Become A ‘Criminal’ Or Continue to Risk Death: I Have A Decision To Make

I have a decision to make.

I am trying to decide if I am willing to become a criminal for the sake of my health and quality of life.  If so, I  would be considered a violator of a federal law, facing a maximum penalty of $50 million and life in prison.

Here is the choice I face:

1)  Continue to take legal and potent medications to treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis


2)  Consider using a drug that although legal in my state, is considered a violation of federal law:

marijuana aka wheat,  ganga fu, butter, rainy day woman, diablito, o.j., love leaf, kif, binky, moocha, gong, juanita, poke, hooch, skunk, swag, hash, blunt, yellow submarine, sweet lucy, dimba, juju, poke, hooch, pakaloco, grass, boo…

Last summer, I almost died.  Not figuratively speaking, I mean really.  

I. Almost. Died.  

An infection made it to my blood stream and I was minutes away from having organ failure and dying, had I not gone to the ER when I did.

I live in pain, every single day of my life.  Some days it’s my feet or my wrists or my neck or my knees.  Oftentimes, it’s all of the above.  In spite of it all,   I love my little life and consider myself incredibly blessed.  I am not however, a masochist nor a martyr.  Although I have learned to accept my situation, it would be nice to feel better and to improve my quality of life.

I have a long and complicated medical history that no one in their right mind has time to listen to (or would willingly, even if they had the time.)  Trust me. 

The bottom line is that there is no cure for RA, and although there are well-known medications that reduce symptoms and new ones that are coming on the market, the side effects are horrendous.

There is no question (per numerous doctors that treated me) that my long-term use of some of these medications significantly contributed (if not caused) me to get this deadly infection.  One of the common side effects of these types of drugs is weakening of the immune system, thus making the patient more susceptible to infections or worsening of an existing infection.

Not to mention:

{thinning skin, easy bruising, changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your face, neck, back, and waist), increased acne or facial hair, menstrual problems, impotence, or loss of interest in sex, increased appetite, fluid retention, weight gain, increased blood sugar (which can lead to diabetes), extreme fatigue, difficulty swallowing, increase in blood pressure, unfavorable changes in cholesterol levels, irritation of lining of stomach and small intestine, ulcers, bleeding, early cataracts and glaucoma, thinning of the bones leading to osteoporosis, mood changes (some people get “revved up” and have trouble sleeping, others get depressed), adrenal suppression, lymphoma.}

I have tried most of the medications available including chemotherapy to treat my RA. Some have helped but they have come at a high price, literally and figuratively.

Last Tuesday, I met with a certified well-respected doctor who specializes in medical marijuana, to discuss the potential benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients.  Holy Shit.  There are many, including the suppression of inflammation.  Inflammation is my enemy.  Inflammation is actually everyone’s enemy and the cause as well as the result of many illnesses.

 Marijuana use for RA patients promises to attack inflammation, target pain, relax muscles and help with sleep.  Many of the RA drugs out there promise the same benefits but the side effects of marijuana use are NOTHING compared to those of the conventional medications.   If marijuana use works for me, I could potentially cut FIVE of the many medications I take daily.  That is HUGE.  Less poison in my system!

conversationsonthebrink. com

Potential Side Effects of Marijuana use:

sensory distortion, panic, anxiety, poor coordination of movement, lowered reaction time, the user may feel sleepy or depressed , increased heartbeat,dizziness, shallow breathing, red eyes, dilated pupils, dry mouth, increased appetite, paranoia, suspicion, distrust or fear of other people.

Nobody likes side effects but unfortunately, there is no such thing as no side effects when it comes to medications or certain medical treatments.  When comparing the side effects of marijuana to my current medications, to me,  it’s a no brainer.


The federal law does not recognize medicinal marijuana as acceptable or having medicinal value even if its use is protected under state law. It is not approved by the FDA as a drug that can be prescribed by doctors. Basically, we are halfway there but not quite there.  This is not fair to patients who are getting arrested and not fair or practical to expect law enforcement to be responsible for verifying the authenticity of a patient when the state and the federal agencies are not in sync. 

