Bad News for Medical Cannabis Users in Lanzarote

I have been a medical cannabis user since 2013, ever since I became aware that there was a cannabis association called “Cannapharmacia” in the nearby town of Playa Honda. Before that, I would never even have considered using cannabis to treat my chronic fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis pain, because I would have had to buy it on the street, meaning you never know what you get and also because it’s expensive and dealers are unreliable.

The wonderful thing about Cannapharmacia is that, as a member (which costs only €20 a year), I can simply go there 7 days a week, get buzzed into the club by the girl at reception, and buy my cannabis products inside. At first I bought the actual weed which, because I don’t smoke, is not the best option for me, but I found that it helps my night time pains so much where ordinary codeine-based painkillers feel just like eating candy, and I would put up with the smoke scratching down my windpipe every night before going to bed. For a short while they had the rather expensive cannabis oil which also did the trick really well, but they stopped selling that.

Then someone started making capsules filled with 15mg, 25mg or 50mg of cannabis, and I found the 25mg ones were the most effective painkillers / sleeping aids out of the lot. However, these are relatively expensive, and in the end I decided to go for the cannabis cookies, which are not only cheap (€4 for 5 biscuits, which includes my 20% discount as a medical user), but eating one 2 hours before bedtime, would send me to sleep without any pain or spasm and tightness in my muscles.

The sad thing is that since last week, Cannapharmacia is CLOSED. 

This is thanks to 3 idiots who decided to pose as owners of the association and tried to change the lock to the front door, and then continued to wreck the interior of the club and assault some of the staff. I do not have all the exact details of this incident, but from my own point of view, this means I am back to square one which I was at before I found Cannapharmacia.

From what I know, there are at least 700 members who are medicinal users like myself who have come to depend on the pills, the cookies or the weed to treat various conditions from cancer to multiple sclerosis and chronic pain, as well as other autoimmune illnesses like lupus erythematosus.

And we have nowhere to go now for our medication. 

Personally, I am thinking of growing my own plants on my balcony again, which I did a couple of years ago with kinda mixed results and a rather small yield. However, there’s no point doing this during our tropical summer heat, because it’ll be too hot for the plants, plus there are too many bugs around. So, right now, this is not an option.

I am hoping that Cannapharmacia can work out a secure system of how to protect its members and staff from b*stards like this, and also hope that the police will be prosecuting these individuals in the manner that they deserve.

As for now, I am going to have to buy some weed from a local cannabis club here in my own town of Puerto del Carmen. Sadly, they do not have any pills or biscuits, and the oil they have costs €100. And the price of their weed is twice as much as at Cannapharmacia! However, when you are desperate for pain relief, you just have to find the money for it somewhere

Below is a video Cannapharmacia posted on their Facebook Page depicting part of the incident (in Spanish).

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Friends. Pah, who needs them…

Living with a painful chronic illness is hard for me, as you can imagine, but I have never let a friend down even during a painful flare or when I´m at my worst, or during times of other stresses in my life, including work. To me, this is one very basic and important thing in life, just to be there for my friends when I´m needed, dropping everything I am doing if necessary( and/or possible) at any given time, even if it involves something physical but still within my limits (I have helped a friend move house, for example).

When I am asked to help out, or to lend moral support in times of emotional upset, I am always there, even if I can only help a little bit – but the point is, I am there for my friends. Hell, I´m even there for other people whom I don´t know or only know superficially – for example, last night and today I have been helping a neighbour trying to find her lost dog, so I went to the Guardia Civil for her and printed off posters and put a post about her missing dog on Facebook – she didn´t ask for all this, but she doesn´t need to. I simply do those things because they are in my power to help out.

Sadly, I have recently found out, the same doesn´t apply the other way round when it comes to my friends. Recently, I have actually had more kind acts bestowed on me by total strangers than by my friends.

I totally respect and do understand that people have their own crap in their lives, plus their work commitments – but well, so do I. And it´s not that I ask for help or advice often (is once or twice a year too much to ask?), so when I do, I don´t think it´s unreasonable that one or other of my friends could possibly be there for me to ease me through a really bad day, or when I have a problem that I can´t solve alone and I need some pointers.

