Medical marijuana makes living with AIDS bearable

April 03, 2007

Bobby Ebert, OpEd, Pawtucket Times

Living with AIDS is a daily struggle. For nearly a year, Rhode Island has allowed me and others living with this disease to have legal access to something that helps: Medical marijuana.

But if the legislature doesn't act, we will lose that protection at the end of June.
The picture for those of us living with HIV/AIDS has improved over the years. Better treatments help keep the virus under control and give us a decent shot at survival. If you could see me right now, I don't look obviously sick.

But that doesn't mean everything is fine. It's still a pretty miserable disease. Nausea, appetite loss, and pain are common, even if you can't see them. Many of us look fine on the outside, but on the inside we're suffering.

Sometimes the nausea and pain are side effects of the drugs we have to take to stay alive. You wouldn't believe how bad it gets at times.

For example, there is a type of pain called peripheral neuropathy, nerve pain in the hands and feet, commonly caused by both HIV and by AIDS drugs. Regular pain drugs don't help very much, but, as a just-published study done by University of California researchers showed, marijuana does.

In my case, this comes on top of the pain I experience every day as a result of back surgery I had to have in 1994, in which they removed a section of one disk in my spine. My back will never be the same, and the pain is constant.

Like many chronic pain patients, I've been prescribed all sorts of pain medications, including powerful narcotics like morphine and Vicodin. Each of these caused more problems than it solved. For example, the morphine made me so sick I was throwing up constantly and had to stop taking it.

The Vicodin made me so groggy I couldn't function. I couldn't even speak without slurring my words. The things I'm doing now - like speaking in support of the medical marijuana law - would be completely impossible if I were still taking it.

And these narcotic pain drugs are addictive. When I tried to quit the Vicodin, I actually suffered withdrawal symptoms: Greatly increased pain, fatigue, irritability, and nausea. It was horrible.

Marijuana eases my pain and nausea without all the problems caused by narcotics. It doesn't make me too drugged-out to function, and it is much, much less addictive.

When it passed the medical marijuana law, Rhode Island did a great thing for me and others suffering the effects of AIDS or other serious illnesses. Because of this law, I and more than 200 other Rhode Islanders can now do what's best to take care of our illnesses, and do it without living in fear.

All I want to do is live out my life without constant pain, and without becoming addicted to narcotics. Thanks to our medical marijuana law, I have been able to do that.

Please, let's make this good law permanent.

<!-- if (parseFloat(navigator.appVersion) == 0) { document.write('<IFRAME width='' MARGINWIDTH=0 MARGINHEIGHT=0 HSPACE=0 VSPACE=0 FRAMEBORDER=0 SCROLLING=no BORDER='0' BORDERCOLOR='#000000' SRC='http://bannerads.zwire.com/bannerads/bannerad.asp?ADLOCATION=4000&PAG=461&BRD=1713&LOCALPCT=100&AREA=407&VERT=1039&NAREA=407&AT=IF&barnd=1558'></iframe>'); } //--> <A HREF="http://bannerads.zwire.com/bannerads/redirect.cfm?ADLOCATION=4000&PAG=461&BRD=1713" ><img border=0 alt="Click Here!" SRC="http://bannerads.zwire.com/bannerads/bannerad.asp?ADLOCATION=4000&PAG=461&BRD=1713&LOCALPCT=100&AREA=407&VERT=1039&NAREA=407&barnd=780"></a>
Bobby Ebert lives in Warwick.




Be the first to Comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.