When we first started The Herbal Chef, our main vision was to help make a positive impact on the world through our medium- food. During a diner THC had done for a group of patients we work with that are part of the 420 Support Group started by our good friend Tony, the team came into contact with Carly Goebel. Carly is a very vibrant young lady that underwent a difficult situation which we have talked to her about in the interview below. She shares her story as well as how Cannabis has helped her with a plethora of issues that have plagued her. We are bringing light to her story in hopes of helping her fund her GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/carlys-ketamine-treatments-cont
So she can get the treatments she needs in order to one day live pain free from her accident. Below is a very touching interview.
Carly is an incredibly strong human being, so we wanted to start with her words of encouragement.
Words of Encouragement
It is so easy to want to just give up when you feel like your life has been stolen from you, when you feel like this world has trampled over you, or like you have so much to bear that you can’t possibly make it through, I have been there, and admittedly get there sometimes still. Even if it is the people closest to you that are the ones tearing you down, remember that this is a world full of endless possibilities. When my personal world closed itself off to me I felt alone, abandoned, and helpless. When I decided to take control back and reach out to the millions of people that exist online, through patient forums, Facebook support groups, and then finally Instagram I made the decision to form my own network of support. I found people who truly cared, who were suffering too, and who sometimes needed me just as much as I was needing them. We are not meant to face these battles on our own, wars cannot be won with one soldier alone. We all need a community that we can depend on for support and encouragement through the bad and to celebrate our victories with, no matter how minor they seem! I know it is so much easier said than done, but you can overcome even the most dire of situations with the right support and a heck of a lot of patience and grace for yourself.
As a child I did a report about Helen Keller, and ironically I draw inspiration daily from one of her quotes and I want you to take it with you. “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it” (Helen Keller). You may feel alone but you aren’t. This world is full of people who have overcome suffering in all shapes and forms, it just takes putting yourself out there to look and ask for someone’s help along the way. We can all overcome together!
What do you tell those that ask what happened to you?
It depends on who is asking (also how much they really care to know). Some people just get the basics, that I had a car accident in early 2013 where an old man ran a stop sign and smashed into my car. This accident strained my right hip, back and neck and ended up making my CRPS (Complex regional Pain Syndrome) spread to new areas and get exceptionally worse where it already was. I have been experiencing pain like I never had before. That CRPS is the most painful disorder currently known of and that it results in awful nerve pain, inflammation, blotchy (red, white, sometimes purple) areas on my skin, burning sensations, sometimes the most uncomfortable antsy sensation ever, feeling like I’m standing straight on my bones in my feet, sensitivities to touch (i.e. materials, I can’t wear jeans or shave my legs), sensitivity to cold temperature, feeling painful pressure from changes in barometric pressure (i.e. clouds coming in), having to take lots of awful medications with horrible side effects, no appetite, not being able to sleep, and having your whole entire life pretty much taken away to have to now constantly try to manage your symptoms, see doctors, and have procedures. When it gets REALLY bad, those closest to me have seen the helpless look on my face as tears stream down because I feel like I am being burned over and over again with a hot frying pan and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. They have carried me and put me into a warm tub as the pain have disabled me to the point that no pressure can be put on my legs. They have stood by me, not knowing what or who to expect, as my personality has changed with each new medication the doctors tries to use to combat the nerve pain (many of which are psychiatric medications).
There are some things I tell EVERYONE! Like about the incredible benefits of medical marijuana and the amazing companies that have supported me throughout this journey the last 4 years. The fact that without the help and innovations of people/companies like the 420 Support Group, Pico Medical Center, Dr. J’s OG Extracts, Wax Coast Connection, The Clear Concentrate, Vader Extracts, The Guild Extracts I would be forced to only take pharmaceutical drugs from my doctors that can have very serious side effects; like Gastroparesis, which one of my friends with CRPS has from all the opiates she had to take for pain. I warn everyone about the dangers of long term usage of opiates. I also encourage everyone to learn about CRPS from a simple online search or the site RSDSA.org as it can often be an invisible disability and affects more people than we currently understand.
