My mother was a grade school teacher for over 30 years. She taught both 3rd grade and kindergarten in the public school system and was one of those teachers who changed the display outside of her class room for every season and holiday. She made intricate murals that were quite beautiful and imaginative. She used craft paper, felt, and cotton fluff and whatever else was on hand and would cut out shapes with scissors and paste them to the background. I seem to remember helping her but I'm not certain that I did.
My mother was also a talented seamstress: She made aprons and a new set of kitchen curtains for every season. She made a play-circus tent that fit over a card table. She made fake-fur slip covers for giant rolls of bubble wrap that we used for seating (my father was a plastics salesman and Sealed Air was one of his customers). She knew how to mend things and taught me how to do the same. ("Mend" is such an antique word.) She sewed our Halloween costumes and matching outfits for my sisters and me. A lot of cross-stitch and rick rack were involved.
This is all to say that in addition to working with her mind, my mother loved working with her hands; it breaks my heart that she is unable to do so anymore because of her severe arthritis. It is only with great difficulty that she can unscrew a bottle or open a bag of frozen vegetables. Plus, she's in constant pain. "You don't know the half of it," she said, when I asked her how bad it had gotten.
When I read about the relief that marijuana brings to arthritis sufferers I was eager to find a way for my mother to try it. I didn't want her to get high -- she lives alone -- so the usual delivery systems were not an option. There were recipes online for a tincture that could be applied topically but I had no way of controlling the strength or safety of something I would concoct myself. I've followed the medical marijuana scene closely and am impressed with what the communities are coming up with in California, Seattle, and Colorado. While medical marijuana is now legal in New York, the rules are so complicated and arcane that it will likely be years before anyone can experience its benefits.
Then, a year or so ago friends visited from San Francisco. Turned out that they knew someone who knew the person behind "Doc Green's Pain Relief Cream." A few weeks after our friends returned home, a well disguised package arrived with a 4 oz jar of lavender scented theapeutic cream inside. My mother's early April birthday seemed the perfect occassion for her to give it a try.
The cream has a silky texture and is lightly scented. "It feels lovely when I put it on," says my mother. And yes, it helps a lot with the pain. She's began by using it on her shoulder but lately has needed it for her hands and wrists. Sometimes, it's the only thing that works when the unbearable pain keeps her awake.
I've since discovered new sources for marijuana based healing balms, cooked up in home kitchens by forward-thinking generous entrepreneurs. It angers me that such a useful product is not readily available.
(This is an update of a post previously publish in April, 2013.)