When the switch flips...and medical marijuana for North Carolina....

I have hardly written anything since the end of June. July got off to a rough start.

It was like a felt a flip switch on Monday, June 23...They've quit working, the epidural and injections from May 17.

But, maybe not. I'll rest a bit and then rebound. In May, Doc said that I can't receive any more injections until August. I have to be able to make it until mid-August.

My limbs became heavier and weaker and more painful as July approached. Hubby, as in times past, was having to help me dress and undress. But, still, I had to bathe and dress and eat and walk and drive and work and think as clearly as I was able.

When it takes so much effort to simply be, when bathing and dressing become feats to conquer, life becomes overwhelmingly complicated. The goal is to get through the next ten minutes, the next hour, the next day. I rest a lot at those times, but the rest does not rejuvenate. It helps, yes...but the energy does not rebound.

I have noticed, when I am fatigued and health-challenged (to put it mildly), my confidence wanes. Just push through and do one more thing; give it all you've got. But, to push through with more stamina is an impossibility. All the will power on earth cannot strengthen the ability of my physical nervous system to supply its strength to my limbs so they can properly function. It's like asking a blind person to will themselves to physically see.

It cannot be done.

I am still learning to accept that and to not go the extra mile...at least for now.

There have been years upon years, when I suffered through asthma and pain and fatigue in the past, that I would watch television commercials - commercials depicting healthy people doing normal things...like walking or running or jumping or eating various foods or camping and other 'ors.' I would feel surreal at those times, knowing I lacked the ability to engage in those life activities but feeling that I must try. I must not give up.

Again, I have experienced this same odd feeling - an observer of doing instead of being the doer. It's almost like watching a fantasy. It's not a "negative" feeling. It's simply odd, detached. I can only imagine how a paralyzed person feels when observing a similar fantasy.

I ended up receiving another epidural in my lumbar and 7 shots in my neck on July 7, even though I wasn't supposed to be able to get them. Hopefully my insurance will cover the costs. July 8, was a full day of nausea and migraine. By Jul 14, I awoke feeling rested, finally. The relief was heavenly. I'm bicycling again and will start back on my water exercises today.

So what now...between now and the next 6 weeks? I'll know more in 6 weeks. In the meantime, I'm on a higher dose of daily medication.

Medical Marijuana is now legal in North Carolina for use in seizure patients. It is a start. The program isn't available yet; logistics are still being worked out. Draft rules are supposed to be issued no later than October 1st.

If only we could flip a switch to make good change happen more quickly.

Flipping switches causes sparks; enough sparks cause change.

I can spark.

Here's a link to get North Carolina House Bill 1161 on the North Carolina November, 2014, ballot: Help put medical marijuana on the ballot

Here's a link to NC House Bill 1161: NC HB 1161 (pdf)

From page 4 of the NC House Bill 1161:

...(7) "Debilitating medical condition" means any of the following:
13 a. Cancer, gliomas, glaucoma, positive status for human
14 immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency
15 syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, porphyria, amyotrophic lateral
16 sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS), Alzheimer's disease,
17 nail-patella syndrome, fibromyalgia, severe migraines, multiple
18 sclerosis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, diabetes mellitus, dystonia,
19 gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, incontinence, injury or
20 disease to the spinal cord, spinal column, or vertebra,
21 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), myelomalacia,
22 osteoporosis, pruritus, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, Tourette's
23 syndrome, or the treatment of such conditions.
24 b. A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment
25 that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting
26 syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; anorexia; seizures, including
27 those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle
28 spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis (MS),
29 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS), or
30 Crohn's disease....


A Bit About Me, II

Following are some tidbits about me.

  • I have lived most of my life in North Carolina, USA.
  • I have also lived in Florida, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
  • I have two siblings; I am the youngest.
  • I grew up with horses from around age 4 through age 12.
  • As I youngster, I dreamed of being a dancer, or a teacher, or a nurse, or a nun, and other ors.
  • While growing up, I often star gazed; I wanted to see a UFO and meet aliens.
  • One of my big dreams since high school has been to thru-hike the 2180-mile long Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine.
  • From age 15 into age 16, I experimented heavily with psychedelic drugs...including Jimson weed for which I was hospitalized.

