I’m know I’m kinda funny this way, but I like my sleep. I need my sleep. And probably like every middle-aged person (at least the ones I know), I don’t get enough of it. And that’s not because I’m out partying or feeding a crying baby. No, like millions of us, I suffer from insomnia. And it sucks.
So, I’ve taken Benedryl, Melatonin, Valium, some kind of anti-itch medication that is like Benedryl-lite. I’ve tried lulling myself to sleep with recordings of rain, and new age chimes over some weird supposed brainwave pulsing thing. My sleep hygiene is decent – I don’t watch TV in bed, the room is dark and quiet, and I tend to go bed around the same time each night (albeit rather late). And all of these methods have worked – for a while. But still there are those nights where I toss and turn and turn and toss and end up wandering around the house muttering to myself until 3 or so in the morning. It ain’t pretty folks, ain’t pretty at all.
The one thing that has worked for me in putting me to sleep (though not necessarily keeping me asleep) is marijuana. While that sedating effect was less than beneficial in my 20’s when I was a big ol’ unemployed, unmotivated pothead, it’s just what the doctor ordered for me in my 50’s.
California is one of 13 states in the US where medical marijuana is legal. All you need is a note from a doctor that marijuana would benefit whatever condition your suffering from. I believe there is an official and long list of ailments, and insomnia is one of them.
Of course, you need to find a doctor who is supportive of medical marijuana. And since I work in management at the same place where I get my health care, I decided against asking my personal doctor for a recommendation. Instead, after obtaining my medical records which confirmed my diagnosis of insomnia, I looked at the websites of a handful of clinics in Oaksterdam that do medical marijuana evaluations and chose the one that had an available appointment on Saturday.
The clinic was in a well-maintained older building in downtown Oakland. The office itself, however, seemed a tad temporary, as if they could pack up within an hour or two and not leave a trace. But the receptionist was pleasant and professional and asked me to fill out a three page health history form. She attempted to take my blood pressure, but the machine wasn’t working. Oh well. The waiting room was not exactly comfortable nor inviting with its cheap Costco folding chairs and a vinyl couch that looks like it was found in the Free Stuff section of Craig’s List. The six or so people waiting there were a mixed bag. Some of whom seemed quite respectable, while others, if I saw them on the street, I would probably pull my purse close to me.
After waiting a while, the doctor called me into her exam room. Like the rest of the office, there wasn’t much to distinguish it, but it served its purpose. She reviewed my medical history form and the records I bought in to support my diagnosis as well as the prescriptions I had been given for my insomnia. I was pleasantly surprised that it really did seem like a clinical visit and that she was caring and professional. For some reason, I expected it to take just a couple of minutes with a shady doctor who simply went through the motions before signing my letter.
At the end of my visit I was given my official medical marijuana recommendation letter as well as some information about how to get an official identification card, though most dispensaries will accept just the letter. And with that, my next stop was a dispensary.
After doing some research on Yelp and the California NORML website, I opted for my first visit to be to the Haborside Health Center in Oakland. Seriously, visit their site and watch the video. It’s pretty freakin’ amazing. Very professional, clean and welcoming. After getting a tour of the facility and getting my letter verified, I got in line and waited for a “budtender” to call me over. The sales counter looks like a cross between a bank and a jewelry store. My budtender was a hip looking young fellow who, by the look of his eyes, had been sampling the medicine. Yes, that’s right. Don’t call it pot or weed or any other slang. It’s medicine. Anyway, the selection of medicine was overwhelming. You could get it in edible form, tincture, aerosol, butter, and of course, good ol’ buds. There were probably at least 20 varieties, all marked with their concentration of THC. After telling my budtender what I needed it for, he gave me a recommendation for a certain strain, which I got along with with a bottle tincture that you can drink rather than smoke.
On my way home, my car smelling of some really stinky bud, I felt as if I had been a very naughty girl. At one point there was a CHP officer in the lane next to mine and I got really nervous despite being everything being on the up and up. This is going to take some getting used to.
Later that evening, I took my medicine and watched the movie Man on Wire.
Well, I watched part of the movie. Within minutes I was fast asleep on the couch.