Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis- My experiences

The Disclosure (Cannabis is a personal experience):

Before I begin, I'll start off by guaranteeing my experiences  with Cannabis will likely not be like what you may feel, experience or "survive" while huffing, puffing, munching, vaping, slathering on your skin, chewing in the gum, shoving up your butt in a suppository or however you consume Cannabis.  Raw uses are inert for your information, more akin to Lettuce.  It has to be heated singularly to be active to have the effects that could be confused for Recreational use.  It could also be used to enhance relationships for female pleasure, slathering places I can't discuss here on a family friendly blog... Ahem.  Anyway my experiences are mine alone, but there are credible studies on how it affects Multiple Sclerosis overall. I do encourage you to explore and see how you like best.  At its worse, it will not do harm unless you let it, I cannot say in all honesty it's completely safe but it has done way more good than bad in my MSed up life since 2000.  One hit in experiment, a single cooke even if eaten fast and feelings of OD are overwhelming, sleep is all that is needed.  Sometimes sex but this is a fairly safe blog and we'll stick to a therapeutic sleep.  Onward past 2005 when I used it first to quit a 35 year addiction to Tobacco at 39 years old.

Early Use and Cannabis:

I was introduced to Tobacco before I was born in 1965, through my mother who was a tobacco consumer until the late 1970's or early 80's.  My father quit after a stroke in the early to mid 1990's.  I lit my first cigarette at around 5 years old as an act of independence I am sure, it must have gone unchallenged by adults.  The 1970's were a strange time as no one saw any problems with kids and tobacco use.  Childproofing was a swat when caught.  By the time Tobacco use got tough on youth I was an adult.  Cannabis came into my life with some pretty powerful strains fresh out of Vietnam when I was 12, carried me through my Teen years with other influences and chemical experiences.

Wazat connection to Vietnam?


My home community was close to a remote community of draft dodgers from that war during the 1960's and then the actual Vets themselves once that war ended in the 1970's who went there to the wilds of Northern BC to recover.  Cannabis is a treatment for PTSD among its diverse medical uses, very illegal in the Canada and USA of the time and widely used by the solders without realizing it helped what they felt...   They had some major grows around the area, growing in the woods and cabins on Crown Land.  Everyone local that I knew had at least one plant, some were actually seeds left over from the Vet's first generation stuff.   That was my original form of rebellion, as my folks didn't seem to mind the Tobacco use but had Refer Madness views they tried to impress on me.  I was hauld home once by the RCMP at 14 while I warned of a life of crime ahead.  A school expulsion still I puffed as I explained why I should remain in school after selling the "Demon Weed".  I think I heard that my roots were in hell like the plant they caught me distributing.  I lived that life till I was in my early 20's, a rebel without a clue bumbling through life and trying to find work.  I began working with the Canadian Forces through the Canadian Cadet organization as a volunteer at 19 as well as the BC Forest Service around 21.  I had pretty much quit Cannabis before I turned 25, no longer wanted to make Dad mad and had work to do.  Thrill was gone, I would have a puff at camp. it wasn't addictive like pain pills were earlier in life trying recreational use of that thanks to a fellow Bud I outlived. That was the life I lived before MS spiced with Cannabis and individual rebelion shaping that life really hurting no one but personal relationships.


Limbo to MS Diagnoses

1999 was the start, the first indicator of the Diagnoses that would come a year later.  The woman I had been living with for 5 years not so gently placed my stuff on the sidewalk one rainy morning in late May.  Wasn't all my stuff, but that is another story too long to get into here.  Thrilling if you didn't live it yourself.  Long and short of it, about a week later in very early June, just after settling down into a new residence I walked into a wall.  The corner of the wall actually.  It kind of surprised me, that wall hadn't been there the day before I thought or the hall had shrunk somehow.  I went to the bathroom I had been heading to and checked the small cut above my eye in the mirror.  At that time I discovered I had problems seeing from that eye, which concerned me more than that wall.  I rushed down to an optometrist who referred me immediately to a specialist where I found out the recent break-up had left me without medical coverage.  Meh, the specialist's 20 min lookover gave me a $360 bill and a stern warning about how medical insurance is mandatory in BC and it is illegal to be without it.  No answers, but I think I heard the words "Optic Neuritis" mentioned.  I looked at her and thought "well, suicide is illegal too..."  It was the start of my decline.  I had not tried Cannabis at this point in a number of years.  I started a year of spirail and doctors looking at everything except my mental health, to have an MRI in a mobile unit which gave me a diagnoses in June 2000.  It got worse, just after diagnoses, my father died in July. It would take me on a roller coaster of Antidepressants that darn near killed a family I resided with and DMD's that made my MS worse and almost killed me.  My refusal of those treatments got me tossed from the MS Clinic who refused to treat me and my personal health care provider  doing the same when he learned of my Cannabis use which I restarted in 2003 to combat the drugs when I refused the MS DMD's and antidepressants.  I did not know the exact benefits it was doing for my MS yet, it was combatting other problems and challenges at that time much better than pharmacy is all I knew.