What is your mentality now, versus right after that accident?
The last four years have been such an emotional roller coaster! When I first had the accident I assumed that I would be back to work within a week or two, I never imagined that my CRPS would spread and get worse and that I would have to deal with what I have endured the last four year and what I am doing now. That being said, I was really positive right after the accident! My usual self. I worked hard on my physical therapy and tried going back to work as many hours as I could. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse. Instead of getting better, I got worse and the quality of my pain changed from muscle tightness and soreness to sharp, burning, and sensitive. I have a Spinal Cord Stimulator, which is a battery in my back with wires that go into my spine, that was treating the little pain I had from my CRPS before the accident, and it basically stopped working as the intensity of my pain grew. I got to the point where I was taking liquid morphine for flares, methadone 5x a day, muscle relaxers 4x a day, 800 mg Ibuprofen 3x a day, Colace because the medicine stops your systems up, and an anti nausea medication for vomiting from pain and medications. I was having pain flares multiple times a week that would make me unable to get out of bed or leave my room. Needless to say, my social circle diminished and I had fallen into a pit of pain, depression, and anxiety.
What are things you used to take for granted?
The most important thing to me about this question is that I realized when writing this answer that I did not know I was taking these things for granted until after my car accident made my CRPS worsen and spread. I guess it’s true that “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone” (Cinderella). Standing, walking, sitting outside on a breezy day. I have to take a blanket everywhere to block any breeze that may come along to irritate my legs. Wow, I feel like this list could last forever. Not having to take a chair everywhere I go or ask someone for help anytime I need to go anywhere. Being able to handle thinking about multiple things at one time without getting flustered or being able to read and understand what I was reading without having to read it again; I read at a college level in grade school and had always been a very fast reader. The stress relieving qualities of being able to dance; to move my body around a floor to different rhythms with ease and grace not thinking for a moment about pain. Being able to drive without pain. Heck, being able to remember what it was like to not have pain all the time. Working or going to school!! Wow that’a a big one! I can’t even explain how much I took working or learning for granted. I would give anything to be able to get back on track with pursuing my career dreams of working with international communities with a PhD in International Psychology. When I think about the complaints I used to have about getting up early or working long hours, they are just… trivial. I can’t believe I would have ever even complained about getting to get out of my house and interact with people (something I don’t get to do very often anymore, unless it’s doctors). I also took for granted living in a state that has medical marijuana laws and a great program with wide access in place. There are so many people that need access to this medicine and can’t get it, enough of it, or good enough quality of it to treat their ailments and it’s wrong to deny people alleviation of their suffering when it can be safely provided from a plant.
What are you grateful for?
No matter how much pain or inconvenience I now experience every single day, I try so hard to be conscious and aware and grateful for the fact that I am alive and that I have people around me who love me. I know things might not be going the way I planned in my life but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still have meaningful and fun experiences and relationships. I am incredibly thankful for all of the new friends that I have made because of speaking out about my pain and my experiences. I think it is so important to try to find the positive things in the difficult circumstances that we face and I must admit that handicap parking in Los Angeles is a god send! I don’t get out much but on a good day we can go to the beach, park on the pier for free and Logan can wheel me out to the end of the pier to gaze at the ocean. I am grateful that I can park at meters for free and in green time limited parking spots as long as I need, all which sound ridiculous I know, but it’s all extremely helpful when having to go almost anywhere in LA! I am also incredibly grateful for the recent opportunity I have had to try new treatments with my ketamine infusions. Pain may be the last forefront for the medical field but they are making strides in understanding it and coming up with innovative ways to treat it, including acknowledging the usefulness of marijuana in many cases. Oh! I’m so grateful for the opportunity The Herbal Chef has given me to share my story, my personal struggle, and to hopefully help others in turn. We often try to make sense of or find purpose in things that happen to us and I know that being open has allowed me to find a sense of purpose in giving others a voice or someone they can relate to. This is just so awesome!!
What gives you strength?
