My Relationship with Medical Cannabis
My purpose in writing this is to share my experience and relationship with cannabis as an MS suffer. I am "coming out of the closet".
I am 59, a mother, wife and a respected business woman. I do not indulge in illegal drugs. I am not a thrill seeker and don't live on the edge. Living with MS has been the closest I have ever come to living on the edge.
So how did I ever come in contact with cannabis? In 2004, MS reared it's most ugly head and it forced me to look for alternative pain relief solutions. I had been prescribed a number of different traditional drugs for the painful spasms of MS but these drugs were not effective and produced some uncomfortable side effects. Around this time, Canada's laws changed and cannabis became legal for medical purposes. My husband went through the lengthy licensing process for me and found a doctor that would recommend me for a medical Cannabis license that would allow me to use and to grow Cannabis for personal medical use.
When I started using cannabis, I was really surprised by how quickly the drug relieved my pain. Nothing that I had been taking (Baclofen, Trazadone, Amantadine, Percocet , OxyContin, Tylenol 3) was as effective as cannabis. These drugs had been creating side effects such as stomach problems, kidney problems, dizziness, lack of coordination, disorientation, depression. The drug doses kept being increased in order to keep up with the the severity of the spasms and pain. Cannabis on the other hand relieved the spasms immediately and I could sleep through the night. There were none of the morning side effects that I had experienced with other drugs.
I only use cannabis when I really need it and only when I am at home. For example, when I find it hard to get dressed in the morning because of the stiffness in my body or when my legs feel heavy like cement, cannabis is what makes it possible to walk with more ease and less pain. I also use it in the evening before bed so that I can sleep through the night or when I wake up in the middle of the night with painful spasms.
A few months ago, I had excruciating pain around my torso and specifically around my left side. It was so bad that I ended up in the emergency room because I could not walk and could barely move my body. I had all sorts of tests to determine if I had liver or kidney problems. No liver, kidney or any other internal problems were found. The pain and spasms were a result of MS. I was given Percocet to relieve the pain. I tried this drug but I couldn't function. The spasms and pains continued in spite of the Percocet. What I did do was reach for the cannabis. I smoked cannabis on and off for 2 days. The pain and spasms subsided to the point that I could walk go back to work. Nothing else that I had tried relieved this kind of pain.
Cannabis is not a cure for MS. It is not effective for all MS symptoms but it does do a better job of relieving the neuropathic pain of MS than other pain medications that I have used. I have not become addicted and it hasn't affected my lungs, kidneys or liver. Not everyone can tolerate smoking cannabis. However, there are other ways that cannabis can be used that don't have any psychotropic effects.
There is a lot of information on the internet about the pros and cons of the medical use of cannabis. Much of the information supports the benefits of using it for medical purposes. However, there is a lot of fear mongering from medical and government sources that associate it with criminal activities. Consequently, medical cannabis is still not a completely accessible and accepted option for chronic neuropathic pain relief. I can get on my soap box about how the fear comes from a loss of dollars for the drug companies, the criminal enforcement system and the fear about it being a gateway drug but I won't. I will leave that for the advocate groups and the politicians to sort out. I am optimistic that the laws will change in more US states and become more relaxed in Canada. I am also hopefully optimistic that the medical professionals will become comfortable in prescribing cannabis to those who need it medically.
Who else out there in the MS world has had experience with cannabis? Is anyone willing to share their experience, thoughts and opinions about the medical use of cannabis for MS?
Here are some articles and sites that may be of interest and will help you form your own opinions about using cannabis for medical purposes:
- MS-UK Cannabis research
- New Study: CBD Cannabinoids
- Cannabis Compounds Could Help MS Symptoms
- ScienceDaily: Marijuana News
- Chemicals in marijuana 'protect nervous system' against MS
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?