This is what I want the world to know: I use marijuana….all day….EVERY day. I am a 47-year-old, disabled, divorced, soon to be re-married mom of three “almost adults” living with a chronic illness and cannabis has given me my life back!!!
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007, at the age of 37. From the very start, I was a “good little patient.” I went to my appointments, I went through all the procedures, I took all the medications they prescribed for me, I exercised, I ate healthy and I even tried to sleep a bit more (although that was a bit challenging seeing as my now “almost adults” were 5,7 and 9 at the time and sleep was often a rare commodity in my life back then.) But the point is that I tried! I did everything that was asked of me even when it seemed that maybe what I was putting into my body was doing more harm than good and possibly leaving me with more or worse symptoms than what I started out with. As I said, I was a “good” patient and I didn’t question things, I followed the advice of my doctors and truthfully “hoped for the best.”
“In hindsight – I get a bit sad and disappointed in myself for just how willingly I followed the path that had been set out before me, mapped out by my earlier life experiences with doctors and medicine. I was raised to believe they are the “experts” – they are the ones that are smart enough to become doctors and so they are the ones that know best. Period.”
But what I have come to realize is that when you live with a disease like MS – that is so messed up in so many ways that are so impossible to try and explain to anyone that doesn’t have it – then how in the world can any one person, even a doctor always know what’s best?????
Since day one, when I walked out of the neurologist’s office, I have been on medications. LOTS of them. I have been on baclofen, diazepam, clozapine, tizanidine Gabapentin, Ambien, Solu-Medrol Nortriptyline, Amitriptyline, Methadone, LDN, and Ampyra. There are others, probably no less or more severe than the listed ones, but I don’t remember them all and I really don’t feel like going into the garage and climbing up on a ladder to reach the three big boxes of medical bills and records that I have stored there. I put them there months before deciding to come off all of my medications, so perhaps that was a bit of foreshadowing of things to come… maybe I was already fed up with the shit life I was living.
Possible side-effects listed include (but are not limited to)
Dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, nausea, weakness, loss of coordination,blurred/double vision, shaking/tremors,dry-mouth, constipation, diarrhea, tiredness, weight gain, trouble urinating, dry-mouth, black tongue, itching or rash, breast swelling (in men and women), decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm, anxiety, sleep problems, little to no urniation, memory loss, mood or behavior changes, depression, may cause liver damage, Asthenia, can slow down your brain’s activity and interfere with your judgment, thinking, and motor skills, inability to control muscle movements (ataxia), increased heart-rate, increased salivation, increased sweating, feeling irritable, dry eyes (contact discomfort), Nightmares, swelling of the feet or legs, may impair your thinking or reactions, feeling “drugged” or light-headed, stuffy nose, throat irritation, muscle pain, Heartburn, impaired wound healing, restlessness, fainting, back pain, sinus pain, hair loss and flushing.
(All read by some super speedy reader in a hushed toned – just like the assinine drug ads now shown on t.v.)
That list of drugs was to try and deal with the symptoms of the disease. In addition, I was forever in search of a DMD (disease modifying drug) or DMT (disease-modifying therapy) that would slow the progression of my disease. I started with Avonex (an Interferon,) I moved to Tysabri and once that was ruled out I did a round of Rituximab followed by Tecfidera. All failed me – my body did not tolerate any of them. First, there were the nearly unbearable “flu-like symptoms” from the Avonex injections that left me lying on the bathroom floor hugging the toilet for 10 hours one night a week for the first 12 months of living with this disease. Followed quickly by the Tysabri. The first infusion went well, and in the first 28 days, there were signs of improvement my mobility and balance seemed to get a bit better and my fatigue was not quite so all-consuming. But round two led to hives and month three led to anaphylactic shock. My body had developed “anti-body positivity” to the drug and it was explained to me that my body would fight the drug to the death – as in MY death, so that didn’t work out!
I then did a round of rituximab – which was not at the time approved by the FDA as a protocol for MS – but it was in clinical trials. The trial was comparing the results of two DMDs – one being one of the interferon drugs already approved by the FDA for MS and Rituximab. It was a double-blind study (meaning neither the doctor or the patient would know which drug each patient would be getting) and since I had already tried Avonex – and after a year had shown “significant” progression in my MRIs) I was not a candidate for the study. My doctor wrote an amazing compassionate care waiver appeal – and it was approved. I only did one round of the treatment (can’t recall if it was multiple infusions spread out over a few weeks or months?) I don’t have much of a memory of this particular drug – mainly because it was the only one that didn’t have any side effects or bad symptoms. It was the “good little DMD” in my mind.
I eventually moved on to Tecfidera – which I somewhat blame for the onset of the chronic pain; NOT a direct link, but causational. Tecfidera made me SO constipated, so back up, that it became extremely uncomfortable and then painful to work out or get any form of exercise. I KNEW that exercising would help counter the constipation but I had been working out almost every day prior to starting on it and continued to do so until I got so full of shit that my 2 hour gym visits were replaced with a lame ass stroll around the block with the dog because that was all my cramped up intestines could take.
This lasted for months – as I tried numerous different products and medications that my doctor recommended to help with the constipation. SO I was taking a drug that was making me constipated and then being prescribed another drug to try and help alleviate my fecal impaction. I tried prunes, and fiber bars, fiber supplements, probiotics, laxatives and I even did a suppository once a DAY for about a month! Nothing worked. Occasionally I would experience a small bit of relief – have a small bowel movement or two, but then it was back to being full of shit and in pain from it.
