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 OK 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, not my body, is what gives me trouble and makes me want to press the shut-off button. 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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