Hitting the Wall ... of Self, and then Other ... lessons born in Ganja Excess


the Fall

the Crash and Burn - (each part below represents a trip to the ER, all three taking place in a total of about 15 to 21 days time, counting days “inside” the system)

part one: the Rape of a Soul (qualia-ignored)

part two: the War of Words - a temporary defeat

part three: My Words = Victory

regrets and recriminations, upon review - or not

the Fall

Thirty years ago I was able to become “clean and sober”, after many years of psychological addiction to Ganja/Weed/Dope, with occasional excursions into LSD, psilocybin, and similar exotic intoxicants.

I sought a Ganja free consciousness for many reasons, not the least of which was that I had been having visions (of quite a variety of kinds/types/strangeness) for many years.  Having encountered during this time the works of Rudolf Steiner, and his principle students, I realized that I had to leave the intoxicants behind, so as to properly assess the visions, and bring them into connection with the discipline of my own will-in-thinking.

That journey is collected in my book Sacramental Thinking (http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/SacramentalThinking33x.html).

Conventional medicine had been unable to help me deal with chronic pain from arthritis of the knees, including a trip into oxycodone country.  Having been an addict before, I soon realized the folly there, and to the surprise of my primary care physician rejected any more offers of this pain reliever. 

It came slowly to my attention that medical Ganja might be of service, so I obtained the necessary orders that made available to me the modern powerful incarnations of this substance.  I conveniently forgot that I had been an addict before in the face of the THC variety.  I reasoned (if we may call it such) that if I was going to be a stoner again, I might as well jump in with both feet.

I indulged.  Oddly enough, I used the lowest dosages, but which still went mentally flying into new places in the thought-world, which had been opened to me by me previous 30 years of inner disciplines.  I wrote a great deal, in a new and freer fashion than before, as following Steiner had limitations, given his pursuit of the spirit via scientific disciplines, which wore a tendency to an excess of carefulness, and literary plodding.

My writing soared and most of that is located here: the Worcester Hills Gazette (http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/WorcesterHillsGazette.html).  This included a new masterwork: “Americans, ... among the Lost - notes from inner-space, ... the true Final Frontier
confessions of a white American shaman” (http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/finalfrontier.html).

People, with little imagination and interested in esoteric self-development, tend to shun the use of spiritual perceptions enhanced with drugs.  I urge such to become aware of the German romantic poet Novalis, and his English somewhat counterpart, the poet-scientist S.T. Coleridge.  Both used opiates  (not the modern synthetic that causes so much fuss this days, but the real syrup of the poppy).

Coleridge felt his scientific works far superior to his poetry (e.g. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan).   Owen Barfield saw fit to open our eyes to his genius (drugs or otherwise), devoting a whole book to it: “What Coleridge Thought” (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=What+Coleridge+Thought).

Meanwhile, I also forgot that addicts (of even cigarettes) know that the first dose of the day is the best, so I began to pursue the returns of those early morning flights of thought, upping my daily  dosage of THC to 20 milligrams a day of edible, with intermittent vaping to add something that wasn’t actually missing.

I was also losing weight.  A long unnecessary story, but I was eating little, and gaining energy for the day from the THC high.  In 6 months I lost 60 pounds.  Then one day I felt very light headed, as if I might lose consciousness.  Two days later it happened again, and at that moment I called 911.  Needless to say, my judgment had also become somewhat compromised.

the Crash and Burn -
(each part below represents a trip to the ER, all three taking place
 in a total of about 15 to 21 days time, counting days “inside” the system)

part one: the Rape of a Soul (qualia-ignored) ER visit#1)

There is a discussion, among a too too powerful fringe of the philosophically inclined, concerning whether or not the taste I experience eating a tomato is real.  These same folk do not hold that my experience of a self is even real, nor do they hold that I have free will.  Their view is that the brain does not actually comprehend the real, but only a delusional view of experience.  Further, the brain in fact acts independently (on its own).

