Standing in the eye of a hurricane has always been that go-to metaphor for being calm under pressure. Peacefulness in the midst of chaos. Ironically, having only days to pack up your life because of hurricane Florence requires that same level of stillness, that same ease under stress.
Boarding windows, packing valuables, moving kids are all Herculean tasks only made harder (nearly impossible) by a physical ailment.
I have a mild case of scoliosis; a sideways curve in my spine that makes it easier to balance babies on my left hip than my right. I also have a bad case of kyphosis, which is another kind of spinal disorder.
The impolite term is “hunchback.”
It’s a genetic condition that causes me daily pain. I have “good pain” days and “bad pain” days. There are no “no-pain” days. But with a combination of physical therapy, wine, higher than recommended doses of ibuprofen, and laying on ice packs, I manage.
Mostly, I manage because of my very supportive husband, who’s there to handle my share of the housework on days I can’t and carry heavy things like our son, or (on particularly ugly days) my purse. It’s worse when I overtax my body — like when I do a lot of lifting, bending, or walking, and it’s worse when I’m under stress.
So when hurricane Florence showed up on our forecast, I was certain that I was doomed.
There was a category four hurricane barreling towards my island home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and it just so happened to be the same week my husband had undergone a minor surgery.
Now he was the one downing ineffective painkillers and laying around with an ice pack. Everything was on me. Securing everything outside of the house. Boarding up the windows. Shopping for emergency hurricane supplies.
Packing and preparing to evacuate two adults, a three-year-old, a cat, and a dog. Gathering up everything irreplaceable and carrying it downstairs to the car, and dealing with the stress of the distinct possibility that all of my possessions, which didn’t go into the car, might be destroyed.
Including the house itself.
The same day I began to prep and panic over hurricane Florence, I got a package in the mail. Since I don’t live in a state with dispensaries, I had thought that any kind of cannabis products were unavailable to me.
North Carolina allows for medical CBD oil to be prescribed, but only in the cases of intractable epilepsy – spinal disorders need not apply. But a week before that I’d discovered that a few companies who make CBD oil products from hemp have online ordering and will deliver to all 50 states.
Because the product is made from hemp and contains no THC it is legal everywhere. Just the same, I ordered myself a disposable, microdose CBD vape pen from Select CBD. I pulled it out of the box, took a little puff, and started packing up the photographs.
My pain was gone.
Not diminished. Not manageable. Gone.
It didn’t come back when I carried the heavy ladder into the house so I could retrieve my great-grandfather’s mandolin from the attic. It didn’t come back when I spent hours outside in the heat, prepping the house. It stayed gone through the agonizing discussions with my husband about if we should stay or go. And it stayed gone for the nine hours I spent evacuating in traffic once we decided to leave.
Between the stress and the physical exertions, it should have been the worst “bad pain” days ever. Instead, it was the best. I felt like a fully functional human capable of moving through life without pain for the first time in my life, and all it took was two to three 2.5mg doses of pure CBD a day.
It felt like a miracle. I cried from happiness like it was a miracle.
The new miracle drug
As of this writing, my family and I are well out of harm’s way in Reston, Virginia while we watch The Weather Channel and wait and see what will become of our home. It looks like we might be okay, although it feels ghoulish to cheer when the forecast indicates that our neighbors to the south will be far from okay themselves.
We might go home in a few days after the mandatory evacuation order is lifted. Or Florence could turn, and we might find out there’s no home left for us to go back to. It’s a lot to deal with.
But today I took a little dose of my vape pen, and then I walked to the park with my little boy. We played on the slides and chased frogs through the trees. I don’t have any control over what the weather will bring, but for once in my life, I have control over pain, and that right there, is a blessing.