Cannabis, It totally saved my life!
Greetings Steemit Community!
I just wanted to share my story with you about my transition off of Opiate pain meds using Cannabis.
Long ago I was injured while in the military. I injured my spine in a few locations, both neck and lower back. Through the years those injuries became debilitating. In 2009, I needed to have my cervical spine fused. C4-C6 had destroyed discs that were causing neuropathy. I was in incredible pain to say the least.
So before my surgery, I went through the gambit of pain meds with the doctors. Find which would work for this level of pain. The list is as follows:
When they do this, they make you sign a pain contract. This is basically making you a long term customer that will follow their rules. If you do not, they can withhold your medication. At first, you don't think this is an issue, but down the road you find out why they do this. One reason is obvious, they have the right to drug test you to make sure you are taking your meds. Some people choose to sell their pills instead of take them. Doctors have to protect their market. The other reason, which you learn about down the road, is if you pee hot for any other illicit drugs they can and most of the time will stop your prescription. This is a problem if you have been on the pain meds for long term. This can make you very sick and possibly die, more on that later. So if you choose to use Cannabis, most doctors will not help you transition from Opiates to Cannabis. Instead they threaten you, telling you that if you use Cannabis you will lose your pain meds. This leaves many people in a horrible position. I was to be on them for over a year until I could get my neck surgery.
Long term use of Opiates leads to many other problems. The worst being that you get use to them and need more and more. After which it can lead to paradoxical effect. This is when your body reacts to the meds and gives you the opposite effect. For me, this happened 3 weeks after my surgery, it was awful. My body temperature control when haywire so while it was 100 degrees outside, I was freezing. I was in so much pain and taking more meds only made it worse. I had no idea what to do. Went to the hospital, learned what was happening and they changed what type of pain med I was using. Then was told about a treatment called Suboxone.
Suboxone is a Opiate Antagonist. They use this to remove opiates from your system while still giving you an analgesic effect. While on this, Opiates don't work because the receptors are blocked. This is primarily used to help addicts come off of Opiates/Heroine. To start it, you have to go to a treatment center and go through a program. So now I'm having to go into a facility and be treated like an addict. This is a failure in our medical system. There should be programs to help those that are dependent on their meds, but not abusing their meds. Being around addicts, they all want you to be an addict because misery loves company. Well, I was not an addict and I stood my ground on that topic. I had to keep standing my ground on this topic through the years as well but more on that later. So I went through the program, got the Suboxone. The treatment was pretty easy, they took me off Oxycodone and gave me the suboxone, immediately I felt better. The paradoxical effect went away and it was actually enough to deal with the residual pain I had left from my neck fusion. A week later, I leave the program and am able to get Suboxone from a specialist. Lots of hoops to be able to use this med. I'm on it for a few more months til I'm all healed up and then ween off. Still a uncomfortable process.
While all this was going on, it ended up that while I was under for surgery, something happened to my brain. We wouldn't know there was an issue til a few months down the road. So a few months after I got off all pain meds, I started having horrible pain again in my head and neck. To keep this part short, for 1 year I was stuck in level 8-10 pain with no idea what was causing it. It lead to me having to get back on Opiates. Without them, I was in so much pain that I would vomit uncontrollably until they gave me injections of Dilaudud. After a year, they found that I had something called Pseudotumor Cerebrai. This is caused by excess buildup of fluid in the brain, causing extreme pressure build up. The way they figure this out is with a Lumbar Puncture. Yes, they stick a large needle into your spine while you are laying down and awake. Then they drain fluid, measuring the speed at which the fluid comes out. This gives them what the pressure is inside your spine and brain. Mine was double the pressure that it was supposed to be. The fix, drugs possibily if they work. They didn't. So a few times a year I would end up in the hospitial for a lumbar puncture to be drained back to a regular pressure. Meanwhile, continually in pain. So for the next 5 years I get put on an extreme dose of Dilauded pill form. This worked for a while but then totally stole my life away. These pills are 4 hour pills and while they are strong, they don't last the 4 hours. So you are always bouncing from medicated to being sick until you take your next pill. Also, while you are asleep, you wake up because the withdrawl is so rough. This lead to me not sleeping properly, I was not use to only getting a few hours sleep at a time. Talk about losing your mind, you become slave to the drug. Take it and get some relief for a short time, don't take it and get very sick and painful.
I was tired of this yo-yo I was living. I never felt good. I stopped doing most things. I was in pain and miserable with no answers in sight. The doctors still didn't know why I was ill, just that I was. By now I had gained a bunch of weight, so they started trying to blame the illness on that. While I know the weight didn't cause the illness, I do believe it is exacerbating it. So what do you do? I'm stuck at home, can't do much movement and I am not eating much food.
I figure that I don't want to be stuck like this and these meds are not doing anything for me but putting me in danger of having an overdose. I wasn't abusing my meds, but I was on such a strong dose of meds that when I would go to the ER for help, them giving me more meds could have shut down my breathing. This was an untenable situation. I decided it was time to switch out pain meds for Cannabis.
By this point I was having to use anti-depressants because everything was so out of whack. I started using Cannabis regularly to deal with the stress of what I was going through. Shortly afterward, I was able to stop using the anti-depressant. Then I started feeling good enough where I thought maybe I could try and get off the pain meds again. I knew this was going to take a bit of work, a whole lot of suffering, but in the end I felt I would be better off. So I created my plan and started working on it.
Moved back home to California where Cannabis was legal medically. This also allowed me to lower my altitude to help some with the pressure in my head. Moving though caused some issues with my doctors. Because I was on extremely strong opiates, the doctors brought up that contract and made me sign it if I wanted my pain meds. Except this time, I was using cannabis and it caused a problem. They would not give me my pain meds if I was to continue using Cannabis. I explained to them how it was helping me but that didn't matter. Either Cannabis or their meds, but they were not going to let me use both. So I chose to go through rehab and get off of their meds a final time. Once again, treated like an addict, they didn't even give me the suboxone. They forced me to go through the withdrawls cold turkey. Which for anyone who has been dependent on these meds knows you get very sick. This caused my blood pressure to go through the roof. After a few days, I decided that the center was not a help this time so I left. I took it on myself to finish these withdrawls and get my life back. I went home and started using Cannabis regularly. My brain was offline emotionally for about 8 weeks, that is how long it took before my brain started acting like it was supposed to. It was an extremely rough experience. The Cannabis helped take the edge off emotionally, it also helped with my blood pressure that was incredibly high.
I now use Cannabis daily. Sativa during the day and Indica for those nights I have high pain and can't sleep. Rarely do I have to use an opiate now to treat pain. I have learned to grow my own Cannabis, which is another healing process itself which I will talk about in another post. I'm currently working to lose weight through dieting ideas to see if it will help with my illness. But until I cure myself, I will be using Cannabis to get me through the day accomplishing stuff and doing it with a smile on most days.