Monday, January 27, 2014

Marijuana and Chronic Pain

That title is super funny, I laughed like both Beavis and Butthead for several minutes after I wrote it.  That being said let us continue.  I have smoked pot a few times in my life, a couple of times when I was twelve and then a few subsequent times through the years.  Those subsequent times usually involving a girl I have a crush on saying "would you like a hit?".  Now why have I only smoked pot a handful of times?  The answer is two fold, one pot did not do anything for me and two and oh so more important I found alcohol.  Alcohol did something to me, something so nice I did not feel much of a need to try anything else.  Now that we have dispensed with the preliminaries let us continue about marijuana and chronic pain.

I have been in continuous pain for coming up on four years.  The first time I went oh shit what is wrong with me is when after a dinner with my dad I felt like someone had rammed a railroad spike through my back to the point where it was almost coming out of the right side of my chest.  If any of you all would like more details on what happened when I was first aware of being ill and the subsequent process of being diagnosed go ahead and search my blog.  I am pretty sure I have talked about it in the past on this forum and if it turns out I have not talked about it in the past let me know and I will talk about it, maybe, if I feel like it.  The reason I will not search my blog for the entry and link to it here is I am sick, wink, wink, nudge, nudge you know what I mean.  Anywho I have become well acquainted with pain and the legal ways the medical community tries to address it.

First lets talk about my constant companion pain.  Before I became ill I had experienced some very physically painful things.  The highlight of which is being on the receiving end of pedestrian/automobile accident.  The result of that accident was a severally broken leg and ankle.  My foot was no longer being held to my leg through bone, it was skin and tendons and muscles and such that were keeping it all together.  My friend Drew picked me up out of the road and preceded to drive me to the closet "hospital" there in rural Utah.  I use the term "hospital" loosely but that is for a later discussion.  During the drive to the hospital I was holding my foot off the of the floor and when we would go around turns it would become painfully clear (I am aware of the pun but it was not intended it is just there) that my foot was no longer attached.  When we would begin to turn the inertia of my foot would try and continue on in a straight line while the leg and the rest of me would follow the turn with car being that I was firmly in my seat.  The foot was essentially being held like a pendulum.  That hurt a lot, it hurt worse than being hit by the car and at that point in my life hurt worse than anything I could imagine.

I have other painful stories but hopefully that will suffice to establish my pain bonafides.  In the four years that I have been aware of having sarcoidosis there have been times that the pain was like a bad hangover.  You could function but you were not happy to be functioning.  Then there were other times when the sarcoidosis began to damage my nerves responsible for pain.  At that point I experienced something so far beyond any other pain in my life I have no words to describe it.  In the past I have tried to describe the new pain with analogies involving ball peen hammers and knives but they fall short and pale in comparison to the actual experience of this new pain.

In the beginning when the pain was like a bad hangover I toughed it out.  My joints ached, my head ached, my chest ached, etc, but I was tough and needed no pain medication.  I even mocked people in online support groups that complained about their pain and said they could no longer work.  Now I no longer mock anyone when they say they are in pain and I can no longer work.  I have tried the traditional prescription pain medications and have not found anything that would take away the pain or alter my state to the point where I would consider myself free from pain.  I have tried many "nontraditional" methods of pain relief as well, I would no longer call these alternative because they are mainstream you just do not need a prescription to get them.  I have not been freed from the pain using these techniques as well.

I guess I should clarify one thing real quick, what do I think the definition of free from pain is?  I do not think it is not the absence of pain but the control of pain. Control so that I could have a moment of joy that was not overshadowed or shadowed by pain.  The ability to make love to my wife with neither of us worrying about the cost that will be paid during and after in pain.  I would like to be able to read a book and let it transport me away like it did when I was a child.  Reading saved me as a child and as an adult I turned to books to save me again.  The pain keeps me tethered to this world and I am unable to be transported away and saved by the joy of reading.  I loved watching movies for much the same reason that I love books but the pain keeps me leashed to this world even when watching movies.  I would like to go out with friends whenever we had the desire to paint the town red instead of being bound to my home because the pain is too great a hurdle to overcome.  I want to be able to host friends at my house without the fear that they will be forced to watch me writhe in pain.

Sometimes the pain is not so great that I writhe but is still great enough that I can not enjoy anyone's company, my wife, my friends or even just the company that a good book or movie can provide.  When pain stays with you and never leaves to give you a respite it is very isolating and I become lonely even when surrounded by people that love me.  I would like even just a few moments peace to be able to write with no effort and let the words flow out freely and let them carry some of the weight from my soul to the paper and to lighten my load as I approach the finish line.

Now what does any of this downer talk have to do with marijuana?  Simple I live in Utah which has a zero tolerance policy towards marijuana, no medical or recreational use of marijuana is allowed.  I have read that marijuana can potentially manage chronic (I am aware of the pun but again not intended) pain with a great deal of success as rated by the patients.  I do not know if it would work to manage my pain but I would like to try it.  It is not really feasible for me to go to another state to try it for pain management and if I were to be caught with it in Utah in my home I could lose the home and my wife could lose her job.  At the end of the day alcohol has no medicinal properties that I am aware of and several known health risks and is legal.  While marijuana has health risks that as far as I can tell are less than alcohol (not no risk do not send me angry emails, marijuana does have health risks) and does have several known medicinal properties and is illegal.

Please let me legally try some marijuana it may give me some freedom back that I have lost to pain.  Worse case I might get high this time and enjoy myself which in the past I did not and the best case is it gives me and my wife huge parts of our lives back through its ability to manage my pain.

PS

Small post script it would also be the Libertarian thing to do.