A few days ago, I pulled a muscle in my back.

That sounds way too innocuous to do it justice, though. I woke up at 6 a.m. unable to take deep breaths without feeling like I was being stabbed; I couldn’t lie down or sit up without feeling like my bones had just rolled in broken glass. It was the worst pain I have ever been in. I mean, I guess in some ways that means I’m lucky, if the worst pain I’ve ever been in has been a tweaked-out back muscle. But that wasn’t making much of a psychological difference at 6 a.m..

I was lucky enough to be able to go see a doctor to get it checked out and receive a confirmation that, yep, just a muscle pull – nothing major to worry about – and I received a prescription for rest, a heating pad, a lidocaine patch, and some ibuprofen. (A couple of years ago I might have walked away with a bottle of hydrocodone, but fortunately we have made progress when it comes to the overprescribing of heavy drugs.) However, none of those things helped. I kept telling myself “it’s just pain” which is usually a pretty good mantra, but it just kept getting more and more intense, to the point where I couldn’t think or focus on anything else.

So I called my mom and asked if she thought it would be okay if I smoked some marijuana.

And she said she thought that was a great idea.

And I asked, what if I smoke a bowl and immediately become addicted and my life starts spiraling downhill again. I know cannabis isn’t physically addictive in the way that alcohol or pills are, but one can develop a psychological dependence on just about anything, and quite frankly I’m too busy to become a stoner.

And Mom said she didn’t think that was going to happen, and also I was pretty paranoid for someone who hadn’t even gotten high yet.

The pain won out. I wasn’t about to try opioid painkillers, given the risks involved, but I had to do something about it. So I tried something called “Pineapple Express.”

This was only the second or third time in my life I’d smoked weed, and I felt vaguely guilty the entire time, even though I knew I was doing something perfectly legal in the state of Maine. I’ve always been kind of a goody-two-shoes (in case the fact that at the age of 27 I asked my mom for permission to smoke weed didn’t tip you off), and whenever I think about smoking anything, the voice of 16-year-old Victoria who was a really passionate cross-country runner starts shouting in my head about diminishing lung capacity.

I smoked a whole bowl and I didn’t look very cool at all doing it (there was a lot of coughing involved, which actually helped my back pain, probably by stretching out some muscles). So if you’re a teenager and you’re reading this, marijuana use doesn’t make you look cool, it makes you look like a wheezing 20-something with back problems.

And then, well, I got very high. So high that my brain stopped perceiving my back pain as pain and just sort of felt muscle tension there instead. So I spent some time lying down with my eyes closed, convinced I could force my back muscles to relax themselves with the sheer force of brainpower alone. That didn’t work on account of that’s physically impossible, but I focused so hard that I fell asleep and took a three-hour nap. I also ate an entire bag of whole-grain rice cakes.

I didn’t really like feeling high. It made me feel too disconnected from my body – my brain kept chugging along, thinking and churning and active as ever, but it felt like I was thinking from either deep within or way outside my physical being. Now admittedly, in this particular situation, I really did want to disconnect from my body, but usually I don’t. Weed was the opposite of what drinking used to do for me; drinking made me feel disconnected from my mind, and usually my mind is what gives me trouble and makes me want to press the shut-off button, not my body. I couldn’t control what I was focusing on – I either zoned out or concentrated way too hard, but I had no control over it. I don’t like feeling out of control of myself. That was the worst part of drinking (well, that and the hangover.)

I only smoked that one night, and I don’t plan on doing it again. Of course, I didn’t plan on spending five days stuck on the couch with a heating pad braced between my back and a shoebox (for firmness). It’s good to know that if I end up with an injury again I’ve got a stronger option than ibuprofen.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial


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