All posts by jana

Chronic Pain From Hell

(The Case for Medical Marijuana)

By: Jana Christian
August 18, 2002
Published @ Marijuana.com

I’m a 55-year-old disabled baby-booming woman living in MESSachusetts (don’t ask). I live in chronic and constant excruciating pain from four ruptured herniated discs in my neck and one in my lower back. I also have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I’m a person who, up until three years ago never smoked pot…but I’m toking it NOW.

I had a work-related injury (also a previous neck injury from a random act of violence) and have been to Hell and back through the circuitous Workman’s Comp system (that’s a story for another talk show…but I digress). Suffice it to say that I went without income for 17 months because of miscommunications between the insurance adjuster and my neurosurgeon.

I’ve run the gamut of twisted procedures the docs put you through (without sedation ñ now the hospitals are so short-staffed, they can’t afford an anesthesiologist)…tests like CT scans, MRI’s (3 so far), and the ever-popular EMG (electro-myography). That’s a nifty torture-tool, to determine which nerves are active, and which ones are dead or paralyzed…they attached these barbaric electrodes up and down both my arms and literally shocked me to the point I was jumping up and down off the bed..my husband was horrified. I felt like Linda Blair. I never felt so much pain in my life…and they do it slowwwwwwly…withOUT Valium and Demerol…Such is life. From that test, I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, another nerve killer AND another ruptured disc at L5-S1 – geeeeeze.

Meantime, back to the local pharmacist…”Doc…whaddya got in a golf-ball sized Vicodin…HUH?”. So the docs try every narcotic known to man…so, HEY…I’m liberal..Give me more of THOSE..AND they try muscle relaxers and NSAIDS, and P.T. the list goes on. I put everything in my mouth I could find to end the pain except a gun, and THAT was next.

Finally, after ending up in a psyche unit of the local hospital with severe depression, suicidal thoughts and a flat affect (medical term for I don’t give a damn), I come to this brilliant epiphany…There IS no pill, NO treatment, NO maneuver that can help THIS pain…my doc even told me so…so why did they prescribe narcotics in the first place? I dunno. They tell me you can’t maintain chronic pain with narcotic medication, yet my doc was giving me 120 Percocets at a time ñ THIS after I had just gotten out of the psyche unit…WHAT THE ____?? And so my quest continues to STOP THIS PAIN.

I’m living on blind faith, prayer and yoga, and wondering if I’ll ever sleep through the night again. My condition is worsening according to my latest MRI two weeks ago. I’m afraid of paralysis. I have prayer and pain, and that’s about IT for the good news. Although my neurosurgeon said “Try Holy Water”…too late ñ I already have.

But if you think I suffer, you should catch my poor husband (also disabled) at the end of the day. He’s endured 12 surgeries ñ we have matching herniated discs in our necks and backs, so at least we can commiserate together. He’s been through Workman’s Comp too and all because he tried to help when he worked as a Nurse’s Aide. An Alzheimers patient attacked him, threw him across a tile shower floor, where he subsequently smashed into a tile wall going at about ten mph. Well, two surgeries later (one horribly botched) to repair crushed discs in his neck (complete with a bone plug from his hip), two shoulder replacements, two foot surgeries, two lumbar spine discectomies (another awaits), etc., the poor man has the neck of an 85-year old according to his chiropractor.

I was with him three years ago when his neuro-surgeon was once again recommending surgery at L4-5, his third lower back surgery. He had ordered a myelogram (NASTY). Well, I hope no one out there ever has to go through what he endured. Compared to my husband’s myelogram, my EMG was a walk inCentral Park. I could hear him screaming his lungs out, and still they proceeded while I waited outside the door, praying for release. When I got the run-down from my husband later, he told me two big burly orderlies held him upside down so the dye could flow up his spine. All the while, the doc could not even find a space in his spine to stick the needle, there was so much scar tissue. And then I find out he had NO anesthesia..NO Demerol and Valium like in the good old days when you had a hideous test they used to give you…oh NO…cutbacks at the hospital ñ they’d have to pay an anesthesiologist…can you imagine? What garbage. How inhumane do we have to get before something gets done?

When you live in chronic pain there’s no let up. No relief..no light at the end of the tunnel. You become the pain…it’s your only focus…”How do I stop this pain”..your whole universe revolves around the quest for relief..you lose your friends, cuz who wants to hang around two people who can’t go out most nights because they have trouble getting in and out of a car..and sit around like a couple of chickens craning their necks to pull traction on their own spines?…I can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes at a clip…I have to unclench my body constantly…God WORK with me here. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!@@#$&***

I have but one question. I’m curious about just this ONE thing. WHEN will marijuana be legalized at least for medical purposes ñ HUH??? I’m guessing it won’t be too long now, because for the life of me, I can’t fathom how alcohol is still on the best-seller list. I mean despite all the facts pointing to its dangers and its epidemic rise in use (in the colleges big-time power drinking is killing our young hopefuls)…despite the media’s coverage of the rise in deaths and maimings across this country because of drunk-driving…ALCOHOL is still okay AND legal??. What of the people left behind in the wake of this hideous irresponsibility and carelessness…left in comas, or WORSE…in vegetative states…and what of the families that have to pick up the pieces? I shudder to imagine their pain and anguish. My grandfather was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver who was all over the road, and I’m sickened by the devastation alcohol leaves in its wake.

Drunk driving is NOT okay, but the most you get for committing this crime is a short time in jail. I see a sharp rise in violent crimes caused by the evil alcohol inflicts on the brain. WHY can’t the Feds get it that alcohol is, in fact, the Devil (read the warning labels ñ you’re on your way to Crossbone-Frickin’ Alley)…the government puts a label on a bottle then allows it to be sold ANYway??? KNOWING that’s it’s poison…Now, color me reactionary, but is this a miscarriage of justice, or WHAT?

And then we come to cigarettes…they’re still legal too? Insurance companies drain us dry…the DEA and the FDA jump on board with their bogus regulations, all the while trying to convince the people that the war on drugs is ‘working’…HUH? They want people to quit smoking…yeah, RIGHT…that’s why the cost for Nicoderm patches is MORE than most people can afford…Meantime, Nicorette (a pack of GUM, for God’s sake) is about $40 a pack. So people keep smoking AND dying, the insurance rates keep going thru’ the roof, and the pulse goes on. And STILL, no one’s dying from marijuana. Not even close.

I’ve had eNOUGH, and I’m not staying silent one second longer . Let’s go after the REAL problem in this country…the number ONE self-inflicted wound…suicide by the bottle and cigarettes…Let’s leave marijuana alone…When’s the last time YOU read that someone got violent smoking a joint? Never…that’s when. You’d never see a pot smoker snap out in rage…Like Bill Maher said on his show…if you smoke marijuana, the worst that could happen is you might eat cookie dough. Seriously.

The point I’m trying to make (and laboriously, at that) is that throughout all of this, the only respite I found from the pain was when I lit up a joint. It definitely disconnected my brain from the pain, but I was able to function and get through my day. Halleluia for marijuana and the efficacy of its properties. Too bad so many people are in jail for possession…what a waste of jail space…(and they wanna build MORE prisons???) Too bad boneheads like Barry McCaffery don’t live in chronic pain. I bet they’d change their tunes then?

Phewwwwww!! That felt good. Thanks for listening..well, that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it, dammit. Sorry folks, but when I see injustice, I just cannot make my mouth behave.

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