My Recent Productivity

I’ve only been out of the house/my room for a few hours total over the past ~3 weeks, but I’m finding many positives to the unique situation we’re living in.

About a week into it I started noticing that I had much more energy at my disposal. Even if I have plans on a given day that only take up a few hours, that can still eat up the entire day from the pre/post resting. While I obviously know doing stuff uses up energy, it’s different to experience it. So I’ve been far more productive at home.
My biggest focus has been my online shops which have been seeing way more action lately. I mostly sell indoor things like video games and there are a loooot of parents trying to get their kids to stay still/shut up right now. The extra time/energy makes it easier to keep up, but also has allowed me to diversify the products I sell and conduct more research. By the time this is over, I won’t just return to where I was before.
I’ve also been a LOT more neat and organized. If I’ve been out of the house, I usually just toss everything “wherever” when I get home so I can lay down. I have a general idea of where everything is in my head but still end up losing things. Every 6 months or so I’ll just spend the whole day cleaning/organizing and start the mess again. Lately, I’ve added some genuine organization to my room/storage. It’ll help streamline things in the long run and will be easier to keep tabs on when I’m running low and need to restock on something.

Hopefully in another week or so I’ll have caught up with the above things enough to focus on cranking out a bunch of blog posts. I’ve found a couple people willing to edit/proofread so I can just let my fingers do the talking.

I hope we all get through this ordeal safely… but afterwards, if we could all agree to cancel the entire world for a couple months every few years, it would really help me out.

Push It To The L- No… Push It PAST The Limit

When you hit the medical books to see what the world’s geniuses have to say about ME/CFS, you won’t find any treatments. You only get a few mere suggestions to work with, such as “don’t push yourself.” This is due to the trademark CFS symptom of PEM or Post-Exertional Malaise.

I was going to copy/paste the medical definition here but it’s a convoluted way of saying “physical activity makes you feel like shit.” In fact, when I first started putting myself out there I’d often feel like I had the flu for a couple weeks. Adding Zinc to my daily regimen helped a lot. Some with CFS benefit from immune-boosters like Zinc, while others respond better to immunosuppressants. It’s what makes this all so challenging.

However, I’ve always felt that it should be reworded. You need to push yourself once in a while because things can change, sometimes there are factors at play that we can’t necessarily see. At some point I realized I was still playing by the rules of life as of 10 years back, things were different now… so I learned to push myself once in a while to see what happened.

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I heard a quote referring to Capitalism years ago that… actually I don’t remember the quote, but it basically warned about the promises of endless growth.

As I’m now 4/5 years into my revival I look back and think of all the times I pushed myself and realized I could do a little more than I realized. Sometimes it just resulted in my ass being kicked, but that was nothing new!

The blessing – and curse – of similar chronic illnesses is that they don’t kill you. In fact some like CFS won’t even harm you. You just feel shitty for decades.

It’s scary at first when your heart’s racing, you’re sweating, puking, and look like you immediately need an ambulance ride (actually better call an Uber) to the hospital, but once you can lay down you’re good.

Not this time.

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I couldn’t find the sign I wanted, this will have to do.

Most of you only see me at my best, either in person as I’m out in the world or through the always-accurate lens of Facebook. Well, I know this might be a shock to you, but a lot of sleeping and resting in bed takes place in-between to make those things possible. I need to plan each week to ensure that my obligations occur when I’m at my best.

As I was resting up to plan out 3/10-3/15, I realized I had a lot to do but figured it out: I should have just enough energy to enjoy band practice 30-minutes away at 5pm, then get home alive. It was going to be a tough week, maybe it’d end in a little nausea but that’s fine (hell, I even wrote a guide).

Saturday

Band practice gets canceled at the last moment, postponed until the day after. Due to a miscommunication I thought it’d be the same time, 5pm. Come late night I’m showing signs of exhaustion – feeling hot, sweaty, nauseous – as is usual for the end of a busy week. I decide to push myself through one more day.

Sunday

I had already taken my day meds by the time I noticed a message waiting for me asking if “I was up to practice.” I interpreted that as “feeling up to it” not as in “awake.” Turns out it was the latter.

