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What Happened When I Used Marijuana to Treat Chronic Pain

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Why — at the age of 57 — would one ever consider turning to medical marijuana?

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I wondered the same thing after being sent to a pain doctor just before another surgery in 2006. After reviewing my records and seeing that I was unresponsive to pain medication, the doctor clearly had no idea what to suggest, except trying medical marijuana.

I was born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and later also added sarcoidosis to my life. I was living with chronic pain that was preventing me from sleeping, thinking straight and functioning.

From birth, I had one issue after another reacting to medications. And after 22 surgeries, you can imagine the horror of all I had to endure and the added pain of never knowing the proper relief my body could have from pain medication. Eventually, a DNA drug sensitivity test was ordered and it confirmed I could not metabolize most drugs. This meant no aspirin, Tylenol or any opiates.

I took the advice to try medical marijuana with tremendous trepidation. When I was able to find some marijuana, I ground it up, heated up some olive oil and let it release the medicine into the oil. I had no choice, since I was told by a pulmonologist that smoking marijuana with sarcoidosis in the chest would be fatal. I wanted to try a different way to administer it.

I remember being scared — I am not one that likes to be out of control of my body. Having smoked marijuana once in college, I hated that sensation.

As soon as I took the dose, I went to my husband and warned him that I had taken marijuana and to keep an eye out for me. I was convinced this wasn’t a smart thing to be doing and I would be stoned all night.

One hour later, we got in bed, I closed my eyes and before I knew it, it was morning. I had slept the whole night, never waking up once.

I woke up refreshed, not groggy, and ready to take on life again. I had no “high” or stoned sensation like you would guess would happen. I learned that someone using medical marijuana does not necessarily react the same way to cannabis as someone who uses it for recreational reasons. The brain receptors connect with the THC, CBD and other cannabinoids (the active ingredients in marijuana), and provided me with safe and gentle pain relief.

I was shocked and thrilled with the result. My husband and I quickly got to work setting up a legal way to grow marijuana. I realized that life was directing us to new topic we just had to advocate for.

Through the years, since we are able to grow, I have learned ways to make the right oil that makes it less expensive and more effective for me. Unfortunately, one size does not fit all when it comes to selecting strains. We could have a room of people all with the same condition and would find that not all would benefit from the same strain. So, you have to be patient to find the strain compatible to your needs.

If I was scared to try marijuana, I believed others might feel the same way. I wanted to let them know how it worked for me. Society has brought us up to be negative about marijuana, yet it was used in our country many years ago and even sold in pharmacies. The success of this medication was squashed, and we were all led to believe that it was bad and dangerous.

Are my conditions cured? No, they are both incurable. But I have been able to advocate, think, feel and live again thanks to using medical marijuana.

I speak out because I was very nervous to try this. I had smoked once in college and hated the sensation of being out of control of my body. Society taught us to stay away from marijuana, so I not only felt like I was betraying my values, but also breaking a federal law. However, the result of just a teaspoon of oil quickly turned me into a believer and one that was not able to keep my mouth shut. I had to share that overcoming the stigma and allowing myself relief is, for me, worth it all. I have the raw edge of pain controlled and a life to live again. 

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Originally published: June 17, 2016
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