Thursday, March 20, 2014

Medical Marijuana and Me

      I am going to give a long background here just so people who do not know me as well understand where I came from.  I just want to ensure people realize I did not start life as a Pink Floyd loving (though I do love Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin) tie die wearing flower child.  I often refer to my life as a kid as being the ideal country boy 80's life.  I may not have engaged in some of the heavier farm labors as some of my classmates did, but make no mistake, I was no novice to shoveling horse crap, pulling weeds, planting, digging, building and fly swatting that comes from good country living.  I was never very good at sports.  Let's face it, I sucked for the most part.  Probably because I did not really engage in the trips to the park to play ball with the guys, the closest paved basketball court was a 2 mile bike ride, and like a lot of kids in my situation, I just expected to be naturally gifted and when I wasn't Steve Alford (80's brown county folks you know I refer to, think he captured every kids imagination back when I played basketball in my home town) I didn't really put forth the effort to get better.  You see even then my head was already up in the clouds.  Dreaming.....
       I was a country nerd, I liked outdoors and light-sabers, Deer and Hobbits.  I found Dungeons and Dragons at a young age thanks to Cindy Kline and her brother, and really there was no hope for me after that.  In high school I was just a guy that blended into the background.  We did not really have a ton of Bullies to contend with in our school and luckily I was big enough from outside chores that most of the guys who would have picked a fight generally left me alone for whatever reason.  Life now that I look at it was pretty decent.  I had my little clique of friends, a nice girlfriend who was just goofy and good natured enough to keep up with me, and I was a member of the band, which looking back on it, was probably not the best choice for wanting to move up the social ladder.  But somehow through it all, I came out unscathed.
       I would never call myself a goody two shoes, however, I never drank, smoked or tried any drugs in high school and in fact was 20 years old before I had smoked my first cigarette and drank my first beer even though I had enlisted at barely 18.  Life was dramatically different for me once I joined the military.  There it became REALLY apparent that I was what culture lovingly referred to as a square.  I lost out on several dates because either A) I was way too naive to understand I was being hit on or B) I was just way too passive.  Sure like most of the "nice guys" (yes I will label myself with that term) I often put myself in the friend zone right away with the opposite sex.
      What I am leading up to is, I was not nor have I ever been the super rebellious party animal.  I drank quite a bit for a few years in the military more to fit in then any desire to get drunk.   Still I followed several rules such as if alcohol touches the lips, the keys never leave the hips, don't go out places drinking unless your gonna stay etc etc.  I still managed to have a few close calls with stupid mistakes due to drinking, but by the grace of god I never did anything too rotten or hurt anyone to include myself (although there was the one broken ankle during wrestling with my roommate)  So ya I am not exactly the raging man of danger that I read about, the party animal like some of my friends.  In fact, with the exception of smoking, By age 24 most of my stupid mistakes were behind me in terms of partying.  As far as drugs went. especially marijuana, there was no way I would touch that stuff, I mean c'mon it makes you stupid and you can't have babies right?? Plus you touch marijuana next you will be hitting heroin or cocaine.  Nancy Reagan told me to say no and there must have been a darn good reason.  We will get into some of what the REAL reason was behind that drug campaign in another blog, but for now lets just go with the fact that I believed the hype.
       Several years later, at the age of 35, I became a marijuana user.  I nervously took the little edible named innocuously "Chewies" and without regard to the indications on the package (use half) thought its so tiny, no biggie and popped it into my mouth.  Ya,probably not the best decision I ever made.  After an hour my neuropathy was still raging on, no relief.  All I felt was this burning in my eyes. 4 hours later when my wife came in our bedroom to change her clothes for grabbing the kids from school I was still staring at the ceiling fan.  I hid in the bedroom embarrassed as I realized holy crap I am "baked"  In my head I was picturing devil horns sprouting from my head and the abyss of hell opening up under my feet.  What was I doing.  NANCY WOULD BE MAD.  Then I realized I was standing.  Standing without pain, the usual stiffness I had endured was lessened so much I barely noticed it.  I also realized I had gone 4 whole hours without a single ice pick headache as MSers are prone to get.  If you do not understand what a ice pick is, think the worst migraine pain you have ever felt added with a burning knife component shooting from the top of your head into your jaw.  The first time I had one I thought I was having a heart attack.  They can be so sharp and painful you can almost lose bladder control if they come unexpectedly.  They do not last long and up until this point, NOTHING I had taken had done anything about them really. Motrin, Tylenol, heck even Vicodin I had left over from a surgery did nothing to diminish them.
      Over the course of the next few months I began to experiment with different routes of ingesting it, Finally settling on using a vaporizer to inhale it without the harmful carcinogens associated with smoking it.  One thing that holds true, Marijuana reeks.  There is no way around it.  I have children as well.  I had to consider how I was going to responsibly use this in such a way that was transparent for them, but still allowing me to counter the effects of MS has it progressed.  Bare in mind up until this point, the doctors at the VA had tried to get me to use Oxymorphone, a form of Percodan or something like that.  Anything other then Marijuana which was federally illegal (though I was legal within the confines of Colorado before I ever used my first edible, having a doctor outside the VA write a prescription for it)  I was offered to try different opiates.  However, My own studies had shown opiates by and large did nothing to really help with the issues at hand with MS, just mask it, and often times led to much larger problems down the road.  So despite the VA's dislike of it, I opted to take my pain management into my own hands.  
         So now almost 4 years later, I go out to my garage in the evening time, once everything is done and there is no need for me to drive anywhere.  I use my vaporizer, and a few hours later I am snoozing like a baby most nights (a vast improvement over the years of pain ridden sleeplessness I had endured)  I have managed to stay upright mostly, and my spasms and tremors while painful during the day are still better tolerated.  See what most people do not realize is, there are many components to Marijuana that are quite amazing.  Finally we are starting to see modern medicine take a second look at this plant and they are finding great uses for it.  In Italy they use Cannabis oil to reduce the size of tumors in mice, later in 2013 they used it on human trials and it has had an almost miraculous reduction in tumors.  There are studies now that suggest that it may even be moved to more of a mainline treatment for cancer period.  
          Everyone looks at marijuana for the euphoric effects caused by THC element.  What is often overlooked is the other aspect of CBD.  This little by product of the bud being exposed to sunlight actually addresses directly pain, and spascity.  To such a high degree that CBD is actually being distilled separately now for children with seizures in Europe.  In most cases some of these kids whom lived with micro tremor seizures by the 100's are being reduced to single digit episodes some even going days without one.  For the technical jargon talk here ya go.