It’s hard for people that haven’t experienced the effects of strong stimulants to understand that once that first dose starts hitting your brain, there’s no “going to bed” or “shutting your eyes.” You can try your best but you’re just going to lay there bored as hell.

The day started rough but once things started moving I was getting along fine, even put the new gear I received earlier in the week to a humble Dunkin Donuts/Gas Station trip since I didn’t get to show off at band practice. I was eccentric, but when aren’t I? It’s why I love being in front of a crowd, it’s cathartic.

But something was wrong.

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A friend that grew up in Maine told me despite seeing these signs everywhere, she never saw a single moose.

As the day went on I noticed myself being frustrated trying to read my computer screen. I have no issues seeing up close, the only thing I have trouble with are menus in fast food restaurants for example (got checked out and I’m fine, just aging). Blurry vision isn’t a part of my usual end-of-week symptoms so I thought this was strange.

About 10pm was when I started having serious trouble functioning.

I was becoming incresingly uncomfortable so I thought I’d fire up the ol’ Dreamcast but quickly realized I wasn’t going to be capable of getting that done. By this point I was also hot/sweaty but which isn’t unsual, but looking back I was unusually sweaty.

11pm I wake up to my dad in my doorway freaking out. I tried to give him the same speech I give friends when they become alarmed: “I’m fine, this happens just nobody sees it.” I can understand why that sight would be alarming regardless, so I tried my best to shit my shit together and keep quiet.

What really made me realize how fucked up I was though, the last Adderall I took was just a couple hours prior. Like I said above, that stuff carries with it a good 24-36h of wakefulness. If I’m passing out/falling asleep just a couple hours after my last dose, my body’s seriously had enough.

But it gets worse (or better if any enemies are reading this)

I am suddenly awoken by hitting the floor behind my bed very hard. The head of my bed should be against the wall but can slide on the hardwood floor. I must’ve leaned against the wall in my sleep, pushing it forwards. I knock over a 2l jug of water all over the floor.

Again… I felt bad for alarming people and tried my best to quietly get some sleep.

Monday

I go down and grab a yogurt as soon as I wake up simply out of habit. It was 11am and typically when I wake up that early I plan to be busy. But my mom was asking questions and I noticed I was having trouble answering, I was repeating myself a lot. Furthermore, my appearance was even more alarming.

Sometimes at the end of the week I’ll wake up with snot all over my pillow/bed, which I thought was the case until I looked in the bathroom mirror. There was black stuff all over my face/beard. What the hell was that stuff? I didn’t think it was possible that I had puked because I had nothing to eat that night but later it wasn’t food, it was the only thing in my stomach that evening – Kratom.

I was still twitchy and uncomfortable until the wakeful effects of the prior day’s Adderall fully wore off, but it was over.

What Now?

I try to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them, so:

  • If I’m nauseous and need a painkiller, I’ll take prescription Tylenol-4 tablets I have on hand. Kratom’s less harsh on my stomach, but most tablets will dissolve within 30 minutes of swallowing. A single dose of Kratom is a shitload of powdered plant matter.
    • I’ve had the bad habit of eating right before bed for about half my life. That’s not changing yet, but I don’t eat when I’m exhausted.
  • I now know that blurred vision is a fucking huge warning sign. If it happens I need to get home, put my shit away, and crawl in bed. Even if I’m not ready for sleep, I won’t be capable of moving much longer.
  • Do some further reading on related topic (things like puking in my sleep are foreign to me).

I get that it’s a parent’s job to worry but I hate adding anything unnecessary to it.  I at least know myself enough to be certain to learn from this. Others will still be concerned.

But when you’re going this hard against the grain there’s bound to be a couple speedbumps along the way.

I may wish to hire a proofreader/editor if it can be done affordably. Get in touch if you have any ideas.

I’ll type all day and night but editing is tough. My mind’s moving too fast to pump the brakes and have no energy left when I’m done.

I need someone to:

  • Trim the fat. For anything important, I type my first draft then edit it down into something more readable. I overexplain and include more info than actually required.
  • Check missing or substituted words. My typing accuracy is very high, so I’ll feel myself and notice when I make a typo. I end up doing shit like switching “me” and “my” or completely unrelated words.
  • Provide general feedback.

