As a disabled man who suffers from severe chronic pain, depression and anxiety, I am in an unusual position, because traditional pharmaceutical prescriptions normally given to treat these issues do not work for me. Because I am paralyzed from the waist down, I live with liver and kidney dysfunction, which makes it difficult to properly metabolize the various additives, fillers and preservatives that are currently contained in the available batch of prescription legal drugs one is normally given by a doctor.
In my pursuit to find alternative methods of managing my chronic pain and anxiety, I began to see more and more references to the use of marijuana as an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals.
Having mentioned this to my therapist, talked to numerous doctors from my GP to my psychiatrist, they ALL said that marijuana was something I should explore.
So, going against the establishment, I attained my first doses of the drug, and lo and behold, within minutes…yes, minutes of ingesting the marijuana, I found nearly miraculous relief.
Because marijuana is not legal in Ohio, however, I am in a position where it is risky to dangerous to be caught smoking. So, for the time being, I have decided to simply use other techniques such as guided imagery, breath control, and meditation to control my pain (and the OCCASIONAL aspirin). But, more importantly, I know now that when the time comes…and I know it will…that my use of mental and emotional control of my issues will not be effective, I will be able to turn to a truly effective medication that will help me live my life to the fullest ability.
I’d like to add one point that is not often discussed in the medical marijuana debate. The fact that, for many of us, the potential for medical marijuana could very well be a life saver.
You see, I am, and have been suicidal all of my life. Between the depression and anxiety that I’ve felt since childhood, having had my first panic attack at 15, and having attempted suicide at least twice, I find now that I have come to find a peace of mind in the idea that there really ARE fates worse than death. Although I do not fight the suicidal feelings every day, there are still days when I do fight with the fact that I suffer from chronic pain on a constant basis.
It all started in the early 80’s. 1983 I believe. My memory isn’t as vivid about the experience as it should be, but this is a relative approximation of what I went through to get me to where I am today.
A relatively new surgery had been developed and was being tested to manage some of the issues relating to scoliosis, which is a side affliction that goes hand in hand with SpinaBifida, which I was born with. So, in the summer of ’82, at the mere age of 9, I was designated as a candidate for a spinal fusion.
The surgery went fine. Or so we thought. I was recovering, but not as quickly as had hoped. About 3 weeks into my recovery, still in the hospital and not nearly as well as the doctors were expecting, I was put under a battery of tests, blood tests, bone scans, and general prodding and probing of every area of my body the doctors could think of. About a week later, my parents and I were told that I had developed a severe case of osteomyolitus, a deep seeded pocket of infection in my spine. Needless to say, this caused immediate panic, and the rods and screws that had been drilled into my spine were removed. This left large 1/4 inch holes running up and down both sides of my vertebrae.
Jump to about 2 years ago, and I woke up one morning with a chronic back ache. It just would not go away. It felt as if I had been beamed in the back with a 100MPH Major league baseball fast ball. I began a regimen of aspirin, and nearly constant bed rest. But, the pain remained. Eventually, after having gone to see numerous doctors and undergone more medical tests, it was determined that I had somehow fractured my spine, and developed a pseudarthrosis.
So, upon learning this, my family and I went on a journey to discover how this could be resolved. Because of the previous spinal fusion and remaining holes in the vertebrae, I was told by the best doctors in the country that more surgery would only exacerbate the problem, and I was better off just going on long term narcotics. So, after consulting with family and friends, I went to see a pain management specialist, who immediately put me on a regimen of low grade narcotics.
They did nothing. So, I was put on something stronger. Again, nothing.
A few weeks later, the doctor recommended me trying a device called a Tens Unit, which sends electrical shock waves through the skin and muscle intended to deaden or confuse the nerves where the pain is felt.
Two treatments of that, and again, nothing.
So, after the Tens Unit, we went back to trying a stronger narcotic. It did work. In so much as it put me to sleep and made me sleep 12 hours at a time. Not exactly sufficient for someone trying to live an active life still.
After talking to the pain management specialist, I had mentioned that I had heard medical marijuana was effective. Of course, we live in Ohio, where medical marijuana is not available, so I was on my own. I could not discuss my experimentation with my doctor, or anyone for fear that I would be arrested, and the doctor disbarred.
But, nonetheless, I did find a supplier, and did try the drug. And, it worked wonders. It even helped reduce my anxiety and depression as well as nearly eliminate the pain. And, as I came to regain my senses that had been clouded in a fog of pain and narcotics, I realized just how close I was to being suicidal again. But this time, it wasn’t because I was depressed or suffering from anxiety. It was because I realized that the pain is stronger than my will power, and as much as I try to use mental and emotional control to ease the pain, there WILL come a day when the pain is too great to be managed even by medical marijuana, and I will take my control of my own life into my own hands.
So, I know from first hand experience that, if I am depressed and suicidal from my fight with chronic pain, there are others out there who are facing the same challenges, and those people may not have the same support network that I do, so I can imagine that they would consider taking their own life, rather than endure the pain and agony of living with chronic pain that could be resolved with medical marijuana.