The non-medical Cannabis supported years

I learned of Mental Health support in 2003 after a really low time in my life after leaving my doctor's care.  The Mental Health condition I had carred since youth undiagnosed was discovered because of the MS while my doctors tried the DMD's, the Antidepressants brought it out as they tried to prepare my body for the DMD's then being denied treatment upon refusal.  Being not supported by my permanent health care team I had to find the tools myself during those years.  Those tools still exist if you need them (at least that was what I was told by UHNBC but I cannot confirm on their website), they can be found through the Northern Health building across Edmonton Street from the University Hospital of British Columbia.  It's called the Community Resource Centre or CRC, ask for it by name when you contact that office.  The "Bounce Back Program" was developed from those years,  I spent 2 years going through those sessions, both group and private with a psychiatric nurse.  A group session I attended on "Assertiveness" gave me the tools to control my mental illness and my life.  The first positive step I took after that was in August 2005 when I gave up on a 35 year Tobacco addiction.  Cannabis was a big help in that step.  Tobacco was a trigger for the Mental Health.  I had contacted Northern Health who in 2005 was exploring Tobacco cessation techniques from a Northern Health office on Milburn Street between Spruce St and where Milburn chances to Upland St.  Not sure if that's still there but "Tobacco Cessation" is now a big part of Northern Health's overall structure of wellness along with other healthy living lifestyles.  Before 2006 I had been invited back to the newly structured Northern Health MS Clinic which had visiting MS Neurologists from UBC to manage clinic patients, mine knew of Cannabis but ignored the use and respected refusal of drugs.  My family doctor also requested my help, was impressed I had quit smoking and agreed to respect my choice of medications but ignored the Cannabis and got my acid reflux, high blood pressure and cholesterol under control.  He was most impressed that I had quit smoking tobacco on my own (*the road I took actually).  It apparently was a failure of his for every  patient he had up to that point, his own habit had been dropped and was a bit of a sensitive spot I felt when he had asked me to leave his office for Cannabis use a couple of years before.  I found out from a personal contact with MS, a former Nurse for Northern Health that he had his own issues with mental health.  Meh.  Doctors can be patients too I realized and softened towards his attitude,  I had made contact and had became an Activated Patient of the Patient Voices Network by the time I returned to my doctor and the MS Clinic,  I encourage you to to the same.  It will connect you to our provincial MS Community at all levels among every other affliction and condition and profession, just with your friendly nature and knowing your journey to become who you are to that point.  It also gave me trips to Cannabis friendly Vancouver and opened many doors in that world.  Just because it's considered medical, it does not stop anyone from enjoying it, particularly me.  That did not work so well with Pharmaceutical, alcohol and this way was way safer in my humble opinion.  Coming back safe and alive appeased my contacts.

Cannabis and our future

Sometime before 2009 my MS Neurologist signed my legal paperwork for the Consumption of (then known as) Medical Marihuana, the "Medical Marihuana Possession Requirements" form or MMPR.  Around 2013 my Neurologist retired and I switched to a new one, she refused at first.  I sighed and asked my doctor.  He tossed up his hands and said "If you have something for me to sign, bring it in.  Until then, shut up about it" as he stormed out of the room.  I chuckled.   I downloaded the form from the Health Canada website (it was a difficult search at first) then he filled the form, did not charge me for several years.  Last year it was 10 bucks.  Doctors have a ceiling in BC as to how much they charge for any form, I ask people to "shop around" if the price seems too steep.  It's a single signature, an amount not exceeding 5g a day and his contact information not to exceed 12 months.  He found a way to make money (likely hard to find from BC Health insurance patients) and he does volunteer a lot of time in the Walk In clinics of the city.  I had no problem paying it.  Thanks to changes in our federal government it is now called "Cannabis" and the information can be found on Health Canada's new website that was changed to reflect Healthy lifestyle choices but directs you to seek a Licensed producer.  You can find how to grow it yourself. That is the direction overall I see that Health Canada is adapting at its core, that page should be updated for the most current information when you look.  The form you need, now known as the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes (ACMPR) form that you take to your doctor can be found there, here it is in PDF form to download and print,  It will be changed to the most recent if changes happen from these links to their site.  You must have it before you apply to become a grower,

But what does it do fo me?

*sigh* For starters.  It replaced all those antidepressants that took me on a roller coaster ride through early MS life.  It helped when I dropped the MS DMD's cold turkey described above, still helping me say upright today.  I did some damage to my right arm with a Scooter accident that is wild when I describe it but too long for this post.   I got a strong dose of heavy duty opiates to deal with the pain as I was in the Hospital for about a week and got a batch of pills to take home.  The moment I arrived home I started to consume Cannabis. I had withdrawals from the narcotics given by the hospital it was easier to deal with Cannabis.  No one should be convinced to do dishes and take out Kitty litter at 3 am as I had to with one arm.  The opiates did noting for the pain that shoulder was feeling.  Cannabis got me all the way through it and the pills are ready to be returned for disposal.  It does more.  It helped with the Tobacco cessation.  I did have other help from Northern Health as described above and I think it is still helping as 35 years of abusing it with Tobacco I am still relatively healthy despite having MS for 17 years as I type this.  I have no Cancer so far, No serious terminal diseases or other serious indicators.  My bones seem stronger. The accident I had should have created more damage, I was traveling so fast as I hit the ground

Tell us about the accident already and how does it relate to Cannabis?

