I am a marijuana user, but I am not a stoner or a pot head or any of the other insults that are thrown our way.

I have a legitimate medical condition (Chiari Malformation, leading to brain surgery) that leaves me with constant debilitating headaches and nausea.  It is to the point right now that I cannot work, according to my neurologist and he predicts my disability to last one year.

When I was diagnosed with the Chiari I was in so much pain I was immediately put on narcotic pain medications and benzodiazepines for muscle relaxation and pain.

After surgery I went home on Morphine, Oxycodone and Valium.  I depended on those medications to heal and also to keep my pain at bay.

I had surgery in February of 2013 and was almost headache free for five months. 

Then they came back.

With a vengeance. 

I had been off the painkillers for three months when I went back on them because I couldn’t work in pain.

I was also doing physical and speech therapy at the time.  I

The therapies were helping but I was still blinded by the pain.  I was trying to work full time, raise a child and heal from effing brain surgery.

I saw a doctor one time in December because I needed an emergency appointment.  He decided that he didn’t agree with the long term use and immediately said I was going to stop them.

So I did and I spent the month of December in withdrawal, including Christmas but I knew it was the right thing.  The headaches subsided for a little while and then I got hit with another flare that started in February and it’s been non stop pain.  First we threw every medication that we could think of at it to at least make me comfortable. 

Then my neurologist figured that the headaches were being caused by too much medication.  So we stopped everything.  Which had me in sheer agony for two months, and I’ve had brain surgery so agony is no secret to me.

Because of the Chiari and the degenerative disc disease I have permanent nerve damage on my right side, I have no gag reflex, I have constant nerve pain running down both of my legs and the headaches I am left with are better, but still leave me debilitated.

My primary care doctor and I stated to discuss marijuana, medical of course as a treatment option.  I have known of and believed in it’s benefits for years.  We discussed how beneficial it would be for my pain and health issues but we also discussed the negative side which is simply – I have an addiction history, is this smart?

But when I think about all the other medications I have been on.  Morphine daily, Oxycodone, Percocet, Valium and Ativan I can’t help but think that pot is better, safer and cleaner than any of those medications.

Marijuana use medically is so stigmatized because it’s a medication that makes you feel good.  But so do opiate pain medications.  I also realize we are in a pain pill crisis with more people, esp young kids abusing them.

I also know the recreational pot scene, pot is now 100% legal in Colorado.  I suppose you can say there are the stereotypical stoners who sit on the couch all day, eating anything covered in cheese and saying stupid shit (think “Dude where’s my car)

That’s not my scene.  I went to a doctor and explained my condition and pain to him.  He knew of Chiari which helped because not many people do.  I was approved for my card which means I can have a certain amount of marijuana on my person and if I chose to grow I can have a certain number of plants.

When I go to the dispensary it’s heavily regulated and monitored.  My ID and registry card are scanned and I go behind a locked door.  It’s safer and more regulated than alcohol.

Which brings me to my next point.

I have seen the dangerous (several) affects of alcohol.  What it does to families, people and the community when a drunk person kills someone.

Marijuana doesn’t have those problems.  You still cannot drive while high, a driving under the influence of drugs charge gets the same consequences as a DUI.

Opiate pain medication says the same thing, yet it’s widly used and some I would say think of it as a benign medication.  But it’s not.  The body becomes dependant on opiates within weeks.  Tolerance increases but the pain isn’t relieved as well.  That isn’t because the person is taking too much or abusing it.  It’s a natural bodily reaction to an addictive substance.

Nothing like that happens with Marijuana.  I have however seen the effects of someone who smokes all day everyday for years.  It really is like talking to someone who isn’t fully there.  But have a conversation with someone on opiates, short or long term and it’s the same thing.

  However for someone who uses it medically, for specified conditions doesn’t have that reaction. I can actually function when I smoke, which is bare minimum.  I’m able to cook, clean and do the dishes.  Not everything feels so overwhelming I am able to live life.  Without it I would be bedridden most days, rather than 3-4 a month when I smoke.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut

It’s so commonly stigmatized because of the way pot, and the people who smoke it are viewed through the lens of that Cheech and Chong stereotype.  I also believe there are those are morally opposed and truthfully I am not debating whether or not Christians should smoke pot.

I know I don’t smoke it because I want to get high.  I personally prefer low THC high Cannaboids.  With that there is less of a psychogenic effect but the pain relief qualities are there. 

I don’t want to hide behind a secret stoner curtain anymore.  Because I’m not a stoner. 

I have two severely painful medical conditions that leave me debilitated and I have found a medication that works, that doesn’t kill my liver or my stomach. 

I have hope that they pain is going to end one day.  Being able to live my life, move around, start exercising and being able to participate with the people I love.

I suppose I could judge if you want, deuces and toss up my middle finger.  But that isn’t cool.

I hope that more people can start to understand marijuana and it’s amazing benefits.  Like with seizures.  I have a nurse friend whose 3 year old gets the non psychoactive Charlotte’s Web for her seizures.  She went from having more than 20 a day to a few each week.

I hope you won’t throw stones at me.  I am doing the best I can to care for myself and medical marijuana helps me do just that.

As Always,

Bethany

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