Thursday, 31 March 2016

My Righteous Turn to Talk


I got bible-thumped the other night.  But it was a free ride so ... I just let it happen.

I smiled as he told me about Jesus and the book.  As though I, at 42 wonderful years wouldn't
already know about him and it.

I was baptized and raised Catholic.  I have opinions of my own about that book.  Yet my faith was supposed to supersede questions or curiosity or the desire to comprehend.

But this guy schooled me with such surety.  Like he had no doubts that A). he was right and B). I gave a shit.  I sat in awe of his confidence that I was listening.  How does he do that?  How was he so sure that I wanted to hear any of that nonsensical fairy tale sillyness?

In reading about Christianity and all of it's bajillion different sects, I've learned that this way of acting is a common thing.  This man spoke as though he were so RIGHTEOUS that it choked me.  That word.  Man, who knew it had so many meanings?

The first 100 or so times I heard that word, it was preceded with the word "self" so to be honest, I was surprised to ever hear it used in a positive way.  But it's supposed to be a good thing ... to be righteous.  To "act in accord with divine or moral law".  Sounds like a know-it-all to me.

And so I thought, what the heck ... I'll bite.  So I says, "I just have a real problem that this book was put together by a roomful of men.  I'm bothered by the fact that women are few and far between in those pages."

He smiled righteously, ready for catechism #2.  He listed other females from the book, as though that mattered.  For me, it's not so much the name or the existence of the female form in the bible, it's their role in that book.  Let's face it, women were lower than the bull back then.  This righteous man kept talking about the book as a guideline for how to live our lives.  While in reality, if that were the truth, I'd be barefoot and pregnant, and not needing a free ride from work because my place, as stated very clearly in the book, is to be in service to the master.

I continued to smile sweetly as he spoke of God's love for all of us.

Let me be clear ... I know who God is.  The Goddess and I are tight.  The Source is where it's at, and the Spirit gifts me daily.  I don't need no schooling in spirituality and now that I've had time to digest this experience, I feel somewhat offended.  Let this be a lesson to any and all righteous Christians reading this:  we don't need your help.  Ask before you school.  Don't assume that you are wise and I am not.

My unsolicited spiritual adviser left it with an open invitation to have coffee sometime and talk more about Jesus and the book that I personally believe uses him like porn.  I once again nodded.  Stuck in politeness. But if that time ever comes rest assured .... I will have my own righteous time to talk.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Winning the Fight


When depression grips me, I go down like Gandalf and Balrog.
Sometimes I feel the falling, and gripping at the sides, I cling to the now in desperation.

And all the while I'm down, I'm fighting it.  Winning battles and losing battles.
Being convinced -- but then convincing my demon of my worth.

For Gandalf, it's a fire breathing bull but for me, my dark I call the Krakken.

I realize today, in the moments I write this, how very much I learn from my falls
down that deep, dark hole of depression.

I know that I rise the victor after every fight, for in this fight, not winning means not rising.

My Krakken thinks I'm a waste of space.  Every fight we have is to the death -- literally.
It tries to convince me to give up, to give in, to surrender.

But I rise because some part of me is a fighter, a scrapper, a stubborn Celtic starseed
that will not surrender to the darkness.

And so I win.  I am winning.
Is this what Sheen means?  Did he mean he was winning over his own demon too?

I rose today to see goodness in the world.
I feel love and compassion,
I feel inspired for my future.

In happiness we celebrate;  in struggle we learn.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Envelope $ystem


I overheard three older gentlemen discussing finances yesterday at my local java shop.  The one was talking about his system of rationing his funds.  He cashes his check, pays his rent and then places $15 into 30 separate envelopes for each day of that month.

This one man went on to talk with regretful words, about how he wishes he had paid his debts long ago.  Now he only wants to get back to that $15 a day thing.  

"I just feel better being able to see my money in front of me.  I don't trust those banks and I just like to see my money at home."

He's not alone.  Whether it's under your bed, in your freezer, or in the half empty cereal box up in the cupboard .... wherever you keep your moolah, many believe it to be safer hidden away than kept in a bank.

Can you imagine being content with $15 a day in spending money?  I assume this man eats at Martha's Table, our local non-profit community group that offers low-cost meals to those in need.  It's a busy place, even for this rich city that boasts Canada's first Prime Minister.

But in every group there is a voice of reason.  Of the three gents before me, there was the economist, the hype-guy friend, and the voice-of-reason.

When the economist was talking about the banks being untrustworthy, the hype-guy sat listening intently, nodding his head in agreement with his friend's logic.  He said, "you might have special needs, but you're not stupid right?".  And they all laughed together.

Finally, the voice-of-reason spoke up as though he could no longer bite his tongue.

He said,  "Dave ... you been using that envelope system for all of the years that I've known you.  But it doesn't always work."

At this, the economist and his hype-guy friend both paused and looked straight at their friend who continued, his voice rising in stern volume as he continued .....

"Your envelope $ystem doesn't work Dave because you kept taking money out of the other ENVELOPES!!!".

I couldn't keep a straight face any longer and I turned myself so I was looking out the window.  So much logic on a Monday afternoon.

