This has been a very bad pain week. I have a guess about why things are so bad, but it doesn’t help me to fix the problem. On our lovely pain scale (we all know that scale, don’t we?) I had a lot of time at 2s and 3s for a while. Lately it’s been at 5s and 6s. I can handle that. I don’t like it, but I can handle it. But when it was getting into the 7s and 8s and 9s and disturbing my sleep for several nights in a row, something had to change.
Two nights ago I slept for only 4 hours, and it wasn’t great sleep. The pain woke me up often before getting so bad that even dozing was impossible. Long before dawn, I lay in bed and knew I wouldn’t be sleeping again that night (morning?) I thought about getting painkillers. I take them very rarely because I don’t like the side effects. I take them so rarely that my last set expired ages ago and I’d thrown it out. When their office opened, I could easily call my doctor and have a prescription sent to my pharmacy, but did I really want those side effects? And let’s face it, it only helps occasionally and minimally. I really hated that idea.
Some of you may know that medical marijuana was approved in my state in last November’s election. I’ve written my views on it before, and they haven’t changed. So you may think this is a good option. Unfortunately, the regulations have not yet been written by the state group in charge, and probably won’t be for several more months. Without regulations, doctors won’t prescribe it and there are no dispensaries to sell it. Still, what other options did I have?
Around 5:30am I was exhausted, in pain, and really pissed off at my body. First I emailed one of my medical practitioners and asked if the prescription painkillers would interfere with any of my current meds or supplements, just in case. Then I emailed a friend and told him about the horrible pain. I asked him to put me in touch with a friend of his who sells pot. I was going to write to a few more friends who might be able to help, but I was just too tired and in too much pain to type. I figured I’d write to them later.
The doc wrote back that I’d have to discontinue a couple of things but that it wouldn’t be a big deal to take those painkillers. But I still didn’t want to take them. I dreaded it. Then the friend texted me. We spoke on the phone and he said he had what I needed and would give it to me for free because it was a tiny amount. He wasn’t kidding – the scale had trouble registering it. Even with the plastic bag it was barely a gram. But it was enough to see if it would work.
I knew I wouldn’t go to jail for this. Even if I wasn’t protected by the medical marijuana laws, marijuana was decriminalized in this state a while ago. At worst there would be a fine. But there’s still the stigma. I told a couple of friends, though. People joked about it, not understanding that my goal wasn’t to get high, just to get away from the pain, and that it sure as hell wasn’t a funny situation to me.
The thing is, I can’t smoke. My lungs just won’t go for it. So I have to eat it. I looked up online how to cook it, then went through the process. The last time I ate it, I got really paranoid (but it got rid of the pain!) Of course, it turns out that what I ate was incredibly strong and I didn’t know. This time I was dosing it myself. I did about half of what I figured I should, and just hoped it would work. Thankfully, it did. I didn’t really get high. I was a bit mellow and smiley, but that was it. The amazing part was that I wasn’t in pain! I walked down a few stairs and it didn’t hurt! I held the tv remote in my hand, and it didn’t hurt! And then the best part: I slept! I slept deeply for about 9 hours and it felt great! I slept without noticeable pain. Today, I feel like a new person. Sure, I’m in pain, but I feel a lot better just from having slept. I won’t have more pot today because, really, if I took it whenever I was in pain, I’d be on it all the time. But if the pain gets worse, if I can’t sleep, then I’ll have more in a day or two. And at least I know it’s a decent option with no unpleasant side effects.
The interesting thing was when I told a friend about it this morning. She’s no stranger to pot. She smoked a bunch of times in college, and always thought it was weird that I didn’t try it until much later, in my late 20s. But as she’s gotten older, she’s gotten more conservative. She made a face (you know the type) and said how she’s not so sure about this whole medical marijuana thing. It’s not safe. It’s addictive. It shouldn’t be legal.
I was shocked. I pointed out the supposed safety of prescription painkillers. And their levels of addiction. And their side effects. She stopped talking, but I don’t think I convinced her; I think she just knew she was wading into dangerous territory. It’s one thing to suggest a better treatment, but dumping on the best treatment method I’ve found for myself? She knew I was about to get very pissed off. So she backed off. But now I wonder… should I try to make her understand? Because if she’s judging me, she may judge someone else. And she won’t speak up when she hears someone else making the same judgments.
I get very angry when politicians make these judgments, and it’s just as bad, or maybe worse, coming from friends who should understand my situation. I am not hurting anyone. But by denying a treatment, they are hurting me. How dare anyone judge how I choose to treat my pain? Especially when they themselves are not experiencing pain every single damn day of their lives. How dare they?!? If they have a headache, how will they feel if I take away their Tylenol? For that matter, what if I took away something that’s really not all that helpful or healthy but widely used, like coffee? Let’s make coffee illegal on the basis that it’s unhealthy and addictive, and then let’s talk about how people make decisions for their health. I bet a lot more people would be saying it should be a personal choice. Well, if coffee should be a personal choice, then so should medical marijuana.
At the end of the day, this is my body. It’s my pain. If I can lessen the pain in a way that won’t hurt anyone else, then why on earth would that be a bad thing? And what would give you the right to judge me for it?