  • I was involved with Transcendental Mediation for over a year beginning while I was age 16. I took the Science of Creative Intelligence class. I hung Maharishi posters at high school and volunteered at the local TM Center helping with initiations.
  • After TM I became involved, at different times, with a Free Will(?) Baptist Church, the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, Ram Daas, and the Charismatic movement.
  • After graduating high school, I attended college with the aim of becoming a Christian counselor. I dropped out of college after one semester to study and serve with The Way International.
  • I received an abortion in 1978 when I was 19 years old while serving as a Word Over the World (WOW) Ambassador with The Way International.
  • I spent 28 years, from ages 18 through 46 (1977-2005), as a loyal follower of The Way International running lay fellowships for over fiteen of those years. I believed the Bible, "as originally given," was inerrant and that The Way was the "true household of God." I served as a WOW Ambassador for approximately fourteen months. I was a member of The Way Corps for over four years (including two Apprenticeship years) but never graduated.
  • Since leaving The Way in 2005, I have slowly left my biblical belief system and gravitated toward agnosticism.

  • At age 22, my health took a dive and I began developing what turned into decades of chronic illness. I have survived (among other ailments) asthma, allergic rhinitis, hives, multiple bouts of pneumonia, an over-responsive immune system, avascular hip necrosis, mercury toxicity, hormone dysfunction, depression and anxiety, herniated disc, four sinus surgeries (polypectomies), one hip replacement surgery, and one carpal tunnel surgery.
  • I currently live with peripheral neuropathy, specifically polyradiculitis, in all my limbs. Acid reflux is also a regular visitor.

  • I have been married to my husband since 1984. We have two wonderful children who are now young adults.
  • I home-eclectic schooled my two children from birth until college.
  • I and my husband helped care for my father for over eleven years after Dad survived a head-on collision which left him to live his remaining twelve-plus years as a quadriplegic.
  • As of 2009, both my parents and all their siblings are deceased.

  • I am a 'generalist;' my interests vary, sometimes widely. My chosen "career" was a stay-at-home mom.
  • I held my first real job when I was 14 years old; I worked as a hospital dietitian aid.
  • My other jobs include or have included nurse's aid in a nursing home, hospital laundry worker, taxi-cab driver, neighborhood ice cream carter, waitress, food services, various secretarial jobs, various sales positions, potter's assistant, childcare, science center educational presenter and on-site camp-in director, preschool music teacher, miniature art studio manager, and professional pet care.
  • As of 2014, I spend more time face-to-face with animals than with people.

  • Most of the time, my favorite colors are purple and green....or the rainbow.
  • I like salty foods more than sweets. I do not smoke. I drink alcohol in moderation.
  • I am lazy when it comes to written communication; I prefer the phone or face-to-face.
  • I have hand-written about nineteen journals since 1998. I know Gregg shorthand which I use when I journal with a pen.

If any readers are so inclined, I'd love to read any tidbits about you. You can share them in the comments section below this blog entry.

Thank you for visiting toss & ripple!

Related posts:
A Bit About Me, I
Ode to Email
Seeking: Life Along The Way [Part 1 of 3]
Seeking: Life Along The Way [Part 2 of 3]
Seeking: Life Along The Way [Part 3 of 3]
Seeking: Life Along The Way - III John 2 ? [Addendum to Parts 1 thru 3]

One of my life-theme songs is Tapestry by Carole King. I especially like this compilation on Youtube...


About this blog, II

A friend of mine once stated that blogs are me-centric. This blog is no exception; most, if not all, of the blog entries are snapshots of my life, of my thoughts, of my reflections.

Life stories naturally involve other people, so other people appear in many of the entries. To protect certain identities, names and/or dates and/or places in some blog entries are changed from the actual.

What is the purpose of this blog?
The number one purpose is to express.
Within that is an avalanche of other reasons, a few being...
to practice writing,
to step out of my comfort zone,
to grow in my ability to communicate more clearly,
to learn who I am and have a record of how I evolve,
to become more comfortable in my own skin,
to continue to discover...