Cannabidiol or (CBD) occurs in many strains, at low levels, <1 15="" as="" be="" by="" can="" cannabinoid="" cases="" cbd-rich="" cbd="" dominant="" high="" in="" nbsp="" opular="" rare="" strains="" the="" weight.="">4% CBD) include Sour Tsunami, Harlequin and Cannatonic.
  • It can provide relief for chronic pain due to muscle spasticity, convulsions and
    inflammation.  Offering relief for patients with MS, Fibromyalgia and Epilepsy.
  • Some researchers feel it provides effective relief from anxiety-related disorders.
  • CBD has also been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth when injected into breast and brain tumors in combination with THC.
      Now here is where things get sticky.  This will come as no surprise to some.  There are a lot of people who use medical marijuana as an excuse to get high.  They really could care less about the pain relieving/medical uses and instead want the highest THC producing element they can get because high CBD strains do not get you "high".  As such it is extremely hard even at legitimate medical dispensaries to find high CBD strains.  However to those of us with MS, Cancer, and even Parkinson’s (yes this is a front-line treatment in Sweden and has shown remarkable results)  all it takes is a day of having your life less miserable to see the effects.  You see high CBD infused marijuana can actually allow people to function WITHOUT walking around in a haze.  Under a hybrid known as Skunk Haze B A 42% CBD strain of Marijuana I get almost no buzz, I don't get the munchies and I actually think the worst thing I have ever done  under its influence was clean the garage or plant some stuff outside.  A few sessions in the garage and I sleep through any euphoric effects and wake up the next day able to get around pretty well.  
      This is not a cure all mind you.  It does not 100% alleviate the pain or tremors.  But it does take them down by such a great extent, and its effects will continue for the better part of 24 hours.  That is right, 10 minutes or so out in my garage twice a night is the average and with very few exceptions, I have no need to revisit.  Nor do I.  Only on the worst days does my wife see me going out there to take a treatment as I call it during daytime.  I think I can still count on one hand the number of times that has happened.  I used Marijuana to treat my pain post op refusing pain meds for a hernia repair and when I had a tooth pulled out.  My jaw was broken from a fall last summer and I had very little idea until it had reached the point of effecting my tooth.  It does not make you numb.  Not only that, But I have been able to halve my dose of baclofen, get off my blood pressure med (my blood pressure was up due to constant pain) reduce my insulin use and reduce my fatigue medication because most of the time I actually get great sleep.  
      This is becoming a hot topic.  I think many of us sense that within our lifetime Marijuana will be legalized on a federal level.  As people wake up and realize most of Big Pharms claims were as fictitious as some of the books on my bookshelves, I pray they will also keep close watch on how it is brought to the market.  Do not let the Marlboro's and Pfizer's of the world get in there and corrupt something that could do a lot of good.  If you see your state moving towards legalization make sure that the medical side of it is at the forefront.  Get involved.  Do not let the good time this plant can be provide cloud over the extremely positive effects it can have if it is raised in the right circumstances.  My biggest problem now is calling around to the 14 dispensaries in my area to find just one that actually carries "medical" Marijuana.  It does make me mad when I walk in and its a bunch of 20 somethings without a care in the world there for a good time, and I get scoffed at for asking which bud has the highest CBD content.  
       So there is my take on my reasons for using medical marijuana.  I really do see a lot of hope for it but I just pray humanities nature to take something good and squeeze it for all its worth does not ruin what could be a healthy positive alternative to a lot of the heavy opiate problems we have here.  My biggest concern was addiction, however, thus far I have gone weeks during good periods without even having the slightest urge to go out there.  I think the only gateway Marijuana has led me to was the gateway of realizing I needed less snacky foods around to help with self control urges.  I really don't feel bad about a late night munchie session of grapes or apple slices.  It is all about responsible use.  Looks like all the stoners I scoffed at in high school really were on to something after all.

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