The last couple of times I have needed help (one time was really bad and I was on the verge of being suicidal), it was like I had to make an appointment with either of my two “best friends” first before they would even talk to me. Both of them refuse using the phone unless I ask them, “can I call you?”, so the only way to talk to either of them is by email. This is very “convenient” because emails can be ignored or not checked regularly, and I don´t get a reply until the next day. When a problem arises in life, especially something acute and emotional, having to make an appointment with your friend or getting an email reply not until the next day, are the last things you need because you really wish to see someone at least on the same day.

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So…. I am trying really hard to change my own attitude and not bother and care too much about letting my friends down when they are in dire need to talk to someone or whatever else they would like from me, just like I have been let down in recent times – but I might as well have my DNA changed, because being there for people is in my blood somehow, and I couldn´t be any different even if I tried. But I´ll keep trying anyway.

I wish I was less human, or actually, maybe I should wish to be more  human. Because being human seems to all be about being self-centered, uncaring and not taking out even a small amount of time to help a friend when he or she is in need…

P.S.: I don´t really care if my “friends” (yes, that´s right, it´s in inverted commas) read this and whatever they think – please feel free to comment if you are reading this – because I have been wanting to get this off my chest for a long time now.

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International Fibromyalgia & ME Day in Lanzarote

It´s fantastic to see that the Cabildo de Lanzarote is supporting Afibrolan and help create awareness on International Fibromyalgia Day today!

Click here for Article (in Spanish)


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The Communication Problems of Today

This is something that came up in a (private FB message) conversation with a friend, and I just thought I need to get this off my chest. It´s about trying to reach somebody by phone and them never getting back to you, every single time you call them or text them, and them saying they don´t like to talk on the telephone.

I would like to know what everybody before the internet? We were on the phone with friends and family all the time, talking! Not all the time, okay (I bet some of you were though!), but that´s how we communicated when we didn´t see each other or were trying to organise meeting up etc. I feel very sad that most people have forgotten how to do this these days or say they hate it or “it´s not in their nature” to use the phone.

Eventually, in reply to my phone call or text message, I get a FB, email or Whatsapp message (too fiddly to talk/type for long on the mobile!) from them, writing lots of stuff that they could have told me easily and quickly on the phone, with much less energy and time spent than sitting on the computer, typing. It also would save me from having to type a lengthy reply back, especially if there have been misunderstandings that needed explanations, that would have been totally avoided in a phone call! Finally, with a phone in your hand you could be lying on the sofa relaxing, rather than spending energy typing on the computer.

But that´s not just it. With my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia I find it difficult most days to type lots of text, but especially when my work on web projects demands a lot of typing/mouse work already, or when I´m worn out like today, after the Carnival. My wrists and finger joints are killing me, and even typing this is agonising (but, like I said, I have to get it off my chest, otherwise I´ll end up with a headache instead, hehe!).

I have mentioned all this before to some of my friends, especially the stuff in the previous paragraph and would have thought that they would understand that my “invisible disability” makes it painful enough for me to always type unnecessary things (like THIS!) and that they would come towards me and meet me somewhere in the middle, but this hasn´t happened. I think if I was in a wheelchair people would make more leeway towards anything that would make my life easier! :/

I am sad to say this, but I will just have to stop communicating with them altogether because I cannot continue spending all this time and painful energy typing when I can avoid it. Moving my mouth to speak doesn´t hurt, but typing does. Always. Even on good days, but I just “bear” it then.

So, if you, my good friends, have any suggestions how to solve this dilemma, I am open to suggestions…

UPDATE: I have now deactivated my Facebook account, because it is taking the biggest part out of my life that I spend typing and communicating. Instead, I´m back on Twitter again – much less typing to do there!

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Fibro Flare Strikes Again

It´s days like these when I want to pack it all (life) in.  If I thought yesterday was bad, today is so much worse.

Waking up as if a hoof kicked me in each shoulder blade, the pain radiating down both arms and down into the finger joints, is not fun. The burning sensation of the water from the shower hitting my skin was only just about bearable. I can type ok, but that doesn´t take much effort, grip or pressure, although my hands are shaking, my wrists hurt and holding up my arms is a chore and I have to take breaks after typing a few words… Using the wisdom of the Spoon Theory here, out of my 10 spoons a day, I had already used up about 4 by the time it was 10am. 