This is basically outrageous bullshit!  Why do we know this?  Because if you meet these folks they know they don’t dare treat friends, family, and colleagues, as if they were “its”, and not regular people with the usual range of personality quirks, feelings, and other not-visible inner life-stuff.

Even the not-so-rabid researchers into consciousness use a tool they do not understand, or examine in an empirical fashion.  This tool is their own mind.  There is no investigation of consciousness (or conscious experience), from where it stares itself in the face - our own world of thoughts and thinking.  I wrote an essay (of course) “I am not my brain, the map is not the territory” (http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/brain.html).

Yet, these qualia - these experiences are the whole of what it means to be human.  All the same, scientific materialism has decreed that there is only matter - spirit does not exist at all.  This infects the arts of medicine, which tries to emulate physics by reducing human health and illness to numbers - to only the quantities, not the qualities.

This is not to say those who practice the medical arts, from the great surgeons to the lowly nurses aides in hospitals, do not try to care about the person they treat.  It is just that the mental-model lacks the full sophistication that will be possible once the scientific knowledge of soul and spirit becomes more widely understood.  Oddly - maybe not - the aides and bringers of food and picking up garbage folk in the hospital, tend to be minorities, recent immigrants, and are much more friendly than the “professionals”.

In a sense, the ER, and the other units in major hospitals, are kind of like factories, in which patients come for a while, get help as help can be offered, and then out they go where care is not so intense.  Would that hospital care was not so frenetic, either.  There is no real rest for a patient needing their “vitals signs” (numbers) taken every three hours, even when attached to electronic monitors and dripping IVs.

I arrived at the ER needing help, for something that I barely understood.  I reported being “dizzy”, in answer to a question asking that, and because I had a heart history off we went into worries over whether I was having, or had had, a heart attack.

I tried to explain that I had lost over 60 lbs in the last six months, suspecting there might be something there.  I also passed on my excessive THC use during the same period.  But “dizzy” I was to the tunnel vision in the ER, which has to save lives, and send you elsewhere for fuller evaluations.  This was a big teaching hospital, and a lot was going on.

So off I went to x-rays of my heart.  No problems.  This was followed with blood tests looking for enzymes that suggest a recent heart attack.  This was done twice, separated by 6 hours, with the same result: no evidence of a heart attack.  Since I remained somewhat a mystery (various other factors not explained - who was after all actually listening to me?), I was transfered for an overnight stay in a Unit designed to look more carefully than does the ER, but is not actually a hospital admission.

The next morning their cardiac interested folks wanted to do more “tests” (heaven help them if I die untested).  They recommended a “nuclear stress test”, which is promoted as less obnoxious than the “treadmill stress test”.  In promoting this test they all essentially lied, down playing what was to happen next.

Even as I was prepped in the testing area the lying continued in the forms of don’t worry, this is basically painless, and if their are side affects we’ll be prepared to give additional injections.  While they were injecting me with the primary mover (a large tube of lemonade colored stuff), I naively asked what that does.

Well, the nurse explained, it will forcibly dilate your arteries, so the radium die we will next inject can be better distributed to the heart, making it possible for our picture machine can see the insides of your heart.  One injection, two injection (the radium die) and then low and behold magically both side-effects that had been explained as not always happening (bullshit, they already had the two injections prepared, so that when asked if I was suffering, I exclaimed: gosh jee, I sure am suffering).

Next the move to the picture machine, and oh please lie very still or this won’t work if you move.  CT and MRI scans aside, this is brutal when in pain, and your body is old and gets knots in its muscles at the drop of a hat.  I was quietly screaming get me the fuck out of here, when the voice finally says: your done, its all fine, don’t worry about a thing.

After which I am moved from my torture bed to a wheel chair, put in a hallway outside the dungeon and left alone for twenty minutes - before the low paid driver takes me back to my room.  The next victim is then moved inside, just after they abandon me to lonely waiting.

So, here I am still loaded to the gills with an excess of Sativa THC, but who gives a fuck for the “qualia" (experience) which is the essential inner nature of all human beings.  Physics and Biology have made it official: Soul and Spirit are not real, only the matter in brain.

