I am a 46-year-old wife, and mother of two adult daughters. I have been living with fibromyalgia, depression, chronic migraines, essential tremor, and arthritis for over 20 years. Since that time I have tried prescribed pharmaceuticals, countless alternative therapies, and years of waiting lists to get into various pain clinics. I was still living in constant pain and was also having a multitude of side effects from the prescription medications.
Over the years, several of my loved ones suggested I try medical cannabis. At the time in Alberta, there was very little discussion about the benefits of cannabis and chronic pain. I was uneducated and thought using medical cannabis as treatment would mean that I would have to be high to find relief from my symptoms.
I didn’t want to be using the “devil’s lettuce” as a mother of two daughters. As I said, I was uneducated. I couldn’t believe that one plant could help more than all of the medications and alternative therapies I had tried over the years. I didn’t know that high CBD options were available and that CBD has amazing anti-inflammatory properties.
Eventually, I was referred to a new chronic pain specialist for Botox treatment for my migraines. I didn’t know until after meeting Dr. Sana-Ara Ahmed, that she is a licensed anesthesiologist and practicing specialist in not only chronic pain but also medical cannabis.
My journey from pharmaceuticals to medical cannabis began after meeting with Dr. Sana-Ara Ahmed. She laid out a detailed plan to help me reduce the pharmaceuticals slowly and start to incorporate CBD oil and microdosing with Sativa oil during the day, and Indica oil at night. We also discussed how vaping certain dry flower strains can be very beneficial in acute pain situations.
As a medical cannabis patient for two years now, I have been able to replace over 20 pharmaceutical pills per day to live a better, healthier and more productive life. My essential tremor is virtually gone, IBS is now controlled, fibromyalgia symptoms are less severe, I am able to sleep more than the 2 hours a night previous to medical marijuana, and I am able to find some relief for my degenerative spinal arthritis.
For me, medical marijuana has literally meant the difference between living a life instead of living in guilt for wanting to die due to pain and fatigue. From my own success with medical marijuana, I convinced my husband try it.
After a very near fatal motorcycle accident 6 years ago, my husband has had over 40 surgeries and a multitude of lengthy hospital stays. Just prior to his discharge from his initial 5-month hospital stay, he was told by the chronic pain team that he would be on narcotics for the rest of his life. When discharged, they had him on 18 mg of hydromorphone contin 4 times a day with an additional 8 mg of short-acting hydromorphone every 4 – 6 hours.
Over the first three years after his initial discharge, there were many complications, infections, and several more surgeries. Doctors kept adding to his already extensive pharmaceutical cocktail. This cocktail included hydromorphone, benzodiazepines, anti-seizure medication, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatories, steroids and other medications to combat the side effects of these medications. Every day still revolved around his pain. With my new found success with medical marijuana, I convinced my husband that he had nothing to lose by trying a different approach.
With help from Dr. Sana-Ara Ahmed, we have been able to slowly decrease my husband’s pharmaceutical intake. She laid out a detailed treatment plan. The results were amazing! It was not just us who noticed the benefits. His doctor at the amputee clinic was so impressed with the decrease in inflammation and that my husband had found some effective relief from the excruciating nerve pain. The CBD oil has been remarkable for treatment of the colitis that developed after his ostomy reversal.
My husband is now taking only 3 mg daily of hydromorphone contin compared to the 64 mg before and he has reduced the short-acting hydromorphone to only 4 mg two to three times per day. He has been able to completely discontinue the benzodiazepines, reduce the amount of gabapentin from 2700 mg per day to only 600 mg, reduce anti-depressants by 50%, eliminate all anti-inflammatory medications and steroids. For the first time in 6 years, my husband is confident that he will soon be able to eliminate all narcotics.
I am not saying that cannabis has completely cured either of us. Medical cannabis has allowed both my husband and I to be in charge of our own pain management. It has given me an exit to dangerous narcotics. It has allowed me to find improved health, well-being, increased mental clarity and a way to stop taking pharmaceuticals. Medical cannabis has truly given us both an improved quality of life.
Watch Dr. Sana-Ara Ahmed speak at the University of Calgary on Cannabis Legalization in Canada: Clinician Perspectives.