I’ve been meaning for ages to re-organize the blog and write a few “foundation” posts. My story’s so complicated that things often require prior knowledge, I always feel like I need to overexplain. Instead, I can just say “if you haven’t yet, read more here: [link]”

Get in touch: adamlsotc@gmail.com

-Adam

21 in 2020 – The State Kratom Consumer Protection Act Challenge

READ: American Kratom Association: December Legislative Update

Get your shit together, Rhode Island. At most, Kratom can save someone’s life. At least, it can help someone live a more pain-free life. Personally, if I didn’t have Kratom I would’ve had to cut my last NYC trip short a day.

I’m happy for the cannabis enthusiasts and all their legal victories in recent years. If THC/CBD/etc improves your symptoms that’s great, it’s very safe. However, it’s not a miracle cure. There are no “one size fits all” cures. It happens to make my symptoms worse.

Recent cannabis legalization acts are not the result of drugs being evaluated the way they should, by their medical value, safety, etc. Decisions are still made due to financially motivations and ignorance. You don’t have to look further than the misinformation surrounding the recent vaping bans to see that.

Scott Gottlieb used to post all this bullshit on Twitter about how dangerous Kratom is, even stating that people inject it (nobody fucking injects Kratom, just a scare tactic). He blamed Kratom for the deaths of individuals that were found to have multiple drugs in their system – drugs which posed a much more likely explanation for their death.

Why is does that matter? Because Scott Gottlieb did this all while he was the HEAD OF THE FDA! Where does he work now? For Pfizer, an opioid-producing pharma company. Shocking!

You may not care about any of this shit right now, but mark my words – I’ve been telling my friends this for years: When I rant about things like Kratom, you may not a shit… but one day, the DEA/FDA/CDC is going to interfere with something you DO feel passionately about. Something that really helps you or a loved one. For many, that particular thing was vaping. What’s next? Anything they deem a threat to their profits.

Autumn Leaves / 5 Year Anniversary

In January of 2014, I stopped taking Adderall.

After taking it daily for so many years, I had become completely tolerant to the drug and the amphetamines no longer provided the stimulation necessary to live my life. Nothing else had ever helped me, so I figured this was the only thing I could do. I didn’t know how long it would take to undo the tolerance, but figured I was in for at least 8 months of withdrawal.

2014 was a very dark year. Back when everything hit me at once as a teenager I ended up spending a couple weeks in a psych hospital, but since then I’ve had a grip on things and although I may have some depression or anxiety, I could always keep myself within the realm of rational thought. However, if you’ve ever read anything about the psychological effects of solitary confinement, you know that it quickly turns sane men crazy and crazy men well, crazier. I spent every day sleeping for 12-15 hours, only crawling out of bed for a single meal. I had grown apart from old friends by this point anyway, but not being able to get out of bed meant I was further isolated from the many online friends I had at the time.

In April, I received a large package in the mail for my birthday from a good friend that kept my going. I pushed through, and after many months of this I recognized that I had plateaued. It was time for me to dip my toe back into the waters of stimulants, very carefully. I started taking Adderall 2 days a week, giving me just enough time to get through a single college course.

By this time I had already achieved my Bachelors in Psychology, but wasn’t sure where to go from there. I realized I couldn’t work, so I figured all I could do to maintain some semblance of progress would be to continue going to school. My plan was to go for a Masters in Computer Science, but in order to be eligible to switch I had to take a couple computer courses in the interim. I signed up for Assembly Programming and was on my way.

As I was walking to class one day from the parking lot, I noticed something strange… I felt something. I noticed the colors all around me in a way I never had before. For my entire life those around me have been pointing out scenes in nature: snow, trees, leaves, etc. I’d look and sure, it looked nice, but I never understood why people made a big deal about it.

For the first time, I understood.

I guess it had been years since my brain’s dopamine receptors weren’t completely fried because I hadn’t felt anything like that in a long time. In fact, a big reason why I enjoyed getting shit-faced in my early 20s was because it allowed me to feel. I’d put headphones on and music would sound so good some nights it nearly brought me to tears… but that wasn’t sustainable. Alcohol would provide a few hours of comfort at the price of a day and a half of hangover. This was the beginning of me figuring out a healthier way to treat my symptoms.

