June 2015--There have been some changes in our lives. Bats and Bones will be out this fall, but this is the article I wrote for the Point Reyes Light that was published today, and it explains what has been happening in our lives:
The New Face of Medical Marijuana
Published by the Point Reyes Light
I spoke last week at the Marin County Board of Supervisors workshop on
the proposal for medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Marin.
A variety of opinions on the proposal, and on medical marijuana in
general, were voiced, and a shocking level of naÔvetť displayed.
Apparently, when some hear the words medical marijuana, the only image
they have is of someone smoking bud all day to stay blazed. Some voiced
the ridiculous notion that by not allowing storefront dispensaries,
their children would have less access to illegal marijuana. The fact
that youth can get virtually any illegal drug without a problem did not
put a dent in their fears.
Stereotypes are difficult to overcome,
but thatís not why Iíve become an advocate for medical marijuana, or
why I hope a store dispensary eventually opens somewhere far from
schools in West Marin. The reason I spoke, the reason Iím writing and
the biggest reason Iíve become an advocate is C.B.D.
cannabidiol, the compound in medical marijuana with the greatest
concentration of pain and spasm-reducing medicine and the least
psychoactive side effects. You donít feel stoned. You donít feel
drugged. What you do feel is profound pain relief, a return to some
semblance of normalóand a return of hope.
I have personal
experience with C.B.D. Last year, after prostate cancer surgery, I had
some unexpected complications. I had to wear a catheter for 34 days, and
I suffered from the worst pain Iíve ever experienced: bladder spasms.
If you are a man who has ever had these, you know what Iím talking
about. I had a prescription from my surgeon that stopped the spasms for a
few hours, but it made me feel bloated and sedentary, and the spasms
My delivery dispensary knew what I was going
through, having done their own research on my behalf. They happened to
call me during one of the worst periods of these spasms and offered to
drive out and bring something they thought would help. It was a small
lozenge of C.B.D. I was curled in the fetal position, unable to do
anything. I sucked the lozenge. About 15 minutes later, I noticed the
spasms lessoning. After 30 minutes, they were gone. I was impressed, but
I wasnít yet convinced. It could have been the placebo effect, because I
was so desperate for relief.
Two days later, the spasms
returned with a vengeance. I took another lozenge. The spasms went away
again, and never returned. There was something to this. During the
remainder of my recovery, I took only C.B.D. for pain and discomfort.
The difference was like night and day. I no longer felt drugged. I felt
A few weeks ago, Karen and I were preparing for a
joyous 30th wedding anniversary trip. Three days before leaving, Karen
was diagnosed with fibromyalgiaónot terminal, but not curable. Her
condition is characterized by periods of chronic pain in the joints,
muscles and extremities. At its worst, everything seems to hurt. There
is no test to verify this diagnosis; doctors test for many other
illnesses, and by process of elimination, they settle on fibromyalgia.
We are grateful it was not something worse. No lupus, A.L.S., M.S.,
rheumatoid arthritis. Yet despite the complete mystery of this syndrome,
a specialist wanted to put Karen on anti-depressants, and he offered an
impressive array of narcotics and steroids. This struck us as a
pincushion approach, and we are both wary of narcotic pain medicine.
We began to research how these drugs affect women, and also how women
are dealing with the syndrome holistically. We saw a profound difference
in the long-term health effects and comfort between the two approaches.
The holistic approach consists of a daily protocol of stretching,
gentle exercise (bike, hike, swim), an anti-inflammatory diet, warm
baths and a strict adherence to a good sleep routine. And when Karen
experiences a bad flare-up, she takes a tincture of C.B.D. oil under her
tongue. Tylenol helps with any feverish feeling, but Aleve and Advil do
nothing for fibro.
To be clear, this syndrome has a mind of its
own. No one can truly predict how the pain will be from day to day. But
there was a turning point for us, not only in dealing with
fibromyalgia, but also in our support for medical marijuana.
were visiting Karenís brother, on the first leg of our anniversary trip.
