedroom – it looks quite good, actually.

We like to keep the driver/passenger seats blocked off from the living area when we are parked. I had some white curtains that I’d sewn for something else and we’d hung them across the opening years ago on a tension rod. I rigged up a different rod (having mitched the tension rod for the space at the back) from some of the leftover gold trim and three Command Hooks, dyed the white fabric a sunny yellow, and voila.

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Some hand woven cotton fabric strategically draped over the chair to the right, an unused creamy satiny bedspread over the top bunk, and it’s a whole new place!

I’m still working on some more painting, I need to do something about the trim around the back of the dinette benches, and I have to get the mirror hung back up. And put a shelf over the door. And maybe some jars mounted under the kitchen cabinet for tea and hot chocolate and coffee and sugar and honey, instead of the paper towel holder that’s there now.

But it’s looking lovely, and I’m very happy with the progress.

All this for under $90: most of that went to fabric, then curtain rods. I scavenged fabric for drapes, reused a bedspread, found a use for some woven fabric, repurposed one long curtain rod, and used up some leftover paint.

More puttering is bound to ensue, but it’s a fun project.

Fishing season opens later this month!

25 April 2015

Sleep meds

One of the very best things about sleep medications:

Knowing with absolute certainty that you will sleep soundly for a minimum of eight hours. 

Knowing that you don't have to spend two or three hours struggling to unwind and relax enough to sleep... You can just dissolve that magic chemical under your tongue, read for a bit, and drift off. Like a normal person. 

It's so good to actually look forward to sleeping... Now that it's not such hard work.