And how tragic that he died too soon. I empathize with this 57-year-old who had to live and perform while suffering from chronic pain. Yet his need to dance and sing demanded that he be exceptionally mobile. No doubt, he tried everything to erase the pain and then opioids became his salvation, or so he thought.
In contrast, I am an 84-year-old woman whose major mobility demands consist of just getting out of bed in the morning, sitting down in a chair and then rising from it. I also struggle with getting into and out of the car.
Like Prince, I possess prescription opioids, specifically, Vicodin. However, I am reluctant to use it because it works too well. One recent afternoon, my pain was so extreme that I resorted to taking one tablet. It knocked me out so intensely I was unaware that my friend, Mariah, had rung the doorbell, entered the house and walked into my bedroom, talked to me, banged around the house while resetting quail blocks, left a note and stuck it to the cellphone lying beside me before departing. Despite all this activity, I was totally out.
That scared me and reinforced my distrust of strong pain medications. Because I know that they are easy to get hooked on, I have tried many alternative pain relief methods: acupuncture, epidural injections, wearing a supportive belt, daily gym sessions, physical therapy, massage therapy, traction, chiropractic adjustments. The results have been mostly unsuccessful.
Finally, I consulted with a medical marijuana guidance counselor. She thought that the herb would be helpful and explained the steps needed to become a licensed New Mexico user. I received my license five weeks after sending in the paperwork.
At first, I felt self-conscious waiting in the NM certified dispensary. I wasn’t alone in my discomfort. One day, a middle-aged woman admitted that she used to scold her teenagers when they were experimenting with “pot.” Now her amused son accompanies her when she makes a purchase.
Likewise, my late husband used to warn our teenagers: “If others at the party are smoking pot, you have to leave.” Yeah, sure.
My now-adult children often tease me about what Dad would say if he knew about my taking marijuana. I’m sure he’d be happy that I am getting pain relief via an ancient natural herb without fatal consequences. Medical records show that no one has ever died from marijuana. Besides, I only take one capsule at night allowing me to get out of bed pain-free. Consequently, by morning I feel competent to drive without endangering anyone, including myself.
I have become a familiar and welcome customer at the cannabis dispensary. They open the door for me without first having me show my ID outside the establishment; one of the workers regularly greets me with, “Hi, Norine.”
The last time I was there, they had a sign: Become a life member All I had to do was buy a t-shirt and wear it for future purchases to receive a 4% discount.
What a difference. Marijuana is safe. Vicodin is dangerous. Besides, with Vicodin, you get No Lousy T-Shirt.
Norine Dresser is a folklorist who realizes that cannabis is not a panacea. As she ages (deteriorates) she will have to supplement with other modalities of pain relief.