The only reason I was there, was the free coffee I won with their yearly contest.  Buying coffee isn't usually what I do.  I looked around that coffee shop and saw so many other people who are struggling with their finances.

I'd like just one day where I don't worry about money.

How about you?

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Limestone City Gets Cannabis 101


When you're prescribed a new medication, a Pharmacist gives you the talk.  Almost every single prescription comes with a long list of data and directions telling you every thing you need to know about that pill or puffer or emulsion.  But what if you're prescribed Cannabis?  Where does one learn how to use this medication?  For many, this is a roadblock to health.  For many, they have no idea where to start and the thought of smoking turns them off.  Lack of education is clearly to blame.

Many of us learn about Cannabinoid therapy via the internet.  But googling is an art so we see a dire need for face-to-face counsel in all things Cannabis.  I am proud to say that Kingston is getting just that.  A group called Canadian Cannabis Clinics are opening their 12th Ontario location here in the home of Canada's first Prime Minister.



Some may say that this does not a big deal make, since Kingston has had Medi-Green, a medical marijuana and pain management clinic for almost eight years. But Medi-Green, like so many other "cannabis-educators" out there, charge you the patient to learn about this medicine.  Whether it's $149 or $300, no one living within a single-paying healthcare country should have to pay to learn about any medicine.  That's why CCC is different.  The appointments are free with a valid Health card.  I encourage you to peruse both of the websites provided as they both contain a wealth of information.

Here are what I believe to be the pros and cons of this Cannabis Clinic opening on Princess Street in April.

PRO's

1).  Education education education!  This is never a bad thing and since your family doctor learned nothing about Cannaboinoid therapy in med school, it's up to you to learn about Cannabis.  Dispelling the myths and ill perceptions of how a person can use this dried plant flower, is crucial.  Smoking is only one way to ingest it, and as you'll learn at CCC, vaporizing is the preferred method of inhalation holding almost zero detriment.  Think asthma inhaler, without the side effects of steroids.  Other ways to ingest are via concentrated oils, oil infusions, tinctures, and baked goods.

2).  This move legitimizes Cannabis as a real medicine.  There are studies to support this medicine, CCC can show you.  If Cannabis can replace something you've been written a prescription for, with fewer side effects, then why shouldn't you try? Why wouldn't you want to learn more?

3).  Kingston needs Cannabinoid therapy.  In fact, alcohol and opium have been hidden in the streets of Ktown since Sir John himself lived and breathed and drank way to much of it.  His first wife Isabella became ill and addicted to the Opium tincture Laudanum. For a city of approximately 170, 000 residents, Kingston has six methadone clinics where friends of mine go to get the drink that lets them live.  All of the people I know in the methadone program, became addicted by way of Oxycontin scripts from their medical doctor.  Cannabis can help.  In fact, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren agrees here where she asks the CDC to consider Cannabis an alternative pain killer.

CONS

1).  Appointments are made on a referral basis only, so you still have to search for a doctor in the know.  Many assume that anyone needing medical marijuana can get it through the government program.  But that's not the case at all.  I can't tell you how many people I know who's doctors refuse to discuss it.  Will they refer anyone to the Canadian Cannabis Clinic?  They'll easily write a prescription for an opioid but won't even discuss Cannabis.  Yet we can't blame the doctors, since many med school pain courses were heavily influenced by the makers of opioid medications as reported here.  Lucky for Canadians, you only have to get a written diagnosis from that doctor, and CCC will do the rest.  They consult with and contract Medical Doctors who have been trained in Cannabinoid Medicine.

2).  "Only patients suffering from certain chronic conditions who have not found relief from conventional treatment options should consider cannabis."  Why?  With a history of zero deaths, Cannabinoid therapy would be the first treatment I would try.  It is the safest medicine we have as stated over and over again by doctors and researchers.  Even something as seemingly benign as Aspirin accounts for thousands of deaths every year.  If I suddenly become a chronic pain sufferer, the powers-that-be in Canadian healthcare would like me to try the gamut of painkillers out there. A very recent survey states the dangers of taking Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen sodium.  I'd even go with Cannabinoid therapy if I were diagnosed with cancer.  Many people are holding off on chemo and radiation while their first resort is concentrated cannabis oil.  We should be allowed to decide what course of treatment we do first.

3).  Canadian Cannabis Clinics are only educators, they do NOT supply any product.  The second step down the green path is to sign up with one of the Licensed Producers who grow the medical cannabis in Canada.  The closest one to Ktown is the old Hershey plant under the name of Tweed. All 29 of these million dollar enterprises charge tax and delivery on your medicine.   Some people believe the LP's practice 'predator pricing'.  But I believe that prohibition is what makes this plant so expensive.  MMPR rules state you can only buy your cannabis through the mail but I feel patients should be able to walk into a store or a dispensary and speak to the person dispensing their medicine. This whole getting your meds shipped by Canada Post just seems wrong to me.  This is not access!

