Tell Us Your Story of Chronic Pain

chronic-pain-opioid.jpgOpiates such as hydrocodone and oxycontin have a high risk of being abused and can have long term negative effects on overall health. In fact, nearly 91 people die from opioid abuse every day. In states where there is a comprehensive medical cannabis program, opioid deaths have been reduced by nearly 25%.

No person should have to live their life in a state of constant pain, and no doctor or patient should be constrained to a single option in the management of severe and chronic pain.

Please share with us your story of living with chronic pain, and how the opioid epidemic has affected you.

Showing 4 Comments

  • Kyle Hill

    commented 2018-12-20 13:40:42 -0500
    was born in Overland Park, Kansas and raised in Spring, Texas. During high school, I trained as an emergency medical technician, nursing assistant, and pharmacy technician, my summer’s home from college were spent volunteering as an EMT and mentoring at-risk elementary school students. I received my undergraduate degree from Trinity University in Speech Communications with a concentration in public speaking/debate and a minor in Biology. Throughout college, I engaged in various community service projects, implemented school blood drives, tutored science for underprivileged high school students, and even participated in highway clean-ups.

    Seven months after graduation, while studying for the MCAT, I was involved in a near-fatal car accident. On my birthday, July 15, 2010, after a night of celebration, a woman ran a red light at 80mph t-boning me as a passenger. The accident fractured my C-1 and C-2 vertebrate in what is referred to as a hangman’s neck fracture. The impact of the vehicle severed my femur at the joint, smashed my pelvis, broke my collarbone, and fractured most of my ribs on the right side resulting in excessive internal bleeding. I was life-flighted to Memorial Herman Hospital in Houston, Texas and had the pleasure of being a patient of the legendary trauma surgeon Dr. James “Red” Duke. Pain management was a necessity given the extensive nature of my injuries. I started on a Morphine pump which my body rejected, causing violent vomit spells, and switched to scheduled dosages of Hydromorphone delivered via IV port. My lengthy hospital stay, complicated with a bowel blockage and Clostridium difficile infection enlightened me more than I understood at the time. I spent several weeks at Memorial Herman, treating my various injuries with a halo placement, nasogastric tube, and powerful antibiotics. After my situation stabilized, I was driven by ambulance to Health South in the Woodlands, an inpatient rehabilitation center close to my family’s home. Before being discharged from the rehabilitation center, it was necessary for the IV port to be removed and the Hydromorphone was stopped abruptly. This inadvertently exposed me to the grim experience of opiate withdrawal with no explanation for the fever, convulsions, uncontrollable vomiting, muscle spasms, and excruciating pain I endured.

    With extensive in-home rehabilitation, I was able to leave the wheelchair behind, relearned how to walk, and before long was back to running. Four and a half months in a halo provided me with a unique perspective on both mortality and medicine. The next few years were riddled with various prescribed opioid concoctions; hydrocodone, Vicodin, Percocet, fentanyl patches, as well as gabapentin and various off-label psychotropics for neuropathy. I fell into the life of a pain-stricken depressed zombie which later gained me various psychiatric diagnoses. I eventually discovered my extensive run with pain management pharmaceuticals had resulted in a strong decline in my mental and psychological health. I was prescribed, started and stopped every anti-depressant, anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, and anti-psychotic on the market in 2011 for my plethora of diagnosis. My dreams of applying to medical school were placed on hold as my health became the highest priority. I began to pursue other passions, working as a Zoo Ranger at the Houston Zoo, a laboratory technician for Quest Diagnostics and finally as a scientific liaison in addiction studies at UT Medical Center in Houston, which is now quite ironic, but at the time simply a decent after graduation job. The extensively prescribed polypharmacy destroyed my quality of life, and things became so difficult I was prescribed a 2-week “vacation” at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. The two weeks included “regulating” my current prescriptions and conversations once a week with a psychologist, who engaged in fruitless attempts to discover suppressed traumas from my childhood.

