Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kurt Cobain: Real Stomach Ailment or Excuse to Get High?

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As someone who suffers with chronic pain & fatigue, one of the most hurtful things is when people don't take me at my word that I'm really as unwell as I claim.  I haven't had adequate healthcare for 90% of my life so I don't have all the answers as to WHY I feel so terrible, but I know I'm not functioning at 100% (or even 30% most days) despite looking relatively okay on the outside.  Several conditions have been suggested but I've lacked the funds to chase down a definitive diagnosis.  At the same time, I'm also a user of substances like kratom, cannabis & the (very) occasional opioid painkiller--all things I started experimenting with years AFTER my chronic illness symptoms set in as a child.  I use them both for recreational purposes as well as self-medication.  It's quite possible to do both & do it responsibly. 

I've always idolized Kurt Cobain who seemed to share these dual realities.  While hanging around some Nirvana forums, I've run into a few self-assured jerks who just KNOW that Kurt's well-documented stomach condition was a farce--either something he used to score pills from doctors or an excuse to use heroin.  Even one of his acquaintances from the band The Melvins, Buzz Osbourne, claims to know with certainty that Kurt's stomach condition was "bullshit".  Because "heroin addicts puke.  It's called puking with a smile on your face."


That contrasts starkly with the medical report from Kurt's doctor when he was only 10 years old, claiming he was hospitalized for "failure to thrive" (malnutrition).  There are references to this hospitalization in both Heavier Than Heaven and this book about ADHD.  He always claimed his stomach pain went back to childhood & that his mom suffered from the same problem for a time.  In "Montage of Heck" we see various scenes where Kurt describes his vague diagnosis of a "red irritation" that's not quite an ulcer but obviously significant enough to be noted upon endoscopy.  What's cut out of the film is a scene in which Kurt's just had an endoscopy & recounts the horrors of waking up during the procedure with a tube down his throat as he attempts to eat his dinner next to a bucket of puke.  It's a truly heart-wrenching scene.

Who would subject themselves to endoscopy after endoscopy & nauseating meds like ampicillin if they're just "faking" a stomach problem?  Kurt could get any drug he wanted on the black market--he didn't need to fake pain to score pills.  This was a very ill man & his diet was restricted to only the blandest foods all his life:  macaroni & cheese, white bread, milkshakes, potatoes.  Again, that's a big sacrifice to make if you're just putting on a show & pretending to be sick. He was chronically underweight long before the opioid use started, as you'll see in the photos below.

There was one MTV interview near the end of his life where Kurt referred to his stomach issues as "psychosomatic" & "irritable bowel," though I get the impression that's just the conclusion he's come to after years of doctors throwing these wastebasket diagnoses at him.  I can certainly relate.  IBS doesn't cause you to vomit blood though.  It's an intestinal disorder, not a stomach disease.  It's far more likely Kurt suffered from H. pylori infection, Celiac disease or even some rare manifestation of Crohn's than simple IBS.

And just for fun, let's look at some pictures of Kurt before he started abusing heroin & other hard drugs on a regular basis.  Note how pale & gaunt he looks even in the earliest days of his aspiring career:

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1990: The year before heroin started to become a habit

In any case, his problems reached a breaking point on April 5th, 1994 when he exited this world via gunshot wound to the head.  While the stomach pain wasn't the ONLY contributing factor in his death, it was undoubtedly a decades-long agonizing problem that helped drive him over the edge.  How do we know?  Because he mentions it in his final address to the world--his suicide note.  "Thank you all from the pit of my nauseous, burning stomach for your letters & concern during the past years."  Guess that's just one last attempt at sympathy seeking for good measure, eh?  Not like he'll be around to reap the benefits of saying something like that, but what the heck.  Why not include a total lie in your suicide note to the world & your family?  😒

Let's assume for just a moment that Kurt also benefited from opioids mentally & emotionally.  Maybe even recreationally at times.  He was bipolar & suffered severe bouts of depression from about age 9 onward and was diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age.  Why is feeling good a crime?  And if it happened to help his intestinal symptoms, EVEN BETTER!  Right?  Heroin slows down GI movements (peristalsis) which results in constipation in people with healthy bowel function but can have a normalizing effect on people with diarrhea & overactive bowels.  He claimed to be "fatter & healthier" while using drugs in one interview, which supports the assertion that heroin did help his stomach condition. 

Perhaps Kurt didn't need something as strong as heroin when he was just a nobody couch-surfing in Aberdeen, but when he hit it big & was forced to tour & perform & record constantly, that changes things.  You can't afford to miss engagements when you're an A-list rockstar.  I don't think most fans grasp just how strong the pressure is & how little sleep/downtime these celebrities get.  They're expected to create art while being pushed to their physical limits with concerts, tours, interviews & other engagements with no time to recharge.  We all saw what happened near the end of his life when he declined to play Lollapalooza & chose instead to take some time off after his overdose & bout with bronchitis in Rome.  His label, band & wife gave him an ultimatum:  go to treatment or we're all done with you.  You're the golden goose...start acting like it.

