Tag Archives: Health

Rocky Mountain High in . . . Texas? Not Yet (Redux)

25 Feb

 by Roger White

So I’m sitting, slightly askew, on the couch the other evening, wincing through the throbs of a pulled lower back, trying ever so hard to catch glimpses of “60 Minutes” in between intermittent stabs of electric pain. Note to self: It takes two people to move the wife’s giant potted sago palm. Big, green, aggressive bastard.

Lo, mi amigos, there on my favorite TV news magazine was a rerun of an investigative piece on the burgeoning business of cultivating and selling, shall we say, pungent herbs in states such as Colorado and California. And it hit me as I was watching this how pervasive the proclivity of pot production has grown since this show was first aired. As of this here writing, folks, the medical use of (cannabis…shhh!) is legal in 33 states, and the recreational use of (cannabis…shhh!) is legal in 10 states. Present state stubbornly excepted, of course.

starbucks potbucksA quick gander at the ol’ google-pedia shows that there are approximately 364 dispensaries of (cannabis) in the Denver area alone. Holy hash pipes, that’s more than the total of Starbucks and McDonalds outlets combined (111, for those counting at home). Talk about a budding industry. Rimshot. Applause, applause.

It’s interesting to note that although an air of legitimacy is lent to this state-sanctioned drugstore doobage—with barcodes on individual plants and white-coated THC technicians advising patients on characteristics and properties of each strain—that vestiges of the headshop hippie days still linger, specifically with the nicknames attached to different types of product. Some samples: Jack Frost, Blue Dream, Purple Haze, Skywalker Special, Accidental Tourist, Gracie Slick, Agent Orange—and yep, there is still Acapulco Gold.

Try as I might, I’m having a bit of difficulty envisioning an elderly glaucoma sufferer, say, an 85-year-old grandmother with a walker, toddling into her corner Hash-n-Dash. But here goes:

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Hello, Doctor Stoner.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Please, Mrs. Baker, I’m not a doctor, just a technician. Call me Moon Skye. How’s the glaucoma this week?”

old pot ladyEighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Not good, Dr. Moonpie. I ran out of the Lemon Skunkweed two days ago and couldn’t get in until today.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Tell you what. We’re out of Lemon right now, but we’re having a special on Night Train Nebula.”

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother yadda: “Oh, that Night Train makes me paranoid. Do you have any Blue Monkey Balls?”

White-coated THC blah etc.: “Sorry, Mrs. Baker.”

Eighty-yadda so on: “Oh, all right. Half-ounce Night Train then. And do you have any papers?”

White blah etc.: “Sure thing, Mrs. B.”

Eighty-yadda-zzzz: “Groovy.”

Pot Olive OilSounds hokey, yes, but this is big, big biz. As in the billions of dollars. It’s a green industry in more ways than one. And for those nonsmokers looking for relief, these pot practitioners make cannabis-infused cookies, candy, ice cream, sports drinks, pills, olive oil—you name it. If it can be ingested, it can get you toasted.

Yet, as I squirm here on my couch, twinging with what feels like lower back labor pains, I must settle for a measly couple of ibuprofen, seeing as how Texas doesn’t square with a great many other states’ views on pain-relieving plants and such. I know we’re the big, fat belt buckle of the Bible sash and all, but if cooler heads prevailed in the Legislature (get it? heads?), we’d see the obvious benefits—namely, crazy stacks of Benjamins in state coffers.

And don’t quote me on this, but I bet we’d see a reduction in violent crime and speeding offenses. In fact, I’d predict a spike in tickets and warnings issued for driving too far under the speed limit. And I imagine there’d be a quantum leap in late-night sales of Doritos and caramel corn.

Texas being Texas, of course, we could put our own brand on the business. The possibilities would be practically endless: Texas Tea, Lone Star Lids, Dallas Dimebag, Galveston Ganja, Houston Homegrown, Beaumont Buds…you get the idea.

guns n boozeMmmm, naah. I don’t see it happening. That sort of thing is viewed as just too dangerous here in the big state. Besides, there’d be no room for dispensaries amid the gun shops and liquor stores.

