To pick up where I lucidly left off, in part one of this tale, I spoke of how events conspired against me and how with a healthy self-awareness I was fully aware of my portrayal of image; I was about to step foot into my doctor’s appointment to see if I was sans liver. Had prescription drugs led me to an early grave?
I had sweated on the harms prescribed medication for decades, the culmination of paranoia was to hit me all at once as I ambled down the lengthening corridor. On the other side of this doctor’s appointment I was either going to receive a new lease of life or I was to face my demons down like an angry farmer with a shotgun and special brew cocktail.
Thoughts fly while rationality fleas. The mind raced:
“Pull yourself together Jason, take it how it comes.” I mumble internally on the broken mantra. Then, untamed thoughts take over; I didn’t want to face surgery, I didn’t have the pyjamas for one thing. What if I needed dialysis? The mind takes over like a feral beast with the horn:
“Right Jason.” My mind starts to rattle in my head and I subliminally talk to myself, “Roll call, who’s present for this appointment?; Rationality? Hmm, it’s weak but present. Fear? Check. Terror? Very present. Poise? Poise? Anyone seen poise? As I thought, awol. How about… a sense of calm? No, that left some months ago didn't it. OK, please tell me a serene sense of perspective has turned up? No no, that eloped with poise, now I remember. So, just fear and terror are present. Good good.”
If you can’t follow the inner workings of my mind, just know I was as scared as a drummer when faced with a proper musical instrument, I knew what I had to do, but I was just not equipped to deal with the situation.
Knock Knock: “Come in Jason” The appointment was off to a good start, right until I broke out in a terminal sweat and went the best shade of red this side of a Dutch “special” district. Fear was tangible and lodged in my throat.
“So Doctor, what’s the score, am I giving my best to Elvis anytime soon?”
“Jason, you’re ok, results are good, you've nothing to worry about.”
Try and fathom the weight that was - not only lifted - but flew from my shoulders. It was comparable to angels on my epaulettes, a true feeling that will not be forgotten. Perspective can be obtained from moments like this, life has a funny way of grounding you and making you appreciate what really matters.
“So, Jason, would you like to try anti depressants?”
“But, I’m not depressed Doctor, I’ve just had a bit of a rough ride lately.”
I could not very well pour over the details to the doctor of how I am locked in a literal battle with my own government, this would not endear me to any sane person. Especially, given the fact… I had to broach the subject - THE subject.
“Jason, they’re muscle relaxants, they could help you seeing as you’ve dwindled your painkillers down completely.”
“Well, actually doctor, seeing as you’ve mentioned it, have I got your complete confidence in this appointment?”
“Of course Jason.”
I trust this doctor, even though this is my second time of seeing him, he had displayed more understanding than most of my previous Doctors; I am almost sure I saw a Dr. Shipman once.
“Well Doctor, I have found something that is a literal miracle and helps me more than I can say.”
The doctor shifted in his seat, did he think I was some new super chemist that had discovered a cure for CFS? No, he knew where I was going…
“Yes Doctor, please know I do know what I am talking about, I’ve studied this inside out and have been in contact with the leading professors in this field.”
I can feel myself stumbling, my wile mind decides to break down once more, knowing I am desperate to make a good impression, it decides to vacate and leave a cymbal clapping chimp in its stead:
“Honestly, I know what I’m talking about Doctor, I take cannabis.”
It was at this point I heard a crash of thunder and 1920’s radio play suspense music. I had outed myself once and for all.
“Oh. I see.” the Doctor said while tapping computer keys at his desk. A brief spell of silence began to deafen me. Like any compulsive talker who is afraid of silence, the mouth engaged… the mind didn’t:
“Yes, doctor, have you heard of Dr. Lester Grinspoon; Professor Emeritus of Harvard Medical School?” My first port of call when name dropping. Argue with me? Sure. Argue with Dr. Grinspoon? Best of luck.
“No, who’s he, is he in this country?”
Damn it! Denied, my GP was decidedly un-bowled over.
“How about Professor Nutt?”
“And he is?”
“Come on Doctor, you don’t know Professor Nutt? The sacked government adviser?”
“He was sacked?”
Well, thank you very much Professor Nutt, way it go to speak the truth, talk of science, and get thrown out of a democratic position of influence. Thanks for that, lot of good you’ve done me today.
Last ditch effort:
“Ok Doctor, how about Dr. Ben Goldacre?” Dr. Ben is always a good one to reach for when dispelling cannabis pseudo-science.
“Is he a specialist? When did you see him Jason?”
“He writes for the newspapers and stuff.” Even as I said this I could fully understand the image of madness I was portraying. My “special friends” where an American professor, a sacked government adviser and a man who writes for the newspapers. I may as well said I knew Captain Jack Sparrow, Jerome from off the telly and Jeremy Beadle. Strike one.
“The point is Doctor, I’ve not stumbled into cannabis lightly, I’m well burst on the subject.”
“Well, we’ve only got 4 minutes left Jason so I can’t get too far into this.”
