Miles To Go Before I…

Gavin Heck

By J Gavin Heck

Assistant Manager/IT Lead
KIP Medical Dispensary

I didn’t sleep well or much for the past few decades.  I’ll spare you why but suffice it to say when I shocked awake every morning around 2:30 am it wasn’t to go to work, or check on something that was present.  The past has a way of knocking, on a door somewhere between waking life and the dreams and nightmares that repeated trauma can hack up like a house-sized hairball.  As a veteran I leveraged the VA system and spent more than a few years with a therapist who was future facing enough to be an expert in EMDR, but backwards enough to declare the 2 to 3 times a week I’d try for Cannabis as a sleep aid an “addiction”.  They preferred a sedative that can “cause paranoid or suicidal ideation and impair memory, judgment, and coordination. Combining with other substances, particularly alcohol, can slow breathing and possibly lead to death.” *

EMDR** for those lucky enough to not know what it is…how to best put it… rave therapy?  Potential elements of light, motion, sound and verbal guidance often allow a participant to both fully remember a traumatic moment and come to peace with it, as much as that is possible.  It is at times beautiful, frustrating, triggery, annihilating, devastating and yet somehow for me anyway, in the end worth it. I’m able to talk about things I had kept buried for decades and am also able, perhaps more importantly, to not talk about them.  The false but overwhelming sense that on any given day I was going to experience something that was an extremely rare life event had somehow been emptied of most air.

Looking back I shouldn’t be surprised that Cannabis would occasionally end up worsening my symptoms, as many of the strains that were commercially available underground were predominantly Sativas or Sativa leaning hybrids.  After wrapping up the EMDR I sought a new therapist and while I interned at the MD Dept of Health heard that Medical Cannabis was coming. Fast forward a year or so and I was one of the hundreds standing in line in Potomac MD many miles from home as one of the first dispensaries opened in MD. Alas by the time I reached near the front of the line there was no more product to speak of.  As more dispensaries opened I was able to finally find medication that allows me to turn down the volume of the past to the point where it maybe wakes me once a week. Now, most nights I nearly sleep more hours that I used to in a week. I awake, I think they call it refreshed? Happy? Not entirely new feelings but honestly I was sleepwalking through my life for the majority of it. Now via the specificity, predictability and regular availability of cultivars and chemovars that are high in cbd, cbn, beta-caryophyllene and others I’m seeing less sunrises, and choosing to enjoy more sunsets.

After graduating with a MA from UMBC I decided to pursue a career change from IT to MC and after dozens of applications I’ve finally landed in a career where I can hopefully both listen to experiences and leverage my own in an effort to help others find similar solace.  I look forward to helping navigate the seemingly ever-expanding world of Medical Cannabis and hope all find as much peace and wellness as you can handle.

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