Lily here to give you a bit of background on us and why we even started producing the cannabis concentrates that we got arrested for in the first place. We talked about this briefly during our Press for Truth interview, but we think it's important to give this story now so people have a better understanding of us and where we've come from. We are both medical users, and this is me telling the story as to why I use cannabis every day, as it is important in our tale as a whole.
It's important that I give a little background on me and my mindset before the accident, so you can understand the situation fully. Up until this point, I had been a dedicated honors student, absolutely convinced college was going to fix my life. I'd had a crazy childhood, which I chose to sleep through, and my only real outlet was school because I had been convinced it was my way out of my situation. I deep down saw that I wasn't learning anything I wanted to in school and hoped college would be different. After being in college for a bit and I realized that it was really no different and in many ways(like having to pay for the same quality teachers you got for free in public school...) it was worse. One realization was after living in the dorms for a few days and realizing that I had moved in with all of the people I hated from high school, and I was paying a lot to do it. I had a full ride for the academics, the room and board however was covered by loans. During this time, I got involved in politics, specifically legalizing pot. I got involved with the local SSDP and eventually became president. I also started to look into Ron Paul, which is where my trip down the rabbit-hole started. During this time I met John, someone recently released from prison for growing pot. More on that later, though. The point of this is to show where my mental state was at the time of my accident. At this point I was a completely non-thinking individual who was under the impression that they had everything figured out, just like a lot of American 19 year olds.
My 19th birthday started pretty well, I was in the start of my relationship with John. I woke up, smoked lots of pot and got ready for lunch with my Dad and Aunt. Lunch was honestly uneventful, the steak I ordered was crappy, but that's life sometimes. We went shopping in the nearby area afterwards, as my aunt and Dad had gotten me some gift certificates for my birthday, for Dicks Sporting Goods store. My aunt evidently wanted to get me a jacket with the card she got me. It was here that the day went down hill, somewhat literally. After picking out a fuzzy outfit including a bright teal fuzzy jacket and black fuzzy pants,(I specify this detail for a humorous reason we will later see) we ended up in the section of the store with bikes, skates and the like. I started looking at the roller-blades, because I had recently been considering getting a pair to use on campus. I had roller-bladed a lot as a kid, but really it had been a long time since I had done anything like that. My Dad noticed me looking at the roller-blades and offered to buy me a pair, clearly just wanting to make my birthday nice. I agreed, picked out a pair and they took me back to campus.
So once back on campus I'm pretty excited for my birthday. I got dressed in what I planned to wear that evening and determined I needed to go to the ATM and the local gas station(for cigarettes I didn't enjoy smoking....the choices we make when we're in college). Excited about the new purchase, I decided to use my new roller-blades to go. This was a terrible idea, and I really ignored a lot of red flags during the entire situation. I definetely feel pretty stupid for how I handled this, especially considering the implications. So because it was February in Ohio, it was cold so I put the fuzzy new outfit I got over my clothing while I went to run my errands. The roller-blades went on and I went out the door. My roommate apparently tweeted the hilariousness of my appearance on my way out. She later tweeted "If anyone sees a girl in a fuzzy northface suit and rollerblades, that's my roommate #awwyeah #bringingitback"
Where I went to college was a really hilly area, and the part of campus that I went through that day was realistically the hilliest part of campus containing the largest hill in town. In just the short time from my dorm building to the ATM, I had almost fallen a few times. For some reason, that I can't really explain, I continued to the front of campus, almost falling a few more times. At this point, I should have went back and gotten shoes on instead, but I still continued. Around the psychology building on campus is what is the steepest and largest hill in town, it also stood between me and my destination. I decided to go down the side with less cars and a ledge I could hold on to, thinking that would help. That side was the steepest and realistically, no one should be riding anything other than motor vehicles down that hill. A few months after the fact, as the weather got nicer, I noticed that even the skateboarders and longboarders that generally flew all over campus would get off thier boards and walk down that hill. I didn't make it down very far before my skate got tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. I got flipped around, the skates went out from under me and I landed with all of my weight on my jaw.
