Archive for May, 2017

Life Imitates Art

May 29, 2017

           A few years ago, I wrote a one-act play called Brownies. It was about a woman in Sun City whose grandson helps her get a medical marijuana card to ease the pain of her arthritis. She bakes some marijuana and regular brownies and by accident serves the “potted” ones to her poker group.

My youngest son has been touting the benefits I would get from a medical marijuana card. He knows I wake up at two or three in the morning and can’t get back to sleep, due to anxiety. He worked an event for Green Star Doctors, a firm with a doctor qualifies people for the card and can sign the paperwork for it. My son said since he wasn’t getting a card, he could get me a discount.

I made an appointment for a Saturday and printed out the records from my most recent visit to my primary care physician, my annual checkup. I’m diagnosed with anxiety and depression, so I figured that would do it.

When I entered the Green Star Doctors waiting room, I was surprised that none of the people in the room were in the eighteen to thirty-two-year-old male group I had thought were the majority of Arizona Medical Marijuana Cards. I’ve since looked up the data on Arizona Medical Marijuana Cards. The latest statistics are from the Department of Health Services’s 2016 report. There were 100,000 people with cards. The age ranges of 18 to 30, 31-40 had 24% and 20% of the total number of cards issued. 61-70 year-olds had 15% of the cards issued.

There was a middle-aged man in a wheel chair and a woman who was a senior citizen. The waiting room had food available: cut veggies with a ranch and candy, lots of candy.

The doctor, dressed in jeans and a tee shirt, looked over my records. She told me that the only reasons I could get a Medical Marijuana Card were pain and PTSD. I told her I had leg pain and pulled up my pants to show her the six-inch ace bandages from my recent vein surgery. She said she would need a letter from the vein surgeon with my diagnosis and stating that I suffered from pain in my legs. I happened to have a post-op appointment with the vein doctor on Monday.

During my appointment on Monday, I mentioned to the doctor that I needed a note from him to get an Arizona Medical Marijuana Card. He didn’t blink an eye. He said he would write it and I could pick it up on my way out.

I went back the Green Star Doctors. The receptionist looked at the note. She immediately took me into a side room, took my photo on a computer and had me fill out the paperwork for the state of Arizona. I saw the doctor a few minutes later, and she verified that I was eligible for the card and signed the needed documents.

I paid $150 to the State of Arizona for a one year card. I paid the Green Doctors $100, since my son had arranged for a $50 discount. The receptionist told me that the card would come in the mail in eight to ten business days.

The card came two days before I moved back to Munds Park for the summer. I decided to wait and use a medical marijuana dispensary in Flagstaff. I knew there was one near the Dollar Store and across the street from Safeway on South Plaza Way. I’d gone there for research when I’d written the play. I asked my friends in California for suggestions on what to buy. (Although I went to college in the sixties, I rarely used drugs. My best friends weren’t into it and I knew two guys who had ruined their brains with acid and speed.) They recommended Setiva for depression and Indica for sleep problems. Since I’ve never smoked cigarettes or rolled a joint, they suggested I do a vape pen. I had tried edibles with them and didn’t like the inconsistency of the products.

I went onto High Mountain Health Medical Dispensary on a Friday afternoon. I had to fill out forms and show my Arizona Medical Marijuana Card and my driver’s license. They gave me a booklet to peruse as I waited my turn. It wasn’t very busy and the waiting room looked like the variety of people one would see in a grocery store.

When my name was called, I went into a locked room that held the products. There were counters and at least four staffed stations. Behind the counters were apothecary jars of “flowers” as well as small bottles with tinctures and “candy.” The edibles included gummy bears, sour gummy rings, and many more.

The staff person I dealt with seemed knowledgeable. I had to show my Marijuana card and my driver’s license again. I explained what I wanted and he showed me a “pen” and a vial with concentrate that the dispensary manufactures. He discussed the concentrations but it went over my head. I settled on a lower concentration of the Indica and a higher one for Setiva. The pens were $10 each, including the chargers. The Indica concentrate was $41.30. Since the Setiva was $65, he suggested that I come back the next day, Saturday, since it was always 25% off on Saturdays. He also said to order online so I wouldn’t have to wait. He gave me a wooden token and asked me to put it in one of three containers near the exit. The containers were labeled with names of Flagstaff nonprofit organizations. The container which had the most tokens at the end of the week got a donation from the dispensary.

I went home and charged the vape pens. After that, I unscrewed one of the chargers and screwed on the concentrate. That night, when I woke up at three in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, I took two hits from the vape pen. The effect was to settle me down enough to do my deep breathing and get right back to sleep. A miracle!

The next morning it took over forty-five minutes for me to figure out how to order online. Joan and I were going to a painting class as Warner’s Nursery that day, so I stopped by the dispensary before that. Although there were many people in the waiting room, my name was called very soon. I was again taken into the locked back room. I had ordered the wrong product, but the staff person steered me to what I wanted and, indeed, it was 25% off. I was given another token and off I went. According to my California friends, the amount I bought should last several months.

Later that afternoon, I tried out my Setiva. The concentrate didn’t fit into the vape pen. I called the dispensary and they told me I had been sold the wrong pen for that concentrate. I went back to Flagstaff and swapped it out for another pen. I took it home and charged up the battery. When it was ready, I screwed in the Setiva. But this pen wasn’t like the one I’d used the night before. That one I just inhaled and it worked. This one came with instructions that involved clicking five times to turn it on, three times to change the voltage (like I understood that,) and two times to preheat. I grew frustrated and decided to put it off for another day.

I did try it again the next week. It was weird because it lifted my mood but I didn’t get high or hungry. I guess that’s a good thing.

I was out of step with my contemporaries as far as smoking marijuana in the old days, so I can’t report whether the strains are more potent, although people tell me they are.

