My own testimony;
I’ve had 3 shoulder surgeries. The first was in 01/1994 after a few months of cortisone injections and physical therapy that did not relieve the pain or increase motion. I was 28 and could not move my R arm, brush my teeth or wash my hair. It is not known how it all started, but many years as an athlete in swimming and tennis were blamed. I had impingement syndrome, and they took out an inch of my clavicle to increase the room in the shoulder cavity. For a few months it improved, but then the scar tissue swallowed up the area and I was in pain again. Before I knew it, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and the pain spread across my shoulders, throughout my neck, and down my back. I did extra PT, and took pain pills of Vicodin, Motrin, the muscle relaxant Flexeril, and Fiorinal for the migraines the neck pain triggered. I remember one day in 1997 sitting at my desk just zoned out. I had finished my MBA and now worked in an office instead of a hospital unit. I was still in pain, but the Vicodin didn’t do anything but make me feel like I was spinning and sick, and distorted my energy and thought processes. For a couple of years, I lived like this. The summer of 1998 I decided I couldn’t do it anymore, and I went to Sharp Pain Rehab to get off the Vicodin (the other meds stayed), learning about meditation, biofeedback, and the restorative yoga and stretching I still do daily.
In 2014, I had a bicycle accident, and after landing on my palms I needed another shoulder surgery. I was glad to crash because my shoulder never stopped hurting, and I wanted to know what was going on inside my body. After the MRI showed a tear, I had the 2nd rotator cuff repair. I was back on the pain pills – and remembered filling them twice. I hoped I was going to be pain free. Surgery might have helped, but what really improved was my mental health because when I went out on leave from Anthem BC, I discovered how happy I was not getting yelled at about Obamacare (I ran sales for Anthem in San Diego). I figured out how much I was suppressing my true thoughts on healthcare in America – that I believe it is a right, and should not have a for profit corporation taking so much of the premium dollars and not helping the members, employees, employers, or doctors. I left Anthem, and sought a new way to contribute. A chance encounter in the chiropractic office landed me on a table where I received my 1st massage with CBD/THC oils. During that hour, I learned a lot about medical cannabis – and found a route to a new career. I studied everything I could on the endocannabinoid system, and how to stabilize and coach people into a more holistic path to healing.
The 2nd surgery didn’t really stabilize my shoulder, and PT wasn’t helping anymore. In 2016, I had my 3rd shoulder surgery, and got new ligaments put in – from a cadaver. So far, they’re working good. But the significant thing about the last surgery was the pain pills, or lack thereof! Day one, I took the Oxycodone they sent home with me. The anesthesia had worn off and I was miserable and in pain. Day 2, I woke up and decided to do things differently. I stopped taking the Oxy, and instead took a little bit more of my CBD concentrated oil. I also hit the vape pen 4 times a day, and bought a Kiva chocolate bar that had 120mgs of cannabinoids, 60mg CBD & 60mg THC. I had 1 square a day (30mgs) in 4 doses or 7.5mg a dose of CBD/THC. Between the chocolate, the CBD oil, and the vape pen, I had what I needed. There is anti-inflammatory control with cannabis – but it’s subtle, and works without the abrupt stop-start of the pills. The other part was pain control – the THC turned down the volume on pain, again in a nuanced way. I was tight, but comfortable, my mood was mellow and happy, and I did not have the crazed confusion that is common with opiates, nor the dreaded constipation or depression. When I had pills, I didn’t feel part of things really, because there’s a detachment and realization that there’s something wrong with me. Cannabis didn’t make me feel that, because I felt in touch with my own body. Instead of taking a pill because it’s time, I could take small draws off the vape, or munch on a ¼ square of chocolate and rest. There are way less highs and lows, and cannabis allows you to take just what you need. When you’re in a lot of pain, there aren’t the high effects that people expect, because it works where it’s needed, and is not excessive. It dawned on me, that people talk about how wonderful cannabis is for chronic pain, but no one talks about its potential in the acute phase of pain management! It is even better than I thought because now I know that people could have an out – to not have to take the opiates at all! Imagine the new paradigm if people left the hospital with 5 pills for Day 1-2, not 50.
That last surgery was the start of freedom for me when it came to pills. I used to always have a pocket full of pills. When I was in my sales career, it was nothing to take 6 Motrin, 4 Flexeril, and 2 Fiorinal a day. I always hurt, and was taught that pills help. Even I didn’t realize what I was doing to my liver or kidneys. I always had the pills, and took them without thinking. Even when I started to use cannabis for more consistent pain management, I still had the pills in my pocket – just in case. Today, they’re not in my pocket. Sometimes I get giggly just thinking about that…and feel like I’ve really conquered it! And the funny thing about that is that now I hardly even need the cannabis. I’m just better as my body has healed at a cellular level. Pills could never do that.
Now that I’m 2 years into this new career of cannabis case management, I am helping others free themselves from pills. People come to me after years on the pills, and don’t know how to start the tapering themselves, and are scared. There is a safe process that I’m honored to lead others to freedom. I realize how closed off we are as a society to the potential for more natural healing. As I ponder the possibilities, I realize that big pharma is not going to go quietly, and that we are conditioned to believe what we’re told. And that ignorance is hurting us – so it is my mission now to help people discover the healing potential of this plant. Whether it is something acute or chronic, I am learning to ask what types of cannabinoids are best for this? People need a shepherd to lead them and help them address their fears and concerns. Your health is at stake, and the doctor’s hands are tied. They’re stuck in pharmaceutical mills, and the answer is not there, it’s around the corner. This is different, more holistic and complete. When I talk to a patient, it’s about their chief complaint, but it’s also about their mental health, diet, exercise, flexibility, spirituality, connection, & finances. Cannabis is a conduit to a full life, one where you are in the driver’s seat, empowered to listen to your own body and adjust, and that is a beautiful thing. So, take a drive, and see where you end up! I hope the road ahead is as rewarding a journey for you as it is for me.