I really shouldn’t read articles about Rheumatoid Arthritis anymore and I absolutely should NOT read any comments that might be posted. Even when my RA was severe, I could only handle so much time on forums because it was too depressing. Rheumatoid Arthritis sucks. When it took over and became severe, which it remained for thirteen years, my entire life changed. The fatigue alone was like nothing I had ever experienced, more along the lines of mononucleosis than feeling over-worked or having gone without sleep for too long. It was like all the energy I had to even breathe was compromised or missing. I immediately had begun retaining fluid at an alarming rate and my normally frail appearance was replaced by someone I didn’t recognize and since I wasn’t on steroids, this was the disease itself doing this. I felt as if I was sloshing about in boiling hot water. It was horrible. And none of my doctors did a damn thing to deal with that.
I’ve had six rheumatologists over the years with most eventually moving to other areas leaving me wondering what fresh hell I would go through upon meeting a new doctor. My current rheumy never saw me when I was so ill, having come on board after I achieved clinical remission. I’m sure it’s frustrating when there’s not much she can do for me now, but it is what it is.
When I read articles discussing the different issues we experience and then the solutions they offer, I want to scream. But when I read the comments RA sufferers leave, I want to scream and cry. I understand extreme pain because I experienced it 24/7 for all those years. It’s a pain so all-consuming that you enter a new normal that few can relate to. Until joint damage becomes visible, we don’t necessarily look sick. We might walk more slowly and we might forget what we’re saying in the middle of a sentence or where our car is parked or be unable to dress ourselves or walk without help, but it’s all good because most people have all sorts of suggestions for us that if we’d only just try what they suggest our lives would be oh so much better. Right. And then here I come telling people that cannabis can change everything.
After thirteen years with severe rheumatoid arthritis, I became a cannabis patient in 2010 and by the middle of March 2011, I was in clinical remission, something the drugs I was prescribed could never achieve. I never told my rheumy at the time why I was well because he wasn’t interested in signing off on my cannabis card application. If he had ever confronted me about why I suddenly got well, I would have told him. But he never did that and moved away before we legalized recreationally here in Oregon. After that happened, I felt comfortable telling my current rheumy about how I healed. It made no difference, however, because we don’t discuss it, only when am I going to go back on biologics. I’m not. Or how much pain and stiffness do I have upon rising and for how long. None and none unless I overdid it in the garden the day before. I turn sixty in October. I walk four miles per day, sometimes more. I got well. By myself. I fail to see why that’s a problem or why folks just can’t be happy for me.
I want so badly to tell everyone who responds to these articles that they can step off the chronic illness train and take command of their healing. But I know that not everyone has access to the amount of cannabis necessary with which to saturate their bodies in order that they heal. It’s the approach I took, but then I grow my own. I was unable to grow for myself initially so my husband took care of everything until I could finally help with the garden. I processed the cannabis into medicine, but even with that, he would pitch in when my hands gave out or the fatigue was too much. In addition to the plants I have for processed medicine, I keep a few smaller plants to pull leaves from to include in fruit smoothies. Raw cannabis leaf or bud still contains healing plant acids that dissipate when the plant is dried or processed. It also has the advantage of medicating without the psychoactive effect that smoking or ingestion of processed cannabis creates. So it’s a great way to medicate with cannabis during the daytime and I still use it in my daily smoothies.
I also know what it’s like to worry about everything when we’re ill with this awful disease. Could I do all of my grocery shopping or would my husband have to park me in the produce department while he ran around the store getting everything we needed? Or could I even get out of the car and walk into the store at all? Doctors tell us that they understand this disease only so far. I’m not suggesting that these folks aren’t caring or compassionate or good at their jobs, but that there’s an option that many aren’t in a legal position to embrace given the federal issues they and their DEA license could possibly face, particularly with the current Attorney General. And potential cannabis patients face the same concerns when the state in which they live keeps cannabis in all forms illegal. So as much as I would like to flood the comments section for articles on rheumatoid arthritis with how I healed or a link to my first book, Confessions of a Back Porch Herbalist, I don’t. Instead, I head over to the blog and work out my frustrations here.
Before I became a cannabis patient, I had been reading Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief. One day I decided I was fed up with this bullshit disease and I told my body that this had to stop. I began speaking to my cells and telling them that playtime was over and it was time to get on with it. I was done with chronic illness, and I meant it. It was then that I ordered my medical records and sent them to the cannabis clinic in Portland. I received an appointment after they reviewed my records and we drove to Portland on the day of my appointment. I met with a nurse and then the doctor and we chatted about my RA and how cannabis could help me heal. With my signed paperwork in hand, I mailed everything to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program office and waited a little over a month for my card to arrive. It took a little over a month and then it arrived. And in the time it takes to have a baby, I was in clinical remission. We grew over the summer and after harvest, I had enough to begin making medicine and at the end of December 2010, I was ready to create a medicating program for myself. By the middle of March 2011, I was in clinical remission. I had begun gradually discontinuing my prescribed medications remaining on the biologic until September 2015 when I injected my last dose on September 13. I’ve had no return of symptoms in almost two years and I continue to support my recovery with cannabis medicines along with herbal tinctures and teas I formulate to keep my immune system functioning normally.
It’s hard to deal with RA even when we have support from the medical community. Because as nice as they all are, all that seems to happen is that we stay in one place. We might fluctuate back and forth and have better days now and then, but we seem to stabilize somewhere and it’s never in the direction of remission. I’ve read about some folks for whom RA is either acute and then over or never seems to dominate their lives, but for many of us, it’s a forever thing. I just decided to reject that premise and try something different. And it worked. And even though not everyone can take that same approach, in time laws and beliefs may change so I’m going to say it anyway:
Cannabis can heal chronic illness. Life can be lived either without or with fewer limitations. After thirteen years of pure hell, I can barely remember what I went through now, probably because I don’t want to, but still, it speaks to a recovery that I didn’t plan on. I thought I would be ill for the rest of my life and I couldn’t have imagined I would feel as I do now. And cannabis did that. A plant that never should have been made illegal has brought healing and a sense of peace that I thought was gone forever.
So, let go of what you think you know about this plant. It just might save your life.