Thus: the Rape of a Soul

No physician who gives this test should get to order it, unless they have a gold-plated certificate that says: been there done that.  Some with the gastrointestinal folk who like sticking tubes up your ass and down your throat.

Upon returning  to my room, I was told to hang on because they’d like me to lie in the picture machine for a second turn, in case their first pictures were not adequate enough.  I thought about this for a couple of hours, and called the nurse, and told her I wanted out of here as soon as possible AMA (against medical advice).  This was done, but in the process of my signing the paper work, the nurse told me that “they” had seen something and remained concerned.  This last factoid is crucial to the next visit.

part two: the War of Words - a temporary defeat (ER visit # 2

At home, left to my own devices, but at least my Linda-love was there, I remained seriously ill (and confused).  A couple of days later, she goes to church, and I decide to take a shower.  This requires an extreme effort of soul-will to make happen, but I am resolute, although lacking much good judgment.  At the least I had titrated myself off the Ganja, and rediscovered what I had known thirty years ago - I like my ordinary consciousness more than getting high (something I had been indulging in for 6 months).

After the shower I was so weak and shaking that I didn’t even wait for my Linda to get back from church, but dialed 911, and while waiting used another phone to call Linda on her cell.

I still did not know what to say, used the word “dizzy” again (should have used extreme exhaustion, and weakness).  Off we were to the races, so after clearing the ER I’m back in the unit the deals with the undecided mysteries, who insisted that I go get the second set of pictures, but would once again need to lie still in the rotating machine.  I begged for anxiety relief and was slightly sedated.

Later, gosh, nothing found, and even the mysterious previous sighting (used to try to guilt me into not going AMA) might have only been a flaw in the system or dust on the machine.

Later a teaching cardiologist brought her student crew to visit, and while I spoke of weight loss and THC detoxing (which my California first born son had - after ER #1 - given advice regarding diet and such), there was much confusion.  I did advise them that I was a wave front of soon to come cases given the recent recreation legalization of Ganja in Massachusetts; and, really how hard can it be in this age for even a doctor to use Google to learn something new.

Blank faces all around, so I took the opportunity to recommend other modes and kinds of studies, connected to the Rudolf Steiner work and anthroposophical medicine.  Politely
nodding heads and we are releasing you home, with orders for home-care services.  Comprehension - nil. 

As I told my story to the young woman who came two days after my return home, to set up the visits and explain the opportunities of physical therapy, she then explained that the ER people were trapped by their understanding of the word “dizzy”.  She helped me see that “exhaustion” and weakness might have worked better, but given my heart history (two heart attacks the same day in an ER in California, resulting in two stents in two different coronary arteries) made for the looking for an explanation that fit their mind-sets, and was not to be found with subtle outside the box new-thinking - doctors tend after all to be highly educated and trained know-it-alls.

All the same, trying follow diet advice from first son, and Linda and my own lack of knowledge, seeking bone broths etc. I was still weak and getting weaker.  Linda, her heart so dear, didn’t know what to do, and I realized that I had to make the decision, so once more 911 was called, and I got to make the joke to the Paxton ambulance guys: “we have to stop meeting like this” (it was after all, the third 9ll call in two weeks.

part three: My Words = Victory (ER visit # 3)

There I am in the ER gurney, when a nurse comes up and identifies herself as my nurse.  I start to speak, but halfway through the sentence an attending doctor comes by, wanting as well to know why I am there.  I went for shock and awe: “If you do not listen to me, you will kill me”.

As events proceed over the next hours (I was in the ER gurney for about ten hours there being no bed available yet), the supervisor of the ER (disguised as a mild looking grandmother type) came by, and I said the same to her.  There really was not much of a reply, but a careful shift of emphasis that the ER was going to see that I got admitted to the hospital (passing the buck, which is actually very sensible).

Then came by a man who described himself is the “hospitaler” (a verb), which produced no medical knowledge, but rather the fact that he made the paperwork dance.  He also said there was a “team” being assembled that would soon be visiting me, and they would be overseeing the hospital stay.