First and foremost, people! I have an incredible man, who is now my fiance’, who is by my side each and every moment throughout this fight. He is my rock when I am falling apart. I always call him the calm to my chaos. I have some family who has gone out of their way to do everything they can to support me through the financial difficulties, the fights for disability, the long hard days of doctor appointments, and the general inability to predict how I might feel each day. I also have an amazing group of people I have met online, through Instagram mainly, that consists of people who have CRPS or other disorders, people who have family members affected by medical issues (many of which have entered the medical marijuana industry to help others because of it), and also other people who are just awesome, positive, and supportive. The positive energy I get from the interactions I now have with others is incredible, especially when my struggle can somehow give them strength or hope!!
I also have strength because of the incredible people and companies in the medical marijuana industry who are really trying to alleviate some of the suffering that exists in this world. I think there is a lot of negative stigma about this industry, that people are only in it to make money, and that just isn’t true of everyone. People with disabilities often have so many extra costs in their lives that it can be a struggle to pay for things like medical marijuana products or even a fun fine dining experience. Over the past 4 years, I have meet people who are working hard to try to bring this medicine and fun experiences to people who may not always be able to afford them. There are incredible companies like Vader Extracts that process cannabis extracts that are sold at a fraction of the price of other companies; they also sponsor a free event called Kushstock for people in California where you can get discount prices on a variety of medical marijuana products (i.e., flowers, extracts, topical balms or lotions, edibles) and enjoy live entertainment while medicating. There are also companies, like Guild Extracts and The Clear Concentrate, that have scientists working hard to create the best, most effective products for patients while constantly innovating. This has resulted in growing awareness of the amazing benefits of a variety of cannabinoids including CBD and THCA, as well as terpenes. Companies like The Herbal Chef and movements like My Health Freedom all working to dispel the negative stigma surrounding cannabis also gives me strength that someday, hopefully soon, I will be able to live my life like any other person while using my medical marijuana no matter what state I choose to live in or travel to.
What do you wish others would understand about what you have gone through/are going through?
This is actually maybe one of the more simple questions to answer. My disorder and experiences, like many others, are complex. My energy level or abilities one day do not determine how they will be the next because my state varies so much. You cannot begin to understand what someone is going through or what they have gone through unless you choose to take the time and make the effort to learn. We all struggle, and everyone can find a way to relate to one another even if it is hard to see on the surface. It is incredible the similarities I have found in talking with others who don’t even have the same disorder as me. Also, sometimes the best thing you can do for someone who is struggling is to just be there to listen! Most of all, if you really care about someone who is going through something like what I have experienced, don’t pull back from them or make them feel inadequate. They might just need that extra energy from you to get through and someday you might need it from someone too.
How does Cannabis help you? And how did you figure it out?
OK, where to start?! I was first diagnosed with CRPS after a snowboarding injury in 2008, however my pain was very easily managed and didn’t even flare up very often; nothing like the degree of what I experience now. I was about to transfer for my junior year at Cal State Northridge and the medications the doctors were using to treat my CRPS (i.e., Lyrica) were all causing me really bad short term memory loss. I couldn’t remember anything, even forgetting I was sending a text in the middle of texting. Side effects were a nightmare and I knew that I would not be able to learn anything new if I stayed on those meds. This was when we made the decision to get the Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant, but there was going to be a 4 month gap in between when I would have to stop taking the pharmaceuticals and when Icould have the surgery. To deal with the pain in the meantime, a friend of mine suggested that I get a medical marijuana recommendation and see if I could find something that might help. They took me to their doctor, I got approved, and I have been going to the same office every year since then. I cna honestly say that medical marijuana was the reason I was able to deal with the little pain I had and focus and do well in school. Back then, there were edibles available, but mainly you could only find marijuana flowers. Luckily I was not experiencing th extreme levels of pain I do now back then because although flowers help my appetite they are not strong enough to help my current pain by themselves.