After qualifying me as a medicinal marijuana candidate, the doctor gave me a pin number to use when registering my name with the Sate Health Department. If I do this, I want to do it right.  I am not interested in getting high every day just for the heck of it .  I would like to try the specific strains that target pain and inflammation that may improve my quality of life.

If approved, I will receive my medicinal marijuana ID in a few weeks.  It has been suggested that I use a vaporizer to administer the marijuana as opposed to smoking it. That sounds fine to me. 

I have researched the arrests of medicinal marijuana patients in my state and they are greater than I would have hoped.  The confusion and lack of a standardized process has made it difficult for all involved.  I don’t think the police or the FEDS are going to necessarily be interested in little ‘ol me but it is uncomfortable knowing that my name is registered in a state system and that I am in violation of the federal law. 

Typically, I  find humor of most situations I encounter and believe me, I was tempted to insert all kinds of jokes in this post (like me dealing with distrust and  fear of others as a side effect of marijuana) but I need to be serious about this first before I am able to laugh and enjoy the benefits.


Marijuana fines and penalties:

{1000 Kilos or + or 100 plants or + = $10/50million = 10 years to life

100 to 999 Kilos or 100-999 plants = $5/25million = 5 to 40 yrs

50 to 99 kilos or 50-99 plants = $1/5million = up to 20 yrs

Less than 50 kilos, 10 kilos of hashish, 1 kilo of hashish oil or 1-49 plants =$250,000/1million = up to 5 yrs }


What are your thoughts on this topic?

A Fitbit For Someone With RA & Fibromyalgia:Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha!


It seems that everyone and their grandmother has a Fitbit or something comparable to track their steps, calories in, calories out, exercise, weight gained, weight lost and even sleep. I am frankly surprised it does not include tracking your bowel movements or the color of your urine since I hear you are supposed to drink at least 950 ounces of water per day.  Maybe they are working on that feature (can the Apple Watch do that?)

So when Mr. B mentioned to me that they were giving them out at his work to their employees and asked me if I wanted one, I laughed.  Seriously?


I then pictured myself wearing one of the fancy ones I have seen online and figured, why not.  Except that Mr. B could only get us the plain black flex bracelets and I’m not paying for some fancy cover.

He has since programmed his Fitbit to track his easy-peasy  10,000 steps per day (which he exceeds daily, even though he sits in an office all day.)  Apparently, the Fitbit vibrates when you have reached your goal (dammit, mine will never vibrate) and from what I can see,  he is enjoying this feature.  I am actually happy for him except that I will flush that thing down the toilet if I see that he starts weighing less than me.  

I decided to put mine on and sync it to my online account I had created, even though I honestly saw no point.   After all, I am horizontal for at least 50% of my day, I am fatigued 98% of the time, my feet hurt even when I am not on them, my wrists don’t like to bend and even my hair hurts.

So, what the hell am I supposed to be tracking?  I know I can break the record for hours slept per day, but really.

I imagine the tracking of a typical day in the life of brickhousechick,  looking something like this:

1.  Get my body out of bed (at noon), go to the bathroom and return to bed:


Sleep tracked: 15 hours

Steps Taken: 10

Calories out: 5 (it’s hard work to fall)


2.  Once back in bed, I try to reach the remote so that I can watch TV:


Activity tracked: reaching

More activity tracked: lifting my head

Pain to my neck, fingers and wrists:  100

Sleep needed after exertion:  6 hours


3.  Get myself something to eat:



Activity tracked: opening the fridge

Activity tracked: pushing the start button on microwave

Steps Taken: 12

Tears shed: 26

Calories in:  2500

Calories out: 2

cooperativeindependentliving.  com


Activity tracked:  operating grabber

Calories out: -5


4.  At some point in the day I should shower:



Activity tracked:  step into shower

Activity tracked:  turn on shower

Activity tracked:  apply shampoo & conditioner

Steps taken: 4

Calories out: 2

Gallons of water used:  50 gallons x 30 days = 1500 gallons, 25 gallons x 30 days =750 gallons, which is a 750 gallons of water per month x 65 gallons per rinse per hour….


