By Ellen Lenox Smith.
In 2007, when my pain doctor suggested that I try cannabis for pain relief, I thought that he was nuts. I had never considered utilizing cannabis as a legitimate medical treatment for my condition, for having experimented once with cannabis in college as a recreational drug, my experience with cannabis was not enjoyable and perhaps a bit frightening. As a result of this experience, the notion never crossed my mind that cannabis might possibly prove effective as an treatment for any of the symptoms of my medical conditions. Like so many in society, my perceptions of cannabis were all framed by the use of cannabis as an illegal recreational drug.
I consider myself to be so fortunate and grateful to those who have pioneered and promoted the legitimate medical properties of this medication. I was trying to cope with the progression of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue defect, along with sarcoidosis. However, all that changed when I gained the confidence to secure some dry product. I converted the dry cannabis into an oil to take at night, and suddenly found this to be my miracle, allowing for restorative rest and a sense of emotional and physical tranquility which also allowed for reduction of other medications. My experience with medical cannabis has proven to be life altering. I still experience unpleasant physical symptoms but cannabis has enhanced the quality of my life immeasurably. I promote the medical use of cannabis as I am convinced that as I write these words, patients are suffering unnecessarily due to fear of cannabis or lack of access to the medication. My experience converted me to an active proponent of the medical efficacy of cannabis. That is why I felt I had to speak out in hopes that maybe other long suffering patients may find encouragement from my words and try seeking relief from any number of conditions which cannabis has found to be effective in treating.
However, every time I write any article about cannabis, I get a response or two about how I need to stop “pushing this on others”. I am sorry some see this as being my platform to do that. I, instead, see this as a responsibility to my fellow man to share my truth of what this plant has unexpectedly done to give me some quality of life back in ways I thought were gone for good. I sleep and am alive due to using cannabis. So, why would I not want to share what I learned after being so suspicious about using it, in case someone else out there suffering, would also benefit?
So what is it about my use of cannabis that wants me to continue to speak out?
- I now sleep with a simple tsp of oil taken at night mixed with a little food. Before that, I would be awake most of the night. I believe that irregardless of any patient’s condition, healthy restorative sleep may, as in my case, prove to be the most critical element in any effective treatment plan. Without a decent night’s sleep, our capacity to cope well the next day and feel positive about life, diminishes exponentially. Prior to my embracing cannabis as my medication of choice, there was nothing that was giving me relief nor support my body to rest in a healthy and natural manner.
- I used this socially once in college and hated the feeling after sharing a joint with some friends. I spent that rest of the afternoon in bed feeling like I was going in and out of sodium pentathol. Yet I discovered that if you have a body of pain one’s is not the same as a recreational user. Those using it for pain relief get just that, unless they take a dose too excessive for their body.
- Society has taught us that cannabis is a schedule one dangerous drug. This is the reason I laughed at my pain doctor initially! To think he was sending me home to try some cannabis that I had been taught is bad for me. Yet, I had enough respect for this doctor to listen and try it, despite the huge red flags in my mind. Added to his decision was the fact that I was so exhausted from not sleeping and trying to cope with daily pain. Thank goodness I caved in and tried it for I now realize, Society got this information wrong! Although this may not be your match, there are others out there, like me, that could be gaining.
- It breaks my heart to see others suffering. When you have a treatment which might offer some relief, I believe sharing is worth the exposure and judgement. If just one person can gain from something I discovered to work for me, then I feel the exposure and sometimes judgement is worth the efforts, thus I advocate for its use.
- So many with health issues are suddenly confronted with numerous medications to take. Unfortunately, they also find that there can be side effects to have to cope with. Cannabis can possibly help to reduce the need, in time, for some of these medications, if not even eliminate them, depending on what is being taken. If there is a chance of reducing your medications and their side effects, then sharing about using cannabis is worth it!
- Maybe, just maybe, this can be something for you to consider trying to help with your medical issues. If your medication is working, then enjoy what you have found and may society continue to let you have access to your magic. But if you are still searching for your answer for relief, you might want to consider this option.
So, yes, I will continue to work on educating about the changes of my life turning to cannabis, despite my initial hesitancy of trying it myself. If at the age of now sixty-eight, I was so concerned to try this, I know there are many, like me, out there. Please remember, I am not pushing cannabis on anyone but instead sharing how this has changed my life for the good and only wish that others could also benefit with its use.
May you live in a state that allows this choice and have the courage to give it a try and that you, too, might find a calmer life from the pain you are trying to cope with, minus those side effects.
May life be kind to you,
Ellen Lenox Smith
Interested in how to make the oil? Feel free to contact me at https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/contact-us/ and I will send the directions to you.
Ellen Lenox Smith is an activist for the expansion of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain and is also a Board Member of the US Pain Foundation. Her opinions are her own and don’t necessarily reflect US Pain Foundation or other organizations she works with.