So most of my friends smoked pot in high school, or at least tried it. If they didn’t try it in high school, they tried it by college. Me? I was a drinker. I never had an interest in marijuana, even after I developed the allergy to alcohol. When I first lived in California six years ago, I got my medical marijuana card. I hadn’t been diagnosed yet, but I was suffering, big time. For three weeks I could barely consume more than 400 calories per day, and those calories came from Pop Chips. Nothing of nutritional value could get past the nausea barrier. A friend pushed me to get my card, but I was afraid of the repercussions should I want to find a new job. Pot is illegal on a federal level, so even if my state allowed medical usage, I couldn’t use it if I applied for a position that required drug testing.
After moving to New York, and then returning to California, I started to think more about the possibility of medical marijuana offering me relief. My nausea was intense, my anxiety was hard to measure, and overall I wasn’t sleeping well. There was a lot of stress involved with divorce and dating, and my Behcet’s seemed determined to flare as often as possible. I got my card, and the doctor noticed the lesions on my legs and recommended I use a topical to clear them up. A friend told me when I was ready she was involved with a group of moms who medicate, and would help me navigate the world of weed. I’d never smoked, was terrified of the idea, but I was also really sick.
The first time I smoked I did it on my own using a vape pen and the cartridge it came with. I felt weird. I kept forgetting what I was doing, but then something glorious happened. Without realizing it, I wasn’t nauseas. It wasn’t like the relief I got from Zofran, where it hit me suddenly, and then left me a few hours later. Instead I gradually realized I was hungry, not the munchies, but genuinely hungry. The nausea was gone, my mood was great, and overall I felt better. Immediately I appreciated whatever it was in this little vape pen that made the girl who hadn’t eaten in 18 hours desperate for food.
I smoked with the guy I was (am? it’s complicated) seeing, and that time was even better. I didn’t get too hungry, but the relief physically in terms of my stomach and my anxiety was even more noticeable. Perhaps being with someone I liked, and being in a positive frame of mind, helped heighten the experience.
Post knee surgery, marijuana was what pulled me out of a three day funk in which I ate nothing, and barely drank water. I was hours from hospitalization, but instead I used my vape pen, and was on the mend in less than an hour.
Medical marijuana isn’t for everyone, and I’ve barely scratched the surface, but so far I’ve recognized it’s potential as something that can really help me overcome the debilitating effects of my autoimmune condition. A friend has suggested I try some of the strains that give energy or euphoria, but I’m worried they may irritate my anxiety and PTSD. Of course, if there was something to fight this fatigue, I’d consider it, especially since there is no pharmaceutical option at this point in time.
I’m still scared about drug testing at work. One job will test me if I’m injured at work, while the other doesn’t particularly care though I’m sure there is a stigma attached given the nature of the work. My major is in forensic criminalistics, which means any job I want post-graduate school, will undoubtedly mean peeing in a cup. I’m fine with stopping the use, and I only smoke rarely, maybe once every couple of weeks, but it would be nice to have the option to do it more. My marijuana doctor has said he’d prescribe marinol for me, which is federally legal, but I think the natural substance is likely a better option for treatment than the synthetic one.
Stigma. It’s funny how it works. I’ve only been high 2-3 times in the months since I’ve gotten my card, and honestly two of those times were accidents. When you have no tolerance, you don’t always gauge what you need to get over symptoms properly. Did I enjoy it, yes, but that’s not why I use marijuana. I’m on pills, tons of them. I take pills to take care of side effects of pills that I’m on to take care of side effects for the actual pills I was originally prescribed. (Read that back a few times!) With marijuana it’s simple. Yes I have to use caution when it comes to strains and amount, but with the help of people who know what they’re doing, it seems like a valid way to manage a host of problematic symptoms.
I won’t say I’m pro making it legal recreationally, but as a medical treatment on a federal level, it definitely should be. When doctors tell patients with chronic debilitating illnesses there is literally nothing medicine can do for them anymore, and then they find out smoking marijuana or (ingesting it in some way) helps them enormously, how can we stand by and judge them for opting to utilize it? I am not a stoner. I don’t smoke and drive. I am not an advocate for people who smoke daily just to smoke…but medically? When your life is crumbling around you because you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you’re in pain, and your quality of life is poor, you do anything you can to feel better.