I hope to never veer onto a path where the purpose becomes to impress.

The name toss & ripple was inspired by a poem I penned in 2007 entitled significance beneath my sandal. I believe in the ripple effect; the seemingly small actions, words, deeds, and misdeeds of one person ... matter.

I hope that as I grow in my ability to express and to embrace authenticity, others who come across this blog are inspired in like manner.

Thanks for visiting toss & ripple...

significance beneath my sandal
(penned march 31, 2007)

one grain of rock
trampled under
crushed beneath
my sandal

no thought given
to its suffering
for it is
but gravel

yet this pebble
tossed on water
rippled pond
life aroused

one day trampled
no thought given
form concealed

another day
tossed to freedom
bobbing shapes
round and round

Related post: About This Blog, I


"Be the change..."

Spill, spill, spill...barrel full of thoughts.

There was a time I looked forward to my children being out on their own. I would have time to pursue writing or other interests.

Yet, here I am now, in that season of life - children are grown pursuing their own lives.

I feel lost. I feel my purpose is complete. What do I do now?

I recently shared with Hubby that I am not passionate about anything, really. I have occasional passion for hiking the Appalachian Trail, but that's about it. I have plenty of projects I should get about accomplishing. I have written the list...more than once.

In the past year or more, I have thought that my lack of passion is due to no longer having my grand purpose outlined by The Way - the grand purpose of "making available" the "accuracy of the Word" to the world. Up until after leaving The Way, I thought I would always "keep God first" fulfilling the "whole duty of man" by "fear[ing] God and keep[ing] his commandments." My identity was dictated by the scriptures.

But...I no longer embrace those purposes or that identity.

After leaving The Way, I got involved with anti-cult activism; but that passion too has waned.

I'm hesitant to get on board with any sort of grand movement to help change the world.

As I was watching a Youtube video this morning, the man in the video mentioned the life "mission" of Will Durant. I thought, I no longer have a life mission; raising my children was my life mission. And now, they are raised. Underlying that mission was to "keep God first," along with a long list of other commandments.

So my lack of passion is most likely multifaceted, as most of life is. Layers of reasons beneath our actions or lack thereof. In other words, my lack of purpose isn't due only to no longer being told what my purpose is according to scripture or according to The Way and then the flip-side of that in the "anti" crowd; but also, my career as a stay-at-home-eclectic-schooling mom is fulfilled. I have retired from that career path.

Will I come up with a new life mission? I don't know. I have many fleeting ideas that never come into fruition. Maybe I'll decide to stick with one of those ideas for longer than two weeks.

The line "be the change you want to see" has been on my mind lately. To me, for now, that equates into small everyday decisions...like to take home the plastic Wendy's container and put it in the recycling bin.


Wings on my feet... (part two)

non-prompt: having been there myself
aww, 6/04/14

Around 7:45PM, I arrived back at Son's gray, 2000, Toyota Camry which we had parked over six hours earlier in the Massie Gap parking area. There were about four other cars in parking spaces awaiting their hikers. At any moment, I expected my 23-year-old son to emerge from the trail and cross the large, wide meadow to meet me.

I'm glad his driver's door lock is broken, I said to myself. I can change out of my hiking shoes into my sandals.

I opened the driver's door and pushed the button that unlocked the other doors. I went around to the passenger's side and opened the back door. I unlatched my green and black hip pack that now held two empty water bottles in its side pockets. I placed my hip pack in the back seat. I tossed in my green jacket, which had stayed around my waist on the seven-mile rugged hike.

I picked up one of my trekking poles which I had leaned against the side of the car. With my left hand gripped toward the bottom of the pole and my right hand gripped slightly above where the top of the pole joins the bottom of the pole, I twisted, rotating my right wrist toward me and my left wrist away from my body, like I was loosening a cap off a bottle. After I loosened the pole grip, I pushed the top part of the pole over the bottom section; the pole magically became shorter. I twisted again in the opposite directions, tightening the shortened pole. I placed the pole on the car floor behind the front passenger's seat and repeated the process with my other trekking pole.

Both my trekking poles have silver duct tape wrapped around them, a backpacker's trick so as to travel lighter and not have to carry a whole role of heavy duct tape. I think all backpackers carry duct tape, the versatile fix-it aid.