It's attitudes like these that drive drug users & mentally ill people over the edge.  Please put yourselves in our shoes & realize that self-medication with illicit drugs is often a last stop before suicide.  We've tried everything else available & aren't willing to be blamed or shamed for our illnesses--mental or physical--any longer.  Before demanding total sobriety & restrictive rehab, look into harm reduction.  Work with us & listen when we open up about our personal struggles.  Look beyond the addiction & realize it's a symptom of a much bigger problem & will never get better until that underlying problem is solved.

At the same time, hold us accountable for keeping ourselves & others safe by not letting us drive while intoxicated, not bringing drugs around children or going off our prescribed psych medications without a doctor's supervision.  Insist on using protection to avoid unplanned pregnancy if you or your partner is an addict.  If a loved one engages in these dangerous/irresponsible behaviors, file a police report (if applicable) & then leave.  Don't enable bad behavior.  But don't treat us like children either.  That's how you can support people like Kurt instead of driving them over the cliff with your self-righteous demands.

(Note:  I fully appreciate how hard it is to live with an addict & constantly worry that they're going to drop dead of an overdose at any minute, so I don't begrudge his loved ones the right to hold an intervention.  I just think the timing & methods were all wrong.  Courtney was clearly pissed he dropped out of Lollapalooza for financial reasons & was very likely cheating on him if what their close friends say is true.  Never mind the fact she had her own polydrug abuse issues. Kurt DID owe it to his daughter to be a sober & present father, but you can't force an addict to get clean.  You can only support them until they're ready to change & refuse to enable them directly with money or favors).

If Kurt had been a strong-willed confident man, perhaps he could've told them all to fuck off & taken some time off to do drugs & paint or write songs like he wanted.  But he wasn't a confident man:  he'd been rejected by his parents, failed at getting clean multiple times & had his name dragged through the mud by journalists who called him every name in the book & got CPS involved.  He couldn't handle another divorce, especially one as public as his & Courtney's would be.  Mostly, he couldn't subject his daughter to that pain--the very pain he'd always claimed ruined his life as a child--so he did the unthinkable. And that really sucks.

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emo, hair, kurt cobain, music, nirvana, rock, sad

Monday, October 29, 2018

[Review] - Yocan Evolve Plus Vape Pen

Product:  Yocan Evolve Plus
Price:  $19.50
Vendor:  thorz_thunder08 (
Location:  Midwestern USA

Rating:  4.8 of 5 stars
Yocan Evolve Plus:  Limited Edition designs

I don't have a lot of experience with vaping (not to the extent that some of y'all vape-o-philes do!) and am certainly no expert.  I only use vapes to ingest CBD shatter, which I have a ton of thanks to a very generous vendor.  My vaping journey started with those 510-thread batteries that are used to vape liquid CBD.  From there, I moved up to a (counterfeit) dry herb G-Pen that I turned into a makeshift shatter-vaping device.  It lasted much longer than I could've hoped for, but eventually crapped out. 

What I look for in a vape pen is, first and foremost, safety.  I need it to not blow up in my face & kill me.  But affordability is a close second.  My price range is sadly in the teens up to about $45.  Maybe $50 if it's a birthday or Xmas.  So what's in that price range that can be used for solids like CBD shatter?  Well, I asked around on Reddit & got a few grumpy answers.  Yocan was a brand that kept coming up a lot, so I narrowed it down to which model was most popular & it appears that's the Evolve Plus, which has a double quartz coil & some other nice features like a little wax storage compartment on the bottom.

I bought mine from a seller on eBay named thorz_thunder08, who has a 100% feedback rating.  Very rare for anyone with as many sales as he has.  Thor'z prices aren't the lowest on eBay but they're significantly lower than Yocan's price for this model, which is $49.99.  I paid $19.50 for mine.  Something to keep in mind when shopping for a vape on eBay is that there are a ton of counterfeits & models that didn't pass safety inspections being sold as the real deal.  It's tempting to buy them for super cheap, but if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  Here's one person's firsthand comparison of a genuine Yocan Evolve Plus with a counterfeit.  You can see several differences in the packaging as well as the parts of the pen itself.  This helped me immensely when shopping for mine.

Yocan Evolve Plus pens come in a variety of basic colors, plus a couple of "special editions" like Rainbow, Rasta & Midnight.  Then there are the "Limited Edition" models that are adorned with cute designs like eyeballs & flowers and peace signs.  I went for the basic blue model since it was cheap & available. And pretty. 


So the cool thing about this vape is that it works with both dual quarts coils AND ceramic donut style coils.  According to Redditors you can also interchange various other components with other Yocan vape models, but I'm not that advanced in my vape game yet.  I got the quartz coils because that's what it came with.  They work very well & produce a thick, smooth cloud of vapor.  The battery is an 1100mah...whatever that means.  My Yocan came with the atomizer with pre-installed dual quartz coil, 1100mah battery, 1 replacement quartz coil, a wax tool & 1 USB charger.  Rock on!

