There’s something I’ve noticed throughout my years of participating in MS projects – a recurring theme no matter the brand or organization: it’s not cool to talk about my use of cannabis for my chronic pain. Talking about chronic pain is not usually an inspiring topic. And for national brands, talking about cannabis might not even be an option (until it’s made federally legal). So I’m talking about it here and now. This is part of my cannabis story.
Chronic pain is isolating, demanding, and unrelenting.
As a young person – and before my MS diagnosis – I dealt with chronic pain. The doctors thought I was just looking for pain pills and didn’t take my complaints seriously. After my MS diagnosis though, they were practically throwing pills at me. My tolerance grew and when I told them I was still hurting, they would just up my dose. This was their solution for nearly 8 years.
Chronic pain is hard to live with; from the second you wake up to the second you fall asleep, you hurt. It’s not even the same hurt day-to-day; and not just some days, but every.single.day. It isn’t usually very inspiring, it’s not pretty, and it’s not easy to sell. In most of the MS awareness projects I’ve worked on, the topic of chronic pain (and how I manage mine) is barely mentioned or sometimes avoided altogether. But it’s a reality for most people with MS, so how can we keep ignoring it?
Does cannabis totally eliminate my pain? No. But it dials it down to a much more tolerable level. For me, it’s a muscle relaxer, a mood enhancer, a stress reliever, and eases a lot of the stiffness and burning in my legs. It’s hard for me to express just how much this plant helps me. MS is heavy. The way I see it: I’ve got MS forever, and it’s gonna get worse. Why not get stoned?
I recognize that cannabis doesn’t work for everyone, but for me and so many like me, it is medicine – especially for chronic pain. I think it’s a crime that so many people in this country still don’t have legal and safe access to it, and the lack of cannabis conversation in the mainstream MS world is only perpetuating that. I think patient advocacy is a great place to start. So let’s talk about it.
And to all the organizations who reach out for their MS Month projects: I dare you to feature the full story – chronic pain and cannabis included.