Turning to cannabis for pain relief

Disclaimers. I am not a medical doctor – or anything medical. This is not to diagnose or treat anybody’s anything. Talk to your doctor. Do your research. Find what is best for you.

This is my own experience and my thoughts and research. I hope that this may be useful to other people who are making choices about taking care of chronic pain. I am not linking to any brands of anything, and am not making money off any referrals, sales, etc. In the past 20 years, I have only used products legally.

This will be a series of blog posts covering cannabis and pain-related topics that I find interesting. If you have requests for topics, let me know.

All right –

I started taking CBD (cannabidiol) for pain a couple of years ago. I found it helped, but certainly didn’t stop the pain or hugely lessen it. Recently, I started using combined CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which greatly reduced my pain. The pain is still there, but I have regained a lot of movement and the ability to focus on things for much longer. This combination has been close to miraculous for me.

I do not get high. I do not want to get high. I take low doses aimed solely at pain relief. (No offense to anyone who does. I do not judge you – do your thing and be happy.)

I do not smoke weed. I do not smoke anything. (I quit cigarettes in March 2008. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. And I cannot smoke anything without choking these days.)

I had heard of other people – many people getting relief through cannabis for pain and other problems. I wanted to try it because I will try almost anything if I can afford it. Pain has been my constant companion for 30 years and that is not the way I want to be living. I have tried a lot of remedies. Many work a little bit. Many do not work at all.

Before this started, I had wanted to try medical marijuana. I talked with my doctor about it and he did not prescribe. I started looking into getting a medical card in Illinois. The process was long and costly. Dispensaries were about an hour away. I did not know if it would work. I decided not to bother at that point.

When all this started, I began to see CBD mentioned online and in the news. I read up about it, learned that it worked for pain and anxiety in many people. I have both of those. I decided to try it out when I got a chance.

I got my chance when I went to Oregon to visit my brother. Oh, lovely Oregon. You are so progressive. Maybe one day I can visit you again. Cannabis was legal in Oregon. Every kind of cannabis.

We visited a dispensary and I was able to talk with a nice young man who agreed that CBD was what would help me best. I did not smoke or vape so edibles seemed the perfect thing for trying out different brands in small quantities.

I took the CBD as soon as I got back to my brother’s house. I started to learn that whenever I try a new cannabis product, it goes to my head. It does not matter if it has THC in it or not. It is only on the first try. No, I have no idea why this happens. I was very giggly. My brother made it worse by playing “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” I was useless that afternoon.

The second time I took it, we were going to see the Portland Timbers play soccer. I really, really do not like crowds. Or large noises. Or commotion. I do love soccer and particularly I love Diego Charra of the Portland Timbers. So, I popped a CBD and went along. This time I did not feel much and that was great. I was able to go the game in that huge, rowdy crowd and I felt nothing. I was able to sit for most of the game in ball-park seating. I was able, after the game, to go on a huge hike to find the restaurant he wanted to visit. No problem. And that was amazing!

Did I still hurt? Yes, but I hurt at a lower level. More importantly, CBD clicked something in my brain, and I stopped giving a rat’s furry butt about the pain. This was not being high. This was just not caring about things like pain and crowds and discomfort and movement that had plagued me for years. I do not know how this works. I have tried to find out, but this not giving a parrot’s tooty patootie was not mentioned in any of the articles. Folks (and I mean the government here), you need to open scholarly and medical studies on cannabis ASAP.

Whatever it was, it worked for me. I used CBD for the rest of a great trip. And came home to Illinois where it was still illegal. And waited a couple of years.

I first saw CBD at the Neighborhood Co-Op health food store. It cost nearly $100. And I mentally sorted it into the big pile of treatments I cannot afford. I talked about it with my husband and he was excited about it. He thought I should try the CBD and we could figure out how to afford it.

So, I bought it. And it worked some. Not as good as the Oregon CBD, but ok. I have since found that there are different types of CBD and different brands can be quite different. (I will write an entire blog on this later.) It took me a while to find a brand that worked well, but I did. And I was good with using CBD for a couple of years.

The only good thing of 2020 happened on January 1 when recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois.  We drove to the hour to see the dispensary. There was a line of people fully around the building. In January. Every time we drove by it was just as busy. Even with the CBD, my legs cannot stand in line for that long.

I waited. Covid-19 struck. I was stuck at home ALL the time now and getting tremendously grouchy with my pain and everything else. I learned that the dispensary now had a program where you ordered online and went to the dispensary at a designated time to pick up your order. I could do that.

I did that. Showed up for my appointment with my mask and gloves. Got my ID checked. Went into a waiting room, took a socially-distanced chair, and waited, looking around at the 8 other people in the room both masked and unmasked. A masked person opened the door, calling out “next!” A man got up and walked with them. I had no idea how he realized he was next. They didn’t give us numbers. I started to pay really good attention to who was in the room and who was coming in at that point.

Eventually, I figured out that I might be next and went inside to pick up my order of three types of small-dose THC and CBD/THC blended edibles. I wanted to take it in the car. But I did not do that because it is illegal. I got home, took my first THC dose, and a little while later somebody just turned the dial down on the pain.

They turned the dial WAY down. I could still feel it a little. (And I do still have bad days.) I would notice it. But the pain was not getting in my way. And with the CBD I didn’t give a flipping cartwheel about things that used to bother me. Life is suddenly better, much better. I can live with this level of pain.

Over the next month, I kept moving more and better. I could stand up to chop vegetables at the kitchen counter. I could bend over and pick something up off the floor. I could sit down and stand up without additional pain. I am not playing dodgeball or anything crazy, but I am moving. And moving more and better all the time.

That is my basic story. I plan to write a round of other blog articles: different cannabinoids, other ingredients like terpenes, micro-dosing, different delivery methods, avoiding the high, how to tell if your cannabis is quality, and more.

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