I unlaced and took off my hiking shoes and then my hiking socks. It felt good to release my feet from their protective coverings. I put on my Velcro-strapped Teva sandals.

I rummaged in the grocery bag in the back seat and retrieved a granola bar. I closed the back door and climbed into the front passenger seat to munch my snack.

I wonder where Son is? He had wanted to go eat, so I thought for sure he'd be back here by 8:00. I gotta pee. I wonder how gross the privy is?

After finishing my almond-chocolate-sea-salt yummy bar and drinking some water from my cup that had been in the car all day, I grabbed some tissue and headed toward the privy which was located about fifteen yards or so down the hill in the woods. There were two privies, a ladies and a gents. I was surprised at how clean the privy was, and it even had toilet paper.

As I walked back up the hill, I thought for sure Son would be at the car.

No Son.

Massie Gap Meadow
This isn't good, I thought to myself. I have no cell service and neither does Son. I'm sure he's not in grave danger. Well, he could have fallen or something, but it's unlikely he would be severely injured. I wonder if he took a side trail and got turned around? He has water for the day and he has a coat and I'm sure other supplies in his day pack. I know he won't die or anything. But I'll have to find a phone if he doesn't show up soon. Maybe he decided to hang out on the ridge to see the sun set. Maybe he hooked up with those four hikers from Appalachian State.

It was getting dark. I turned on the light in the car and surveyed the small Grayson Highlands park map, the one given to park visitors as they enter along the winding road that goes up the mountain. I noticed light's out time at the campground was at 10:00 PM.

If Son's not back by 8:45, I'll have to start walking to the campground to see if I can find someone with a phone that has service. I'll call Hubby first and then call the park rangers. We couldn't do any looking for Son tonight, but we could start first thing in the morning. Hubby would have to call my pet clients that are scheduled for tomorrow. Hubby would probably make the two-hour drive up here tonight.

As the sun set, the air grew chilly. I took off my Teva sandals, put on my socks and put back on my Teva sandals. From the back seat, I grabbed my Catskill Mountain tie-dye sweat shirt that I had bought back in 2010 when I was in Woodstock and pulled it over my head.

I got out of the car and walked again over to the wooden split-rail fence. I gazed across the wide meadow; the trail at the far end was now fading into darkness.

A loan hiker appeared from the meadow, but it wasn't Son. I asked the hiker if he had seen another lone hiker, with a day pack. He responded in the negative; he hadn't seen any hikers. I told him my concern about Son, but the hiker's cell phone had no service. We said our good byes as he got in his truck and drove away.

As I stood gazing across the darkening meadow, I jokingly said to myself, Son must be getting me back for that time at Roan Mountain when he had to come looking for me on the Appalachian Trail at 10:00 at night.

I heard voices coming from the road that winds on the left side of the meadow down to the horse stables. Could that be Son? Did he hike back a different route with a hiker he'd met on the trail?

As the voices took physical form, I saw they belonged to a young college-age couple. The couple arrived at their black Honda car which I was standing near. We said our hellos and chatted a bit. I learned they were Virginia Tech students; the girl had just graduated. They were camping at the park camp ground; it was their first time camping.

I explained my concern about my son to them letting them know that both Son and I were experienced hikers which meant we were experienced enough to know that regardless of how experienced a hiker is, stuff can happen on the trail.

The young woman's cell phone had two bars. Her provider was Sprint, not AT&T which was my and Son's provider. AT&T service sucks at the Highlands, and I wasn't too confident about Sprint's service, even with the two bars. Usually Verizon is the only provider that worked up here.

She gladly let me use her phone.

I tapped in the numbers for Hubby's phone.

I waited as the cell phone screen displayed the word "calling."

Then...it dropped. No connection.

I tried two more times.


Wings on my feet...(part one)
Wings on my feet... (part two)


Stone Gnome: Badlands, South Dakota

Son is currently driving solo across the USA from North Carolina to California. He'll be spending the summer in Santa Cruz.

