Following on from my description of my visit to the USA which I shared in ‘A life changing trip? San Francisco – Part 1‘ and “A life changing trip? San Francisco – Part 2‘, today’s post will help you understand the title.
In California the use of cannabis is legal, and I took the opportunity while I was there to try this drug (it is illegal in Ireland unless prescribed by a specialist). My goal was to see if it could control my pain, I was not searching for a ‘high’. After checking on Google I found a shop and went to ask about what would be suitable for me. The sales person suggested I try cannabis oil high in THCa. After purchasing the bottle they gave me very little extra information other than what was on the bottle itself. This recommended I should use 1-3 droppers as needed. No mention of when, how often, and any warnings about driving or using dangerous equipment.
My decision was to try one dropper in the evening to see what happened. Nothing. So the following day I took two droppers in the evening. There was no effect of my pain, as it did not reduce, but I noticed an improvement in my mobility. Positive. So for the rest of the holiday I took two droppers in the evening. This influenced me over the course of the following 9 days.
There were three impacts. The first was I was sleeping much deeper, and longer. Nine hours minimum each night, and I woke up feeling more rested. This was positive. The second was my spasticity in my right leg reduced. So The cramps and stiffness disappeared, and the ability to use my leg improved. This was noticeable in the evening, as I usually would be much worse as the day progressed. It was so nice not to have to deal with extra pain as the evening approached and I became more fatigued.
The third benefit was my headache did not become worse. It stayed at a 5 out of 10. One evening we went out to try bison burgers (tasty – but I don’t see what all the fuss is about them) and the restaurant was in the valley’s heart. Noisy with lots of animated conversations, music and activity. These are triggers for my headache to soar into the stratosphere. Miraculously it didn’t get worse. I was waiting for it to hit suddenly, and it never arrived. Unbelievable.
Can I say there were side-effects? No, but I was only using it for 10 days and in an environment unusual for me. It would be very difficult for me to assess its true value until I could use it at home, in my normal routine. My conclusion is I must see if I can get it here in Ireland to find out its worth. It definitely had a value on my holiday.
Other Things to think about
Since being in the USA I was asked to take over the Shift.ms Twitter feed for the weekend and Dr. Barry Singer mentioned his Podcast MS Living Well, and in particular the one about Cannabis & MS. I listened to this on Saturday night and it was enlightening, and a little scary. It appears the regulation of this industry in the USA is still being developed. There is no oversight of the quality of the product sold, or inspections on the accuracy of what they say on the labels. It is a little like the wild west. The consumer should be vigilant.
I also watched the “Edibles” episode of the “Rotten” series on Netflix since returning home too, and this is also enlightening. The whole cannabis industry which has been underground for so long, is now being looked at publicly, and it has many challenges. People like me, who have MS and other chronic conditions, that could not find a way of managing their illnesses using mainstream medicine, are searching for some way of reducing pain, or controlling adverse health situations. We are desperate. As a result we are vulnerable, and the providers of these alternative treatments have an easy sale.
It is possible these treatments are effective, if only as a placebo effect. They may help, but it is possible they don’t work at all (like the fabled “snake oil”) or, worst case, they will make you worse, causing unexpected damage because the treatments have not been tested rigorously. It is a frightening vista, and one I can easily step into, as I want to live without pain, and to be mobile.
Now I am home
What has happened since I have arrived home? Of course I could not bring this small vial, this elixir, back to Ireland. Federally in the USA it is still illegal, and it is illegal in Ireland too. I do not want to go through the stress of jail, or prison. It has been near 1.5 weeks and my old complaints are back. Headache worsens as the day progresses, and my spasticity has also reared its ugly head. The pain in my leg can get severe in the evening. Yesterday, I was at work (my one day working as a PPI on a new study), and the head pain reached 7 out of 10 on the way home. When I landed in the door, I ate, and by 8pm I was in bed, and I slept 11 hours. The impact of the driving and work was too much, as usual.
The full impact of my illness is back, and it seems I didn’t realise how much of a positive impact the cannabis had on how I felt during my holiday. We accept feeling well, and do not notice it, as it is how it should be. However, we notice feeling bad, and that’s how I feel now – bad. I am still sick.
Where to now?
I think I have a way now, using cannabis oil, to improve the spasticity in my leg, and to control, also, the exacerbation of my pain. If I can get this ‘medicine’ here in Ireland, my life will be much better. This trip, when I will look back at it in a few years’ time, could be a pivot in my life. This remains to be seen, and it depends on whether the regulatory and medical environment, in this country, will allow people like me to get control of our pain, and mobility. Times are interesting.