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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Continuing Saga of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Visits

Several more Medical Marijuana Dispensaries have opened in my local area and I have been able to visit many of them.  I actually have a least favorite now and I hate to say, it is probably exactly what the majority of people think of when they think "marijuana dispensary".  From the locations, to actually getting into the building and then everything that happens when you get inside, truth be told, it's just awful.  Let's review...

This particular dispensary is located on a side street smack in the middle of a busy downtown area.  (I'm specifically not naming cities or company names because I'd rather not get sued for my opinion.)  It's hard to get to and if you aren't looking you will miss it.  You have to go down another side street to get to the parking area behind the building - and you can only go one way because the other way around is a one way street so if you are like me and terrible with directions and finding things when you are driving, you end up driving right past the place and going two blocks down to turn around.


Once successfully parked, finding the actual entrance was even a little difficult.  Not sure exactly which side to go around and thinking the door should be at the front of the building made things even more confusing.  The door is actually on the same side as the one way street so you don't see it because you can't go down that way to enter the parking lot.  Finally though, I managed to find the door and quickly realized it was locked and I had to wait for someone to buzz me in.  Standing outside this building and waiting did not make me feel very safe.  Maybe it's the city, maybe it's the specific area of the city.  Regardless, I really felt nervous waiting for someone to open the door for me.

After I was granted access, I opened the door and it hit me immediately - the stench of marijuana so strong I honestly expected someone (or several people actually) to be standing in the lobby with an open baggie rolling a blunt.  No one was though, it just smelled that bad.  It took an excessively long amount of time for the person BEHIND BULLET PROOF GLASS to verify my credentials and check me in.  After that, I was asked to sit down and wait.  I can't lie when I say I was feeling a little out of place and more anxious than I did at any of the other dispensaries.  Some other people came in; people that, I'm sorry to say, give medical marijuana usage a bad name.  I hate to stereotype but these people were the very definition of the term "junkies".  Technically, I was on the bad side of town and I would imagine that was the reason for all the extra security like the locked doors, bullet proof glass and cameras everywhere, but it was the clientele that made me nervous.  Every single person that walked into that dispensary commented on the smell, made loud and obnoxious references to smoking weed and using other drugs, and seriously needed work on their personal hygiene.  I don't mind smoking weed references, but the shooting heroin and hot railing meth talk was a bit much.


Once I was granted access to the back of the dispensary, where they actually keep the product, I noticed the smell wasn't nearly as bad as it was in the lobby.  Perhaps the clientele had something to do with that, though when I first came in no one was even in the lobby but me.  Who knows.  The budtender guy- or weed barista as I like to call them - handed me a sheet of paper with the different selections they had available.  I know I am old and my vision isn't what it used to be (hell, it's always been bad) but this paper had so much crammed onto it in about 6 point font that I simply could not even read it.  When I explained various symptoms I was having and and asked what strains they had to offer that could help, the budtender just told me what he liked.  Not super informative but whatever.  I figured it out.  I noticed their prices were much less expensive than some of the other dispensaries in the area, even the one just across town.  Location, location, location I guess.

Everyone that worked there was basically nice enough and nothing too terrible was technically wrong with the place.  I just prefer the other locations.  I'm glad there is a facility that is able to provide medical marijuana to the clientele in that area and I hope that their usage is above board.  However, from the vibe I was getting, I'm not sure it is.  And that right there is what bothers me about all of this. Visiting this particular Medical Marijuana Dispensary made me feel no different than visiting my friendly neighborhood drug dealer.  Maybe that works for some people, but it's just not the experience I prefer.  It's still good to know that the product isn't going to be mixed or laced with other things and what you purchase is safe; so there is that.




Please enjoy this photo of my new haircut.



Even though I feel like a total Karen after writing this, I promise, I didn't ask to speak to the manager!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Let's make them plushies!

Take a gander at this link to help make the Chargimals into plushies so we can take them everywhere with us!!  Pass along this link to everyone you know because every little bit helps!!  THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Unchargeables & The Chargimals

Due to my long list of chronic illnesses, I haven't been able to gainfully work in nearly six years.  When I had to stop working in the real world, I did my best to do what I could where I could.  Having so many unpredictable illnesses makes keeping a work schedule more than impossible. (Keeping any kind of schedule is nearly impossible!) So I just tried my best to be a mom, be a wife, take care of my family and make the best of the situation that life handed me.  Because I wasn't working in the traditional sense, or bringing in the income that I once did,  I always just felt like a burden.  As much as I knew in my head that wasn't the case, it didn't help my heart from feeling that way.  Over the years things kept changing, my daughter grew up, life happened, and the family I worked so hard to sustain suffered and eventually fell apart.  