 

Editor’s note: As of this writing (2-25-19), there are three licensed dispensaries of marijuana for medical purposes in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune: “Though marijuana bills haven’t made a splash in sessions past, shifting politics and public opinion is giving lawmakers and advocates reason to believe the 2019 session might be different.” We shall see. But don’t hold your breath, so to speak.

 

Roger White is a dude abiding with his far-out old lady, a long-haired hippie dachshund, and a cat who digs Miles Davis. For, like, further adventures, man, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

A Gander Ahead at 2019, the Year of the Goiter

5 Jan

by Roger White

 

Ah, my catatonic cohort, as we stagger forward into 2019, which I believe is the Chinese Year of the Goiter, allow me to gaze into my patented (Patent #4,448,923.e-7) Oldspouse Ball of Crystal-like Substance and render forth an inkling of what is on the horizon in the delirious days to come.

 

goiter dude

Right off the bat, as the mist clears in my little pearl of prognostication, I see, wait, there it is, I see the late Walter Matthau at a podium. No, wait, my bad, that’s White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She is announcing that there will no longer be an annual State of the Union address. This, she says, will be replaced by the president’s hourly Tweet of the Union, in which actual verbs and coherent spelling will be optional. But there’s more. Here we go, read along, if you will:

 

In the World of Business. In late April, in violence-ridden Chicago, two enterprising entrepreneurs come up with a safety-conscious version of the Uber ride-sharing initiative—this one utilizing surplus US Army tanks to ferry passengers from point A to point B. Tuber, the company is called, allows up to four people to ride in a WWII-vintage M4 Sherman tank to their desired destinations. For an extra charge, passengers may fire the Sherman’s 75-mm cannon at a Starbucks of their choice (although the cannon is armed only with yellow house paint and fifty-gallon canisters of glitter). The White House responds to this development by promising to build 20-foot-high walls made of baked knishes around every Starbucks franchise in the greater Chicago area. Press Secretary Sanders notes that the president will make the US military, primarily former US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, pay for the $250-million knish construction.

 

In Weather. In late August, following a record 147 days of 115-degree temperatures, the town of Lovelock, Nevada, spontaneously combusts, incinerating every building in a two-square-mile radius of downtown Lovelock. Fortunately, only three people are killed, as almost every citizen of the town of approximately 2,000 people departed to stay with poor lovelockrelatives until the unprecedented heat wave subsided. In response to the vast majority of world scientists explaining that the disaster was a direct result of drastic global warming, the White House imposes a national ban on world scientists and begins plans to construct a 20-foot-high wall made of anthracite coal around the headquarters of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

 

In Social Developments. The #MeToo Movement retakes the national spotlight in September, as no less than 25 prominent women in areas of endeavor from politics to show business, from sports to finance and industry come forward with personal accounts of harassment and inappropriate behavior leveled against mainly white men in positions of great power. In response, the White House announces a national ban on Gwyneth Paltrow and begins plans to engineer a 20-foot-high wall of ribbed latex around every white male American CEO, Congressman, movie producer, and member of the Catholic Church.

 

In Sports. In October, the surprising Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball’s American League Central Division complete their amazing 2019 season by sweeping the National League’s St. Louis Cardinals, four games to none, to claim the World Series trophy. After hearing that Tigers’ Venezuelan first baseman Miguel Cabrera earned the series Most Valuable Player award—and discovering that the Tigers lead the majors in Hispanic players on the roster—the White House proposes to end all shipments of bats, balls, gloves, and other baseball equipment to all Latin American countries and begins formulating plans to construct a 20-foot-high wall made of hot dog buns around Detroit’s Comerica Park.

 

In Trends. In mid-November, the makers of the plant-based meat substitute Beyond Meat announce the development of three more innovative concepts: Beyond Clothes (in which slacks, shirts, and dresses are replaced by edible dashikis made of tofu and soy pulp), Beyond Food (in which users’ desires to actually consume food are tempered by scented holograms of rotting whale carcasses), and Beyond Sex (in which users’ sexual urges are dampened by audio recordings of Gilbert Gottfried describing his genitalia in gilbertminute detail). In response, the White House declares an immediate national ban on all plants and vegetables and begins plans to construct a 20-foot-high wall made of dried beef jerky around every Golden Corral and Bonanza steakhouse in the country.