5.  When I have to, I go shopping:

 On bad days, I use a mobility cart.

Unknown children like to hang on

Sometimes, I flirt with meet others

Activity tracked:  turning ignition on scooter

Activity tracked:  putting the scooter on reverse and hearing loud beeps

Activity tracked: placing items in too small of a basket

Calories out:  7

Calories in:  500 (from free samples)

Humiliation: SUPER HIGH

Hearing Loss from Beeps:  Mucho


6.  My final and favorite activity of the day:





Activity tracked: lifting glass

Activity tracked: swallowing 

Antioxidants consumed: a ton

Hearts helped: 1

Happiness felt: limitless

Pain relieved: ALL


PS.   “There is some evidence that orgasms can relieve all kinds of pain — including pain from arthritis, The Huffington Post.  

FYI: The Fitbit tracks all activity.

How is your Fitbit treating you?

Get Me Out Of Here

I spent four consecutive hours yesterday watching, HGTV’s Beachfront Bargain Hunt.  For those of you who know better and spend your Sundays reading, writing or doing something productive, this particular segment on the HGTV network features people who are tired of renting and are looking for beachfront vacation properties to buy.  A realtor shows them several properties until they find the beachfront oasis of their dreams. 

After bombarding my brain with images of pristine aqua-blue waters framed by miles of golden sandy beaches, clear blue skies, thirst quenching tropical beverages and sling-shot bikinis, I felt even more depressed than I already was.


I am no different from the 1.3 million US residents living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you have RA, you will experience pain.  If you have RA and you live in a cold climate, you will most likely experience even more pain.  And stiffness.  And aches. And sadness.  And isolation. 

I know I do.

As a result (and just because) I am leaving tomorrow (weather permitting) for an almost 3 week hiatus, landing directly in the warm and comforting arms of my wonderful mother, who happens to live on the island of PUERTO  RICO.


Just what the doctor ordered.

Just Call Me: Footloose

Just for ha-has, let’s talk about my past shall we?

I know it is not very riveting but I am in the mood to reminisce about the old me.  There is nothing too wrong with the new me but I miss young brickhousechick and her spunk.

I would like to focus mostly on the end of my high school years, college and  several years after that.

I never joined a sport’s team in high school, not because I was not athletically fit but because I was shy (I know, can you believe it?)  I did join the cheerleading squad but kept a very low profile.

I was not a bad athlete, if I may say so myself.  My long legs helped me run distances during Gym class and beat the other students.  I played flag football with the neighborhood kids,  played wiffle ball and could actually hit the ball.  I was often the last man standing during dodgeball (which explained the huge red welts on my thighs when I was finally bombarded) and I killed it in kickball.  I simply lacked the confidence to try out for any organized sport.  

I took Jazz classes at 8:00 am while in college and was the Queen of my Jazzercize class in my mid 20’s, but that was nothing compared to how good I was (I know I am not shamefully shamefully bragging) at mastering my passion.

Please allow me to modestly tell you how f***** awesome I was at:


I’m talking getting THIS  kind of reaction – when I danced:


By dancing I don’t mean with a pole – though it looks like a

Or Dancing With The Stars- kind of dancing.

Or belly dancing.



Or ballet *yawning*.




I am talking, FUNKY dancing, people!

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Reaction GIFS




GIF Soup

GIF Soup


Everywhere I went = I danced.

My high school superlative was, Most Likely To Be Dancing.

My father nicknamed me, Footloose after seeing me appear on the 11:00 o’clock news dancing at a Boston club.


I danced in the streets.

LA Weekly

LA Weekly

In my room.

With Batman.



Man, did I have the moves.  

Then, one day this happened:

My joints began aching.  Every inch of my body hurt – including my hair.  I spent all my time going from doctor to doctor.  I had surgeries.  I rested in bed.  I rested in bed again. And again.  

I had to stop working because I felt like this every day: 



When they discovered cervical deterioration of my spine, I tried dancing but looked something like this:



But that hurt.


