When I was in my early 20’s, years before the onset of my pain, I was offered a marijuana cigarette. I didn’t want it, but the pressure from my friend was so great I finally took it. I puffed on it once. I did not inhale.
I was not sure what effect it might have on me or how it might make me feel. I was afraid of it.
A few years ago, feeling desperate for anything that might help with the pain, I googled “medical marijuana.”
I found a site in Canada. The only requirement was that you send them a note with the name of your medical disorder. The seeds arrived in the mail and I planted them in the laundry room sink.
They were fast growers; within a week or so I had some beautiful plants.
I wasn’t sure how to use them. I also wasn’t sure I had the nerve. It turned out my worry was for naught.
On my way to check on the plants I walked into my living room. My cat Rooty was running around the room, really, really enjoying herself. That was out of character. As soon as I walked into the laundry room I saw why. All of the plants had been eaten down to the root.
It let me off the hook. I no longer needed to make an active decision about trying “pot” for my pain.
I have been sitting on the sidelines on this issue. Although it has disturbed me that, despite proof of the benefits for those with cancer pain, loss of appetite, HIV and other disorders, medical marijuana has remained illegal in most states. Even when I am asked to sign petitions about making it legal I have not done so, not being sure exactly where I stand on the issue.
But then my self-interest came into play.
I have “phantom pain” of my face (anaesthesia dolorosa). This is a neuropathic disorder. It often defies treatment.
A recent study published in The Journal of Pain about vaporized cannabis significant improving neuropathic pain changed my mind. Although I have not become an active advocate, at least not yet, I follow the debate over medical marijuana much more closely. I am more willing to add my name to the petitions for making it legal.
As chronic pain patients, we are under fire from the DEA. Their rules have made it more and more difficult to get the narcotic medications many of us, including me, need. It has also made it harder for some patients to find doctors willing to prescribe them. That makes it even more important that alternative therapies be found.
Marijuana is one of those therapies.
The study is a small one, only 39 subjects, but the researchers found a significant benefit for those patients who have treatment resistant neuropathy. That would be me.
I know there are many reasons and many people who do not want to see medical marijuana legalized.
However, for me and many others, it could mean the difference between staying disabled and being more able. Dare I hope, maybe even becoming “able.”
Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.” Carol was accredited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where she helped get chronic pain recognized as a disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.