Marijuana Saved My Life: An Abbreviated Dope Diary
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) I am the only person I have ever met who has used medical marijuana, in several of its forms, to kick the "habit" of dystonia, a rare and highly misunderstood neurological condition. That said, I am not the only one to find that pot, among its other attributes, is probably the best, safest and most widely misunderstood arsenal in our available cornucopia of pain-relieving, non-addictive and safe medication.
Yesterday the Washington city council approved a measure decriminalizing marijuana in the nation's capital, and this demonstrates we are on the right path toward wider acceptance of cannabis.
And that's a meaningful trajectory for me personally.
The story that follows is true, as surreal as the experience seemed to me.
When your body and mind scream in unison that all you want to do is get better, that is really all you care about. That is, if you could only stand the nausea-inducing, room-spinning, blackout pain that stops you from even moving much less getting out of bed. When you get sick, in general, particularly with a "chronic" or serious condition, you begin to slide off the map of normal, and unfortunately, for the majority of us who have traveled this road, you have a very hard way back (if that is even a possibility). You are almost always, at least for a couple of days, if not months or years, firmly in uncharted territory that few people have the courtesy or foresight to write home about.
In my case, when at 40 I was finally diagnosed with dystonia, a condition that makes muscles freeze and cramp (with horrific neuropathic pain), I faced not only the nightmare of going through the diagnostic process (without health insurance) but also the fact that neurological care provision, even in the best of times (and fairly unlimited budgets if not platinum level health insurance), is a harrowing experience.
By the time I had survived the transition from TMJ patient through lockjaw misdiagnosis, the left side of my upper body felt like it was being dragged over 1,000 degree needle beds to the point I regularly felt like screaming.
Except for one small detail.
I could not talk, much less push wind up my diaphragm to make a sound at all. I also often could not swallow, and moving at all produced waves of such indescribable agony. There were days when I would not move, even if I had been capable of such a thing. Good thing then that at this point I finally ran out of my 401(k) savings and became officially "poor" enough to qualify for state-funded health insurance. In New York State.
Things did not get much better when the final correct diagnosis came in (after months and months of desperate trying). I was sent to the few neurologists in New York City I could beg for an appointment with via referrals from my local neighborhood clinic (most neurologists and certainly in New York, do not take patients even with state-provided Medicaid, and the problem has worsened in the last six years to the point where I wonder if I would have survived this even one year later).