He decided on a northern route so he can visit the Badlands and Yellowstone on his way westward. He's been sending me text updates, with some videos and photos, along the way. His phone takes crappy photos and videos; he's rough on cell phones.

He sent me one photo of some sheep grazing. He hadn't noticed, as he stopped by the road side and gazed at the sheep and snapped the photo, that in the background sat a stone gnome watching over those mountain sheep.

Weather and Mother Nature carved this gnome.


Wings on my feet...(part one)

How often do I mention my apathy or my loneliness?

I know I write about it in my private journal.

I know I have mentioned it in some of my blog entries, maybe too many.

It stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired.
H.A.L.T. is used in various recovery programs to help redirect an undesired path, a path that has been well worn by the one walking it, a path that one desires to change.
When we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired...we may have a tendency to veer down that undesired path, that path of least resistance.

I'm seldom ever hungry.
I'm seldom angry.
I'm often lonely.
I'm regularly tired.

I know I'm not really lonely, in the sense that I have no one to turn to. I have my husband, and my children, and friends in 2-D and 3-D life. Yet I often feel lonely, like if I melted away...few would really notice. I want to think my animal friends might notice the most; but the scientific side of my mind tells me that's not really true. My animal friends love any two-legged creature who treats them with love and tenderness. I'm simply another one of those two-leggeds.

Life regularly feels pointless to me, which ties into my apathy. I know logically that my life isn't pointless; I have purpose. But I have no great, grand purpose. I am not out to change the world, or even my neighbor.

As I lay in bed the past few hours unable to sleep after waking at 2:30 AM, I thought about the recent tragedy in California - Elliot Rodger and another shooting spree. I thought about a mother I know who is, at this very moment, suffering with the loss of two daughters. The daughters aren't deceased but rather they have cut off their parents due to manipulative relationships. I thought of other tragedies around the world.

How can I be so selfish to feel lonely or apathetic?

I know the loneliness and apathy come and go.
Funks rise and abate.
Depression and the blues are here and then gone.
Something helps spark a little bit of life and perspective adjusts.

Last Monday I hiked the 3.5 rugged miles, partway along the Appalachian Trail (AT), from Massie Gap to Thomas Knob Shelter in Virginia. As I approached the shelter with about a half-mile to go, I thought, Why do I want to go all the way to the shelter? My legs feel heavy and I'm tired; I could just turn around now and head back.  Why do I even want to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail? I don't know; because it's here? It can be such a miserable task. And it can get truly lonely. You're kidding yourself anyway Carol, to think you'll ever be able to thru-hike. But Son sure does inspire you. He said earlier today, "Mom, you can do it. You just take your time. If you'd need spinal injections every three months to keep going, that's only two rounds of injections."

Thomas Knob Shelter along the AT
As I sat at the old, weather-worn, wooden picnic table outside the front of the Thomas Knob Shelter eating my celery and peanut butter, a backpacker approached from the south, hiking northbound on the AT. He was tall and lean wearing a cap, like one of those pipe-smoker Gatsby caps. The cap was white and green - a pattern of tiny checkers. I later noticed that his backpack displayed the same plaid pattern. The hiker appeared to be in his mid-to-latter thirties.

On the right side of his forehead a large beige band-aid decorated his temple area, from his forehead coming down parallel just to to the outside of his right eyebrow. As we said our hellos, he put his right fingers on the band aid stroking it lightly, "I fell a little earlier and cut my head on some rocks. I feel a little light headed from the blood loss."

"Ouch," I replied. "We are only a few miles from civilization if you need to get to a doctor. Is there anything I can do?"

"Nah. I'll be alright."

"Are you thru-hiking?" I asked.

"I am," he replied. "Is there water here? I'm thinking this is my only water stop between here and Wise Shelter."

"I think you are correct. And yes; the water is down the hill behind the shelter. I've not been here in a few years, but it used to be a good watering hole."

He walked out of sight heading toward the water source and returned about 10 minutes later.

Boy, that was quick, I thought. It'd take me at least twenty minutes to get down there, filter my water, and get back here.

"God, what an awful trail this is," he slightly moaned, referring to the AT. "Five hundred miles so far of just brutal hiking. I don't know why anyone would make a trail like this."