 

And in Political News. By December, the political stalemate in Washington, D.C., finally ends as Congress announces it has quashed efforts to construct a gigantic wall along the wallnation’s southern border. This lifts the 352-day-long partial government shutdown, during which 4,500 federal employees perished from lack of food and medical care. The White House responds with a total national ban on federal employees and begins plans to construct a 20-foot-high wall around the partially constructed 20-foot-high wall currently in place on the nation’s southern border.

 

Roger White is a 20-foot-high freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely 20-foot-high spouse, a gas-powered dachshund, and a cat recovering from Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit www.oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Listen to the Wife. Don’t Put Off the Doc Visit

7 Mar

by Roger White

Musician/songwriter Dan Fogelberg. Actor Dennis Hopper. Musician Frank Zappa. Television producer Merv Griffin. Actor Telly Savalas. Psychologist/writer Timothy Leary. What do all these guys have in common? They all died of prostate Dancancer, a highly treatable disease if caught in the early stages. Why am I telling you this? I guess you could say it’s become a personal mission of mine to get the word out about early detection. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2013.

It was a shocker, to say the least. It all started with a routine physical, grudgingly agreed to after the insistent urgings of my lovely wife, Sue. One of the many things the doc checks for in guys my age (50+) is the level of PSA in the bloodstream. PSA, short for prostate-specific antigen, is produced by the prostate gland, located down in the male nether regions. Its main function, to put it in terms appropriate for family-friendly reading, is to produce a substance that, um, allows one’s boys to swim more freely. An elevated PSA level is a red flag, however.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. PSA tests, as Sue and I found through voracious research, are somewhat controversial because some health advocates have cited an overdiagnosis and overtreatment for prostate cancer in otherwise healthy men. Only 30 percent of men with elevated PSA levels are found to have prostate cancer following biopsy, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. And the biopsy is no picnic, let me tell ya. Many men, I discovered, opt to skip the biopsy—a quite literal pain in the rear—and conduct what’s termed “watchful waiting” over the years, wherein they’re obliged to check their PSA level regularly to see if it’s rising.

Unfortunately, it seems this controversy about PSA test accuracy has been used as an excuse by many men to simply skip the whole screening. Well, I’m here to tell men over 50, despite the clamor about overtreatment, to get your PSA level checked. I was in the 30 percent. My biopsy report came back stamped in red, in cancerall caps: “CARCINOMA.” Cancer. After the initial terror wore off, we went into action. And here is where it helps immensely to have a supportive partner. Sue read everything she could get her hands on about prostate cancer. We found that every case is different and that treatment options are varied—and confusing. We discovered that although prostate cancer is among the most common cancer in men, some men can actually live with the disease into very old age.

This, however, was not my case. The biopsy showed that mine was advanced to the stage that I required treatment. My options were surgery (removal of the prostate gland), external radiation (a series of treatments in which a beam targets cancerous tissue), or brachytherapy (inserting radioactive “seeds” directly into the body). Considering my relatively young age at diagnosis and at the recommendation of specialists, we chose surgery. Radiation, we found, is more viable for men in their 70s and beyond. My main fears regarding the procedure weren’t about being cut open; the possible side-effects were truly frightening: risk of urinary incontinence and loss of sexual function. With all this swirling in my head, we chose February surgery15, the day after Valentine’s Day, as the day to go under the knife.

I don’t remember much about my hospital stay, except that I was in much more pain than I had anticipated. And I was sent home with a “little buddy”—a catheter. With that cumbersome bag strapped to my leg for more than a week, I hobbled around the house looking somewhat like a nude gunfighter.

But the catheter’s off now. I have a nice scar running from just under my belly button to just above my crotch. I have a little pain, and I’m moving slow; however, I’m not wearing adult diapers and my ability to function as a man is coming back day by day. TMI, perhaps, but this is important stuff. I have some obstacles to overcome, but I have my life.

prostate-cancer[1]The upshot is this: Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States—sixth in the entire world. According to the American Cancer Society, of all the leading new cancer cases and deaths estimated for 2014, prostate cancer accounts for 10 percent, second only to lung cancer.

Listen to the wife, men. Get a physical.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.