Ok, quick, find the most eyebrow raising facts and myth busting material you can muster - this is what ran through my mind. Unfortunately, what came out of my mouth was something to the effect of:
THINK YOU MAD MAN THINK! What was I doing?! Come on Jason, you practically do this for a living now… wheel out something, anything, you can do it:
“… Don’t worry doctor; To prevent one case of psychosis, it would be necessary to stop at least 2,800 men aged 20 to 24 from smoking the drug heavily, or 4,700 men aged 35 to 39. For women, it would be necessary to dissuade at least 5,470 smokers in the younger age group, or at least 10,870 in the older one.
For light cannabis use, a single case of psychosis would be prevented only if more than 10,000 young men or nearly 30,000 young women were to stop smoking the drug.”
It would be nice to have a copy and paste feature in the cerebral cortex, but as I am without this facet, (and possibly will be until the robots invade) I unfortunately didn’t muster this great statistic. Once more, I was let down as I murmured something about young men. Then, some old rhubarb about smoking, what was I doing?! I was arguing with myself! I knew this. WHY?! I loath myself, I truly do. I was but one step away from setting up my own prohibitionist website right there in the surgery. Why was I doing this? Strike two. Over to my partner, I’ll let her field one as I am in breakdown.
“Doctor?” My partner started. Thank you, finally I can give myself a break and plan the self-flagellation that I truly deserved. She continues, “I’ve seen Jason recover and achieve a standard of living unparalleled on cannabis, it really works and, although I would never tell you your job, cannabis is so much more than the news headlines that dictate perspective in this country.” She was doing well bless her, knock one out the park for me Babe. She continued, “For example, when he was on just painkillers, he had no standard of living, with cannabis, he can actually live! And, it’s not going to kill him. Plus, over the last few weeks, he’s been in his room until the late afternoon…” It was at this point the sirens went off in my head once more; I had just admitted to using cannabis, and my girlfriend had outed me as being in my room for long periods of time. THANKS BABE! Nice one. Good work. I jump in quick to retrieve the wild thread of conversation:
“That’s because my parent’s place is open house, I need to have rest and quietude for when I’m working on things and in study. I’m not IN my room per se, I’m merely using it as an office.”
“Jeremy Kyle?” The doctor asked with head on the tilt.
“NO! I don't watch that. And I’m not on FaceBook either!” Great, can I get me a stereotype? Yes, yes I can.
So, within ten minutes I had gone from grounded & studied individual who loved to learn and milk life for what little I can get out it, all the while I tackle my government head on, to a drop out layabout who loves to watch narcissistic talk show hosts with a penchant for lie detectors. A text book appointment. Strike three.
And then came the killer blow, the doctor spoke hurriedly as my time was up:
“Relax Jason, I will have to put this on your records, I won’t put that you watch Jeremy Kyle though…”
“I bloody don’t! I watch BBC Parliament. Honest.”
“Sure you do, anyway Jason, I will have to put on your notes that you use cannabis. Is that OK?”
“That’s fine doctor.” It was at this point I saw a giant word on the pc monitor, my notes were in full view, like a moth to a beacon, I read the word:
Perfect, you couldn’t write this stuff. I’m in the doctors office, having a breakdown due to thinking I was going to die or lose my liver. I have just had a mini breakdown in the form of a verbal fit, my girlfriend just outed me as a recluse who lives in a cupboard until early evening, and I have the word Anxiety emblazoned on my medical notes. I could see the cannabis headlines already. Then came the hammer blow:
“I know plenty of other patients that use cannabis, Jason, it helps them also. The only real concern with it is the mental health issue.” Seeing as I fielded that one already, I was sitting confident and was beginning to relax. The Doctor finished, “Jason, the other patients I know that use cannabis do not concern me with the mental health aspect… but you, it does concern me.”
Crushed. Like a juggernaut into my chest, this hurt. I have never, EVER had my faculties questioned. My loved ones hold a confidence and respect for my mind, it’s the only part of me that seems to not be broken, but in ten minutes of this doctor’s appointment I was all set to star in the remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, only with more pants and less cohesion. I didn’t even bother to try and come back from this, once the onus of insanity is placed, there is not a single thing that you can do to come back from that, every action and reaction will take on connotations of madness simply through being. This is, perhaps, not a coincidence of cannabis as a contested issue. The one weapon that is wielded on cannabis is the psychosis issue, the madness, the insanity. So, how does one ever clear a name from this folly of absurdity? You don’t, you can’t. You can speculate madness far easier than you can prove sanity, place a label, and outlooks will conform - stigma will forever linger - no matter how much proof is presented to the contrary.
So, I left the appointment with relief in one hand and self-loathing in the other. My doctor was good though, and I do really like him. He also promised to look up Dr. Lester Grinspoon, this was all I could ask for all things considered. I did briefly ponder that although law may change, will stigma and stereotype follow suit, or is that to be another battle entirely? Will hyperbole ever rescind enough for a fair trial of cannabis in the UK?
I did walk out with a new lease of life though, this is perhaps the most important thing. I had had to address an early demise, so, perspective has been reached and clarity of thought is certainly apparent. With this said, and with my life addressed as fragile - as indeed all life is - I am fully prepared to fight for what I believe in, life’s too short to hold back. All or nothing.