Two young doctors came by, the worker bees of the team, and I gave them the same story: If you don’t listen to me, I may well die, and by the Way, you will be getting more cases of THC toxicity, so best to pay attention.   The boss of the team came by with a friend in tow, and she was clearly the boss, making suggestions to the first two.

As it was late at night, I asked for some sleep medicine (not having slept well at all since the who “adventure” started.  The young doctors offered benedryl, but the boss pointed out that I had sleep apnea (she reads the chart), and there was some dialogue (over my head) about importing my C-pap machine to the hospital, rather than give me a pill.

My Linda then needed to bring in the machine the next day, and later that evening a man came by to install it next to my bed.  Clearly neither the doctors or I were on the same page.  I sent the tech on to other activity, talked to my evening nurse, and she obtained an order for the benedryl.  Another example of failed communication, coming I suspect, from the habit of not listening to carefully to the patient.  There I am in a narrow bed, with an IV in my arm, and someone thinks it is possible to set another machine next to me that has a mask and tubes and such.  Habits without thought.

There was another similar event, which illustrates the central lesson.  I have a rash near my groin - yeast infections from the wet interior of fat folds.  Very common condition, so I asked my nurse for some of the dermatologist proscribed medicine I use at home.  She seeks an “order” from the doctor-team, and they want to use something different - not my prescription, but their own assumption about what I need - again without listening to me, who has had the condition for many years.  Eventually my complaints to the nurses about what they are giving me not working (a powder instead of a cream), wake up the doctor-team, and so they write an order for the cream.  Opps!  The order is incorrect, so the nurse has to chase someone from the team down again.  The medicine I asked for three days ago, finally arrives the day of my discharge.

When home my Linda takes a look (she’s been applying and cleaning me for quite awhile), and literally screams.  In all the years of these rashes, she’s never seen it so bad.  The cream usually fixes it in a couple of days.  I am now 7 days out of the hospital, and still the rash (while greatly reduced) is there.

The team comes up with a diagnosis (of sorts - its more a description, while the real diagnosis is buried in the paperwork.  It seems I was starving, which is a good reason for being very weak and very exhausted.  The Name: “Severe Protein Calorie Malnutrition”.  Or, as was buried in the release material: life threatening "metabolic acidosis" - my body was eating itself.

Turns out I’m not very nutritious.

My vitals become stable.  I eat some of the hospital food.  I am anxious to get out of there, and they are glad to see me go.  Orders are given from me to receive home care of a sort.  They did notice one matter, for which I am happy.  They were seeing blood pressures that were too low, and so took me off of one of my three blood pressure pills (a change connected to the value of the weight loss as a thing in itself).

While waiting by the 6th floor nurses station, all dressed and needing a driver to take me in a wheelchair to the front door, one of the young doctors from the teams walks by, notices me, and stops to say a few words.

I begin by saying I am thankful that all they did (its the mental medical model that’s the core problem).  Yet, I say, there is still a mystery.  If the blood chemistry shows the ketoacidosis now, why didn’t it show during the blood work on the first two ER visits?

At 76 I have some experience in reading faces.  Though controlled, there was a moment where the question was very embarrassing.  He temporized, always a clue to the invention of a lie, and said that maybe it was yet bad enough to show up in the blood work.

Were they negligent?  Not really.  Just trapped in a system where the patient’s experience (qualia) is discounted, and only the doctor has any real or useful information&understanding that has to be supported by tests, machines, and numbers.

regrets and recriminations, upon review - or not

I’ve had hard life-lessons before.  No need to tie yourself in knots over them.  If you get lemons, make lemonade - is a very workable approach.

My writing and thinking was given a dose of freedom that they needed.  Even in ordinary consciousness those skills are still present, its just that I drive them, they do not drive me.  I actually even appreciate more the life of doctors, trapped in a weak mental model, and surrounded by corporations using the doctor’s and nurse’s and aide’s etc. skills to make a profit.  Managed care is a disaster, but we already knew that.