Seeing What People Never See Unless Someone They Love Films It

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“Sometimes Mommy laughs when she has her
medicine. Mommy says the medicine makes the pain
better, and makes her want to eat more.
Boy, does Mommy ever eat.”
“Mommy’s Funny Medicine”
Written By Russell & Christine Lowe,
Illustrations By Christine Lowe

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“Mommy’s Funny Medicine is the story of a girl named Heather, whose mother uses medicinal cannabis. Arguably, it is the world’s first children’s book about this subject.
Book Review, Crosstown Traffic

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“I wanna be sedated
Just put me in a wheelchair, get me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry, before I go insane
I can’t control my fingers, I can’t control my brain
Oh no oh oh oh oh”
“Ramones; ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’, “Ramones”

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This one’s not about me, it’s about epilepsy and how my friends are dealing with the disease. My long, long-time good friend Russell and his wife Christine made a movie a few years ago… Christine has severe epilepsy and that morning she had a really bad seizure. Afterwards she asked Russell to tape the next one. A few hours later she had another major seizure. Russell, and Dave Van S. — another friend — filmed the seizure… the intention was to have graphic evidence of what a real seizure looks like, so they could show people what people like Christine go through nearly every day. So they could show how crippling epilepsy really is. Russell and Christine have become two of the more — I want to say “infamous” but I’ll say ‘known’ — medical marijuana activists in Canada. They have both been issued medical marijuana licenses from Health Canada (our federal Government) so they, along with about 1400 others, are federally recognized users of medical MaryJane. Ruddell uses marijuana for pain management. Christine uses The Reefer to control her exceptionally severe epilepsy. Since this filmed seizure, Christine’s use of medical marijuana has decreased the severity and amount of seizures from a few hundred per year to almost zero.

It’s graphic, but not abusive. It is very, very real. There is only one semi-controversial bit to this project. In the captioning Russell refers to himself as “her meat puppet”, in a nationally reported story in the Canadian “Sun” chain of newspapers the reporter screwed up and thought Russell was referring to the woman he loves as a “Meat Puppet”. The reporter then went to the Ontario Epilepsy Group and asked the spokesperson about Russell’s use of the ‘Meat Puppet’ terminology. The spokesperson was duly horrified and confused. I don’t know if a correction was published, but there should have been… you can find the article here [link is dead]. Russell has a tendency to get a little… emotional when he’s being interviewed, and gets a little flustered (justifiably so), you can find a video of Russell being interviewed regarding medical marijuana on local Ottawa television news here.

One other thing… Christine has no memory of this event, or any of her other hundreds and hundreds of seizures. And now you’re all caught up, so push play and see what Christine saw for the first time.

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Russell and Christine are both fantastic artists and wonderful people, and they have both sacrificed a lot for the things they believe in. And now, this is Russell’s tribute to the glory that is Christine.

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fucking hippies.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Art & Depression, Artists With Depression, Bipolar, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Medical Marijuana, Ottawa, Politics, Poverty, Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Seeing What People Never See Unless Someone They Love Films It

  1. queenminx says:

    I watched the first one, and was overwhelmed.

    Then, I watched the second one, and again, I am overwhelmed.

    xx

  2. puddlejumper says:

    Thats really powerful…
    Its something never really covered in mainstream movies. It doesn’t make for “good TV” I guess becuase its so difficult to watch and I suppose would be diffcult for an actor to do justice without risking looking patronising.
    There used to be a woman lived across the street when I was a kid. She had regular seizures and I remember watching one day when she collapsed right in the middle of the road. Someone, an adult sat with her and put their coat under her head and stopped the traffic until the seizure stopped and then they walked her back to her house.
    I remember being tranfixed by it the way you are when you’re a kid and you don’t think about other people’s dignity. I found it terrifying yet somehow amazing that someone could be so apparently ill and yet not need and ambulance.
    How does the marijuanna license thing work? Is it like an experimental thing? Is there criteria for it? Does the doctor have to give it the okay? And do you get a prescription or does it just mean you can purchase it without facing prosecution?

  3. feartheseeds says:

    I think, when Ruddell sees this, he’ll be able to answer your Weed Questions, I was just recreational. It’s been a controversial program since it started… the government was supposed to grow the weed, but they fucked it up. I do remember that they decided the only place they could safely grow it was three miles under the earth in an abandoned nickle mine. That was funny. My friend R*chard grows it beside his patatoes. Weed is legal, mostly, here in Canuckville. It’s what we do. Gay marriage? yup. Retroactive abortions? Check. Smoking weed in front of Parliament on a nice Thursday morning? Okee dokee.

