It’s been just over seven months since I first stepped into a local cannabis shop (The Evergreen Market) and I started trying different cannabis products to find relief from the chronic pain that had hijacked my life and left me just simply trying to survive each day. Although I had been given an MMJ prescription a few years back and then Washington state legalized recreational marijuana I had put off trying it for a long time. The reasons for that are multi-faceted – blended between the few limited times I had tried pot in my past and not liking the paranoid thoughts I had, to societal stereotypes of “stoners” and not wanting to be judged by others, and a large fear of feeling embarrassed about my lack of knowledge. But the biggest one for me was a fear of it not working – because I felt like it might be my last option to try burst out of the bubble the pain built around my life.
I know that not everyone is as fortunate to have access to cannabis and the more I learn and experience the more that I think that is complete and utter bullshit but what I wish I could share with anyone that does have access that might be experiencing some of the same reservations is – I was so wrong. The whole process – of going into the store, meeting their folks, trying different strains and products, learning more and even finding acceptance from family and friends has been simply amazing! Of course, in hindsight, it is easy to wonder what the hell took me so long. But irrelevant of how long it took, what I have experienced since starting out on my “MMJ Adventure” has been amazing.
Physically/medically what has cannabis done for me?
I set out to find relief from the pain and through trial and error, I am happy to say that I have most definitely found that! It doesn’t always work. Some days it works better than others and external factors (stress, heat, poor sleep) certainly play a role in how my day is going to pan out but consistently, using cannabis has helped me keep the pain at bay.
I know that there are many other chronic illness folks out there that use cannabis to relieve other symptoms but as I have shared, for me many of the MS symptoms that I have had in the past (that seemed to have subsided as my pain grew) have returned in full force. Numb and heavy feet, tingling, muscle spasticity, fatigue, and the good old MS hug to name a few. I realize that announcing that I am ok with again feeling all these things might sound like I am off my rocker. After all, who the hell would want to feel any of that?
At the moment, I am maybe not enjoying but at least appreciating that I can feel these things. That my mind is no longer so wrapped up in the pain, consumed with just trying to make it through another day that it has time to remember that there is more to my body than just the pain. So muscle spasms running up my leg, realizing I have overdone it and need to sit and rest for a bit, and even my dreaded “dead feet syndrome” are welcome visitors for the time being. I can’t promise that I wouldn’ be back here in a few months time bitching about them (and more) but right now, right here, I am thankful that I can feel something other than the pain.
Other positives that I have noticed:
I am sleeping much better using strains that I have found for what I call my “nite nite” puffs (Bubba Kush, Grape Ape, Afghani Hash and Zensation are my favorites.) It takes me much less time to drift off to sleep, I seem to be sleeping more soundly and wake feeling rested and ready to go.
The constipation that I have been battling with over the past few years seems to be less and less of an issue. I am not yet back to what I would call “regular” but I am a hell of a lot closer than I have been in a long time – even though I have tried just about every food, probiotic, laxative, and fiber product out there in the past.
I have mentioned that I put on a big chunk of weight (25 + lbs) in the first 8-10 weeks of one of the pain medications prescribed by my doctor (Amitriptyline) . Although I have been completely off of it for almost 9 months, the weight has been sticking around, until recently. I have shed about 10 lbs, and it feels like my body and digestive system has finally kicked back in and is figuring out how to function properly again.
I have begun exercising again. Not nearly as much as I want/need to, but it’s a big step. I have been physically active and fit my entire life. It has always been a part of who I am. When the pain took over, and everything hurt, every part of my body screamed out constantly, irrelevant of activity or not. I gave in, succumbed to the pain and the bubble I was trapped in. I stopped going to the gym, going for long walks or doing anything that would have kept my body in shape, or maybe helped with warding off the stupid weight. Now that I am feeling things besides the pain, I am aware of my body wanting to move, to stretch, to work again and that is another amazing feeling. It’s almost as if my body has been scrunched up in the pain bubble, curled up and cramped, trying to stay as still as possible so as to not disturb the pain monster and make it worse. Now that cannabis has popped the bubble it is as if my body is slowly uncurling, coming out of a cocoon.
Mentally/emotionally what has cannabis done for me?
What I have learned since starting to use cannabis is just how much of a toll the pain took upon me mentally and emotionally. I had this blog. I had gone out and in a most public way, told the world that I was good, and strong and that MS couldn’t beat me. And I did everything to keep that facade up, to go through the motions and act like I was happy and ok. It wasn’t until I began using marijuana and finding relief from the constant pain that I began to see and understand just how bad it had gotten, how far I had slipped, away from the world, from thinking and feeling anything more than the bare minimum to survive, constantly trying to hide from the pain.
These days I wake up, ever appreciative of the manageable levels of pain and discomfort. I am excited to climb out of bed and start the day. But beyond that, I am now excited about things outside of the small little space that the bubble had confined me too. I look forward to getting out, meeting others, connecting with people, doing things. My view of what is possible, what I think I can accomplish has been restored and I am day by day feeling more and more clear headed and remembering what it is like to be a functioning and participating member of society. I am remembering what it is like to be me and I am loving every minute of it.
I have been writing more, I have found a few paying gigs and even won a few awards for the blog recently. But beyond that, I am feeling so much better, that I decided it was time to dust off the old resume (well actually write one since it has been years since the last one) and begin thinking about getting back to work. The more I learn about cannabis and the more I see the direction the industry is headed the more excited I get. This is something that I can stand behind, that I can be passionate about. I wrote something in my objective statement that has stuck with me.
“Although I have been writing and sharing about my life with MS for the past four years, I don’t really have a passion for the topic. It is really hard to feel passion for a disease I didn’t choose to get. I’ve accepted it and will continue to make adjustments and adaptations to keep plugging forward. But now I have found something that I did get to choose (trying cannabis) and I most definitely have a passion for it! Because it is working, it is helping me find a better quality of life! If my voice, my story, my sharing, can help even one other person then I have my reason to be passionate about cannabis. I am excited about the future and what new directions my life might take!”
**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 **