Air travel is cruel for people in chronic pain. Karen got off the
series of flights and needed a cane for the first time in her life. The
pain worsened through the early evening. When we got to her brotherís
house, she was in a very bad way. She needed a warm bath and a much
stronger dose of C.B.D. than sheíd taken up to that point. The bathtub
was upstairs. Her brother and I watched as she insisted on crawling up
the stairs. She could not walk, and did not want our help; she needed to
know she could do it on her own. It was very brave of her, but it was
also one of the most difficult things Iíve ever witnessed. Both Karen
and I were thinking, ďThis is the rest of our lives?Ē Her brother and I
sat, shell-shocked, in the living room.
Then, an amazing thing
happened. About 30 minutes later, she almost bounded down the stairs and
confidently strode into the living room. She proceeded to do a couple
of belly dance shimmies for us. My jaw still resides on that carpet.But
the look on her face said it all: Hope had returned. As soon as her pain
began to lift, any hint of depression was gone. ďItís a frigging
miracle,Ē she said.
If you know Karen, she is not prone to that
sort of hyperbole. But it was exactly that. The rest of our trip was
great, in part because of C.B.D., in part because we learned to battle
through this thing and make the best of it.
Since then, there
have been very good days (swimming at Shell Beach, then walking slowly
up the hill to the parking lot without aid) and days that are not so
good. But her worst days are still significantly better than what she
experienced during our travels. We are continuing our research and
networking with women who are finding success in this approach. But
mostly, we are sticking to the daily protocol, and helping control pain
exclusively with C.B.D.
We have also both found other uses for
C.B.D. For example, one of the medicines (Cipro) I was given for my
prostate caused my left Achilles tendon to tear (a known possible side
effect of the drug in men over 50). It may need surgical repair, but in
the meantime, when it barks at me, I take C.B.D. and the pain leaves for
12 hours. Karenís monthly menstrual cycle is pain free. In other words,
we use C.B.D. for all our pain, and it is spectacularly effective.
We are not naÔve about medical marijuana. I have seen marijuana
addiction, and it is not a pretty sight. Neither Karen nor I smoke it. I
donít mind the buzz you get from T.H.C., but Karen does not like it. So
we use a tincture that is high in C.B.D. and low in T.H.C. Iíll say it
again: You donít feel stoned.
We are advocates out of necessity.
Western medicine does certain things very well, but it does not do well
with fibromyalgia, or chronic pain in general. There are better
alternatives to strong anti-inflammatory medicines that have long-term
impacts on kidneys, and to addictive narcotics. Many studies of possible
side effects to C.B.D. are now under way, but there are none currently
known. The only advice we have about it is to take it with food.
Everyone should have access to C.B.D., and it should not involve a
90-minute drive to San Francisco. It should not involve long delivery
distances and the extra costs associated with them. It should be easily
available for those with chronic or spasmodic pain. It should not be the
Wild West out there for those choosing an alternative to Western
medicine. It should be entirely legal. And it should involve the sort of
careful, person-to-person relationship weíve had with the staff of our
dispensaries. They are not doctors, but increasingly they are becoming
experts in advising their patients. I understand people have concerns
about the security of a storefront, among many other things. But I
havenít heard a concern that cannot be addressed.
People need to
know about C.B.D. It is the new face of medical marijuana, the
breakthrough medicine that will hopefully bring this plant out of the
shadows of its stereotypes and into the lives of the people it can help.
Donít take my word for it. Google it. Educate yourself on how it is
helping people around the globe. Dateline just aired a special last
Sunday on how it is helping change the lives of children with epilepsy,
and the minds of skeptics everywhere. It is only a matter of time before
it catches on, but we are not content waiting. We want it as soon as
As we get older, we all have aches and pains. Karen and
I are no different than most of you, except that we use C.B.D. for our
pain. With the lemons weíve been given, Karen and I are choosing to make
lemonade. We proudly and happily count ourselves among the many faces
of the new medical marijuana. Peace.
Jeffrey Hickey is
an Independent Publisher Book Award-winning novelist. He has lived with
his wife, Karen, in Inverness for 17 years.
