(Thank you to Catherine for contributing her story to the Soulful Cannabis blog)
For a dozen years I searched for relief from the unbearable pain of gastrointestinal diseases. During my frustrating quest, I took a variety of ineffective pharmaceuticals for my symptoms and was prescribed a dangerously addictive narcotic. But ultimately it was a bushy plant that offered me a real remedy. I found an alternative, natural answer to conventional therapies with medical marijuana (MMJ).
I started having gastrointestinal issues in 2006 (at 42 years of age) and the pain was extreme. My healthcare journey included seeing my doctor and her associates, three trips to the ER and many uncomfortable tests.
The diagnoses were gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and duodenitis – inflammation of the duodenum. The doctor prescribed omeprazole. It didn’t help. You know what did help? Oxycodone. Oxycodone! It killed the pain and/or made me so stupid and tired that I could ignore or sleep through the pain. But the controversial Oxycodone, which is associated with addiction and drug abuse, is not for digestive diseases. I was experiencing “narcotic euphoria.”
Over the next four years I continued to have “flares” and missed a lot of work, sometimes a whole week at a time. One day in 2011, I was quite sick with a flare and saw one of my physician’s associates. He was upset that the only thing that worked for me was oxycodone.
He asked if I had been tested for gastroparesis. I had not. Nor had I heard of the disease. Well, Dr. M. explained about the disease, also called delayed stomach emptying, and ordered a gastric emptying scan (relatively new at that time). Guess what? I was diagnosed with gastroparesis/delayed stomach emptying.
After I saw a gastroenterologist, she prescribed metoclopramide (brand name Reglan) but it didn’t help. Then I saw a different gastroenterologist. She said that I also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which are likely caused by the gastroparesis. I asked her about medical marijuana back in 2015. She told me that she had just started studying its benefits and thought it could help. Finally, I had hope for relief.
Medical marijuana became legal in Pennsylvania in 2016 and was available for patients in 2018. I got my MMJ card right away and made an appointment with a pharmacist at a dispensary. We discussed my conditions and how medical marijuana could help. I left with a few products and anxiously awaited my next flare. Guess what? MMJ worked!
Vaping relieved my pain in just a few minutes. If it was really bad, MMJ alleviated enough of the pain to help me sleep. Over time we’ve determined which strains and terpenes seem to be most beneficial for me. MMJ allows me to function almost normally when I’m experiencing a GI flare.
And there’s more. Marijuana helps to reduce my anxiety, helps me to sleep, and, in edible form, reduces the inflammation and pain in my knees from arthritis. ONE natural drug — a plant — does all this. Marijuana helps me to manage two serious digestive diseases, as well as anxiety, sleeplessness, and arthritis. That’s pretty amazing!
If you have any condition that might be treatable with medical marijuana, I recommend that you make an appointment with a certified MMJ doctor to learn more. You can find more information about obtaining your medical marijuana card on your state’s medical marijuana program website.
Here’s Pennsylvania’s: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/programs/Medical%20Marijuana/Pages/Patients.aspx
(Note about managing gastroparesis: MMJ helps a lot. But I also made significant changes to my diet. There are many foods that I avoid – foods that cause inflammation or gas/bloating.)