Today, in California, I can now walk into a medical marijuana shop and get a wide variety if products, all of which help in conjunction with one another for a variety of different symptoms that I have. My CRPS causes a lot of inflammation and marijuana is a strong natural anti-inflammatory, I believe that having it consistently in my system helps me to not experience as bad of inflammation as some of the people who have my disorder. Because of this I use THC and CBD drops on a daily basis. I also use THCA, that I get from Guild Extracts, which has been shown to be far more effective than Cortisone. It is a powder that can be ingested as stays non-psychoactive when used in this matter. I simply dip my finger in the jar and hold a small amount of powder under my tongue 3x a day. I try to use cannabis oil, when I can get it, in my cooking as it really seems to help to keep my system flooded. I eat edibles during the day to help with my appetite and at night for pain and sleep. Additionally I dab (vape) a variety of cannabis extracts as needed for pain and muscle spasms throughout the day, for appetite, and for sleep at night. Anytime I leave the house I have a vape pen cartridge from Guild Extracts that goes with me as well with one cartridge that is a high CBD oil for anxiety, pain, and muscle spasms, and a high THC cartridge to help with pain and appetite. It would be incredibly difficult to make it through almost anything I have to leave the house for without the ability to medicate. That medication used to be pills that have serious and sometimes permanent side effects, now I am able to mainly rely on the medical marijuana (daily) and the ketamine infusions a few times a year instead. And it feels great to know that I am not adding to the list of problems I am already facing!! I am giving my body something that is even helping to rebuild it healthier and stronger.
We know you are so humble and fun loving, what is a side of you that only your friends pick up on?
I am incredibly silly! Maybe it’s because I used to work with kids, or maybe that’s why I was always good at working with kids… lol. Either way, I love singing loudly, making up songs about what I am doing, talking in silly voices, imitating silly voices I hear on movies and shows (ie. the Lollipop Guild from Wizard of OZ); but it mostly comes out in private! I really am a big kid at heart though and I have to remind myself not to let my negative experiences diminish that spirit in me!
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I am incredibly excited to announce The Herbal Chefs first public event to raise awareness for the benefits of Medical Marijuana and Cancer! With the recent news from the National Cancer Research Institute saying clinical trials show Marijuana kills cancer cells (http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq) it is the perfect time to get the general public on board to push towards federal legalization. I am so excited to team up with @LABART to donate to The American Cancer Society!
Our glorious Golden State has turned green; it’s about time! Along with all of the new dispensaries, extraction methods, strains, and so on comes a new set of regulations. Colorado was the first to set precedence in the marijuana regulatory standard realm, and I must admit- we can do better. Colorado’s board of regulators have done a great job regulating the sales and distribution of marijuana, but I believe that we can set a better standard. I won’t bore you with the details (you can see sources below), but I am specifically talking about the regulation of our beloved edibles.
As a Michelin trained Chef and thoroughly being involved in the culinary world as well as manufacturing and production, I do not see the difference between my medicated cupcake and my non-medicated cupcake. By that, I mean that just because it is cannabis infused doesn’t mean you can throw it in a plastic baggie and slap a sticker on it. Edibles are still food. In my humble opinion (which I will try and push onto everyone I meet), we should be regulating edible packaging and labeling as the FDA regulates all other food. We have the right to know what is in our edibles and especially to have them packaged properly. When I go to a dispensary and see items packaged in a plastic condiment container or a cellophane wrap, I cringe. Bacteria love to hang out in cool, oxygenated spaces with a bit of moisture. So if it is not a shelf stable product and pasteurized before bottling in a sanitary environment, the bacteria spores will go crazy once it has time to cool. This is the stuff to be wary of.
What to look out for: Packaging that is completely sealed off. You are more than likely safe with chocolates, that doesn’t mean chocolate cake, it means pure chocolate. Chocolate has very little room for bacteria if any at all. It can also keep at room temperature and will be fine. Any baked items are a little tricky. Make sure to see the “produced on” date and check for freshness. If it wasn’t in a refrigerator, be careful. Anything bottled, such as my marinara sauces or salad dressings, make sure they have a pressurized lid and a shrink wrap around the top. Be smart out there folks.
I hope soon that we can all demand a certain standard from our dispensaries and the edibles they carry. I like kimchi, and cheese just as much as the next person, but please, push to regulate to the FDA standard- otherwise enjoy the lousy packaging just waiting for bacteria to grow!