It had been a lot of years since I was Corporate America Jenni or even Nurse Jenni.  I wasn't wife Jenni anymore, and when my daughter grew up and moved on with her own life, it somehow changed the Mom Jenni part of me too.  So where did that leave me?  I felt like I had lost myself and everything that once made me who I was.




After a lot of soul searching, a healthy dose of therapy, and more emotional breakdowns than I care to remember, I realized there was one little part of me left that I had nearly forgotten about.  There was still Writer Jenni.  Sure, I occasionally wrote posts on my blog over the years, but what I remembered was that I used to write stories.  Fun, fictional stories that were a great outlet and allowed me to flex my creativity muscles. 


I found an online community for the chronically ill called The Unchargeables.  I don't remember exactly how or when I found them, but when I did a light bulb went off.  One thing led to another and I met Natalie, the founder of The Unchargeables, and she introduced me to The Chargimals, the chronic illness monsters that live in an alternate universe and have the same chronic illnesses we have.  More about that in a minute.


So what in the world is The Unchargeables? 👈 Click it! Go ahead, I'll wait.  You'll see that it is a community for the chronically ill.  It is named so because those with chronic illness are always low on energy and can't be charged enough. It's like living with a low battery.



The Unchargeables have a wide variety of support platforms which bring people together from all over the world.  Through these platforms, members can connect and share their happy moments, sad moments, frustrating moments and even their scary moments with others who understand exactly what it's like to live with both visible and invisible illnesses. Small victories are celebrated for the great accomplishments they are because, after all, doing anything when you are chronically ill is much harder than doing it when you are healthy. The Unchargeables connect people by making them feel included, understood, and most importantly, by letting them know that they are not alone. AND, they have a cool store where you can get all kind of neat things that pertain to your specific chronic illness. I think that's what the kids these days call 'swag'!


But wait, there's more!! Meet The Chargimals! These are just a few of the 30+ monsters that are here to make living with chronic illness a little easier.



Foggy, Annie and Pod
These little guys are super neat and they have some really great adventures together despite being chronically ill. But the best part (because it's my blog and I can boast all I want) is that I am the one writing their adventures! There are some really big plans in the works for the these monsters and I hope you follow along and see all the cool things that are happening.  What's really great is that they wait for me.  I write when I feel okay.  I don't have to keep a certain schedule and all my unpredictable illnesses just provide me with more things to write about. You won't find that in Corporate America!

You can find The Chargimals at The Unchargeables Shop HERE.  You can find them on Instagram HERE and you can find them on Facebook HERE.  

This is what I have been up to lately.  Finding a purpose again.. Helping people again.  Doing what I have loved doing since I was in the 4th grade.  I'm Writer Jenni and I am elated that I rediscovered her. 


Friday, August 9, 2019

Doing the things

When you have battled severe depression as long as I have, you eventually get a sense for when you are about to fall into that deep pit of despair again.  You feel yourself clinging onto the sides of the dark abyss of nothingness, fearfully clawing and digging to keep yourself from being totally consumed.


I have been struggling for a while now, clawing and digging into the sides of the abyss.  Desperately trying to keep my head up and fearing if I let go, just for a minute, even one second, that I will fall so far down I won't recover this time.  Sometimes I feel so broken that I don't even want to hang on anymore.  Sometimes I just don't want to fight at all.  Even though I've been here many times before, each time it feels worse than the last.  I'm tired.  I'm sad.  I'm hurting.  I get so tired of feeling sad and hurt that I try to do the things - the proactive things to make sure I don't fall further down.  I do the self care thing, the getting out of bed every day thing, the eating thing, the going to my therapy appointments thing, the taking my medication thing, the talking to other people and socializing as much as possible thing.  It's really hard and I hate it.  I would much rather just stay in bed with the covers over my head and do the being alone thing.  But instead I'm doing all the things I don't feel like doing in hopes that I will eventually start feeling better, except it isn't working.  I'm still here, still falling, still hiding behind the happy face mask and making everything on the outside appear as "normal" as possible all the while inside I feel like I'm fading away. It feels like the only thing I am doing well at is the depression thing.

