Chronic Pain from Hell by Jana Christian

Self-medication for the treatment of addiction or chronic pain is often reported. In a graphic encounter, Ms. Christian and her husband discover that the suffering from spinal injuries can, in some cases, be ameliorated.

I’m a 57-year-old woman disabled through chronic pain. My husband and I live with identical injuries in our necks and lumbar spines, and as a result, Chronic Pain from Hell.

My husband and I were just discussing marijuana again, a subject near and dear to both of our hearts. Recently we just existed for over a week with NO marijuana. As we use it for Chronic Pain, a week and a half is an eternity to people like us.

We’ve both noticed there’s a pattern for us. We start trying to talk ourselves into the fact that it’s okay to be out of pot, that we’ll be fine. Maybe we’ll even give it up and save money. But it’s all that we use for pain relief. We start sniping a little at each other. In the past, we would substitute alcohol. Alcohol may cut us off from the pain momentarily, but we will be at each other’s throats in a matter of hours, there’s just no question. And that exacerbates stress, and stress begets more pain through clenching of bodies in response to the stress.

I’ve decided that the properties of marijuana have not been touted nearly enough, because how do you put such things into words? I’m a writer, but words to describe the feeling of having marijuana under our roof when we live in so much pain just have not been invented yet. That’s how strongly we feel about it. But let me feebly attempt to try.

Pot is the best muscle relaxer known to man. Everything relaxes. With agony like ours (nerve/spine pain), the perfect antidote for clenching your body clearly is marijuana. I watch my husband’s facial muscles relax. He becomes a completely different person, someone I love to be around. I see him want to stretch his muscles, where prior to smoking marijuana, just ain’t happening. He’s lucky to shuffle across the room to some new position. I see his smile re-appear after long droughts of pot.

He gets involved with people and things he used to care about. He gets creative, I mean REALLY creative. His lyrics could rival Bob Dylan, he’s THAT good. His food could blow Emeril’s away. And his photography…never seen any better. Our minds are expanded to such a degree and that gives us a good day. We constantly smile, though we’re still in the midst of pain. Just to feel human for ANY length of time is a blessing I just can’t quite describe. Sometimes you’ll notice you haven’t had any pain for say, like, an hour. You scream “hallelujah” as if it’s a National holiday. It’s that noticeable.

Time away from our pain killer of choice is cause for much depression, and not because we’re in withdrawal from marijuana’s effects. It’s because we start clenching our bodies again against every wave of pain. Our muscles get frozen in nasty positions. We are again UNABLE TO SLEEP. And IF you are lucky enough to sleep without the aid of pot, the fact that your neck remains in any position for too long means you’re screwed when you do wake up. You know the two worse times of the day are when you wake up and when you go to bed. Both are agony.

So you go into mini-hock because the Feds tell you that what you choose for pain is illegal. Where is the research on that? And you can’t buy that new bed you need desperately for relief, because your pain medicine (marijuana) is so expensive, you have to choose. And maybe IF you had medical insurance besides Medicare you would have to give in to the conventional and harmful medications of choice, narcotics, but in your heart, you know that your particular brain chemistry responds well and BEST to pot. But no one believes your story. You start to envision yourself in a lunasylum. Because you know your pain is so real it’s SURREAL, yet your medication is illegal. But you need your medication, or suicide is sure to follow. (I know the three S’s of Chronic Pain: sleeplessness, sorrow and suffering. I now add suicide, unless an intervention is made.

And you live like second-class citizens because the powers that be don’t bother to get to know herb. Well, I’m here to shout about it.

The truth about marijuana is this: It DOES allow a person who withdraws from life through pain to live a daily existence with some dignity (quality of life, HELL; I’d settle for existence at this point). It allows the person dying from auto-immune disorders and body-decaying cancer to at least enjoy their last days eating the foods they once loved with an appetite produced by you-guessed-it, smoking marijuana.