    Rumour has it that my father had epilepsy, but I’ve never been clear on how real anything he’s ever said really is. I do have a memory of him having a seizure of some sort when we lived in Toronto back in the day. There was a girl in my early grades in high school named Debbie who had suffered, horribly, from abusive classmates for her entire life. At least three times a week she’d start rocking back and forth in her chair and moaning softly. Most of the class would laugh… if there was ever a reason that was the one why I hated everyone in my class. I always felt horrible about not saying or doing anything but I was fairly wrapped up in my own disease. Debbie went on to have a special surgery which, from what she’s told me, cut down the severity and number of seizures. I run into her occasionally around the convenience store… she’s a wreck. All those years of not being able to defend herself or anyone willing to stand up for her just left her… permanently confused and battered.

  4. Tim says:

    Good thing you didn’t hear talk about the “funk y chicken” (slang for seizures) in the video! The charity woman may have had a fit!
    Christine posted this response to the Toronto Sun. Below is the letter she wrote, and the Sun’s edited version, complete with smartass rejoinder at the end:

    An open letter to Dianne Findlay, Executive Director of Epilepsy Ontario

    Dear Ms. Findlay,

    I am sorry that you feel that the term “meat puppet” is demeaning. Although the term may not be politically correct or polite, it is the most accurate term we could think of.
    “Disorientation”, a term found in Epilepsy Canada’s information material, is a wildly insufficient word for what is happening during that phase of my seizure. Everyone else has told me so.
    I realize that I have a dark, sardonic, and morbid sense of self deprecating humour that not all individuals may appreciate. This is what happens when you deal with death every passing moment of your life. Everything, even dark comedy, becomes more intense.
    My husband and I use the term affectionately because when I am seizing, my body is an “uninhabited animated vessel of flesh” separate from my consciousness, which leaves the body every time.
    We also use the term “meat puppet” in reference to this “uninhabited animated vessel of flesh” because I also have dissociative identity disorder (a co-operative coalition consisting of nine multiple personalities).
    If you have seen the movie “Being John Malkovich”, then you know what I mean when using the term “puppet”.
    My “puppeteer” is absent, leaving the puppet to dance on it’s own.
    If you have a better term for an uninhabited, self motivated, animated vessel of flesh, I would love to hear it. The only word we feel is even close to appropriate is “zombie”, which I am sure you will agree is even less flattering.

    Sincerely,

    Christine “Quirk&Jerk” Lowe

    http://www.ottawasun.com/Comment/Letters/2007/01/16/3387694.html

    Re: Epileptic seizure in public eye (Ottawa Sun: Jan. 13) I am sorry Dianne Findlay, executive director of EpilepsyOntario, feels the term “meat puppet” is demeaning. Although the term may not be politically correct, it is the most accurate term we could think of.
    I realize that I have a dark sense of self-deprecating humour. This is what happens when you deal with death every moment ofyour life.
    If Findlay has a better term for an uninhabited, self-motivated, animated vessel of flesh, I would love to hear it. The only word we feel is even close is “zombie,” which I am sure she will agree is even less flattering.

    Christine Lowe

    (Some terms may be better kept at home)

  5. Tim says:

    puddlejumper – go to http://medicalmarihuana.ca for more info on the program. The authors are friends of Russell, Christine and myself and have a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of the medical program.

    If you’re brave, there is currently a lot of charges being dropped in Ontario for anyone caught with pot who has a medical need. The state of the law is tenuous at best, and Crown prosecutors fear setting a precident.

    Mairjuana was legal from 2001 to 2003, and arguably is legal in Ontario right now, because the medical marijuana program is run unconstitutionally. Right now your outcome on a pot charge largely depends on your resources and knowledge of the system.

  6. feartheseeds says:

    Just to clarify: the Sun newspapers actually respond to the Letters To The Editor they publish… this: “(Some terms may be better kept at home)” was their smartass response to Christine’s letter.

  7. puddlejumper says:

    Did I ever mention how much I’d love to live in Canada?

  8. feartheseeds says:

    We’re taking applications for newbies starting in February. It’d be best if you lined up at your local Canadian embassy ASAP.

  9. puddlejumper says:

    Hang on then, I’m packing right now….
    can I bring Mr P and the kids?

  10. queenminx says:

    I think I might join you Puddlejumper. Maybe we could get a ‘group discount ticket’!

    You know how some people feel they have been born into the wrong bodies? Well, I think I was born in the wrong country.

    sigh!

    xx

  11. puddlejumper says:

    I could buy a really big holdall and hide you in it minx.

    I think its a great idea.

    So is it okay if we crash on your couch Gabriel?

  12. queenminx says:

    He doesn’t have a couch, PJ, he has a futon.

    How big is your holdall? Would it fit my daughter in it, and my shoe collection? I don’t think I could leave my shoes behind.

    But, if it was necessary to the cause of ‘Coming to Canada’, I could possibly live with just fifteen pairs. Give or a take a kitten heel or six.

    xx

  13. Ruddell says:

    Debbie….. shit…. I remember her often. I was nice to her. Or more to the point, if I wasn’t, it wasn’t because she had epilepsy, it was because she was unpleasant. Which she often was, and rightly so, considering how french teacher Nicole P*ten*ud told an epileptic joke in class one day without realizing Debbie was there (Gabe wasn’t there for that one).

