The problems with my back began a little after my mom died. I recall walking Doctor in the rain and as I stepped onto a wet metal grate, my foot slipped and my back went out. I could’t stand upright without pain and, trying to be as cost conscious I could be, found a nearby chiropractor through Groupon.
Part of the Groupon deal was also an x-ray package taken before chiropractor work could be done. I met with the chiropractor who took several x-rays of my back with directions to come back the next day. The follow-up appointment started off a little weird with a request that he retake my x-rays again. I figured that I must have moved during the initial exam somehow screwing it up. Later I found out it was because he didn’t want me to think he switched my x-rays with another one because my spine looked so bad.
“How can you walk?”
“Didn’t you know you had scoliosis?”
I was bombarded with a bunch of questions, trying to keep my composure of the news but upset the chiropractor suggested Paul come with me to decide on what I should do next. (To this day, I wonder if he would have told me to bring my parents if I was a single woman.)
The chiropractor came up with a program, a very expensive program to my regret. Ultimately, I went to my primary care doctor for better x-rays and to see about a physical therapy program to strength my core to support my spine. Surgery was out of the question for me. I was too old for rods and recuperation time would take months.
Currently, I combine occasional massages when my back is really acting up with monthly chiropractor appointments (I found a better guy) but I still suffer flare ups. It’s especially painful days before my menstrual cycle, hurting on one side of the curve a few days (the curve is on my left) and then the other side the following few days. Some days, it hurts for no reason at all.
I was warned that arthritis in my future and suggested I take up yoga to keep my flexibility. Mind you it’s nothing fancy. I plop on YouTube, tune into Yoga With Adriene and take a moment to stretch out my back every morning.
There are still days when my back is really aching, like I can’t get out of bed type of pain. With a history of ulcers since high school I’ve tried to stay from aspirin as much as possible. So last spring, I delved into the world of cannabis.
Background: Nancy Reagan really got into my head in the 1980s leaving an indelible scar that drugs are bad and used by bad people. Since 2016 with the passing of Proposition 64, I’ve been rewiring my brain trying to get over the stigma of cannabis. Since its legalization in California, I started doing research and eventually dipped my toes into using it as a form of self-care.
My first dive was visiting Thrive CBD in Pacific Beach. It looked like any other head shop but I went in open-minded and walked out with a tincture. A one fluid ounce bottle flavored with peppermint was about $100. Instructions were to start with three drops under my tongue, hold it for 30 seconds and swallow. Combined with yoga, my pain decreased and even Paul who reluctantly tried it when he had back problems was surprised he forgot about the pain.
As more dispensaries started popping up, I visited more places, many of which were much nicer than Thrive but also sold products with THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that promotes a high sensation. (CBD doesn’t create a high and actually counteracts any THC.) These shops like Urbn Leaf and MedMen also had security. You couldn’t enter without showing your ID and someone looking in your purse.
Recreational marijuana like buds are sold with other products like cookies, mints, bath oils, etc. It’s basically a boutique. Over the course of a year, I relied on CBD tinctures with a tiny amount of THC, pure CDB gummies, CBD salves and tea. With my tolerance so low to alcohol, I knew my tolerance to anything with THC would also be low. I only rely on products with THC it when my pain reaches a certain threshold.
Examples include Kikoko Tea at night when the pain keeps me up. Drinking a cup of Sympa-Tea feels like full massage. With only 3 mg of THC, the tea sends me straight to bed. The next morning I feel fine with no weird sensations. I also rely on Real Wellness salve by former football player Ricky Williams. The coconut-oil based salve is hit-or-miss for me but at $50 a jar, I’m trying to use it more often. Gummies by Plus Products with pure CBD or the nighttime version with 4.5 mg of THC (I only eat half a gummy) are part of my routine. For Christmas, a good friend also gave me a rechargeable vape that uses different cartridges. Currently in the device is a cartridge is mix of THC and CBD, a strain called Cherry Cheesecake that unfortunately tastes nothing like cheesecake. I’m still working through it but I’m unused to smoking anything. Last in my arsenal is a transdermal patch with pure CBD. I’m saving it when my back is in really bad shape.
None of these are inexpensive but so worth it. Combining the cost of products with actual appointments are just a few things to make my back feel better during the day and get a full night of pain-free sleep.