I'm a mom, step mom, grandma, wife. I was a career social service employee with a focus on care of adults dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and serious mental illness. I worked for both government and private agencies and learned the regulatory, social, medical, ethical and legal aspects of providing care to adults in need. It was a career that provided so many deeply profound lessons in human strength, endurance and spirit. For many years I also traveled the country speaking on behalf of an international health organization to help raise awareness and raise funds to support research for neuromuscular disease. I was busy, active and things were going well.
Then I got sick, very sick. It took five years to figure it out. My symptoms were terrifying and at times I thought they wouldn't figure it out in time. Maybe they'd figure out what was wrong but I wasn't sure I'd live to see it. My husband and children were my reason to hang on and eventually a doctor randomly guessed correctly, six months after that guess, testing completed, we had a diagnosis and a plan.
My illness forced me to look at other options for treating my serious pain and nausea issues. At the time I was diagnosed I had been prescribed Marinol (synthetic cannabis) and found it had some unwanted side effects and the dosage was very hard to control or regulate. The pain medication I was taking was Demerol in high doses which doctors were recommending be changed to Methadone to better control the pain associated with the disease. I did not like either of these options. Besides the normal side effects of the pain medicine I found myself talking all the time. Too much! I annoyed myself! The side effects to me were as bad as the symptom. I felt hopeless, nothing helped. What good was a diagnosis if I was still to ill to do anything?
I had the Marinol prescription but I smoked cannabis instead. My nausea was controlled to the point I could consume solid foods again. My pain was controlled so completely that I was able to taper off all pharmaceuticals and I currently take only the one IV medication that is required for my diagnosis.
When cannabis became legal where I lived, I volunteered to help patients in exchange for learning to grow my own cannabis. Our small cooperative grew fast and soon we were caring for 350 patients and we had over 60 volunteers. After the first six months volunteering I was asked to accept a paid position helping to run the co-op. I can share with others all that I learned working with the plants, from baby to flowering, they are truly a beautiful plant. Also this collective of old farming wisdom, new break throughs and input of 60 growers, and those 350 patients we served, I became passionate about sharing this miracle flower with anyone who needed it.
My family participated and we worked together to share the hope of cannabis as a wellness option to those who needed support. My husband and adult daughter also joined the cooperative. We shared in all the aspects of plant to patient care. We each were responsible for five patients individually, and collectively we all cared for each others patients as well.
Fast forward, its been twelve years since I was diagnosed and began treatment for my rare disease. I can tell you that I take no pain or nausea medications. I spent five years in the cannabis industry and I have watched it grow. Ive been behind the scenes, and I love sharing the inside scoop. After our cooperative closed I went on to launch two successful cannabis infused edible bakeries in conjunction with licensed dispensaries. It was a dream come true. I left the corporate side of the industry two years ago and my husband and I opened a restaurant, in a small tourist town. I thought it was time to leave the cannabis industry and its new corporate style because we just didn't always see eye to eye on patient care or safety. My social service background had made me think like an advocate in all my interactions. I understand profit margins, but never at the risk of a patients health. I can teach you how to avoid the pitfalls of sales gimmicks so every penny you spend is for what will help your particular situation. I have no ties to anyone within the industry, so the information I share isn't swayed by business interest.
But the phone calls and emails asking for help didn't stop just because I left the 'industry'. Friends, family, and friends of friends calling asking for guidance and support and with so many questions about cannabis. People were calling for other people too. Over the past five years I have counseled well over 500 patients and their families on the risks and benefits of adding cannabis to their holistic health care plans. From questions about where to get a medical card, to how can it help my disease treatment, or how can I cook with cannabis? The need for answers that are based on individual needs seemed to be missing from the patients tool kit for wellness.
My quality of life is amazing, even with my twelve years of weekly nursing visits, my chest port to receive my treatments, and a managed disease doesn't mean a silent one. I sleep well, I eat well (this is huge deal for me) and I have the optimism and positive outlook most of my friends envy. Cannabis isn't just the answer for me, it is the reason I am able to work full time (more theses days) and enjoy (most of) it. I wish this was an option for all adults. Cannabis may not be right for you but if you're still reading I suspect you think it might be. The good news is there are so many ways to obtain the benefits of cannabis that don't include smoking, intoxication or embarrassment. I know how.
My goal in cannabis education is giving people real information. I share my first hand knowledge based on working with hundreds of patients going through the same struggles as you are, to find specific answers to their personal health care worries. I am not a doctor. I am a patient who has studied, applied, and experienced this plant from its roots to the tips of its leaves, and I believe that firstly, it causes no harm, secondly when used to medicate, not intoxicate, this plant may well prove to be the true wellness breakthrough many of you have been looking for. I understand the fear that can come along with your health and trying something new. I have nothing to gain from your choosing to try cannabis for your health or deciding cannabis is not for you. You know you're getting information based on what you need to know, not what someone wants you to buy.
I want you to make good decisions, based on facts, and with your health and safety always the first consideration. I used to be like many others, using cannabis to treat my condition in secret, hoping no one ever found out. I didn't even know what I didn't know. Sometimes keeping it quiet is the only option, and I can help you through those feeling as well.
Today I'm an example of what it looks like to use cannabis as a wellness option, live an active, successful, connected life, free from side effects that previously caused me as much grief as the disease it self. Someday, grabbing a cannabis cream for your arthritis, or a cup of cannabis tea before bed will be common place and the wellness choice offered to all adults. Until then, if cannabis is a legal option where you live, and you have questions, you're in the right place.
Check out my Blog for more information on the topic of cannabis, my wild life in a small sleepy town, or email me if you have a blog topic you'd like to see me talk more about.
I've spent many years learning about cannabis and I want to share what I know with you.