As my body wasn’t properly disposing of the waste, I wasn’t moving my ass nearly as much and the pounds began to slowly creep up. The less I moved, the worse the pain got. The worse the pain got, the less I moved. This is the time in the story when the pain medications kick in. Prior to this, I did occasionally have pain, but it was not chronic and it was not unbearable – unpleasant yes, unbearable, no.
And then it was unbearable and I again returned to my doctor’s office looking for his “expert” advice – wanting him to somehow find something to make it better. He wanted me to “explain” the pain. When it is chronic AND it is an “all over” thing – then putting it into words seems an impossible and completely irrelevant task. My nerves and neurons are running around fucking up messages and memos willy-nilly and making me think I am in pain, when from the outside, physically, there isn’t anything wrong with me. There doesn’t appear to be a reason for the pain. But that doesn’t mean that what I feel isn’t real because I can assure you – it is real, and painful as shit. I became tied to the pain, and I couldn’t seperate it from anything else I was feeling. It was always there and as time went on, it got worse and worse. I believe I finally just said to my doctor
“It just fucking hurts…ALL OVER – ALL of THE TIME!!!”
So began the quest to cease the pain or at least squelch it a bit. I began drinking – not in some desperate attempt to drown out the pain but I discovered that a drink (a cocktail, a beer or a glass of wine – my body wasn’t picky about what type of alcohol) would bring my pain level down for a 10 to a manageable 7. I made regular visits to my doctor’s office and tried numerous different prescriptions – always hoping that the next thing would be the one that would finally stop the incessant voices screaming about the pain. Nothing worked. Some of the medications would start out helping significantly, but it was always just a matter of time before the voices would start screaming in pain again and I would be back to simply trying to survive each and every day.
Then there was a discussion of putting a pain pump in my hip, and THAT didn’t sound like a good idea to me. It was this conversation that is what finally set the bells off in my head and made me think “maybe all of this isn’t working.” It was the first time the ten years since receiving my diagnosis that I thought “this isn’t going the way it should.” Maybe for whatever reason, my body really doesn’t want all this shit being put into it? Maybe it has all be too much? For the past 10 years, I have put anything and everything into my body that was suggested by my doctors and yet, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself. I saw the fat, full of shit, blog that I had become and I realized I had had enough!
“I needed to change something, anything, to try and re-route my course because the path I was headed down was dark, lonely, depressing and pathetic and I didn’t want to be any of those things. I didn’t know how much of what I was feeling, both mentally and physically, was because of the disease and how much of it was from the drugs and medications and their side-effects, but I finally realized it was time to find out.”
I spent 3 months weening myself off of all of the medications I had been on. I then spent approximately 2 months living with no drugs. I determined that none of the pain medications had been doing anything by the end. I was in mind-numbing amounts of pain, but it was no different than it had been in the months prior to coming off all the medications.
Once I was “clean” of all of the prescription drugs, I made my first ever visit to a local dispensary (aka Pot Shop.) I had smoked pot once or twice before in my life – and although I wouldn’t say I had super negative experiences, it wasn’t something I have ever been interested in. Truthfully I bought into the whole “illegal for a reason” thing – I most definitely had negative connotations towards marijuana. I didn’t really know why it was illegal, nor did I particularly care that it wasn’t legal, because it wasn’t something that I wanted, or needed in my life.
Until now, because what I have learned over the past 18 months has blown my mind and left me completely baffled and dumbfounded (ok, really more like really fucking pissed off) that this PLANT has been withheld from people with medical needs, because without a doubt – it has amazing medicinal properties and is 100% a legitimate medicine.
I am LIVING PROOF of that!!!!!
I didn’t become some pot-head stoner. I’m not just saying that cannabis helps so that I can get high every day (which would at least help pass the time with the pain) BUT that isn’t the case. It helps immensely with the pain and I am actually getting my LIFE back thanks to cannabis. In the past 18 months, since going off of all the prescription medications and using cannabis as my medicine, I have lost 20 lbs, I am back to exercising EVERY day, I quit smoking after 30 years AND I am happy to announce I am no longer full of shit – I have become a world-class shitter!
ALL of that in 18 months and all of that while not taking any of the drugs that the doctors had recommended and only using small amounts of cannabis (micro-dosing.)
I am NOT anti-doctor, I believe that most (many) have their patients best interest at heart but what I have come to understand is that they too have fallen into the “devil’s weed” conspiracy. They too were raised in a time, by a society that made us believe that it is inherently BAD for us. The fact that the federal government still classifies it as a schedule one drug makes NO sense. A class one drug “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Yet here I am attesting to the many ways that it has helped me – MEDICALLY. The government claims that a lack of research and testing makes it hard to determine whether or not cannabis has true medical benefits but I am here to say…
“I’ve done the research, and I have done the testing, using myself as the lab rat. My results are conclusive – cannabis is, in fact, a legitimate and valuable medicine!!!”
So – as a 47 year old, disabled, divorced, soon to be married mother of three “almost grown-up” children that is actually getting my life back on track thanks to cannabis – I would like to tell the world that cannabis is NOT the bad thing that we have been made to believe it is. It is not the devil’s weed and it does not destroy lives. It has allowed me to live my life again, and for that, I am forever grateful. I intend to do all that I can to share my story and try and help others overcome the stigma and stereotypes and to try and make sure that everyone with a medical need has access to at least try it. It is not a cure-all and it may not be for everyone, but I strongly believe that everyone should have access to this plant that has so many natural healing properties.
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**This is my personal blog and all opinions are my own. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one here on my blog. The content here is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. Be sure to contact your doctor before trying any new medications/vitamins/supplements, physical activities or therapies **