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    Posted December 28, 2013 by
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Does marijuana help you?

    Two Years of Hell

    I'm 51 year old mail who has always been fit. I bike to everyday, go hiking, do yoga with the twenty year olds. That all changed after a quick hike on Mt Diablo (how fitting) in 2010. I went through 2 1/2 years of pure hell from "reactive arthritis" in all of my joints, probably from a tick bite. Imagine having a heavy board full of nails laid down on top of you, and then a car slowly lowered down on top of that. That’s the only way I can describe it, as the ligaments holding me together slowly fell apart and gravity attempted to rip my arms and legs from my body.

    My primary doctor (of 10) said at the beginning that that it could last up to two years and that the only (legal) pain medications that might help would destroy my kidneys within a few months. My only options were acupuncture (god bless them) and aspirin. I learned all about pain.

    I spent the 2yr mark in the ER, with massive spasms in my neck and back and in way beyond excruciating pain. If my doctor had not answer my pleading text at 10pm then I no doubt would have leapt out of my 23rd-floor window. My only thought was that I hoped I didn’t hit the picnic table, since my friends like to sit there and smoke.

    This time the hospital loaded me up - oxycodine, napraxon, valium, all in a one IV plus prescriptions to take home. The rheumatologist gave me a “pain pack” of prednisone. This and the first two really messed my mind up. Valium stopped the spasms but the doctor was worried I might get addicted, so I used them sparing. Another doctor gave me a prescription for vicodin after a hernia surgery. I didn’t use them. I work with toxicologists and am well aware of the toxicity of these drugs.

    Fortunately my trip to the ER turned out to be the grand finale. I've been clear for a year now but can still barely talk or think about it. It took over a year of intense, physical therapy for me to unknot the muscles in my shoulders and back and get the use of my arms and legs back. I’m a tough guy, and have been in situations and places in the world that would terrify most people. But I bawled like a baby for days when it was finally over. I understand what Post Traumatic Syndrome disorder is.

    Now imagine my near rage when I discover that cannabis was used for thousands of years in places like China to help deal with the pain and anxiety of severe rheumatism. I expect that the rheumatologist I saw knew this, but other doctors I know said that he wouldn’t have been allowed to even mention it for fear of being confronted by the Feds. I’m not angry at him; I feel sorry for him. It must gnaw at him every day.

    All this suffering because of a small number of over-zealous, self-righteous prohibitionist who have been spreading misinformation and fear about marijuana for over 75 years now. Medical marijuana is in theory “legal” in Hawai’i but in practice it’s a joke. There are no dispensaries and only a single doctor I know of will even attempt to write prescriptions and set a patient up with a supplier.

    I’m learning enough to know that you can’t just buy marijuana off of the street to treat a specific symptom (Understanding Marijuana by M. Earleywine is excellent). It’s a science that needs to be managed by professionals.

    I have no doubt that cannabis would have helped. It’s not just the pain; it’s the panic attacks and anxiety that comes with it, something that I had never understood or experienced before. If I really do have Lyme disease (my rheumatologist thinks it was a virus), then there is a strong chance that I’ll have a relapse within five years. There’s no way I can go through it again without safe, nonaddictive medication that will help cut the edge off of the pain and especially help me deal with the emotional trauma.

    I also have no doubt that cannabis will never be fully “legal” and accepted until it is reclassified as a Schedule III drug by the Feds and “allowed” (I prefer “not interfered with”) for “recreational” use, which for all practical purpose is simply a form of low-key medical use to deal with the day-to-day stress of life, just like having a beer or smoking a cigarette. You know those stories and I won’t repeat them here.

    I know it may seem like a waste, but my current thought is to sue the Federal government for the unnecessary pain and suffering I went through and may go through again if they continue to interfere with my life. I expect that I won’t be the first in line. I’m well educated, and spent enough time in China and Russia during the 1980s and 1990s to understand how the potent mix of tyranny, incompetence and arrogance can devastate a society.

    Please help educate the people. Be open and blunt with your criticism of the people behind this travesty. Use the less demonized term and socially acceptable term “cannabis.” Avoid calling it “pot” with a mischievous, teenage smile. Be serious with my life. C.S. Lewis summed up the current situation best (from NORML’s marijuana leaflet):

    “Of all the tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive...”

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