My body can be a bit of a dick – a reality that has taken me from appointment to appointment at a variety of medical specialists as they try to figure out the cause of the variety of mysterious aches, pains and dysfunctions in my body. Whether it be a sudden attack of crippling joint pain that renders me useless for anywhere from two hours to an entire week, or a stabbing pain in the left side of my abdomen that feels as if my ovary is attempting to leap out of my body, I’ve been grappling with baffling illnesses for quite some time now.
Theories have ranged from undiagnosed lyme disease to rheumatoid arthritis to the unpleasant potential of lupus. Some doctors have claimed I’m just too anxious, while better doctors have stated that they just haven’t figured out what the exact cause of my distress is. One doctor has suspected endometriosis and adhesive disease, which has lead me to the very exciting reality of my first ever surgical procedure tomorrow. (I always imagined my first time happening this way!)
The fairly pathetic reality of suffering from a chronic illness that qualifies you for your very own episode of Mystery Diagnosis is that the greatest joy in your life is potentially knowing what is going on in your body. At 25-years-old, I would love for there to be more interesting things that arouse excitement, but when large chunks of my life have been surrendered to pain, the potential for long-term relief is the most exciting thing of all.
But there’s a caveat to the laparoscopy extravaganza – the pain relievers that have become a normal part of my daily diet in order to keep me functioning are not allowed for the week leading up to surgery. I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of my lungs when my doctor told me I was not to take anything – hydrocodone, ibuprofen or anything in between – for the next week.
And so begins the story of how I smoked pot for the first time in well over a year in order to soothe my chronic pain. I’m by no means opposed to marijuana. Frankly, I have no opinion on it. I attended an art high school and wore a lot of flannel, so I’m sure you can assume what my relationship with weed was in a previous life. As I’ve grown up, I’ve merely outgrown it. But pain changes your relationship with the world, amongst other things.
After a day spent crumpled up on my couch with a heating pad, crying in a rheumatologist’s office after they fucked up scheduling my appointment and several failed attempts to soothe my pain with turmeric, ginger, raspberry leaf and a myriad of other holistic remedies, I was at my wits end. The very real potential of scar tissue gluing some of my pelvic organs together causes excruciating pain that renders me unable to stand up straight and leaves me so nauseated I can’t eat for hours. I had to seek a solution in order to survive.
So, after consulting with my boyfriend and seeking approval (because I am no longer the young rebel who casually smoked joints on the soccer field of my high school in the middle of class in full view of the school), I decided the only solution was to attempt to buy some weed and hope it dulled the pain enough to help me get to sleep and forget this awful day. Thankfully, I am a grownup with grownup friends who smoke and no longer have to go to the grungy apartments at Kenilworth filled with seven high school drop outs who all play bass and refuse to let me leave until I play Call of Duty with them. No, this time I was able to appeal to a sympathetic adult who knew better than to subject me to such nonsense.
I hate to be the person who smokes and then refuses to shut up about it, but I’m going to do precisely just that. Medicinal marijuana is a thing for a reason and I’m horrified that there is any sort of debate as to its use. What had been an incapacitating stabbing pain that began in my pelvis and radiated all the way up my spine ended up reducing to a dull ache that allowed me to lay down comfortably and – for the most part – sleep through the night. I was able to eat Chik-Fil-A while enjoying the added bonus of giggling like a fool as I tried to describe the absolute pleasure of eating while stoned to Joel. Yeah, I sounded like an idiot. But seeing as it was 8 o’clock at night and it was the first food I had been able to comfortably eat all day, I could not have given less of a fuck. I even ate Oreos for the first time in months. Reese’s cup flavored Oreos, because fuck you, I deserve to enjoy some portion of this miserable week.
The next few days were sprinkled with nostalgic, fish out of water trips to J Friendly’s to pick up the cheapest bowl I could find (and feel as though I was a 60-year-old man with glaucoma attempting to smoke for the first time in my life). Then there was the creation of scent-diffusing device my friend and I used to employ when we would smoke in her walk-in closet in high school. It consists of a toilet paper tube with a dryer sheet attached to one end that you blow smoke through in an effort to minimize odor. I figured the less I stank up the apartment, the better. Sitting on my bathroom floor with the fan blowing full blast as I blew smoke through my Mcguyver air purifier, I couldn’t help but giggle at how a week of agony had turned delightfully ridiculous.
Rather than let myself wallow in pain as I had done for the last several months, I decided to go stuff my face full of Oreos, turn on Rick and Morty and try to turn off all thoughts of bodily failure that had been stirring uncontrollable anxiety for the past year.
I hope more than anything that within the next 24 hours this nightmare will be over and my body will be at optimal levels of functioning. But if not, well, at least I know I can still fall back of the reckless misadventures of my youth.
Molly Regan is an improviser and writer in Baltimore. She likes chicken pot pie, Adam Scott’s butt and riot grrl.