Down The Rabbit Hole: Could Medical Marijuana Help?


I took this photo of the Alice In Wonderland's Tea Party in plant sculpture yesterday at Fredrick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park with my husband and grand-daughter.

*Underlined, bolded text are links to further information.

When I was 12 years old, the summer before I started 7th grade at Harrison Park Junior High in Grand Rapids, my mom gave me two books to read: Go Ask Alice by Anonymous and That Was Then, This is Now by SE Hinton.  Both were life-impacting books for me.  At that tender age, I vowed to myself that I would never get into drugs.

As an adult, I do not like ever not being in control of myself.  I also hate a foggy, unclear brain.  So, I never really got into drinking or drugs.  I won't say that I don't know what it is to be out of my head; Kelley and I tried mushrooms one time when we were camping. His roommate had sold him some.  Mushrooms are from nature, right?  Well, while that is a very interesting story I have told very few people; it's not one we ever visited again.  I also know what a hangover is like.  I'm definitely a light-weight and after my three maximum drinks in an evening, I will be laid low for the entire next day if I have more, so I don't do that.

As I've stated in prior blogs, I was VERY opposed to taking Cymbalta, one of the three approved FDA pharmaceuticals for Fibromyalgia.  I finally gave in when I was so beside myself with pain, brain fog, and no strength or energy this past December.  From there, I was on it for 4 months (30mg), 2 months (60mg), 1 month (30mg) and then I stopped- cold.  (Which I should have actually done every other day for a month, etc. to taper down.)  I'm now two weeks into Cymbalta withdrawal and still feeling badly (mostly from withdrawal side-effects). However, the pain is there.  Currently, the left side of my body from foot to left eyeball is aching so much I'm nauseous.  When I wake up, my arms and legs feel as though their connective tissue has turned into wood.  It's slow going and painful to get them functioning for the day.

This weekend, feeling beyond what I could handle with my breathing, stretching, aerobic, and meditation strategies, I began to research medical marijuana in the state of Michigan.  I had a response from a reader of my blog Feeling Like #$%&*! replied that he was able to ditch Cymbalta (and other like pharmaceuticals) by using transdermal patches for medical marijuana.  I did bring this up to my pain doctor, but I could tell he wasn't willing to look into it after his comment that "there's not enough research".  However, after doing some of my own, I decided to get a Michigan Medical Marijuana Card to use if I couldn't handle things fully on my own after the withdrawal passed.  


A convincing video that has helped me open to the idea of MM.



To get a Medical Marijuana Card in Michigan, I had to locate a doctor who would recommend the card for me based on my diagnosis.  I found Healthy Partners and made an appointment without an issue.  I had my medical records with Fibromyalgia Diagnosis faxed to their office.  The DO I met with just verified my diagnosis and marked "chronic pain" for the reason, being Fibromyalgia isn't listed by name for the accepted reasons for the card.  (See list provided on Healthy Partners FAQ page.)  I then applied for the card online at LARA: Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.  This was about a 20-minute job once I had the paperwork from the doctor. The only other worker at the office was very informative, and I quickly found out that getting the card would be the least of my concerns.  

Being the MM Card is a recommendation from a doctor and not a prescription, the patient is the one who needs to know what he/she wants and needs.  A quality resource that explains things fairly well is Leafly.com. Although, for someone who is totally new to using marijuana, it will take some trial and error.  My plan would be to go it very timidly.

I want pain relief, clarity of thinking, and living my life productively.  This isn't what one stereotypically thinks of when referring to marijuana.  Turns out there are two types: Indica and Sativa. (Below a brief description from Leafly.com- Part 1, Sativa vs Indica: An Overview of Cannabis Types.  They also list a Hybrid of the two types.
  • Indica strains are believed to be physically sedating, perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed. 
  • Sativa strains tend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects.
Next, the consumer needs to consider the strain. Leafly.com allows one to research based on desired effects for your treatment. I do not want side-effects that produce the  "high", munchies, tiredness, or paranoia. So, using the Advance Filter, I am able to look up specifics.  Also, I researched what other consumers and doctors are saying about MM and Fibro.  My go-to blogger on for solid information on Fibromyalgia is Fedupwithfatigue.com.  Her article was just what I wanted: Fed Up With Fatigue: Best Strains for FibromyalgiaShe's written many on the topic (all of which I haven't had the chance to read), but I've come to trust her factual presentation. Click this link for a list of her articles: https://fedupwithfatigue.com/cannabis-fibromyalgia/ 

Next, I have to find a provider.  (MRA-Licensed Michigan Medical Marijuana FacilitiesI want a licensed (monitored) facility that I can rely on to have a pure, quality product.  Also, I don't want to smoke (or have the marijuana smell).  I'd prefer to find transdermal patches, but this looks like it might be difficult to find. The difficult part, after finding what sounds like the best fit strain and delivery system, is finding a place in Michigan that I can buy that product.  I can already see that I'm going to have to call and visit a few places.  The strains I'm most interested in: Harlequin (High CBD and lower THC)  for day time and then, Tahoe OG Kush for nighttime insomnia. The problem I'm encountering is that MI facilities don't have these specific strains in the exact delivery system I would like.  So, actual calling and visiting will be needed. 

There are several reasons why I like using MM versus Cymbalta and like-drug. The main reason is that I can decide the dose.  I don't think I'll have an everyday need (we'll see).  I'm following the program that I got from my 10 weeks in Mary Free Bed's Fibromyalgia Program.  I'm continuing to grow in being present and meditation.  With Cymbalta (although the side-effects aren't major, they do impact my quality of life), it's an all or nothing commitment.  I have learned the hard way that stopping its use every day is very difficult for my body from which to rid itself. I also don't like feeling trapped by it.  

So, being I haven't yet tried MM, I can't say if it's going to work or not.  However, I'm finding good evidence to say it's worth a shot (and way less invasive than the prescribed pharmaceuticals).  I will keep you informed on what I find out and what happens if I choose to use it.

*If you are not in Michigan, I would imagine that the path you take would be similar.  However, Michigan has recently joined the states that have approved marijuana for recreational use.  

There are many resources to give you insight into the use of medical marijuana: 

Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) for Fibromyalgia

Cannabis and fibromyalgia - My story for the CU School of Pharmacology




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