So what happens when you do all the right things and nothing works?  I'm doing all the things and I still just want to let go of the sides, stop clawing and digging in to hang on and just allow myself to be swallowed up by the never-ending dark abyss.  I'm not really suicidal. I'm not even angry, there is no rage or irritability.  I just feel incredibly empty and sad.  But those aren't even the right words for it.  I can't find words to exactly describe the feeling I have.  All I know is that is unyielding and unwavering and doing the things isn't working.  Or are they?

These things I'm doing - getting up, getting dressed, eating, managing - they are working, technically.  Doing these things is what is keeping me from completely succumbing to the deep, dark bad place that I really don't want to go to.  If I stopped doing them there would be nothing for me to do.  Right now they are my purpose.  They are what I am clinging to so I can eventually get to a better place mentally.  If the only thing I do in a day is get out of bed and take a shower and make it through the whole day without giving up then that's enough for now.  It might not seem like much, but I assure you those menial tasks that people do in a day are really very hard things to do when you are at war with your own mind.



Friday, July 26, 2019

Clinical Trials and Whatnot

Back in nursing school, (Wow! That was 10 years ago!?!) I remember learning about how clinical trials work and all the time and energy it takes to actually get a drug approved for use.  Did you know many clinical trials are still lacking volunteers?  Maybe part of that reason is because people don't really understand a lot about the process of clinical trials and why they are so important. Therefore, I'd like to shed a little light on the topic.

Basically a clinical trial is where people, with or without a specific disease, try a certain type of medication at a certain dosage for a certain length of time and all the information about how they and their disease react to the medication is gathered and evaluated to determine if the medication would be of value in treating that specific disease or if further research and testing is needed.  Sounds like being a lab rat you say?  Well, not exactly.


Clinical trials have various phases.  Here is a little breakdown in a handy dandy little graphic:


Now I could sit here and continue to type out a bunch of regurgitated facts and figures about clinical drug trials and how they work and why you should consider doing one, but I won't.  You can research all of that on your own if you really want to know.  But what will do is tell you a few of my own thoughts about clinical trials.  I am going to specifically speak about Crohn's Disease but it stands for all drugs and clinical trials for all diseases.

Allow me to step up here...

All new drugs coming out to help Crohn's Disease have to go through clinical trials.  I know for myself, as well as so many others who suffer from Crohn's Disease, we want options.  When I was first diagnosed with Crohn's there were not many options for treatment. Remicade was still very, very new; so new, in fact, that my doctor refused to let me try it.  He didn't want to use the "big guns" because there wasn't enough information out about the long term effects of Remicade and he didn't want me to not be able to have that drug as an option in the future if and when my Crohn's advanced.  Now, nearly 25 years later, there is not only Remicade but also Humira, Stelara and Entyvio as well as several others - so lots of "big guns" and lots of options.  These drugs wouldn't be options at all though without clinical trials and the clinical trials wouldn't be possible if people didn't volunteer to be a part of them.

I have never been a part of a clinical trial, though I would seriously consider it if I met the criteria for one.  Not only would it maybe help me get better, but it would also further the advancement in finding treatments for Crohn's disease that actually work so people - my people, my friends with Crohn's Disease - can stop suffering from this terrible disease. Medications need to be researched and studied so future generations no longer have to suffer like we are.  Maybe there isn't a magical cure, yet, but there are treatments that need to be explored as ways to at least alleviate some of the symptoms of Crohn's.  And who knows, maybe there is a cure out there somewhere, but we won't know unless we research.

I took a little pole via social media and found a huge, positive response about clinical trials.  Many people would participate if given the opportunity and many others had already participated and had such a positive experience they would definitely do it again.  One of my friends, who is quite ill currently and just recently got home from the hospital, posted this message and it just drives home the importance of getting new drugs tested and on the market:

"XYZ is the only drug left on the market I haven't tried, aka failed. We're hopeful, because it's looking like 2020/2021 before another drug becomes available.  So now we wait." ~ Click TheGameOfCrohns to follow her Instagram! 

Clearly, we still need more options.  I really can't say anything more than that.



So, how can you find information about clinical trials?  If you are like me, and suffer with crippling paranoia and think every single thing you read on social media is a lie or a scam, chances are you aren't going to want to click on any of those sponsored ads you see while scrolling through your feed.  I see lots of ads for clinical trials and it gets a little cumbersome trying to determine if it is a legitimate source of information or just some randomness that will only bog down my computer with spyware.  So I did something about it. I wanted to take a more active roll in helping patients find these clinical trials so I partnered with CureClick and became an Ambassador.  That means Jenni's Guts is now a trusted source for you to look to if you want legitimate information about clinical trials.  You can see more specific clinical trial information in the new Clinical Trials tab up top. 