After crying, screaming, yelling, kicking and feeling sorry for myself, I, being the eternal optimist that I am (don’t ask me why), decided that Rheumatoid Arthritis was not going to stop me from doing what I love. 

I dance when I can and even when I can’t.

If my feet hurt, I move my arms.  If my arms hurt, I move my feet.  If my hips hurt, I shake my head.  If my head hurts…I still dance.


‘Cause All Of Me, Loves All Of Me And Words & Pictures

“When you truly love yourself, you are enough. Your happiness and well-being become a top priority”
― Annette Vaillancourt


I am feeling somewhat better after my little break-down this week.  When I think about this coming Fall and how alone I will be, I go back to that sad and dark place occupying a corner of my heart.  Fortunately,  I am beginning to see the possibilities for me and what opportunities await me in the months and years to come.

I also thank you wonderful people, for your unbelievably kind words of encouragement.  You truly are the best and I wish I could climb right into this screen and hug you all…and kiss some of you, too.


In working through this realization that I will be spending an abundant amount of time with just me, I decided that I better get to know me.  What if I don’t like me?  What if me and I just don’t jive?  If I am going to be tied to my own arthritic hip 24/7, isn’t it important that I find out as much about me as possible?  Especially, to ensure that me is not a criminal, an identity thief or God forbid, a bitch! Imagine that!

 So I decided to follow me, for a full day.  Like an eager student who shadows  a person in their workplace to decide if the type of work she is observing, is something she wants to pursue.

I had to ask me for permission and thankfully, me agreed.

After watching me get up, make the bed, go to the bathroom and get dressed, I have to admit, I was a bit bored (yawn).  Me’s knee was swollen and she was limping around the house (what a  wuss!)

I watched me eat some cereal and sit on the comfy couch with my laptop, ready to search for the opportunities and activities waiting to be chosen by me, to help fill the endless hours my empty nest will bring (ay, that was a mouthful.)

First Internet Search:  A Jewelry Making Class.  Me enjoys making bracelets out of beautiful beads  but needs the skills necessary for securing clasps and hooks. What? A Class this coming Sunday? Why, yes!  Me and I are both available to attend (maybe we will get a twofer on the cost.)

Second Internet Search: Meditation.  Me has always wanted to learn how to meditate and appreciate the true meaning of mindfulness.   What? Free classes at the University? Yes, please!

Woman meditating on the beach at sunset.

Then, me took a short break to look at showtimes for a movie I have been dying to see;

Words and Pictures

What? 2:20 today? Ticket for One, please!

I could have called my friend Gina who wanted to go with me but I decided that I needed to go, with just me.  Like a date.  With me.  Would me share popcorn with me?  Would me like yeast or cheese on her already buttered popcorn? Would me try any funny business in the theater? I had to know.

After accepting the fact that my fellow movie goers were no younger than 97, I settled in my seat, with me.


Starring Clive Owen & Juliette Binochi, in an inspirational romantic comedy.  Clive Owen plays, Jack Marcus a prep school English teacher who tries to educate his students about the power of the written word (as writers, you are going to really appreciate his character and his take on the English language.)

Juliette Binochi, an artist in real life, plays the character of Dina Delsanto, an artist who is battling  Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Her illness limits her painting abilities and she is forced to teach Art at the same prep school.  A friendly war ensues about the importance of Words vs.  Pictures, as the two teachers try to prove to their students that their mode of expression, is superior to the other.

No, it is not a chick flick.  It is an everyone flick.  It deals with addiction, bullying, family relationships and passion for one’s career.

  What an inspirational film.

Me and I both loved it.  

We discussed it on the way home.  I then told me that I was happy she let me shadow her today.  I told me that I kind of liked her.  That she is fun, beautiful and a fighter.  

I reminded me that there is nothing we cannot handle, together.  

I told me that I was happy to be me and that I even… loved her.


‘Cause All of Me is Learning to Love,  All of Me

It Leaves Me With Just Me

powellriverpersuader.blogspot. com


Have you ever had an aha moment that is immediately followed by a wave of deep sadness because it was during that aha moment, that you realized how bad things were going to be?