After a few minutes of crying, spitting out blood and teeth and realizing that I had just probably seriously injured myself on my birthday I decided to call John and tell him what happened and that I needed a ride. It was around this time that I noticed that there was a police vehicle with an officer sitting in it about 700 feet from me. He made eye contact with me, who was bleeding all over the sidewalk, and went back to what he was doing. He probably saw the accident and obviously had no interest in helping me, despite what his supposed job description is. I honestly did not want his help, as I already had a healthy distrust of police officers from my upbringing.
About 10 minutes later John shows up, and we determined I need to see a doctor if not got to the hospital. At this point I was still in shock and denial, really hoping that I just dislocated my jaw, not that I had broken it. Deep down I knew better, I felt it bend in half in the front, your jaw isn't supposed to do that. We tried the local urgent care and ended up at a local, then private but now public, hospital. On the way I smoked a bowl, I say this because I believe its a big part of why I didn't suffer from a concussion or other mental symptoms; cannabis has been proven to help prevent concussion if consumed immediately after injury. I wasn't aware of this at the time, I just had the sneaking suspicion that I'd rather be at least a little stoned considering the circumstances.
It was about 5 hours of tests and waiting for doctors before I had a clear idea of what I had done. My pain was pretty terrible, I couldn't lean my head back without bursting into tears. When I asked for pain medication, they supposedly gave me morphine, which had virtually no effect. Much to the surprise of the x-ray technician, I had walked all the way across the hospital immediately after being administered the shot with no problems. She only knew this because I had reported that my pain was really bad and therefore could not bend in certain ways. She asked me why I hadn't received medication, I told her I had. She was floored, and wheeled me back herself to tell the nurses I needed something different. I was given something that kind of worked after this. At some point a nurse came in the room and did the stitches in my chin, which was honestly the worst part. I had to lean my head back for 10 minutes, sobbing the whole time. John, the gentleman he is, held my hand the whole time.
The nurses were all whispering about me, they couldn't believe I wasn't drunk or on drugs when it happened. They felt bad for the girl that probably broke her face on her birthday. I know they probably had suspicions that it was John, probably thinking my story was made up. I know this was the impression that everyone in my family that didn't like John had. This is something that was repeatedly brought up, eventually ending up years later in a police encounter where my crazy aunt was telling the police that I was being taken against my will, and that he was actually the one who had broken my jaw. I calmly told the officer otherwise, which he could see it was the truth. In reality, John was the one who helped me through all of it, even though our relationship was definitely not perfect. The only person that had anything to do with me breaking my jaw was me, and possibly my dad. John had everything to do with the recovery, and nothing to do with the accident. I just want to be clear on that because I know generally when people break their jaw it's done by someone else.
Eventually I spoke to a doctor and he told me that I had broken my jaw in 3 places, pretty severely. He didn't have any x-rays to show me but said I was to spend the night in the hospital and that I would speak to a surgeon in the morning, who would show them to me. After this John, who had been sitting there with me the entire time, went home.
The night that followed was rough. I had pain medication but it really didn't help. To make matters worse I had a gram of really nice weed in my book bag and nowhere to smoke it, being as I was in the hospital. I wanted to test the pain relieving capabilities of cannabis on something other than a headache, and I couldn't. I almost dipped into the bathroom, and probably would have had I not been hooked up to several pain in the ass machines(cause they need to see your heart rate at all times after a bone injury...). That bowl I smoked on the way to the hospital had no effect on the pain, as I was in shock. Sleeping was really rough because I couldn't lay down. I had the bed propping me up. Eventually a nurse came in, thought I had done that on accident, and laid the bed flat, to which I woke up screaming. She promptly apologized and fixed it. After I finally fell asleep again, I got woken up to surprise midnight blood tests, which was really startling. You don't generally expect someone to stick you with a needle without at least giving you a heads up. Hospitals are a bit creepy, in my opinion.
Eventually it was morning, and my roommate brought me my laptop and other things from my dorm. Sometime after this I got a brief meeting from the surgeon. He introduced himself as one of the most trusted oral maxillofacial surgeons in that part of the country, and after asking about him after I found this to be true. The group of surgeons that actually performed my surgery idolized him. He told me what exactly I had done and showed me a simple x-ray and explained that I needed surgery to regain function of my jaw. He also explained that he was a private surgeon, and that I had no health insurance or money with which to pay him. He mentioned that he sometimes does things as part of charity, but considering the severity of my break and the risk of the surgery needed, he was not willing to risk his career for it. He told me that I would know in a few years whether whoever had done my surgery did it correctly or not, as my pain level would increase instead of decrease. Also, my break was one of the worst he had seen of that kind in his career, which is saying a lot.