So, how do I get through days like these without wanting to top myself?

Badly, is the answer.  I always do get through them somehow though. And oh, let me pop a painkiller first!  I am, all in all, a positive kinda person and I live “one day at a time” – which I find is the only way to live when you have an invisible disability / painful chronic illness – and looking at my kitties or seeing the wonderful blue sky out there does distract me from the pain, if only for a while. The “one day at a time” coping technique also helps because I can tell myself “tomorrow is going to be a better day”.  Sometimes it is.  Just not today. 

I try and take as much rest as I can on days like these and try not to overdo things, which is the hardest thing for me cause I love *doing* stuff and I find it hard to just *stop* and do nothing! Problem is also, that you need your hands for just about everything in daily life, and if your wrists and finger joints hurt so much and feel weak and shakey, just holding a cup of coffee can become downright impossible… Anyway, whether I like it or not, I *must* take it easy.  

Stuff I won´t be able to do today: 

  • Washing up
  • Shopping (domestic, not pleasure)
  • Driving
  • Hoovering (I find this hard even on good days, but also, I hate it, hehe!)
  • Cycling, or any exercise for that matter!
  • Other stuff I can´t think of now, but sure I´ll find later! 

So that´s all gotta be done tomorrow – if the bloody shops are open, that is, cause it´s Sunday!

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Soul-Destroying Fatigue

Passed out for not one, not two, but THREE hours from 1 – 4pm! I´m so lucky I don´t have a “proper” full-time job. With these episodes of soul-destroying fatigue I really wouldn´t cope too well…

Mind you, I do remember even back in the office in London, my last job there before 2004, I used to regularly fall asleep a couple of times a day, right there at my desk, with my head falling forward as my fingers were still typing away. This used to happen around 11am – 12 noon and then again at about 3 – 4pm almost every day. I just could not keep awake.

I used to escape to the toilet for a few minutes, walk up and down the stairs, go outside for some fresh air (or have a cigarette when I was still a smoker), make myself a coffee, trying to wake myself – but it was very difficult, and nothing really worked. My voice and thinking also become so sluggish, but I somehow muddled my way through each day. However, I was always surprised that this did not happen to other people in the office?

In retrospect, I of course now know that the fatigue is a symptom of fibromyalgia (and rheumatoid arthritis), but try and explain to your boss when he wants something and it takes you twice the time because you become double slow when it happens…. :(


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Dry Hot Weather and Fibromyalgia / Rheumatoid Arthritis

We have been having a heatwave in the Canary Islands since last weekend until Wednesday of this week, and in particular Lanzarote and Fuerteventura were hit with temperatures of over 40C degrees (105F).

My body transformed into a state of joy during that time. I almost felt like I could fly and even went swimming one day, something I usually do not do without my small bodyboard that I have to use because of shoulder pain and weakness after just a few seconds of moving my arms in the water. Of course, it has been proven over and over again, that dry heat (the humidity was down to 20%) is extremely beneficial to illnesses like fibromyalgia and all types of arthritis, but I do not remember having *six* days in a row of being in almost no pain and with seemingly boundless energy. I felt like a “normal”, healthy person, for a change.  

But then, heatwaves never last, and long remissions of these “invisible disabilities” (especially fibro) don´t either, sadly.

Today, the delayed shock to my system of the temperature suddenly being 15 degrees lower again yesterday, has brought me back into the painful reality that I am *not* a “normal”, healthy person after all.

Waking up with a tension headache this morning spreading into my neck and upper back wasn´t the worst of it, but the realisation that a couple of hours after getting up the wrist, shoulder and hip pain wasn´t going to shift, and didn´t shift after a couple of painkillers (Nolotil) either. And wondering for how long it was going to stay this bad this time. 

Don´t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful that the Universe has granted me a whopping 6 days of feeling amazing, and 95% of the time I am a positive person and try to see the positive in any situation.  

However, when each time you open or close a door, walk some stairs, put on or take off your clothes, carry very light shopping and clean out the cat litterbox – any tiny chore really – you are reminded of pain and weakness in your limbs, it´s so damn difficult to stay positive….

