My vape pen and I maintain a mostly private relationship. Sure, I’ll sometimes show my pen to a friend or share her with a close confidant. But mostly it’s just she and I working through my pain. And her ability to help me live comfortably with glaucoma makes her one of the more important figures in my day to day.
When I show her to a friend, the reaction 99 percent of the time is: “Holy shit, where did you get this and how can I get me one?” They’re seriously that blown away by my vape pen. And they should be. She’s that amazing.
As I write my debut column for The Cannabist, talking about this newly legal weed and admiring the states that have had the foresight to legalize medical marijuana, I’m most tempted to extol the virtues of the vape pen. I didn’t anticipate this first column to be such a love story, some sort of semi-romantic comedy. But it works, and it’s true, and so here we go.
The vape pen has changed my life. No, I’m not exaggerating. In fact, her name is Sippy. Yes, she’s a she. And yes, I named her Sippy because I take tiny, little sips — sassy sips, even — from her. And with each sip comes relief — from pressure, pain, stress, discomfort. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Maybe two years ago once I stopped smoking cigarettes, I really tried to smoke a joint. I had to “really try” because I was having a hard time with it. Suddenly I had virginal lungs, and I was feeling quite annoyed about it all.
“I think I have something you might like,” my daughter said after I told her about my difficulty with the joint. Four days later, she showed up and brought me this giant thing in a box. It had a big tube and a sturdy base and it was fairly large, and as soon as I saw it I knew I couldn’t do whatever it required of me.
“It’s a vaporizer,” my daughter told me. But I knew it was too much. She said, “Here, you can slowly inhale as much as you want. And it’s vapor, not smoke.” When she was with me on the East Coast, I knew I could work that desktop vaporizer. But as soon as she left it was too complicated.
Seven weeks later my daughter was saying it again: “I think I have something you might like.” She was coming back, and I said, “No way.” She said, “Just take a sip.” And that’s what I did.
I took a sip. It was beautiful. And my pen and I have been together ever since.
I love my Sippy, it’s true. And now there are so many different kinds of vape pens — some with coils, some you have to clean out, some you don’t have to clean. I like the simple pens with cartridges of THC oil because, if you’re not a smoker or you can’t inhale deeply, it’s a wonderful way of ingesting cannabis.
These pens are light, compact and portable. The vapor is inoffensive and subtle. And for me a lot of the new pot is too strong — and when I take edibles I rarely come out of the room. With the vape pen, you have more control over how much THC you ingest. If my headache is just starting, I know a short sip will take care of it. If the pressure inside my head is pounding, then two or three sips is a better prescription.
These glaucoma-induced headaches come on like freight trains — like, BOOM, my head starts hurting, my eyes start bugging, my whole body starts to tense up. But then I find her, and it relaxes everything and calms everything. It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It’s wonderful.
The high is different, too. It feels like a gentle, warm breeze at the beach. It’s like someone undoing a vise grip, very slowly. It’s not overpowering — and I’m certainly not looking for that high high. I’m looking for relief.
I used to take Advil by the handful for this very reason, and I don’t take Advil anymore — not for my eye. You’re not supposed to eat Advil every day, and I was eating them every day, these man-made things. But I can do this without hurting myself. It helps that I know when to do it. I have a day job where I need to be clear. But if I need it after the show, she’s there. And if I don’t feel any pain, she stays in my purse.
I take Sippy everywhere I go. And I’m respectful when I’m in a city that may not understand what I have, so I don’t flaunt her. She plugs into my computer to charge. She stays charged for a long time. She’s easy and discreet to use, and for folks like myself who use marijuana medicinally, it’s ideal for a number of reasons. In fact, I’ve recommended her to a lot of folks I know who are going through chemo.
And when those friends try my Sippy for the first time and ask me where they can get one for themselves, I tell them, “It’s not legal here. But if you’re going west, this is what you want.” And some of them do go west where they pick up a Sippy of their own. And for this I couldn’t be happier, because it‘s important for people to know that there are alternatives out there to pain management, and this one is particularly magical.