    One day in the library, I asked her what was the deal with the surgery and so on. Politely, when no one was around. She gave me a look like “yeah… SURE….” I was like “No really.”

    What could I say?

    If I saw her now, I would tell her what I tell every epileptic: “Your doctor doesn’t know shit. Change diet, smoke pot, seizures gone”.

  14. queenminx says:

    What is it about the maryjane that has such a postive affect on pain?

    Is there no research into which ingredient in pot makes such a massive difference?? And if governments are nervous about legalising the use of pot for pain relief, finding out which ingredient works, and then making a synthetic ‘legal’ drug, would be a way of avoiding passing any uncomfortable laws for the legalisation of cannabis. Wouldn’t it?

    Obviously, as you have mentioned, diet is involved as well, but if pot is working, and with unquestionable results, surely this is something that cannot be ignored. Or is it a case of, because it’s an ‘illegal’ drug, advocating it in any way, is a step too far?

    And … ‘the government was supposed to grow the weed, but they fucked it up. I do remember that they decided the only place they could safely grow it was three miles under the earth in an abandoned nickle mine’ … this made me laugh.

    They employed the wrong people. They should have advertised for ‘Unemployed Home-growing Cannabis Dealers, wanted. Excellent Employment Opportunity. Make your skills work for others’. They could offer a fab package, inclusive of paid holidays, company pensions, care etc. Plus, the obvious fringe benefits of taking a couple of bags home with you. You don’t work in a biscuit factory and not eat the biscuits now do you!

    I have even thought of a slogan ‘Government Cannabis – just like your dealer used to make!’

    xx

  15. I lost my best friend in 2000. She had epilepsy and asphyxiated in her sleep. She used pot and took seizure meds. I don’t know if she knew about a special diet that could aid in the reduction of seizures but she was very health conscious, and had a diet regiment. She was very caerful about her health and even kept a journal of her seizures and all symptoms.

    The year of her death she had brain surgery that was supposed to reduce or possibly eliminate her seizures. She spent years researching this surgery, finding the right doctor, plannng her life to have the surgery and looked to it as her way out of the crisis that was her life. Sadly, after the surgery her seizures became worse and more violent.

    She lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans in small apartment by herself. On one occasion (after the surgery) just before she died, she awoke from a seizure in a shopping basket at the grocery across the street from her home. The employees said she’d tried to climb the shelves and fell into the basket. She refused the ambulance when it was called. Another time after the surgery, she awoke from the seizure and she’d really beaten herself up, leaving blood from various self-inflicted wounds all over her apartment.

    She was fiercely independent. She did not want a mate or a room mate. She did not have a dog, although she was interested in the research that had been ongoing that some assitant animals could sense the oncoming of a seizure. I always thought if someone had been with her that perhaps she would not have suffocated in her pillow, but you never know…her name was Miriam, she was 34 when she died and she was a bridesmaid in my wedding and best friend for 12 years.

  16. queenminx says:

    Oh, Clare. That is so sad. I am so sorry, for you, for the loss of your best friend.

    This discussion must be painful for you.

    I suppose, inevitably, some methods work for some people, and not for others. For your friend, Miriam, the surgery, the pot and the diet, didn’t reduce her seizures, and from what you have written, the surgery appears to have exacerbated them.

    She sounds like a very, brave lady.

    xx

  17. ben_ji81 says:

    I grew up with a brother that has seizures To me it was normal and I had a hard time relating to other kids about what it was like to live with my brother.

    For many years they thought I was picking on him because of his problems.

    Thanks for the vids though, it seems that Christine is a wonderful person.

    [ben_ji81, you asked for an edit… if it doesn’t work for you let me know]

  18. janie jones says:

    Clare, I am so sorry about Miriam. It sounds like she did everything right, but the disease was too terrible.

    I did not watch Christine’s video (my computer is too old and too slow to even attempt it). Years ago I worked with her at the same shop and helped her to the back when she was about to have a seizure and stayed with her.

    I would like to mention someone – I’ll call her N because I’m not sure if she’d want her name on a blog. Some of you know her. N is one of the most dedicated activists I have ever known. When I used to live near her she was always on her way out to help with a human rights organization or a local community garden or some other worthy pursuit. N almost single-handedly arranged the pot rally which took place in front of Parliament a couple of years back.

  19. Thanks all for the kind thoughts about my loss of a great friend.

  20. Nita says:

    I could not get myself to see the whole video. I have a friend who has epilepsy but had no idea he suffered like this.

  21. eleanor says:

    nita – i think some epileptics have worse seizures than others, hopefully your friend does not suffer such strong ones as in the video

  22. ben_ji81 says:

    thanks for the edit… 🙂

  23. Pingback: My Thanks To You On The First Anniversary Of Salted Lithium… YAY YOU. « …salted lithium.

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