Not long after this, my Dad(who looked extremely depressed) and my aunt showed up. They spoke to the surgeon, who showed us all detailed 3-D graphic images of my jaw. I had broken it directly down the middle, and broke off the parts on both sides that reach slightly up at the ends of your jaw. My jaw was sitting way farther back than usual, my teeth weren't sitting right(and they still don't....). In the image you could see the random broken hunks of bone and my recessed, offset and beat up jaw. The surgeon explained the same stuff to them that he told me and said that we needed to go to Cleveland, that they would do my surgery even though I didn't have health insurance. So we went.
This was just one of the many terrible experiences I had with this hospital in Cleveland. When I got there, there was an extremely long waiting line, as there generally is in the emergency room. By this point the pain medication was starting to wear off and we had not stopped at a pharmacy to fill the prescription for opiate pain meds. I ended up waiting for over 2 hours, in a lot of pain, before I was seen by anyone. After that it took a half hour for someone to finally come in and address the fact that I needed medication. They then had me briefly meet with a surgeon who told me to come into his office, somewhere nearby in the hospital campus, the next morning to discuss my surgery. We left soon after, stopped to get pain meds and went back to my aunts house. My first order of business was to dip out and smoke, which I did. I realized immediately that cannabis was going to be an extremely important part of my life from that point on. I was hungry for the first time though, much to my dismay. There was nothing really for me to eat, considering that I had a jaw that didn't function very well. I'm pretty sure I tried to drink beef broth before I gave up and went to sleep....which wasn't easy.
The next morning we went back to the hospital, this time hopefully with some results. When I got in the office and started interacting with the surgeons, they were very positive they could help fix my jaw, the next day. They had planned to do it as a team, with 5 surgeons considering the risk involved in the surgery. Where they needed to operate happened to be the spot where your facial nerves cluster before they branch across your cheeks. If they damaged those nerves, I would end up permanently disfigured, with a slack face, looking much like a stroke victim. They were confident that with their team they would have no problems accomplishing the task. We left back to my aunts house again after that, to spend another night before returning for my surgery. I still hadn't eaten but wasn't allowed to anymore at that point. At this point it had been 48 hours since the accident.
The next day we returned to the hospital, this time to the surgery department. I got my own room and my aunt and dad left. There wasn't really a clear time when I would be going into surgery, so they decided to leave and just check in every once in awhile. Soon after my older brother showed up to visit me. By this point I had been in the room for hours alone, I needed pain medication and had been being ignored by the nurses up to that point. They hadn't even gone through the procedure of putting my intial IV's in for the surgery. My brother, who has the attitude of a angry southern black woman when he wants to, got their attention. He had to go repeatedly, getting sassier and sassier. "The fuck is your job, bitch? My sister needs some pain meds, her face is broken" is one of the things I recall him saying. Eventually a nurse came in and tried to give me an IV, which she failed at for 30 minutes before switching arms. My arms were terribly bruised from this for weeks, making me look like an intraveneous drug abuser. My brother made a scene and demanded a nurse who actually knew what she was doing. I eventually got the meds, and soon after it was time to go into surgery. I let people know, including John who asked if I wanted him there when I woke up. I had a friend who had jaw surgery, and she looked pretty crazy afterwards so I told him no, not that he listened. I'm not mad though, just sad he saw me with that crazy face.
As they prepped me for surgery the surgeons asked if I preferred they attempt to fix both broken sides of my jaw, despite the risk of nerve damage. I told them that if they were going to risk any damage, I prefer them try and fix everything, not just leave me broken. They agreed and put me down. The last thing I remember them saying is "If you wake up and you can smile, we did our job."
