Let’s Give This a Try

Whether you’re choosing for yourself or for a character – or for a child – names have baggage of their own.

-Nich Harkaway

So, what’s with the name?

When I told my 15-year old that I began this blog. He asked what the name of the blog was. I said, “The Adversarial Invalid.” He chuckled and asked, “Why? What’s up with the adversarial part?” (he knew what the invalid part meant). I thought for a moment. To say why I named it that aloud was different than how it played out in my head. To describe why was harder…

I’d love to begin this part with a joke. Something clever like, “This one time, a mom, a teacher, and fiery middle-aged woman all walked into a bar…” I mean, I could, because all of those describe me. I’m all those things. I’m also someone who won the short stick of the genetic lottery and these days find myself in pretty crazy pain. And, it sucks. I’ve been pretty introspective in my career, but not so much elsewhere in my life. Well, maybe mothering…introspection comes in handy if you ever commit a big parenting fail, but anything more personal? Nope. Not so much.

Adversarial Invalid. That’s me, too. And, unlike some of the pasty blogs (not the ones with recipes of handheld pies or the ones about how to safely use the sparkly stickers you stick on your breasts) and medical sites I’ve perused about advanced osteoarthritis in young folks like me (okay, 52 isn’t sooo young, but it’s too young for this shit [yes, I will cuss in this blog], maybe I can help others and myself by documenting this journey…the journey to living pain free, thanks to modern medicine and an “I’m tired of this shit” kind of attitude.

Pour a glass of wine and join me.

To Be or Not to CBD

Disclaimer: To be completely transparent, I live in a state in the United States that has legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use. This was passed with voter approval and the first legal recreational and medical marijuana dispensary opened in the summer of 2014. To be clear, I am NOT suggesting you use marijuana, cannabis, or any of its derivatives.

Don’t you love disclaimers? That’s a rhetorical question.  Every drug advertised on TV comes with a list of disclaimers and warnings.  My husband and I like to make fun of them. I do believe we’ve heard, “Medicine X may cause sudden death.”  HELLO….DON’T TAKE “X”! JUST DON’T! 

In my state, we are surrounded by marijuana dispensaries. It’s a serious business, but if one has paid attention, there has also been a lot of education around it, detailing the difference between hemp, cannabis, THC and CBD.  In our local news and newspapers, early in the legalization process, they talked a lot about it. I can recall signing a petition to legalize it about 20 years ago. It’s been on the table for discussion that long here.  

Let’s take a look:

According to Harvard Medical School, CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. Cannabidiol (CBD) has no psychoactive effect (meaning you can’t get high and have an overwhelming need to eat Cheetos from it). There are a few ways to use CBD: as a topical oil, a tincture you drop on your tongue, a mouth spray, soft gels, in the form of candies, and it can be smoked or vaped.  

Another Harvard Medical School article explains, “Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is primarily responsible for the mind-altering properties sought out by recreational users (this will make you high and in a daze you may chow down 2-3 bags of Cheetos), and cannabidiol may actually work to offset the psychoactive properties of THC. The magnitude of marijuana’s psychoactive effect depends on the THC level in the particular strain of plant, which parts of the plant are used, and the route through which the drug enters the body. Legalization in some states has led to the breeding of strains that are three to seven times more potent than those available three decades ago. A person can use THC in similar forms as CBD.”

You may be thinking…”What does this have to do with the pain in your arse (or your hip), Adversarial Invalid?”

Looking for relief, lots of people who suffer from chronic pain go online and research pain relief (and of course, consult their doctors).  At some point in their dive into the depths of the internet, they’ve found a reference to marijuana. It’s inevitable, there’s lots of talk out there about it.  But, I get a real snake oil vibe about some of the talk. I really can’t believe it can cure everything from cancer to GERD. I mean come on, are they smokin’ weed or something?  Hmm….yes, probably so. 

However, when I read about its use in treating migraines a few years ago in Prevention Magazine, probably one of the most mainstream health magazines you can buy, I took note.  

Recently, through text, I was “talking” about the issues with my hip with my sister-in-law Linda (a pseudonym*).   She asked me if I had considered CBD. Linda is a salt-of-the-earth conservative mom. When someone like Linda suggests it, again I take notice.  

My Big Question:

What about the chronic pain I live with every day? How can it pull the plug on the pain party in my hip called advanced osteoarthritis?

Into the research dive, again. This time I find that Canada is kickin’ butt in funding research on the use of medical marijuana for chronic arthritis pain.  The truth is there’s a shortage of pre-2002ish formal (non-anecdotal) research, as marijuana was and is trying to shed its taboo image. The Arthritis Society of Canada provided this great summary of info here, “Cannabinoid receptors regulate several systems in our bodies.  These include our pain perception and sleep cycles. Because the cannabinoids CBD and THC interact with these receptors, there are a variety of ways that medical cannabis can provide arthritis symptom relief.”