It brings out long-suppressed creativity. Creativity once stunted maybe by coming from dysfunctional families who expressed NOTHING. Creativity stuffed further down by the shame of coming from these hideous places by picking up any animate object that momentarily changed who you were (but that was at least SOMEthing to feel – anything different from who you truly were). I started to empathize with people who cut themselves to release the emotional pain. And what a relief that could be. Marijuana has served as a sort of truth serum for me. It has allowed me to relax to the point of being me. And not hiding behind masks. And that’s a lot.

All I wish is for someone to hear me, someone who can direct us to pain relief once and for all. Someone who can direct me to the person with the most influence RE: legalizing medical marijuana. I will continue to write my senators and congresswomen.

I pray that 2004 is a year to remember RE: getting something done about this drug UN-war. It frightens me more than I can say. Maybe I can make a difference.

4 Responses to “Chronic Pain from Hell by Jana Christian”

  1. Ryan Roger James Angeli says:

    hi Jana. i read your story and i am touched. i also have chronic back pain resulting from scoliosis, as well as anxiety, depression and anger. i may only be 18 years old, but i am POSITIVE that i want to pursue a career in medical cannabis. i discovered marijuanas medical properties while smoking recreationally. now i only smoke it medicinally.

    i recently moved in with my father, his girlfriend and my little sister in San Diego from San Francisco, where i lived with my pill-addicted grandmother after living in a very depressive, angry household with my mother and step-father. while living with my grandmother, i was under continuous stress from school, family, health and financial issues. my father does not allow me to smoke in the house or on the property, yet i have no money to buy medical cannabis. i am currently under MORE stress from re-adjusting, job hunting, getting into college (including San Diego’s Legal Cannabis Institute), getting a car, making friends (i am a very social person) and most importantly, renting an apartment.

    although my chronic back pain is not too severe, i was diagnosed with depression on my 14th birthday…what a happy birthday that was. and the stress builds more and more every day. my family just tells me to see a chiropractor or take Vicodin for my chronic back pain but they don’t know the severity of my depression. i have so many things on my mind and ten tons of shit on my plate right now that i don’t know what to tackle first. obviously its getting a job but that is turning out to be a task of its own since i’ve been here for three weeks and have literally only found 3 places that are currently hiring.

    its a catch-22 because i need to smoke every couple days to handle the stress of aimlessly looking for work(from a medical standpoint), yet i need a job to pay for the cannabis. and just like you said in your post, nobody will listen. i am getting zero support from everyone i know when it comes to my career choice. they tell me if i want to be in medicine i should go to a REAL medical school and get a REAL job. so i don’t talk about it anymore.

    i guess my time living with family has officially run its coarse. please e-mail me back if you read this, so at least i’ll have SOMEONE to share opinions with.

    sincerely, Ryan

  2. Steve Haag says:

    The world is a wide range of darks and lights, pain and bliss, likeness and unlikeness, ignorance and understanding. It’s a courageous walk. We’re given so much sensitivity to experience with. We’re left to make the best we can among all the impressions however wonderful or difficult to tolerate. Stay open for the good.

  3. Jana Christian says:

    Thank you SO much for responding to my plight. Medicinal Marijuana should be legalized, which would solve our deeeeeep debt. I feel for you being so young and having to endure your pain by yourself. If, at any time you need a friend, beep me at my e-mail angelsink_jana@yahoo.com hugs, janajay

  4. Steve S. says:

    I have been through years of pain and agony after many motorcycle accidents as a young man, and from falling from a roof two stories high into concrete. Several years ago I had surgery, which resolved some of my problems. Now 59 years old and diagnosed recently with degenerating disc disease and severe athritis of the whole spine and many other places in my body I am at my wits end for relief. No insurance because I cannot afford it, so purchasing narcotics are out of the question, but frankly ones I have borrowed from a friend, vicodin, have proven to given short stints of relief that do not last long. I would really like to try marijuana. I used it when I was young but gave it up after becoming a Christian. But now I feel like it just may be the answer to my problem. I live in Virginia, a state that is far behind in any kind of acceptance, and to be caught with it would mean serious fines or even jail time. So what does a person do? I love my wife and family and don’t want them injured by me doing something stupid by trying to buy off the street. But is there a way to get some just to try it and see if it will even work?

    Helpless in Virginia.

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