Now for the unboxing & testing.  First up is the Watermelon terpsolate that tastes so good when eaten but upsets my stomach due to the strong terps.  First thing I notice is how SMOOTH this vape hits compared to that last piece of trash I rigged up.  It was actually painful to vape CBD shatter to the point I was concerned about my lung health.  No such harshness here, I assume due to the coil cap that filters out nasty impurities.  My first few clouds are underwhelmingly small until I get the hang of how to hit it for max effect.

I follow the Watermelon up with some Pineapple Express CBD shatter, which is my least favorite of the 4 but might be better when vaped.  It is!  Very smooth, tropical flavor in the Yocan.  In fact it has an entirely different taste...none of that overpowering putrid flavor it has when eaten.  Next up is Gorilla Glue, which has sort of a minty, piney smell in the jar.  Hard to describe.  Tastes quite similar in the Yocan...not unlike vaping pine needles with a hint of mint.  Finally we round it out with Blueberry Yum Yum, which is my favorite flavor when taken orally.  Yep.  This one is still the reigning king for me.  The berry flavor is still present in the vape & it's just so damn tasty.  My new rankings in the Yocan:  1st place:  Blueberry2nd place:  Watermelon3rd place:  Pineapple; 4th place:  Gorilla.  

The cool thing about buying from this vendor is that the product comes with a 90-day warranty, which usually bumps the cost up to at least $39 on eBay.  Since my previous vapes have tended to break down on me before 90 days, this might just come in handy.  I scratched off the authentication code thingy on the back of the box & checked it online:  the product is indeed authentic & new.

Despite only using it a couple times, I'm gonna go ahead & give the Yocan Evolve Plus from Thor'z Thunder a 4.8 out of 5 stars.  It's a solid quality product with a warranty that is totally affordable...even for me.  Seems like the perfect vape for beginners or a stocking stuffer for friends.  And the shipping was lightning fast. Ordered on Friday & received on a Monday.  Winning!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Cannabis Rescheduling Comment

This comment is in support of descheduling cannabis & particularly cannabidiol (CBD). The cannabis plant has been consumed for a variety of medicinal, spiritual, recreational & social uses throughout human history. In all this time there has never been a single documented death by overdose unlike most currently accepted social & medical drugs. Its potential applications are vast & include the production of textiles & fuels; medicines for conditions ranging from glaucoma to seizures; fighting deforestation & absorbing 400% more CO2 than agroforestry when grown as hemp.

The history of cannabis prohibition is rooted in racism & paranoia. Even the term "marijuana"--Spanish for "Mary Jane"--is meant to conjure images of slack-jawed Mexican immigrants getting high on the Devil's Drug. Like opium & the Chinese rail workers and cocaine & the Blacks before it, cannabis was linked to a hated minority group with the sole intention of banning the drug to criminalize a people. This worked so well it was later applied to LSD & the hippies in the 1960s. We've continued it right up to the present day.

Problem is, these drug laws are based in fear & political rhetoric, not science & medicine. The result has been an ever-growing prison population (currently the largest on Earth) of disproportionately Black & Latino people, 50% of whom are locked up on non-violent drug charges. Not only that, but our illicit drug supply is brimming with adulterants like fentanyl, carfentanil & synthetic cannabinoids like AB-FUBINACA and the JWH series, all of which are more deadly than the drugs they're meant to mimic. These substances simply wouldn't exist if not for prohibition. They are the moonshine of the Drug War.

Meanwhile, cannabidiol is not intoxicating & has a number of medical properties of its own. The descheduling of the patented form of CBD ("Epidiolex") is a hypocritical & unfair form of favoritism shown to the pharmaceutical companies who are getting rich off the same plant compound that's found in nature (and currently Schedule I). There is no reason this drug should enjoy a legal status that other CBD products do not. The same applies to Marinol, Nabilone & all other synthetic pharmaceutical versions of plant-based compounds, many of which are more toxic than their natural counterparts & less effective therapeutically.

Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, descheduling cannabis just makes good sense. Upwards of 61% of Americans support legalization & even countries like Malaysia that once threatened the death penalty for cannabis offenses are now getting on board. Legalizing would take all financial motive away from the cartels, gangs & dealers and give them to the companies & governments while allowing the application of age restrictions and quality controls that don't currently exist in the black market. No more wondering if your cannabis is sprayed with a synthetic cannabinoid like "Spice" or K2. No more selling to children. Just a taxable, well-regulated product for the consenting adults who wish to consume it at home.

For once, America could lead the way in sensible drug policy. We could be a shining example for the rest of the world and stand on the right side of history.

Thank you.

That Time I Tried: 4-HO-MET

I first tried 4-HO-MET around 2012 during the absolute pinnacle of the research chemical Golden Era (2010-2015).  It was the 2nd psychedelic...