This is what happened to me today.  Out of nowhere, I gained wisdom about something I knew would be difficult, but the clarity of the situation really struck me.

This wave of sadness has taken over my body and mind.

What do we writers/bloggers do when we experience a deep emotion?  We write, of course.

It’s as if someone kicked me with all their force right in the gut.  I feel like a shriveled up deflated balloon that moments before, was filled with air, joy and happiness.

As many of you loyal readers know, I will have an empty nest this coming fall.  I have written about it on many occasions.  I talk about running around the house naked swearing like a sailor.  About having more time with Mr. Brickhouse and even on how we will save on electricity.  All in good fun.

Today however, I don’t see it that way.  Today, I truly understand the impact and meaning of this much-anticipated empty nest.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  Why didn’t I see it?  How stupid of me to think otherwise.  I was looking at an ideal life.  An imagined vision of me stepping right into this next stage in my life with open arms.  Blindly and naïvely envisioning a future when I could finally focus on myself, my goals, my health and my marriage.

And then it hit me.

I will be alone.


Stuck at home, by myself.

With no purpose to my every day.

No longer needed by anyone.

Just me and my thoughts.

Just me and my illness.

I already spend a lot of my days on my own.  I am usually too fatigued to be involved in multiple activities.  I see friends when they are not working, I try to walk, I blog, I watch tv and I mother.  Mothering has given me a purpose and an identity.

The fact is that Mr. Brickhouse has a very demanding job.  He is gone all day and most nights, at meetings. I know this.  I have known this.  I have accepted this.  But now, it saddens me to no end.  I cannot depend on him to be there.  It is not fair to expect him to fill my void.

My aha moment made me realize the reality of what awaits me.

What will I do?

What plans do I have?

What are my goals?

What is my purpose?

The fact that I cannot hold a job due to my illness has bothered me in the past but I knew deep down that the most important job I could do, was being the best mother I could be, despite my physical limitations.

Now what?

Wake up. Rest. Wait until my body is not stiff.  Eat breakfast. Rest. Run an errand.  Rest.  Blog. Rest.  Pay bills. Rest.  Go for a walk. Rest. Eat dinner on my own. Rest. Blog. Sleep. Repeat.

This will be my life.

My new reality.

It scares me to death.

It leaves me vulnerable with thoughts I have repressed for way too long.

It leaves me with just me.



I will allow these feelings to simmer for a day or two because they need to.  

They are real.  

They are valid.

And in the end:

This too shall pass

Beauty Is In The Foot Of The Beholder 

I am very self-conscious about my feet.  They ain’t pretty.  Even with the most magnificent neon color polish, they turn heads – in a yucky kind of way.

Yet, here I am posting pictures of them for all to see.  Am I crazy?  Well, yea, but there is a point to this post.  Keep reading and try not to cringe at the photos.



This is the “face” of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Thanks to the most narcissistic orthopedic surgeon ever, my left foot is now straight.  I hate to admit that this, “I am the God of Feet” pompous, swollen-headed, dingle-berry of a doctor, did a great job.  As brilliant a surgeon as he is however, I will not have my right foot operated on by him.  Ever.  Jerk.





I hope you are not eating while reading this…

As a result of not wanting to go under the knife again, because the recovery was one from the deepest infernal regions of the universe, my feet don’t match.

One of these feet is not like the other…one of these feet just doesn’t belong…


You should see how simple it is to find shoes that fit both feet.  After the fusion, the newly operated foot is now longer that the right foot.  Fun times!

So what is my point?  

My point is that someone out there finds these mis-matched arthritic footsies of mine, sexy!

Let me prove it to you.

Here is a comment left on an old post of mine where I featured my feet:

Hello. I just want to tell you I really enjoyed this blog post. I hope you don’t mind that I tell you that you have very beautiful feet. I have a foot fetish with a preference for bunions, and your feet are very exquisite to me. I hope these comments flatter you, your beautifully unique feet are very sexy. I hope you continue to post pics of your feet 🙂


There is a God

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