WEST-PACIFIC Ė BEST REGIONAL FICTION
Gold: Californios: A Surf Noir Collection, by Jeff McElroy
Silver: Scary, Man, by Jeffrey Hickey (CreateSpace)
Bronze (tie): The Condor Song: A Novel of Suspense, by Darryl Nyznyk (Cross Dove Publishing)
Two Performance Artists Kidnap Their Boss and Do Things With Him, by Scotch Wichmann (Freakshow Books)
Here are the Amazon links to my three novels:
The Coach's Son
Review for Scary, Man (Paperback)
By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA)
5.0 out of 5 stars
'My name is Griffin Donnelly and my blood is O negative. I am a universal dono
September 26, 2013
For those readers fortunate enough to have read Jeffrey Hickey's
previous two novels, MOREHEAD and THE COACH'S SON, the success of this
his most recent foray into the hows and whys we as human beings relate
to each other and to the world around us - this book so very aptly
titled SCARY, MAN - will be no surprise. Although even with the fine
after taste of Hickey's talent remembered from those first books will
likely not prepare for the acknowledgement that here is a major American
novel. It is simply that. Hickey more than most any other current
writer - in the realm of Augusten Burroughs, Jonathan Safran Foer, David
Sedaris - has mastered comedic writing, but the startling discovery is
that Hickey is equally impressive and effective writing about
contemporary mores, the manner in which the world has changed with the
invention of social media, the changing perception of same sex people
and altered rules and regulations that remain ahead of small minded
people who simply haven't a clue what being unique is all about, and on
and on. But to the story.
Griffin Donnelly (pause long enough to
absorb the history behind the first name of mythological `griffins'...)
is a storyteller in Marin County, California who lives with his
comfortable wife Samantha and their only daughter Clare (Griffin had a
vasectomy after Clare's birth). Griffin's income from his traveling very
popular storytelling gigs around schools and clubs is inadequate to
support their lifestyle so Samantha does day care. During an El NiŮo
storm Griffin is stuck in Fort Bragg schools where a key incident
(Griffin is relieving himself in the school restroom and a young boy
walks in and stares at Griffin's voiding - nothing more) lets us know
that all is not going to be a smooth ride in the pages to follow. Other
incidents happen due to the impossible storm and are also fodder for a
rumor mill that will last through the book. Rumor mongers infiltrate the
Donnelley's' lives and Griffin's passion for making children happy and
entertained is altered by an imposed week of being a cabin parent in a
school camp, assigned to a group of difficult boys and complicated by
what Griffin thinks might be a flirtation by a very popular and
beautiful black teacher - until he discovers that he Is being used as a
cover for that teacher's lesbian lifestyle. Camp abruptly ends when
Samantha retrieves him because Griffin's parents are killed in an auto
accident caused by Griffin's drunken father. Using an inheritance from
his very distant parents our little family moves to Inverness,
California -a small town with small people - and Griffin is left home to
write while Samantha goes off to college to pursue her dream of
teaching. Griffin's low self-esteem gradually becomes alcoholism and
obesity and life must change in order to retrieve his exited wife and
daughter. Griffin begins donating blood to help elevate his sense of
worth, finds the process giving his O Negative blood satisfying and
fascinating enough that he decides to write a book about it, called MY
BLOOD. Life settles in a bit until Griffin learns that Samantha is
bisexual and has been having away from home temptations with women, and
in addition to this news they both discover on Clare's fifteenth
birthday party that Clare is also a lesbian. How all of this turns out
keeps the book potent until the final page - including a `scary, man'
bout of atrial fibrillation for Griffin, a hope that his book MY BLOOD
will be published only to be dampened by the powers that be refusing to
allow him to interview people who have been recipients, and a ballast of
ill will from small minds in town buoyed by making new friends with
Clare's girlfriend's lesbian mother and her absentee Castro District gay
father, etc, etc, etc.
This is a very long book (some chapters
are long enough to be novellas) but there is not a page that could be
edited out, so rich is the content and the manner of writing. While this
review's summary may seem to give the whole story away all it truly
does is touch lightly on a few of the highlights the Jeffery Hickey has
sculpted into a masterful work. In a word it is brilliant - as prose,
as social commentary, and as a purge for those buried feelings most of
us have about issues we cannot control - or perhaps we just may be able
to...Scary, Man! Grady Harp, September 13