Life in Oregon as a cannabis patient is typically non-eventful. Patients actually have amounts that work out well for those who wish to create their own medicines. I’m one such patient. I wrote about my healing with cannabis in my first book, Confessions of a Back Porch Herbalist in which I shared how I healed my severe rheumatoid arthritis initially using cannabis in various forms. After I achieved clinical remission, I began to include herbal tinctures and teas which I formulate myself in my healing regimen.
A few years ago, Oregon legalized recreational cannabis which placed patients in the position of deciding whether or not to continue in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). For those who simply used cannabis in conventional ways, many chose not to renew their cards. I’ve renewed each year since because of how ill I was during the thirteen years my RA was severe and the protections it can give me federally. At least that was true until the so-called new guy was elected and he chose Sessions as Attorney General. Any state protections may at this point be mute.
I wrote about my last experience at my rheumatologist’s office sometime last year after the appointment. My last doctor (my fifth) moved away and my new doctor seems nice. We had just legalized recreationally when she came on board so I felt comfortable explaining what I was doing to remain in clinical remission. I had never felt comfortable until that point. I already knew that the clinic wasn’t interested in signing off on my patient application and that I would need records to take to a cannabis clinic so I didn’t bother asking my new doctor to do that. But what I did want was a partner in my care. One who would be there if I needed something. One who would essentially be in a support position while I continued to treat myself. I thought we were on the same page.
Then I went to my appointment last year and after the standard rheumy questions, upon rising, how long do you experience pain and stiffness in your joints and which joints are you experiencing that with? I answered, none.
I reminded her that I still wasn’t experiencing any return of symptoms. At that point, I was nearing the two-year mark of being Humira-free. I discontinued that last drug I was injecting on September 13, 2015. So I couldn’t believe what she said next. She recommended that I begin injecting Humira again, even though I have no symptoms which would require treatment using such a dangerous drug. I was stunned and didn’t know what to say.
The next thing I knew she was asking me to do some x-rays and some bloodwork under the guise of establishing where I was at that point. I agreed albeit hesitantly and left for the lab to get my blood drawn. I have to share that when I told my husband about the tests she wanted me to do, his immediate response was, so she’s going on a fishing expedition? I gave him a wry look and said nothing as we walked into the lab. I informed the techs in the lab that I WAS NOT FASTING. In the past, even when I tell them this and they check the appropriate box on the computer (I know because I’ve watched them do it), when I receive my test results in the mail, it never fails that the results indicate that I was fasting. I reported this to my last doctor before he moved away and he shared that other patients had told him this and he reported it to the higher-ups. In fact, he was quite upset that it was happening. But it was clear that his report fell on deaf ears because as of last year, my blood work shows that I was fasting, which I wasn’t.
Here’s the thing. Doctors see a whole lot of people on a daily basis and if they see test results that are out of range, they might not remember their patient telling them that they weren’t fasting. So they believe the results and then they have a staff member contact the patient about their high glucose level while said patient and her husband are driving in the car. Which is what happened. I have bluetooth so I answered the phone on speaker without violating the law and listened as the woman told me my glucose was high and would I like to take an A1C test. I had been diagnosed with insulin resistance while I was so ill and took Metformin for a couple of years. Along with my primary care doctor’s help, I discontinued the drug because I didn’t need it anymore.
After reluctantly agreeing to do the test and hanging up the steering wheel (remember it’s bluetooth) my husband asked what my number was. I had no idea because the woman didn’t bother to tell me. So I waited until I received the results in the mail at which point every vulgar comment known to humanity came spewing out of my already well-known potty mouth. It was 114. I wasn’t fasting. So it was fine. No need for anything else.
I had to think about this. I’ve been thinking since last May. And I’ve finally made a decision. I’m going to find another doctor.
And it doesn’t really matter if it’s due to the visit I had with her or the fake test results. Either one is enough of a reason to leave. I understand why a doctor would feel uneasy about signing off on cannabis patient applications so I’ve never made that the deal-breaker. And I don’t need anyone to fawn all over me about how I did what none of them were able to do which was to make me well. But that’s what I did, no matter what they think about it.
I feel bad about all of this. I would have loved a relationship with my rheumatologist that was based on respect and dignity. Instead, I got something else. I have no problem with short-term solutions but given that rheumatoid arthritis is considered a chronic illness that typically doesn’t resolve for most people, that’s not my doctor’s mindset. And apparently, she’s not interested in trying something new. But that’s okay. It’s her choice.
It’s as if cannabis patients are tainted somehow. We’ve tried something when nothing else works. And we heal. I had no idea that would happen. And then, two and one-half months after beginning my own medication regimen, I was in clinical remission. That was in March 2011. The doctor who left didn’t even bother to tell me although he did put it in my records. I found it when I took my records to the cannabis clinic so at least I knew. But it was disrespectful and as far as I’m concerned malpractice to not tell me that I was doing well. No. All he could muster was to tell me that there was nothing further he could do for me and he would do what he could to keep me comfortable.
Again, I get it. We’ve been lied to forever about the safety and healing qualities of cannabis. DEA licenses can be placed in jeopardy if doctors prescribe a drug (plant) that is wrongly considered Schedule 1. So, I would never ask a doctor to do something he or she would be uncomfortable doing. All I wanted was some wiggle room and some respect for what I’ve been able to accomplish.