Autumn 2014 was the beginning of me finding things to enjoy in life. Years ago, my girlfriend described me by saying I “openly dislike everything,” and she wasn’t wrong. I was miserable and wanted to drag everyone else down to my level. That’s no way to live, though. To this day I am chasing the experiences I enjoy and making up for lost time.

 

 

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The view from the parking lot to the computer building.

The leaves looked nice enough on this day but weren’t as striking as I imagined so I took some additional photos, first around my old neighborhood and then my current one.

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The street I grew up on.
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Driving back to my current home.

Constipation 10/28/2019

Every time I think I’ve figured out all the ways my body can work against me, it always throws me a curveball.

I have photographs sitting in folders ready to go for more elaborate posts but I’ve been laser-focused on Halloween stuff this month, so they’ll happen in a bit. For now, here’s an impromptu post about number two.

I’ve never understood people that spend an hour in the bathroom. They read books, they play on their phone, they have entire experiences in there. Me? I’m there to conduct business and that’s it. In and out. Despite the fact that certain meds I use are known to cause constipation, I’ve always been locked and loaded and ready to go. In fact, in recent years I couldn’t have held back if I wanted to when nature calls.

Every week, it was the same story: I’d take my first Adderall dose after a couple days off to rest and give my brain a break. It was very obvious to me when it started kicking in. It wasn’t the alertness, it wasn’t the physical energy, it was a sudden need to get to the bathroom. This feeling was so desperate that I had to plan my life around it. In the early years of my “revival” I learned the hard way that waking up and leaving immediately was asking for trouble. I’d be driving to an allergy shot appointment a mere 10 minutes away when things started “kicking” in. I didn’t know if this place had a bathroom but I figured it out quickly – bottom floor. I became well-acquainted with this bathroom before learning to allow for enough time at home before taking matters on the road.

Over the past couple weeks, I don’t know what happened. Sure, my diet has been awful but it’s been awful for most of the year. At some point since getting j-j-j-jacked last year I thought I’d take a weekend off my healthier diet, well that weekend became several months. Actually this is great, it gives me an excuse to show off that pic of me at peak beefcake:

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~September 2018. You’re damn right I’m proud of this. After a lifetime of trying and failing, I figured out how to exercise consistently without wrecking myself. I had to stop and start again a few times, but eventually overcame. It took much precious energy to continue, but this remains an accomplishment and I’ve maintained much strength to this day, resulting in less muscle pain.

Back to present day (as long as I have this pic, people will assume I still look like this under my shirt), at first I was still having an easy time in the bathroom but the urge was striking me at hours I wasn’t used to. Then, it was taking me minutes… and effort… to get the job done. Tonight was the worst I’ve ever experienced. I spent 45 minutes in there earlier feeling like this thing was never going to resolve itself. Before you constipation pros start giving me tips, I tried everything: relaxing, pushing, leaning, bending, everything. I eventually made as much progress as I was going to but knew there was work left to be done. I downed a bottle of Magnesium Citrate I’ve had in a drawer from before I stopped taking Tylenol #4s. Those prescription painkillers would result in awful constipation and stomach pain every time. Kratom dulls the pain without any negative effects, maybe some mild constipation but nothing I couldn’t overcome. I didn’t know if I was ever going to need that bottle, but I’m glad that I did.

Hours later I felt confident enough to go back and finish the job. I hope things never get to this level again, and I’ll probably have to make some changes. This cannot continue.

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I wish I had a clip to share, I re-watched the debut of Undercover Boss last week. I only ever watched that single episode when it debuted but it stuck with me. The boss of the Waste Management company went undercover as a new employee to work several entry-level jobs to see how things really were in his company. Among the people he interacted with was this guy Fred. Fred’s job was sucking the shit out of porta-potties with a huge vacuum attached to the truck. Yeah. Sounds terrible right? Fred had the boss smiling and laughing him while training him to do this. He had some great quotes, one was something like “I call it ‘The Battlefield of Poop. We’re soldiers. Sometimes you get wounded, you get a little splatter on you, but you gotta keep goin!” Well Fred, your words rang true for me tonight.