In 2019, the United States Arthritis Foundation released guidelines for use of CBD for arthritis pain and went farther to say, “The Arthritis Foundation sent a formal comment to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to expedite the study and regulation of CBD products to help make them a safe option for the 54 million people with arthritis.” Their opinion is they want to provide guidelines where there currently are none. In a sample survey of 2,600 people, 79% were currently using CBD, have used it in the past, or are considering using it as an alternative therapy to help manage their arthritis pain.  (link here)

Both the Canadians and the Americans Arthritis Societies pretty much agree that:

  • CBD may help with arthritis-related symptoms, such as pain, insomnia and anxiety, but there have been no rigorous clinical studies in people with arthritis to confirm this.
  • While no major safety issues have been found with CBD when taken in moderate doses, potential drug interactions have been identified.
  • CBD should never be used to replace disease-modifying drugs that help prevent permanent joint damage in inflammatory types of arthritis.
  • CBD use should be discussed with your doctor in advance, with follow-up evaluations every three months or so, as would be done for any new treatment.
  • There are no established clinical guidelines to inform usage. Experts recommend starting with a low dose, and if relief is inadequate, increase in small increments weekly.
  • Buy from a reputable company that has each batch tested for purity, potency and safety by an independent laboratory and provides a certificate of analysis.

To Be or Not to CBD?

Looking at this research, I guess it’s up to each individual. 

Will you CBD?

I may CBD, but first I’ll email my doctor for more FAQ.   

*Linda really isn’t a pseudonym. I’ve just always wanted to use that in a piece of writing.  

AutoImmune De Jour

1st Course: Hashimoto’s Disease

About 25 years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. Now, I can’t even say what precluded the testing for this thyroid disorder. It was determined that I had an underactive thyroid as a result of this autoimmune disease’s damage to my thyroid. The endocrinologist prescribed levothyroxine and I’ve been on it ever since.

2nd Course: Celiac Disease

After 5-10 years of blood tests that habitually showed I was anemic, dehydrated, and malnourished, I finally was diagnosed with celiac disease. That diagnosis I recall very well, because I was shocked. I thought people with celiac disease were skinny, looked ill, and had lots and lots of gastrointestinal issues. That did not describe me. Prior to the diagnosis, my general doctor had a suspicion and referred me to a gastroenterologist. Seeing my stats, he had the same suspicion. Me, I disagreed, but played along . I agreed to do the two scopes (up and down) to check out my digestive tract. It was like an Easter Egg Hunt…they were looking for hidden damage. Well, the damage wasn’t so hidden. I clearly had celiac disease. When I went in to hear the results, I walked out of his office and went gluten free cold turkey. Ugh…that sucked and still does. But, like someone in a cult, I am a loyal follower.

3rd Course: Osteoarthritis

Yuck, this is the worst part of the meal. This is what has me looking down the barrel of a full hip replacement in the next 6 months. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but specialists tell me that’s doubtful. “You must have had discomfort….?” Hmmm, no I don’t think so. But, I was told a long time ago that I have a high pain tolerance. Maybe there was pain during the development, but it only registered when it hit the moderate-advanced stage? I don’t know. I say that I believe it came out of nowhere and I’m sticking with it. Now, I definitely feel the pain. Like all. the. time.

The Common Ingredient

There is vast evidence that once you are diagnosed with one autoimmune disease, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with others. This is called co-morbidity. Several little cooks in my body preparing a meal…just for me!

Like a lot of people who are faced with challenging health issues, you wonder, “Whyyyy mmmmeeee??” Ugh, I have those moments. Then, I pull my whiny ass together and remember there are people with a whole lot worse health situations, like Joseph Merrick. That guy’s life was so sad. Maybe you saw the movie about him in the 80s? John Hurt was amazing in that movie. I can’t imagine how long it took for them to do the prosthetics. His issues were way worse than anything I am dealing with!

However, my wonderings have led me to ask questions, especially since the diagnosis of advanced osteoarthritis. I was about 47 when I was first diagnosed and in the last 5 years it’s gotten progressively worse, especially in the past year. So, why?

I keep going back to the celiac disease.

Europe and the Mediterranean have been researching celiac (coeliac) disease for a really long time. More so than the United States. All the way back in 1996, a researcher (E. Lubrano) and his team published a study which confirmed the prevalence of arthritis and celiac disease. They found strong evidence that celiac disease can be a root cause for the early onset of arthritis. In fact, it’s thought to be one of the leading causes of arthritis in children and teens.

Am I Satiated?

Well, it’s hard to say if I am satisfied with maybe having an answer to the “WHY?”. It doesn’t change much. In the end, I think all this paired with the short stick I’ve drawn for the genetic predisposition for arthritis makes me who I am. An adversarial invalid. I think I’ll pass on the dessert, I’m kinda full.