I am nearing my one year anniversary…of my first experience with using cannabis to help with the chronic pain that comes with my MS. As I look back over the past year, and I recall just how intimidated I was at the start of this journey, I’m feeling proud of what I have done and what I have learned. I am grateful for the relief that I have experienced and I am optimistic about how it can continue to help me in the future.
When I think back to how worried I was to try cannabis for my chronic pain, I am constantly hit with a sense of regret. Regret that I had such negative associations towards cannabis. Regret that I was so scared about giving it a shot and regret that it took me so long to try it. After all, I had willingly taken numerous other drugs/medications without batting an eye. Without question, I would take what the doctor prescribed. I sat for hours as they pumped the drugs into my body on infusion days. I took medications that listed things like “rare brain disease,” “thoughts of suicide,” and “rare cases of leukemia,” as potential side effects. I took things that made me dizzy/light headed, constipated, fat and depressed. I took whatever my doctor suggested in a never-ending quest to stop the pain.
Some of the drugs worked. Some did bring the pain levels down…for a while. But as my body got used to the medication, it would build up a tolerance and they would eventually stop working. The pain would return, and begin its domination over my life once again. I would return to my doctor in the hopes of finding something that would allow me to get my life back. Something that would make the pain bearable and allow me to start living again. If there were side-effects, so be it…just so long as the pain quieted down. I was desperate and at times I would think I was willing to try ANYTHING….
YET…I hesitated….I stalled…and I fretted over trying cannabis.
A PLANT that grows from the earth.
(Not something concocted in a lab with unknown substances.)
A few years ago, when the methadone stopped working and the pain began to grow, stronger opioids were suggested. There was even talk of implanting a “pain pump” in my hip, to allow the drugs a more direct route into my body. To think about it now, they were actually considering putting a foreign object INTO my body – intentionally. To agree to a pain pump, up the doses, or move to stronger (and more addictive) drugs didn’t seem like the right decision for my body. I was already struggling to try and keep it together- to manage to do anything but simply survive the daily pain. The thought of taking more medication or stronger drugs knowing that in order to find continued relief I would eventually have to take even more of the drugs was not a path that I wanted to go down. Our country is in the midst of a serious opioid epidemic and I sure as hell didn’t want to be in on that one!
After spending three months weaning myself off of the different drugs and medications it then took me WEEKS to garner up the courage to visit a local dispensary. Every night Shawn would arrive home from work and ask “did you go?” To which I would respond “not yet….” For the life of me, I don’t know why I made it such a big deal. I don’t know why I was so worried about it…any of it…because the whole entire experience has been amazing. I have met super kind and helpful people at my local dispensaries, I have connected with other MMJ (medical marijuana) users, I have learned a shit ton AND I am feeling good!
I honestly don’t know what I was so fearful of. The reality is that with many of the new medications/drugs that have come to the marketplace in recent years, there hasn’t been enough time or research to know what the long-term effects might be. Cannabis has been used in different cultures for thousands of years. Throughout history, it has been known and used for its medicinal properties. Many of the drugs I have taken have only been around for a short period of time (years to maybe decades) so “long-term effects” are unknown. No one has ever died of a cannabis overdose. This can not be said for a number of the drugs I have taken in the past. So I don’t really know what I was afraid of – perhaps just a fear of the unknown?
If I could go back and talk to myself a year ago, the number one thing I would tell myself is “quit being scared/worried/intimidated, it’s so not worth the time or the energy.” All of the “negatives” that I was so concerned about have proven to be just worthless claims by people that don’t accept that it can help with medical ailments. Knowing what I know now, and having experienced first hand the relief I get using cannabis, I no longer worry what others might think and I no longer have any reservations or hesitations. It is helping with the pain and my quality of life has improved greatly over the past 12 months.
As for side-effects with using cannabis? I have lost 20 lbs, I am exercising daily again, I am much more conscious of what I am choosing to eat and I have been more focused on my writing and actually doing something with my life, rather than just trying to exist while slumped on the couch. I have learned to trust cannabis as my medicine and I am excited to continue to share what I have learned and what is working for me!
Between the two plants (sativa and indicia) the hundreds of strains and the many ways to consume cannabis, there really is something for everyone. I’m not suggesting that cannabis is for everyone, or that it will work for everyone, but I strongly believe that everyone should have access to at least TRY it and figure out if it is right for their body, their illness and their life.
Much to my children’s dismay, I think this just may be my calling – to spread the word and try and help others get over the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding this plant and educate people about its legitimate medical benefits. As I meet more and more like-minded people and as I continue to connect with other MSers that want to learn about cannabis and how it can help I find myself getting super excited. If I can help even just one person find relief then I will feel as if I have achieved something. If I can help MORE than just one person – well that would be awesome!
**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 **