By Ed Coghlan.
There are literally millions of stories about chronic pain—one for each person who has to battle chronic pain.
In suburban Chicago later this month, you are going to hear the journey of a one woman injured in her youth who went to hell and back as an adult and thinks using cannabis has changed her life.
Her name is Rebecca Sewell.
In 1993, as a ten-year-old, she unknowingly participated in a magic trick where some handcuffs were placed on her ankle.
What happened was anything but magical.
She was injured and her parents couldn’t get it diagnosed. It was Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) as it turns out, but after months of therapy it went into remission.
For Rebecca, life continued and actually went very well.
She moved to New York, went to Fashion School and began to craft a career on the finance side of fashion. She was doing well.
Then in 2006, she suffered a lower extremity stress fracture that the doctors put it into a cast.
The pain she remembered as a ten-year-old came roaring back.
“I tried a lot of different things, including spinal and ganglion blocks, but they didn’t help much,” she said.
She kept working and was advancing as a Control Analyst at Ross Stores.
But the pain persisted, and in November 2007, she went on short term disability and moved in with her mom in Florida. The pain became so intense that she actually need a walker in order to get around.
The short-term disability became longer as the pain persisted. She tried spinal cord stimulation in 2008, ketamine drip and a morphine pump.
Things didn’t get much better.
She and her mom moved back to their native South Dakota, and by this time Rebecca was confined to a hospital bed.
“I was determined to live on my own again,” she said. “I just wasn’t sure how.”
Then 2012 happened.
“It wasn’t my year,” she said.
Among the maladies that Rebecca was battling that year were CRPS, fibromyalgia, depression, insomnia, and diabetes.
“I was taking twelve different medications including a continuous morphine drip. I just about hit bottom,” she said.
She and her mother moved to Sacramento California. Rebecca was wheelchair bound. Things were not looking up.
“I knew Rebecca when she was in that wheelchair. I knew her when her body was failing her, and so were her doctors,” said Gracie Bagosy-Young.
In 2014, she began using cannabis recreationally.
“It helped me relax,” she said.
She spoke with her doctors who were, like many at that time, resistant to the medicinal value of cannabis. They decided to recommend another morphine pump.
In 2014, after eight years of battling the ravages of chronic pain, Rebecca made a decision.
“I wanted to have that morphine pump removed,” she said.
It took her a year to titrate down. During that time, she broadened her use of cannabis and began to experiment, something she recommends for anyone using medical cannabis.
The pump was removed. Even that wasn’t easy. She spent 25 days in intensive care to repair a spinal fluid leak that occurred during the removal. The pain was excruciating.
She credits medical cannabis to help her relax enough in the hospital to deal with the pain.
“In 2016, I stopped the use of most pharmaceuticals, lost 60 pounds and my thyroid and diabetes issues started to recede.”
Rebecca, who has become involved politically in expanding the use of cannabis, still has bouts with her chronic pain. She says she’s not 100% healed but is feeling “way better” physically and emotionally.
“Oh sure, I still get flares,” she said. “But now they are in the 1-to-2 range versus the 9-to-10 I used to experience.”
She used opioids in one fashion or another for nine years and she wishes she hadn’t.
“I know this will irritate many chronic pain sufferers, but opioids don’t alter chronic pain, they mask it,” she said, a message that she plans to share on Sunday April 22 at the Illinois Cannabis Education Expo.
“I witnessed her life transformation with cannabis. The world needs to hear this for themselves!”
That’s how event organizer Gracie Bagosy-Young described her decision to bring Rebecca to Illinois.
You can attend the Expo is person or watch it online. To register, click here.