CureClick partners with well known members of online communities (like blogs, websites and social media sites) to help spread the word about clinical trials.  This allows you to find legitimate information about clinical trials on the sites you are already visiting regularly.  Click THIS LINK to learn more, and as always, please contact me if you have any questions at JennisGuts@gmail.com.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

WEGO Health Awards

Remember a million years ago when I won the WEGO Health TMI Award?  Well, I am super happy to announce that I was nominated for two different awards this year - Hilarious Patient Leader and Best In Show: Blog.  Learn more about the WEGO Health Awards HERE.


The whole month of July is when you get to endorse the nominees.  Click THIS LINK to endorse your favorite! There are so many great Health Activists to choose from this year, but I really wouldn't hate it if you endorsed me.


THANK YOU!!!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

My Trip to the Medical Marijuana DIspensary

Finally, after six months of having my medical marijuana card, my local area opened it's first medical marijuana dispensary.  There are other dispensaries open in Ohio, however I really can't see driving two or more hours to get to one so I waited, very impatiently, for one to open closer to me.  Earlier this week my cousin, Jennie (her blog can be found HERE) and I visited the brand new local dispensary and I have to say, I was really impressed. Here's what happened...

When we arrived at the parking lot we were surprised to see how un-busy the place seemed to be.  There was ample parking and not a line of people out the door and around the building.  This might have had something to do with the fact that the dispensary wasn't technically open yet.  They had what they referred to as a "soft opening" but they have yet to have their big grand opening.  So probably not that many people even know they are open.  Thanks to Jennie's vigilant research and monitoring of when new dispensaries are opening, we knew.

When we walked in we were greeted by a couple of the employees.


Just kidding!  This is NOT what we found.  We actually found very professional individuals who were quite respectful and helpful.  The first thing they wanted to know was if we had our medical marijuana cards.  I have mine, however Jennie does not have her card just yet.  She was approved but hadn't actually gotten the card.  For this reason, she had to take a seat and wait.  I was asked for further information.  In addition to my MMC, I needed to show them my ID and provide them with the name of my referring doctor.  Of course I didn't remember the name of the doctor but they were very patient with me while I looked up the information on my phone.  After they checked my ID and saw that everything was legit, I was given a form to fill out and asked to wait until someone came out to get me.  

As we waited in the waiting area I couldn't help but notice how clean the place was.  It was very well lit, windows all across the front, the walls and even the ceiling were stylishly decorated but not with marijuana paraphernalia or pictures.  It was just like any other modern doctor's office or business office that that you would go to.  There was no smell or dank smoke hanging in the air.  I was really surprised actually.  You would never know you were sitting in a marijuana dispensary just by the waiting room.  

I filled out the form which asked me about my specific diagnosis (es) and what exactly I needed treatment for.  It was just like filling out an intake form for any other doctor's office.  There were two other people waiting along with me.  They looked like this:


I'm totally kidding.  They were normal people.  Some older guy in a nice button down shirt and pants and the other guy was just some normal looking dude.  Not strung out.  Not shady.  Just normal people needing medicine, waiting like at any other pharmacy.  I have actually seen shadier people at my therapist's office - or Walmart for that matter! 

Anyway, the actual area where you purchased the marijuana was behind a door that was locked and could only be opened by one of the employees.  I believe it was a fingerprint scanner as opposed to just a card swipe or regular lock situation.  There was also no armed guard or police officer which I half expected to be there.  As we waited we saw the employees come in and out escorting people back and forth, however it wasn't really that busy.  Maybe two or three patients were in the place behind the door while the three of us waited in the waiting area.  Not terrible.

What was behind the door when it opened was something I will never forget.  Each time the door was opened you could hear a choir of angels singing and billowy clouds of smoke rolled out into the waiting area.  I'm fairly certain I caught a glimpse of Snoop Dogg riding a unicorn.  It was majestic.  The door clearly held back the gates to Heaven.


Okay, so none of that actually happened, however I think it should have because it only seemed appropriate.  Honestly,  I really didn't know what to expect when I was granted access to the actual dispensary, but I kind of thought it was going to be a little more seedy than what it was.  They called my name and I was greeted by a young woman who opened the door and allowed me to enter the sacred dispensing area.  The first thing I noticed was the fact that I was not knocked over by the smell of weed.  I could smell it faintly but it wasn't overpowering like I expected.  The second thing I noticed was that it was really clean and the actual marijuana was not super visible.  I have seen dispensaries on television where there are just jars and jars of different kinds of weed just everywhere.  This place was nothing like that.  

