A Pained Life: Changing Attitudes about Medical Marijuana

A Pained Life: Changing Attitudes about Medical Marijuana

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.

bigstock-The-words-medical-marijuana-su-17121803A 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 Levy

Carol Levy

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.

Carol is the founder of the Facebook support group “Women in Pain Awareness”. Her blog “The Pained Life” can be found here.

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.

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Authored by: Carol Levy, Columnist

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A. Chodola

Have ATN type 2. Tried all the meds from Lyrica , anticonvul, low dose anti D, machine from Israel, tens machine, cayeene papper in mouth,percs, oxy etc- (3 years of torture). None alleviated to any great extent until my better half suggested out of the box thinkig and try MMJ. First time was April 25 and not a pill since then. Yes it is a pain to go aand vapourize 3x’s per day or 2 and some tincture or try some oil capusules is next, but RELIEF and back to almost a normal life. Forgot in the mid 60’s
6 pills less per day


For the record, when I was 21 I was involved in a pedestrian vs. pickup truck accident at 60 mph. I had my left leg and ankle reconstructed.. Had to relearn walking and it took me almost 2 years to get it back but had great pain. I received Vicodin and OxyCotin as well as shots in my back all for pain… I became dependent on oxy and vikes so I could walk and do normal things without that chronic feeling in my leg. I also started smoking pot.. I have noticed 8 years later my pain is minimal and I have not touched any pills in years yet smoke regularly now… As far as pain goes marijuana is safer and healthier to use then any other drug prescribed by a doctor.

A Critic

@Larry – you overdosed. It sounds like you did 5-10+ times more than necessary for someone with no tolerance. You should have cut the cupcake into 10 pieces, eaten 1, waited 2 hours, evaluated, waited a day, eaten 2 pieces if 1 wasn’t enough, repeat.

@Carol Levey

“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.”

Really? Position A) Keep sick and dying people from obtaining the safest and most effective medicine yet discovered or B) Help those people. How hard is it to choose between these options?


I was under pressure from my brother, who uses daily to relieve symptoms of high anxiety and some other issues. I discussed it with my wife and, she was apprehensive. I was very unsure as well. We have 3 young kids and, I wasn’t sure what it would do to me. A year later, he offered me an edible in the form of a cupcake. Desperate to be off of long term medicine and, help quell the pain I’m still in through it, I tried it. For me, that was a huge mistake. I was unable to function for around 18 hours. I have constant background vertigo, related to migraines. I also have tinnitus and some sort of visual snow. All of those shot up to levels I have never even come close to experiencing before.

So, a warning to those wanting to try this alternate treatment. Beware of using it. It may not help you. HOWEVER, I highly suggest you try it once. If you can tolerate it, you will likely be better off in the long term. I just wanted everyone to know that it is not an end all, beat all treatment for some.

I really appreciated your frank and honest assessment. This is exactly how the discussions of these issues should be addressed, from personal experience, research and an honest admission of natural bias. I hope many read this.
JOY Selak