…that pic of me above looks even better surrounded by this shitty story.

NJPW NYC & Insomnia 9/28-9/30

See those dates? I’ve been awake this entire time.

I talk a lot about the fun experiences I’ve been having as it’s a still big deal for me, but sometimes these trips come at a price which is important to understand. This (amazing) trip’s price was what will be 40 hours without sleep.

Those that haven’t taken stimulants can’t relate to this. Why not just close my eyes? It doesn’t work like that. It’s not until ~36h from the last dose that the “wakefulness” will wear off and start to fall asleep. You hear about meth heads staying awake for a week at a time or whatever, so whats a couple days? I’m dosing to take as little as possible in order to function, they’re taking as much as possible without dying. It’s enough to keep me awake, not enough to make me content staring at the wall for a week. As soon as a few hours have passed I’m strapped into another 30h that suuuuuck.

The good news? This used to happen every couple of weeks, but now it’s been years since I went through this. I made a mistake packing and didn’t have what I needed, a mistake I won’t repeat.

Time goes on, I discover new treatments and behaviors, recognize patterns, tackle symptoms. For example, a few years ago this type of insomnia came with fairly severe muscle pain… but now I’ve got my pain quite under control. Discomfort? Hell yeah, I can’t wait until this is over. But for now, it serves as a reminder of progress. This sucks, but I used to go through much worse so I’ll be good. Plus… there are things to look forward to now.

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It was all worth it for this view.

 

My point: the risk of paying the price is absolutely worth it. I made some great memories. But it’s important to know that I don’t post pictures of myself shaking with a brains-shaped jello mold nearby in case I need something to puke in. That’s part of the story too.

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If the Rock & Roll Express can dive out of the ring at 63-years-old for 3 nights in a row, I’ll be fine.

How I Quit Smoking via Vaping (Then Quit Vaping)

With all this vaping bullshit in the news lately, I feel compelled to tell the story of how I quit smoking – something I thought I’d never do.

(Note: I originally typed this up to be a Facebook post before deciding to post it here. Keep that in mind if anything’s worded strangely.)

I was 14 years old and had just been through the wringer. All of the ME/CFS symptoms started hitting me hard, one after another, quite severely. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong and without a label for the illness, I was treated like some punk kid that just didn’t want to go to school. The physical discomfort, lack of sleep, and the way I was being treated messed me up and I need a distraction… FAST. At that time I didn’t use drugs, didn’t drink, wasn’t having sex. Hell, I hadn’t even discovered masturbation until years later! With no way to escape, I started doing anything that would take my mind off of things for even a minute which usually manifested itself via self-harm. I found it cathartic to take walks in the middle of the night and one night, I stole one of my brother’s Black & Mild cigars, a couple cigs, and tried them while on my walk. I liked it so I started smoking when I’d go to the mall every week, too. Before I knew it, I was hooked.

For the next ~15 years of my life, every day I awoke to the same dilemma: Where was I going to get the money to pay for today’s pack?

Smokers are very particular about their brand and I got myself hooked on expensive, brand name Marlboro 100s. I could find the $5 needed by picking up cans at Ted Williams’ Park (if someone recently threw a party there, jackpot!), grabbing loose change, or selling some of my CDs. However, MA started taxing cigs heavily and the price kept skyrocketing.

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A portrait my ex drew of me titled “Ignore the Smoke.”

To those around me I became an annoyance at best and a burden, liar, or thief at worst. Usually people only resort to lying/stealing when they’re hooked on more expensive hard drugs like meth or heroin, but since I was too sick to work, I had to lie/steal to fund my nicotine addiction. I stole money from my parents’ stash, grabbed any loose change left unguarded at friends’ hoses, whatever it took. If my current pack was running out and I had no money, I’d try to space out my cig breaks but the anxiety just made me want to smoke even more… and those times when I did run out, I was completely miserable.

I didn’t realize it at the time but it turns out my addiction was extra strong because of my meds used to treat the fatigue/brain fog. Adderall is a mic of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, and amphetamines flood the brain with dopamine making you want (NEED) to feed your addictions even more.