The very nice lady asked me if I wanted a consultation so I said sure.  She took me into one of the small rooms that were off to the side.  There was a round table with some chairs and minimal decorations.  It was a peaceful little room.  Nothing overwhelming.  No big pro medical marijuana posters on the wall or anything like that.  We sat down and she looked over the form that I had filled out in the waiting room.  She asked if the doctor had made particular recommendations to me and I said yes so we talked about that for a little while.  Then she made some suggestions of her own and proceeded to tell me pretty much the exact information I would look up on Leafly if I were to research strains of medical marijuana myself.  She was incredibly knowledgeable.  I liked that.

After the consultation she took me back out to the main area where there was a large wooden cabinet with a glass top and locked drawers that slid out.  She opened one of the drawers and inside were three locked plastic containers.  Each container housed a large bud of a specific strain of medical marijuana.  She allowed me to hold the container though it was locked so you couldn't actually open it to get to what was inside.  There was however, an area with little holes on the top where you could smell the marijuana inside.  Now I am not really one to exam my weed before I use it.  I don't really understand, nor do I necessarily care about all the dynamics of what different strains of marijuana are supposed to look or smell like.  I know enough to see crystals on it or smell the slightly varied scents, but I wouldn't really know one kind from another just by looking at it or smelling it. Especially when you are dealing with the higher quality like what they had.  It was definitely not a bunch of stems and seeds.  That's about the only thing I know to look for. 

Seeds and stems = BAD
Frosty crystals and color = GOOD

She showed me about six different kinds and allowed me to look at and smell each one.  Other than noting that they were a very high quality I really couldn't tell you much more than that.  Honestly, they just smelled like weed.  Maybe I'm just untrained.  Anyway, the lady helping me was very informed and continued to explain to me the different levels of THC and CBD in each one.  We also discussed pricing.  This is where it gets a little confusing for me.  The price of 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana on the street in Ohio sells for roughly $40 give or take.  The dispensaries in Ohio sell their marijuana as 1/10 of an ounce for some reason and the cost is roughly $50 give or take.  Now this 1/10 of an ounce is considered to be one daily dose of medical marijuana.  If you were to actually purchase enough to use 1/10 of an ounce every day for one month you're looking at $1,500.  I think that is totally ridiculous.  I'm not even sure how you could use 1/10 of an ounce of marijuana in one day anyway, but that's neither here nor there.
Just kidding!  There is no way I could do that.

Anyway... she also showed me some of the edible things they have. One of which was eleven gummies for $80 - yes, just the eleven.  I asked her how you were supposed to take them and she said that you start with a half of one gummy and then wait about an hour to see if it helps and then go from there.  I found that to be quite expensive.  She also told me they had various oils and tinctures, however at this time they are unflavored and taste quite horrible.  After considering all the information I was presented with, I opted to purchase 1/10 of an ounce of dry herb that I can legally use by vaping.  FYI:  It is unlawful to smoke the plant in Ohio even if it is for medical use.  

Once I placed my order I had to go to the bathroom - of course.  It was nice and clean and private and all of that so that was also a plus.  Once I was finished I went up to the counter and paid for my purchase.  I was handed a cute little brown paper bag and was walked to the door to meet my cousin in the waiting room.  The whole thing, barring my bathroom break, took about twenty minutes. 

Once we got to the car we checked out the purchase. Here is actual footage.


Okay, again, I'm only joking with these memes.  Actually, the marijuana comes in a sealed plastic bottle with labels of what exactly is inside, warnings, and various other information.  Much like you would get at a pharmacy.  What I did find interesting was that even though there were two fairly decent size buds of marijuana in the bottle, there was not a large stem running through them.  It seems as if they were kind enough to remove any stems that would account for unnecessary weight.  So if you were to get 1/8 of an ounce on the street from the friendly neighborhood dealer, chances are you would get some stems in there that would account for some weight.  Maybe not much, but a little bit adds up.  I was pleased to see that I got exactly what I paid for - dry plant and nothing more.  And I also was pleased because I don't have to worry about what I purchased being laced with something else or made with shady processing practices.  That peace of mind goes a long way when you are specifically using marijuana for pain, nausea, appetite stimulation, insomnia, anxiety, and depression like I am.  I'm honestly not looking to get high, I'm looking for relief.  

So there you have it folks.  My trip to the medical marijuana dispensary. It was really a decent experience.  I'm curious to see how things may change once they have their actual grand opening. Stay tuned because you know I'll keep posting.