I’m dubious about using the products, but I don’t want to start down the road of sleeping pills or increase the dosage of the antidepressant, so I’ll give it the old “college” try like I didn’t do in the past.

 

 

 

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The Fearsome Foursome Ride the Colorado River

May 8, 2017

 

 

 

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The Fearless Foursome (Donna, Judy, Shannon and I) headed from their homes in the Phoenix area to Peach Springs, Arizona for a one day white water rafting trip on the Colorado River in the western part of the Grand Canyon. The trip from Phoenix to Peach Springs took about three and a half hours.

We stopped at Seligman, an old town on Route 66. We visited in the souvenir shops and ate at Westside Lilo’s Café, a restaurant with excellent German and American food. My lunch, a dense and delicious carrot cake was so big I took it with us and we ate on it for several days.

After we checked into the Hualupai Lodge, Donna and Shannon got on their suits and went to the pool. Judy was still recovering from food poisoning four days before the trip. Donna and Shannon came back and convinced us to join them at the outside spa. The rules of the pool gave us the giggles, especially the exhortation to not go in the pool if suffering from diarrhea.

Judy and I went to the Lodge’s dining room for dinner. (Donna ate the leftovers of her lunch in the room. Shannon has a specialized diet and had brought her own food.) I tasted the Hualapai green chili, but it was too spicy for me. I ate the Haulapai stew instead. It was tasty and served with piping hot fry bread.

We did a lot of laughing before finally going to sleep.

We went to the complimentary breakfast the next morning, turned in our injury waivers, received white bracelets and awaited the start of our adventure. J.B., our driver, arrived in a van. He flirted shamelessly with Donna.

There were only six people on our trip. During the height of the summer, the trips had sixty to one hundred people. We met the other couple on our trip, Bill and Angela. It was his birthday. Donna and I were the oldest of the bunch.

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B.J. drove us from Peach Springs down to Diamond Creek, the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We had to stop for a rattlesnake that didn’t want to get out of the road.

After we visited the last bathroom for the day, Robert and Bronson, our boatmen, outfitted us with PFD (personal floatation devices) otherwise known as life jackets. There were two boats: one with us, Robert, and Bronson; the other with a camera guy, a boatman and an extra fellow.

The scenery was gorgeous. All the photos of the Grand Canyon cannot communicate its magnificence.

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The rapids are scored from one to ten. The river was low so the rapids we experienced were three to five, big enough for thrills but not dangerous or too scary.

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We had our ponchos and rain jackets on, but we still got soaked as the water sprayed the pontoon boat. I couldn’t stop laughing as we bounced up and down in our craft.

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We headed to a beach to take a hike to the Travertine Falls. I was worried about this part of the trip, concerned that I wouldn’t have the stamina. I went to the gym more than my usual once a week and put the incline of the treadmill up to “seven.” It didn’t make any difference because “hike” is a loose word for this part of the trek. It was more a rock scramble. Luckily there were only six of us and five helpers. We walked up sheer rock holding on to a rope. We climbed up two rope ladders. Since I have a size twelve foot, it was hard to get a toe-hold on the short steps. The helpers had us put our toes in rock crags and pulled us up.

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We walked in the creek, through a cave and came upon the falls. It was worth it.

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I bought Coolibar SPF 50 clothing for the trip, a long-sleeved tee shirt and beach pants. As the pants got wet, they elongated. I had to roll them up so I wouldn’t trip on them. However, I was the only person who did not get any sunburn.

 

When we got back to the opening of the cave, Robert suggested that I slide down. I sat down and away I went, ending up on my feet in a deep pool. A bit hard on the knees but so fun!

As we scrambled down the rocks, I substituted sliding on my butt for going down one of the rope ladders. Now my pants were brown and too long.

After a short rest, we got back in the boat and went through the bigger rapids. Everyone but me go into the bottom of the boat. I sat in the middle seat and hung on.

 

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We travelled about twenty miles on the Colorado River. We stopped at a sandy beach and had lunch. Luckily there was a salad that Shannon could eat. The cold cut sandwiches were hearty, too much for me. We also had chips and soda, tea or water.

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The motor boat took us the next twenty miles with no rapids.

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We were very upset to find out that we were not going to get the helicopter ride out of the canyon. I was sure I had arranged it. The booking agent had even asked our weights, saying it she needed them to balance the helicopter. The waivers we’d signed that morning also asked our weights. We left Bill and Angela at the heliport for their trip back to Las Vegas. That’s also where the glass bridge is that juts out over the canyon. None of us were interested in paying the money to see it.

We continued another seventeen miles to the end of the Grand Canyon. After we used the porta-potties, a different driver took us back to Peach Springs, via Kingman. It was a two-hour ride back to the Lodge.

I spoke with the man at the expedition desk. He said we could have added the helicopter ride that morning, but of course we didn’t know it wasn’t included in our package. I was not that upset, as I was not happy about going in a helicopter. The ride from the bottom of the canyon to the rim was only six minutes long and would have cost an extra ninety dollars.

We took much needed showers and went to dinner at the lodge’s dining room. It had been a long day and we went to bed early.

On the way back to Phoenix, we did car karaoke. We stopped at the Rock Springs Café for lunch.

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My thanks to Donna, who did all the driving. I think Shannon, who’s forty, found out that old people are fun.

I would do it again. We got the package with four to a room. There were two king-sized beds in the room. The package was $383 each, and included one night’s stay at the lodge and the one-day river trip, and trip insurance in case one of us couldn’t make the trip. The second night’s lodging was $112. Add $90 for the helicopter ride. Go to http://www.grandcanyonwest.com to book your trip. I think they’re running a Mother’s Day special.