I hated dealing with the daily anxiety and being a dick to those around me but I was certain that I was going to keep smoking until I died. I tried Chantix and while it helped reduce my smoking, I was still heaving 1-3 cigs a day and couldn’t bring myself to stop completely. Nicotine gum didn’t help. Cold turkey was out of the question.

After yet ANOTHER tax hike brought the cost of a pack to $11, I realized I could no longer afford it and had to change something. I had 2 options: start rolling my own cigs or switch to vaping. Luckily, there are some startup costs with the former which I couldn’t afford. My friend Amanda had switched to vaping just a year or two prior and offered to send me an e-cig in the mail. She was a good friend in many regards, but I consider mailing me that e-cig the biggest favor she ever did for me. I didn’t switch immediately, but I’d use the e-cig to reduce the amount of cigs I was smoking. Plus, if I ran out of cigs, I knew I at least had the vape.

I decided I was going to make the switch for good. Like breaking any habit, it felt weird for some weeks but I got used to it. Not long after that, I couldn’t have smoked a cig if I wanted to without feeling sick. This was a step in the right direction but vaping had its own challenges, the biggest one being that there’s no “end” to a vape break unlike cigs have a physical end to them. As a result people end up vaping all day. I worried that this might make my nicotine addiction worse but hey, at least it was safer and cheaper.

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I smoked Marlboro 100s, a lengthier version of the classic Marlboro Reds formerly known as King Marlboros. For this reason, I was referred to as the “King Smoker” by my friend Dan.

I started vaping juice with 16mg of Nicotine since this was closest to what’s in a normal cig. Over time, I would buy juice with lower nicotine content – 16mg, then 12mg, 8mg, etc. I never noticed any difference. I knew from experiences with certain prescription drugs like Effexor that the hardest part was going to be taking that last step to 0mg. To ease into it I started by mixing 3mg juice with 0mg gradually until I hit 0mg. I vaped 0mg juice for a week and realized I had done it… I had weaned off nicotine!

Now all that was left to do was break the habit of bringing a stick to my mouth and puffing on it. I vaped 0mg juice for months. Then, while packing for a trip to my cousin’s wedding in Indianapolis, I decided to leave my e-cig behind. I didn’t miss it and I never looked back.

It also helped that I hated being seen vaping. Once I took a vape break outside of Rick’s and this kid comes up to me all excited “HEY BRO, WHAT KINDA MOD IS THAT MAN? SICK!” I was like “I don’t fucking know I’m just trying to quit smoking!” It’s funny, cigs are unhealthy and smell gross, but were considered cool because they were associated with rock/movie stars. On the other hand, vaping is relatively harmless, smells nice, but is very uncool due to who it’s associated with. Some people need to realize that blowing a big cloud doesn’t mean you have a big cock.

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Look at this chump and his excessive vape cloud.

I’ve found when it comes to quitting smoking, everyone’s different. Chantix works for a lot of people and that’s a useful tool. Some people can’t quit gradually, they NEED to go cold turkey. Others, like me, are best off doing the vape+taper method.

I did a ton of research when I started vaping, much like I do when I research different meds. Long story short, there’s little if anything to worry about. The chemical causing popcorn lung used to be in certain dessert-flavored juices but once that became known, companies stopped selling those or using it. All the scary stories in the news of e-cigs exploding in pockets were due to those people using custom/modified batteries and didn’t understand what they were doing. The only cause for concern at all really is the nicotine. If someone new to vaping chooses to vape anything but 0mg juice, I’d consider that a stupid decision. Don’t believe the bullshit. Don’t believe “gut feelings.” Believe the facts, the science. The “vaping deaths” that occurred were all from the use of black market THC cartridges. Banning vaping completely because of that would be the equivalent of banning coffee because a few people took too many caffeine pills and had heart attacks.

I cannot overstate how much I appreciate being free of that fucking burden. On days that I feel shitty and find myself starting to bitch, there are a couple things I think of to put things in perspective and remind myself that things aren’t too bad:

#1: At least my balls don’t hurt.

#2: At least I’m not addicted to nicotine and smoking anymore.