Laura began experiencing life-changing symptoms in 2009 that prompted her to drop out of a university co-op program. Symptoms like back pain so severe it prevented her from relocating as she would no longer have access to her Osteopath or Massage Therapist. Pain everywhere, inability to sleep, racing anxiety, brain fog and cognitive issues. The first doctor she saw didn’t offer much to help. Laura, adamant about avoiding prescription pain medication, wanted to learn what the underlying cause of her pain and fatigue were. The word fibromyalgia was thrown around but nothing was done – no further tests, no follow up, no referral, nothing.
“If the doctor didn’t think my pain was significant, then I figured I was just weak or soft and needed to just toughen up.”
A misdiagnosis followed in 2013; Laura finally got an answer from a specialist in Spring 2016 – a specialist she had to contact independent of her family doctor. Her diagnosis was Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression and multiple chemical sensitivities.
Laura had known about cannabis helping people with chronic pain issues for a long time but was too afraid to buy it on the black or grey market.
“I always assumed that medical cannabis would be less likely to contain contaminants or pesticides, I now know that isn’t the case.”
Asking her doctor for a prescription caused her far too much anxiety to even approach the subject.
In July, after filing for CPP-D (disability) Laura’s sister dropped off a package of cannabis infused pineapple for her to try. “I slept better than I had in AGES!”
She rationed out the infused fruit until she visited her Nurse Practitioner in August.
“I was such a wreck and so so anxious about asking, but she was great and was happy to refer me to a clinic.”
Since then Laura has been using THC oil and CBD oil as well as a 1:1 (ratio) oil throughout the day, daily. She has researched the ratios on her own to ensure there would be no interactions with any of her current medications or supplements.
Finances have limited Laura’s ability to consume medicinal cannabis in other ways; she would love to try edibles but has a lot of allergies and food sensitivities. She’d like to try smoking it as well.
The combination of cannabis therapy and partaking in the Pain Management Program of the NSHA (Nova Scotia Health Authority) has helped decrease her pain over the last year. She was also able to stop taking sleeping pills prescribed by her doctor.
Laura has struggled with trying to stay employed. On the one hand, she didn’t want to leave work for fear of never being able to re-enter the workforce and the uncertainty of where she would get income. On the other hand – her Occupational Therapist told her she wouldn’t progress as long as she was struggling to work.
She also didn’t want to give up her dream of starting her own metalworks and design business.
Ultimately, health came out on top of the priority list.
Laura’s quality of sleep improved, her nightmares decreased, and as long as she can take enough oils throughout the day – her cognitive skills improve.
“I am able to socialize now because of these oils!”, Laura says.
She notes that although she is not an introvert, having to suffer with pain and anxiety all the time has made her avoid social situations. “The oils have closed that gap of deciding between mental and physical health.” She no longer has to decide whether a social activity is going to cause stress and more pain AND having a social life. Anyone with chronic pain knows that anything you do- you will ultimately pay for later. Even though you desperately need social interaction, you just can’t always justify the pain.
“I didn’t know what 0 anxiety felt like, I was always at a 3. Now I sometimes feel like myself, instead of feeling a thick and prickly barrier between who I know myself to be and how I interact with the world.”
Laura microdoses her cannabis so if she takes a little too much the worst she experiences is feeling a little more relaxed or ‘goofy’ and that isn’t a bad thing when you’re around friends.
“Cannabis is so wonderful for so many things but it takes time to learn what your body needs. I’m definitely still learning so I rely heavily on other supports until I really get the hang of it.”
I asked Laura how she feels about the impending legalization.
“I’m concerned about it to be honest. I’m so mind-numbingly baffled with the decision to partner with the NSLC for distribution. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. I’d rather see them working with the existing dispensaries or opening up separate little shops or inside other businesses like you see with the post offices and pharmacies in grocery stores.”
Laura believes this approach feels like they’re trying to grab money from consumers no matter the confusion or risk. “Who’s going to conclude that cannabis and booze together is a bad idea when it’s bought from the same place?”
Laura resides in Halifax and is scheduled to speak at the “Nova Scotians Rise Up” rally Tuesday, February 26. She’ll be speaking about how insufficient and appalling our social support systems are as someone unable to work, chronically sick and financially challenged.
If you are using medical cannabis to treat/manage pain or illness, contact me through Comments or through the Contact tab.