"Have you heard the term PUD yet?" I asked him.

"No. What does that mean?" he asked.

"Pointless up and down. I've heard other thru-hikers use the term...'another day of fucking PUD, all fucking day.' "

We chuckled.

As we talked hiker-talk I mentioned to him my dream of wanting to hike a flip-flop thru-hike starting at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, and hiking the 1000-plus miles north to Mt. Katahdin, Maine; then take a bus back to Harper's Ferry and hike the 1000 miles south to Springer Mountain, Georgia.

"But, I don't know if I'll ever get to do it," I said, "because of some health issues with nerve damage."

"Nerve damage, huh? Let me show you something," he replied.

He lifted his hair on the back of his neck as I stood up in order to see what he was going to show me. There was a scar along his spine, reaching from at least the base of his hairline disappearing behind his collar and into his shirt.

"See that scar? In 1999 I was in a car wreck and was told I'd never walk again. I was a quadriplegic."

I was momentarily stunned silent.

"Oh my god. What happened? I mean, how did you walk again?" I asked in utter amazement.

"Time. And lots of weed. Lots of weed. The doctors said I'd never walk again or be able to use my arms properly. The damage was between C-4 and C-5. But slowly, over the years, it came back. The docs still kept telling me that I'd never be able to function. I didn't want any of the new experimental drugs, just my weed."

I was amazed, almost beyond belief.

"My left side came back first, but it was a long time coming. Slow, real slow. I'm right handed, so I had to learn how to do everything left sided. I was then a hemiplegic; that's what they call it when you are paralyzed on one side. I was told to not expect any more improvement. But I just kept hoping, believing, or something. And doing my weed."

"That's just...totally incredible. Wow." My eyes were wet with tears. I knew, I knew, I knew what this man had been through. I'd help care for my own dad after his car wreck that left Dad to live as a quadriplegic his remaining thirteen years of life. I shared a bit with this fellow survivor about Dad, about Dad's fight and drive and Dad's surry cart. The hiker's eyes lit up as I spoke.

"He was a fighter. You are too. You can do this thing, this dream of thru-hiking. You just put one foot in front of the other and take your time. I have balance issues and I get tired and I have pain. But hell, we're gonna hurt anyway, might as well hurt while living a dream. And you gotta pack light. My pack here can only hold 35 pounds; it's not designed to hold any heavier. So I can't pack over thirty-five pounds. You don't have to spend a bunch of money for ultra lite. Just do your research."

"What's your trail name?" I asked him.

"Rising Tide," he responded. I smiled. He was from Florida and ran on the beach. "Nothing prepares you for this trail though, the elevation gains and losses. There is no way to prepare for all the constant, grueling up and down."

"Yeah, I've heard that," I replied. "People say they prepare by doing the thru-hike."

"This Appalachian Trail thru-hike is my basic training for the triple crown," he continued.

"The triple crown," I reponded, with a grounded admiration, still stunned by his story.

He continued to share as five-foot-two-plump me looked up at his six-foot-lean frame. "One thing you have to do with nerve damage is to keep your tendons stretched. Otherwise they'll just tighten and be no good. That's the other thing I did. I had someone stretch my limbs and tendons until I could do it myself."

We chatted a bit more. Hiking. Trail life. Nerve damage. Life life.

 "My god, what a story you have.What you've been through and now going for the triple crown," I was inspired. I was thankful I'd hiked this day to Thomas Knob Shelter.

"You heading north?" he asked.

"I am," I answered, "but I'm not quite ready yet to hike back."

Plus, I knew he'd out-hike me. And he wanted to get to Wise Shelter, at least another five miles. I was only headed back another 3.5 miles.

As we stood saying goodbye, he extend his right arm and hand, "My name is Jason."

I shook his hand. "My name is Carol, Jason. Good luck to you. And thank you so much for sharing. So much. It means a lot to me."

AT white blaze, up & out of Rhododendron Gap
"No problem,' he smiled. "You can do this. Maybe I'll see ya on the trail one day."

My feet had wings on the rugged 3.5-mile hike back to the car.

Wings on my feet...(part one)
Wings on my feet... (part two)