    Upon my release, frustration with traditional medicine led me on an internet quest to explore the vast therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-based medicines. Cannabis was touted as a natural remedy which would supposedly ease my pain, calm my anxiety, reduce my depression, and help me sleep at night, without terrible side effects. This seemed too good to be true, but after in-depth research into the Endocannabinoid System and the effects cannabis has on the human body, it all made sense, and I quickly became an advocate. Cannabis had a role in almost every ailment I researched. A burning desire to travel while working at UT led me to quit my job and leave the US to teach English and Science at Hwahong Public elementary school in Suwon, South Korea. During my second contract in Korea, I began working toward obtaining a master’s degree in clinical research from Walden University, with the interest of learning more about the process and origins of pharmaceuticals from bench to market. I was also tutoring a Korean naturopathic physician and was learning all I could about Eastern medical practices, including acupuncture, herbal medicine and the importance of mind-body therapeutics. The time abroad aided in my recovery from opioid overuse due to limited access and a stringent prescribing regimen among Korean physicians. At the end of my 2nd year in Korea, I decided to combine my knowledge, experiences, and passion for medicine and applied to St. Martinus University, a Caribbean Medical school, located in Curacao. I believed strongly in the idea that patients should have a more active role in how they wish to be treated and strived to become a compassionate physician capable of providing well researched allopathic and alternative options for patients.

    Courses in physiology, pharmacology, and alternative medicines led me to constantly compare and contrast various marketed pharmaceuticals with natural alternatives I had previously learned about in Korea. I often thought about “what if I had been offered a plethora of natural options instead of polypharmacy?” This sparked my burning passion to not only educate but also connect with others that have experienced a struggle with chronic pain management, poly-pharmacy and a similar downfall into opioid abuse and addiction. I have made it my mission to expose the horrific realities of overprescribed and poorly monitored poly-pharmaceuticals while utilizing scientific, economic, and sociological data from various avenues to construct a sound argument that medicinal cannabis is a safe and effective treatment option for pain management.

    **I would love ASA to use my personal story and photo in cannabis advocacy materials but with my approval first as I’m currently still in medical school and want to mitigate any backlash for applying to residency as much as possible

  • John Macdonald

    commented 2017-10-28 20:21:21 -0400

  • Eric Janero

    commented 2017-10-19 21:00:50 -0400
    I’ve had worsening health issues since I was 17, I’m 34 now, and only recently after my 4th major surgery, tons of pills, an implanted morphine pump, Ketamine Infusions, and everything else my doctors could think of, my pain doctor asked me if I’d be willing to try cannabis. Since I was living in Austin, TX at the time though, cannabis is illegal whether it’s medical or not there so she couldn’t officially recommend it, nor was there anywhere to legally purchase it. Despite those hurdles I was able to find some medical-grade cannabis flower, but after years of high dose opioids and other prescriptions it just wasn’t strong enough to provide much relief. A bit discouraged by the whole situation, the lack of available products or even basic information, I spent a long time doing research online. I quickly learned that I needed to try concentrates and edibles, but I also learned there were a million different products available in a million different strains and dosages, and essentially zero guidance for patients. I started messaging companies in Colorado and California trying to learn as much as I could. I had to try to narrow things down, because the truth is it’s hard enough just trying to survive when you’re on disability, let alone have extra money to fly across the country to buy and try a bunch of products. So with all that information I was able to narrow things down, and I flew out of state to give them a try.

    Within minutes of vaporizing cannabis concentrate my pain, nausea, and muscle spasms began decreasing. I was getting 40-60% better symptom relief than all the pills gave me. So now, after having moved to California just to have access to these products, and after using them for several months, I have been able to get off more than 10 strong prescriptions. I’m also in the process of reducing my implanted morphine pump dose too, and will hopefully be able to get rid of it all together at some point after my upcoming procedure and surgery.

    I’m beyond grateful to have discovered how life-changing and effective cannabis can be, but the fact that I had to pack up my life and move across the country just to get proper medical treatment is criminal. It’s also wrong and honestly shameful that all the prescriptions I use to take cost only a $2.90 copay each, whereas cannabis is costing me over $600 per month since of course it isn’t covered by insurance, despite the fact that it works better, is healthier, and is my recommended treatment by my doctors just as any other medication that is covered would be. Governmental policy, especially healthcare policy, should be backed by actual science, not fear and propaganda. No one should have to jump through all these hoops just to get effective medical treatment.

  • Marissa Valeri

    published this page in Share 2017-09-08 14:57:25 -0400