I woke up like 10 hours later to being wheeled down a hallway by nurses. I came to and got their attention. I smiled at one and asked if it worked and she said it had. Needless to say, I was extremely relieved. I fell asleep soon after, to wake up several hours later surrounded by family and John, which somewhat horrified me considering I could feel how swollen my face was. I went to the bathroom to look at myself and saw my head wrapped in gauze, my lips and cheeks severely swollen. Attractive. I noticed only one of my ears was bandaged, which was where they went in to fix the side....only one of them. This is when I realized they had only fixed the one side. In the time after that, the surgeon came in and explained this. He also explained that he tore my ear canal removing my broken piece of bone, and that I would have to follow up with an ear doctor regarding that. He then gave me something "anti-inflammatory, for the swelling", and left. That drug promptly made me swell up like a balloon, and it once again took forever for a nurse to address my situation.
Later that night I went back to my aunts house, where she was supposedly going to nurse me to health. She refused to take me back to school or to my boyfriends, and I didn't fight, honestly cause I didn't think I could. I was not yet an anarchist and in a lot of ways this woman was my personal government. In the week I was there the only good thing she really did for me during that week was give me crappy weed to smoke. She repeatedly tried to blend up nasty foods in concoctions she wouldn't even drink, but she expected me too. I actually became a vegetarian partially due to those "drinks". Not one fruit smoothie was made during that week, and the one she bought me she had them load down with nasty tasting protein powder. I eventually got fed up and got John to drive to come get me, which he did. After that, I basically moved in with him where he actually nursed me back to health with smoothies and cannabis.
I'd like to end this with being clear on the role of cannabis throughout my recovery and pain management. From the very beginning, I was using cannabis in my recovery. I was smoking out of my aunts vaporizer in the beginning. I continued smoking pot and almost immediately replaced my opiate based medications....which I promptly traded for pot. My surgeon, who was from Amsterdam, immediately took notice when I refused further prescriptions less than 7 days after surgery. He figured out what I was doing and suggested I cover my incision in my mouth to avoid infection. He said "One less opiate prescription I have to write is fine by me." However, despite his good will, my surgeon did not complete my surgery successfully, as he did not even attempt the second side and permanently damaged my hearing. As time went on, things healed but the pain didn't really decrease. Eventually it started to increase to the point where its at now, where I've got a headache bordering on a migrane most of the time. I have greatly reduced hearing from the injury to my ear canal AND have constant extreme neck and shoulder tension. My nights are generally cut short my tension headaches from the simple act of supporting the weight of my head throughout the day. It's for this reason that I continue to use cannabis, in the concentrations that I am with the dedication that I am. My quality of life is vastly improved as a direct result of my use of cannabis,despite my injury: with cannabis I can eat without pain. This injury, as well as John's growing back pain, is the heart of the reason why we got started making extracts. Due to exposure to a limited number of strains in an illegal market, we decided to concentrate what we had to make a cleaner, more potent product. By this point we were already growers of cannabis, so to concentrate it wasn't a far leap for us.
What we didn't realize is while Ohio has somewhat okay pot laws(as ok as something still being illegal can be) they recently instituted some pretty heinous laws to go after those producing cannabis concentrates. With just a law in a book, I've been grouped as the same type of person that likes to hang out shaking two liter bottles of lye,lithium battery acid, and cold medicine (I only know this because of the many people in jail with me who were there for meth or something similar, they're very open with how they make their drugs). When I was booked in, I was put in a room with several other women, naturally curious as to why I was there. Most knew each other, or each others friends, wheras I was a new face. When I explained to one of the girls what I was caught with, she told me the charges I would receive before I had even been charged, and she knew them because she had the same charges, but for producing methamphetamine. She was currently serving a two year sentence, and still had several pending open cases which were apt to pack on more time. This conversation, and the events that came after led to my choice to leave, rather than face the time. I was facing a lot of time, and I happened to be in an extremely corrupt county that didn't necessarily care about the difference between a medical user of cannabis and a methamphetamine addict. I was put on unrealistic pre-trial bond conditions, and in my last court appearance was told that if I didn't pass a drug test in two days(even though I had failed one the day before), I would go back to jail, with an additional charge for breaking bond conditions. Being an anarchist, I knew that the whole system was corrupt. Seeing no other good end to the situation, I started my journey, first westward, then southward. I will say, in my life I do have regrets, but my decision to leave was not one of them. I still feel it was the only good end to that situation.
You can see our press for truth interview here