Reading time – 7 minutes
The holidays are coming and many of us are already bracing for the reality that they may look very different this year. Will friends and family be able to travel and gather? Will stores and pubs be open or closed? What will the season look like if our traditions and habits must change?
I’m facing the same questions. My dad is an elderly gent with significant health issues. He’s turning 80. He’s in a high-risk group to contract the virus.
I’ve been thinking about him a lot as I wonder what Christmas will bring. It’s not likely with the COVID numbers where they are that we will be able to celebrate the holidays together this year.
So this blog goes out to him and to all those who are finding new ways to be together while keeping apart. I share with you a Christmas tale of how I got my Dad to stop worrying and learn to love CBD.
The story starts with pain and alarming results in bloodwork. This was followed by endless tests. Finally, there was a diagnosis. And then another. And then another.
Chronic pelvic pain disorder. Leukemia. And bladder cancer. All at the same time. “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”
And so it began. There was chemotherapy for the leukemia. BCE injections for the bladder cancer. Experimental surgeries for the chronic pain. And opioids. Lots of them.
This went on for two years. There was pain. A building of tolerance to any pain management. More and more opioids to try to calm the nerves inside him that were firing relentlessly and sending shocks of agony through this body.
There was nothing he could do. There was nothing any of us could do. It was miserable.
Sure, Ignore Me, I’m Just an Expert
Around that time, my career in CBD began. It began with a lot of study. What are the rules. What is the science. What is known and what is still being investigated. It’s a fascinating space and one I am always eager to talk about. But this was uncomfortable for him. CBD is completely legal, but he’s an older guy who grew up with a lot of stigma around cannabis. So he didn’t ask questions.
My dad is also a sharp mind. He hates anything that makes him feel dulled in any way. He hates taking opioids. Says they made him feel slow and stupid. I suggested (more than once) that he talk to a doctor about medical cannabis. My dad didn’t know a thing about different cannabinoids and terpenes. He only knew that smoking the ganga could get you high. “That’s just not for me, child,” he’d bark.
In my house, when you get called “Child” (especially at age 44), it’s code for “This conversation is over.”
And so it went.
But behind the brick wall, there was curiosity. Unbeknownst to me, he was talking to a few people. Just not the right people. Did he start with a doctor? No. Did he take me up on any of my offers to connect him to a clinician or a nurse to discuss his specific needs and conditions, or read any of the studies I sent his way… of course not!
No, he talked to his postal carrier, his car mechanic, and his carpenter. Why start with an expert when you can find random people with totally unvetted information, right?
One day, the carpenter decided to leave him a small gift. A little green nugget of dried cannabis. Where it came from, we don’t know. Ask no questions, tell no lies.
Dad was in the shower at the time. He got out to find this unexpected gift sitting on his desk. The carpenter was just packing up for the day and ready to leave. Before he could pull out of the laneway, Dad ran to the window, threw it open wearing only his towel and yelled “Wait! What am I supposed to do with this? Do I eat it? Do I smoke it? What?”
Oh, Dad. You could have just asked me. This is what I do. I know my onions here. But no. Instead, still dripping from the shower, you leaned out the window in your towel, frantically trying to get the carpenter to stop pulling out of the drive because you had no earthly idea what to do with a mystery nug of weed.
The Moment of Truth
The only reason I came to know the story of my dad, the towel, and the undercover search for solutions is because he did try that nug. And he was, predictably, not happy. I told you he didn’t like to feel dulled by anything. Whatever the carpenter left him was definitely not a CBD strain. He tried it, then tried to go back to doing the things he enjoys. Writing. Reading. Being productive.
He couldn’t. He ate all the crisps in the house instead. He couldn’t focus. The feelings of intoxication were overwhelming, frightening, and frustrating for him. He called me in a panic to ask what he’d done wrong and how long before he would feel normal again. I spent some time talking him through and reassuring him that this would pass quickly.
And it did. And when it did, he was full of questions. He found some relief from pain but said that everything else about the experience was wrong for him. He quit cigarettes decades ago and worried about smoking again. He felt like the trade off between mental acuity and pain relief was no different with cannabis than it was with opioids. He didn’t know what to do.
Hallelujah! My moment had finally arrived.
So I gave him the ‘All about CBD’ 101 introduction. I gave him the science. That THC is intoxicating but CBD is not. That CBD works with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to help bring it and keep it in balance. That there are all kinds of alternatives to smoking and all kinds of products that can isolate only CBD or CBD and powerful terpenes that can further support the body.
We talked for over an hour. He was gobsmacked. He had no idea. Having grown up in the era of prohibition, he had never looked beyond the dire warnings about ‘the devil’s lettuce’. But things changed quickly. Eager to explore what CBD could do for him, he accepted the referral to a clinician, gathered a list of questions for his first appointment, and even asked me to compile a list of quality products I knew of that wouldn’t require him to smoke.
It’s been a few years since what we now laughingly call ‘the towel incident’. In that time, my dad has beaten bladder cancer twice and leukemia once. His chronic pain condition can only be managed but it is, finally, being managed. CBD products have become part of his regular day – from slower-acting mints, oils, and other ingestibles for maintenance to fast-acting vape products for times when his system needs a boost.
He’s sharp. He’s active. He’s present in his own life and enjoys the things he loves. He is not in a constant battle with acute pain.
He’s my dad again.
We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s threatened or taken away. The threat of losing my dad made me want more time, more hugs, more togetherness, more everything that I might not get.
This year, we won’t get Christmas together. We need to keep each other safe. We need to keep distance. We’ll be Zooming our holiday meal to toast each other and our gifts will be mailed instead of hand-delivered.
But this year, it won’t be another tie under the tree that he won’t wear or another book that he’s likely already read. This year, my dad is getting a basket of custom-chosen CBD products just for him. Everything to help keep him present, happy, and able to share in the joy and time we have together.
I can’t wait for him to open it. I can already hear what he’ll say.
“That’s just perfect for your old man. Thank you, child.”
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell
IPI is a pharmaceutical ingredient company that cultivates cannabis strains curated to extract specific cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for the formulation of effects-based health and wellness products. Angus is an experienced public speaker, engaging stakeholders, governments and media. Angus was the co-founder of NewLeaf Cannabis, Canada’s most successful retail brand to date, and has been established as a well-known and recognized expert in the field.
Dr Wardell is a practising physician with over 40 years of clinical and educational experience in pain management, medical practices and education. Dr Wardell is past President of the Pain Society of Alberta, and current President of the Alberta Medical Association, section of Pain. He is a popular public speaker, an active blogger on medical and pain-related issues, and proponent for scientific validation for patients experiencing pain.
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.