Some MS Affected friends had come to town for Labour Day Weekend 2017.  I live in an apartment building, the weather was nice.  I took my mobility scooter to the park in what I consider "My Backyard" atop of Connaught Hill.  We got to the spot, relatively fast.  We consumed a few Cannabis cigarettes as we watched small rodents and birds and other forms of nature occupy their time.  It was a lovely way to reconnect with old comrades.  It came time to roll back down the hill home, and just like I had done a millions times before I rotated my seat on my scooter and prepared to go.  Something was wrong.  My power was on and my triggers did not move me back or front.  I considered my options.  It was downhill.  There is a "freewheel" setting used to move the scooter in this situation.  I thought there was a safety feature built in to Scooters, a misunderstanding somehow burnt into my thoughts, that prevented overspeeding.  Anyway I slowly rolled free to the top of the hill.  I could use my feet at that time to control the speed and sit to ponder if I had the safety feature in this machine as I took off.  I was quickly building up speed when I realized I didn't have the safety feature.  That realization came just as my hat took off from my head and likely landed behind me someplace.  I felt I was going faster than the posted speed limit on an active road and it was getting hard to control the device,  I was drifting over to the oncoming traffic lane on an active road and there was a corner arriving very fast with a speed bump behind it.  I simply stepped off at high speed once I pulled myself into the lane I should be on and expected that the worst that could happen likely was better than trying to roll all the way down on the scooter.  I tore some small bone very important to controlling the arm at the socket which I broke a corner off of and had a ton of road rash.

What will Cannabis do for you?


That I cannot say.  Like Multiple Sclerosis, your experiences will be unique to you.  I can guarantee that it will not kill you, you MAY enjoy it if you let it be enjoyable.  If you get too high, you will sleep it off peacefully.  Eventually.  You just need to get comfortable.  Take it slow when you are new.  Just because you are a seasoned consumer of one way be aware different forms of consumption have different effects on your body.  be open to explore all of them at a pace comfortable to you.  All use is medicinal and there are many more ways to consume and use than smoking it!  Many uses do not make you high.   It is safe to experiment.  Take it slow at first, with new ways of ingestion and consumption.  Find your best way and don't limit yourself.

Closing.  Very little to do with Cannabis

A couple of years ago, our local office of the MS Society of Canada closed suddenly and the entire structure of the Society changed nationally.  We have a new chapter now, with a Society staff member from Nelson coordinating a new region of MS affected people across Northern BC, the Yukon territory and a few communities in Southern BC.  The New chapter is known as the Northern Regional Chapter.  The Prince George Multiple Sclerosis Self Help group was left in Prince George to manage the hole in our community left by the closing of our local office.  We Are not affiliated with the chapter.  In fact we consider the chapter part of our community, exactly 1/3 of the population of support we enjoy as patients.  There is another Self Help group in Quesnel and there could be one in your community.  The biggest thing we found in Prince George is that the Prince George MS community has no independent source of income.   Our group had to reform to fill that void and restore the trust in our locally affected community that the MS Society of Canada had not completely abandoned us.  The first thing the group needed was a leader.  A "Co-Facilitator, Meeting Chair Person" was located, as well as a member of the Northern Regional Chapter to act as a Society Lesion.  My position of Facilitator sets the direction the community goes over its existence, someone else will hold that role eventually.

Rebirth needed funds to grow

When the chapter was here we enjoyed a lot of activities because of the funds supplied by the office for our regional events held locally,  we had a lot of clients throughout the PG Chapter's small area.  The MS Walk is the biggest fundraiser the Society has, It has happened here for at least 20 years.   A large percent of the funds donated to the popular Walk stayed local because of the Chapter.  Support from Prince George and surrounding areas had dropped drastically since the office closed.  Another of our members, actually our MS Society Lesion formed a Team for our MS Walk happening on Sunday, May 27 in Lheidli T'enneh (formerly Fort George) Memorial Park, check in 11am.  The thing we discovered was that Self Help Group teams get 10% of donations collected returned to us to give back to our community.  If you help us, we can help others.  our meetings run between September and June, 1 to 3pm every third Thursday of the month.   Plans are underway to host a second meeting in a later time slot that could be more convenient for others.    There could be an MS Walk in your Northern community too, the Quesnel Self Help group helped their community form a a walk event and has a team too!

Find your way to our Walk in Prince George below!

See you there!  Don't forget to donate or join our Walk team supporting Prince George!

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