When you zoom out to the macro, you see the vast need for education of our medical industry as well.  Though ingested for over 5000 years, our doctors are not educated about medical Cannabis.  I personally feel that Health Canada should implement educational course that must be taken by every doctor in Canada. Every single day I read about people who are basically teaching their family doctors about the wonders of Cannabis.  My own doctor told me he thought he'd learn a lot from me. And it doesn't have to be one form of medicine or the other.  Cannabinoid medicine works WITH western medicine by lowering inflammation, easing side effects and pain, and for some protecting the body from the ravages of chemotherapy.

I think Canadian Cannabis Clinics will be a great addition to our Limestone city.  I also think that a Cannabis dispensary on Princess street should be next.  In fact, there are perfect spaces available in between our MP Mark Gerretsen's office and the LCBO.  It saddens me to think that so long ago Sir John A MacDonald and his first wife Isabella both eased their pains with dangerous substances.  I can't help but wonder how much better their lives would have been if Canadian Cannabis Clinics were around back then.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The CN Tower, Off-Limits to Some?



As a kid growing up in Ontario, the CN Tower was a big deal to me. For years it was known as the world's tallest free-standing tower. That made me a proud young Canadian.  Even today, for Torontonians the CN Tower is like the North Star, helping city-dwellers navigate every day.  I remember the thrill I felt the first time I saw it while driving to Niagara Falls with my family.  That big bulbous tower signified something great in my young psyche.

There's one Ontario kid though, that sees the CN Tower differently now.  He and his family were just turned away from the Tower for the craziest of reasons.  A reason this kid doesn't need to be concerned about.  A reason that does not follow logic, or laws, or compassion.  You see, this kid's step-dad is a chronic pain sufferer. We all know and love one of those.  I too was a kid who's dad had chronic pain.  I've researched, and suggested.  I even asked a psychic once to tap into his energy and tell me how much pain he was really in.  Seeing someone you love grimace in pain leaves a mark that lasts forever.

Mike Knox is this kid's step-dad and he has finally found a medicine that eases his pain without addiction, constipation, nausea, or the numbing of his emotions. Mike is now a legal medical cannabis patient through the MMPR program.  I'd imagine like so many others, Mike tried the Tylen@l  route.  He may have even tried the opioid route too.  Both of which hold well documented detriment to the human body.  Look at this article that says Acetaminophen dulls emotions as well as pain.  Just what a parent wants and needs eh? And look at this summary from the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse.  It states that in Ontario opioid-related deaths increased dramatically from 2004 to 2011.  It increased 242% between 1991 and 2010.  There's clearly a problem here.  Yet both of these poisons are sold and pushed every single day on our fellow humans.  We need to stop the insanity.

Here's the scoop:  Mike took his lady Courtney and her son Lennon to see Canada's great big tower. It was supposed to be an adventure but it turned sour fast.  Before they were allowed entry into the tower they were asked by security to empty their pockets. None had anything to hide, so they did as they were asked.  Mike had his medicine in his pocket.  He even transported it in the prescription bottle it came in. They were only there for the day so he couldn't keep it anywhere else.  The security told him that he was not welcome there and told all three to leave.

The only details that matter here are the facts.  Mike is a legal cannabis user.  Mike followed all of the rules outlined by the MMPR program.  Mike is one of over 40,000 Canadians who use this plant legally for medical purposes and they have been prescribed this medicine by a Medical professional. Yet, like the Security at Canada's Wonderland, these ones are not educated or informed on any of those rules.  Read another blog post I wrote where my friend Anthony Goncalves, a legal cannabis patient was kicked out of Wonderland for ingesting this plant.  He was following the rules too.  And finally I can't help but mention Michael Korchak from Nova Scotia who was told he couldn't bring his prescribed medicine on the Air Canada flight home for the holidays.  Here's his story.  This one in particular hits home for me as I have friends who board their flight tomorrow and will go without their medication for the flight from British Columbia to Quebec.  They're both legal.

Do we understand what the word legal means Canada?

Thankfully, Lennon is only two so he likely won't remember the incident.  But it's a part of his history and that's a shame if you ask me.  His history ... all of our history's include this and other examples of the breakdown of humanity and the double-standards therein.  In the year 2016 Canada has a Liberal Government who promised to legalize this plant completely.  And at what was once known as the world's tallest free standing tower, the Security are not even educated on this Government-run Medical program.  What the hell?  We are better than this Canada.

In closing, I'd like to use this example and the many others that go unnoticed as a "teachable moment".  Ontario alone has many arenas, entertainment venues, museums, and other places where a person may be asked to empty their pockets at the door.  Is this going to continue to happen over and over again?  I'm hereby asking the Liberal Government to add another aspect to their legalization measures.  We need a team of educators to contact each and every one of these venues to ensure that tax-paying, law-abiding citizens are not turned away from their doors because they carry their medicine in their pockets or purse.  For instance, I live in Kingston where our local arena The Rogers K-Rock Centre has won #1 Venue for the past 3 years (under 8000 seats).  I know for a fact that there are legal Cannabis patients in Kingston.  If they come to a concert, function, or hockey game will they be asked to leave for bringing their doctor-prescribed medicine that they intend to consume outside during intermissions?  We must do a better job educating everyone on the rules regulating medical cannabis.