The Canary Islands are an autonomous community of Spain, but are situated quite far from the Spanish mainland off the West Coast of Africa.

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Cold! You call that cold?!

Moving from cold, wet London to sunny, dry Lanzarote was one of my best moves ever. All my adult life I never dealt too well with the typically damp British weather, and when in 2004 I decided to live somewhere other than London, returning to my equally wet home town Hanover in Northern Germany did not even enter the equation.

So after selling my flat in East London and buying a beautiful first floor apartment in Puerto del Carmen, I packed my suitcases, my computer and my two cats Spider & Lugosi (+ thousands of other things in about 30 boxes!) and moved to paradise.

Lanzarote has the most wonderful, warm and sunny climate all year round, but let me warn you: once you are acclimatised you will feel the cold during the winter months of January and February in particular.

Our winters can be an interesting mix of changeable weather, with temperatures anything between 15C and 25C degrees, a lot of wind, bits of rain here and there and the odd day of Calima (a warm breeze bringing fine dust from the African Sahara desert) with temperatures as high as 30C degrees and very low humidity, even in January. On cold, windy days it amuses me mightily when I run around in a quilted jacket, boots and a scarf (sometimes gloves too, but not often) and get looked at strangely by the tourists who are in their touristy summer best (that is meant as sarcasm). 20C degrees with a hefty amount of windchill factor on top might as well be like 8C degrees to me.

Lanzarote winter night temps can dip as low as 10C degrees – and even colder out in the country – with the humidity rising to around 90% most nights.  And don´t tell me you wouldn´t switch your heating on then! Problem is, central heating doesn´t exist here, so you either buy a portable radiator, get an aircon/heating combo installed… or freeze.

Of course, suffering from fibromyalgia, I do feel the cold much worse. One of its many symptoms is the body´s failure to regulate temperature, and I can get cold (i.e. sitting in a draft even on a warm day) or hot (i.e. direct sunshine for 10 mins) very quickly, and feel it to the extreme. However, I can deal with heat much better than cold because, obviously, with both fibro and rheumatoid arthritis, heat is wonderfully soothing and beneficial to the constant aches, whereas cold/damp adds to my pains in a major way.

For the last few days it has been a balmy 30C and nights around 18C, which for me is just perfect and I am loving it. It will get much hotter still come July and August, but my body handles 40C degrees so much better than it does 14C degrees, so unlike a lot of other locals, I am not dreading summer at all!

In conclusion, after living on a tropical island I could never live in a cold climate again. I would probably wilt like a flower and die, cold and miserably…

Deutsch: Der alte Hafen in Puerto del Carmen, ...

Old Harbour in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Aloe Cooling Gel for Fibromyalgia Pains

I have tried probably dozens of different creams, gels and sprays over the years as painkilling agents for muscle pain stemming from fibromyalgia.  From natural remedies to “medicine” prescribed by my GP (i.e. Ibuprofen gel), none of them have actually helped much.

So I am rather surprised and pleased that I have finally found one that actually works for me! It´s not even an expensive one and produced by a local company here in the Canary Islands (Tenerife).

I bought the Errezil Aloe Vera Muscle Cooling Gel a few weeks ago and, luckily, haven´t had the need to try it out until today when I woke in the morning with a stabbing pain in my left triceps on any movement and not being able to lift the arm. I have applied it 3 times today and although it does wear off 1-2 hours later, the relief is amazing.  The cold sensation felt on the skin and deeper down is very pleasant and, more importantly, it numbs the pain in an effective way. It is marketed as an aloe vera gel – my guess would be that it is because what tourists love to buy and take back home from the Canary Islands – but the actual pain relieving ingredient is arnica.

We all know that different fibro meds/remedies work differently for everyone with this condition, but if you, like myself, haven´t found a topical cream or gel that works for you yet, then I would recommend trying this one out.

Direct Link to this gel on the Aloe Errezil Website
Aloe Errezil Website

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Ouchies

I cut into my fingernail with a knife the other day.  Yeah, stupid clumsy me, it´s always the same story!  Some days I just have no coordination, drop things, accidentally smash plates, walk into door frames and generally hurt myself randomly.  The bright side is (there is always a bright side to everything!)…. at least nobody is watching!

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