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Medical marijuana and me
Louisiana blogger shares her path to healing now that the cannabis flower is legal in Louisiana
Have you ever done an intense workout after not working out for a very long time? I mean run a marathon without training intense – When you are done your body is temporarily running on adrenaline, but the morning after you are riddled with soreness, stiff muscles, and unimaginable aches and pains. Compound these feelings with headache, flu-like fatigue, mental fogginess, anxiety, and gastrointestinal issues, such as gas, bloat, and constipation… OH and my favorite INSOMNIA, just to name a few. Well, my friend, this is the only way I can help you visualize the pain, agony, and discomfort of my new best friend fibromyalgia.
I’ve had those symptoms off and on most of my life, initially isolated, then in my thirties they started to appear compounded. You can find a reason for the occasional tension headache or a sleepless night, but when you are thrown into a whirlwind of symptoms that keep sending you to the doctor because you are almost sure you have cancer or endometriosis, or maybe you are dying… yes it gets that extreme. Every day I had to drag myself out of bed, I was drinking four or five cups of coffee and the occasional Coke throughout the day just to stay alert. I would have at least two Tylenol or a BC to relieve headaches and other body pains with minimal relief. I was always tired, even if I went to bed on time. And, I would often be overwhelmed by the simplest task.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic 2020, I got desperate. The stress of the unknown, coupled with everyday life just sent my body into a fibromyalgia frenzy. It became unbearable. I became depressed. I decided to take a risk: I was going to get a Medical Marijuana Recommendation. (To get access to medical marijuana in Louisiana, you need to have a licensed Louisiana physician evaluate you and provide you with a recommendation. The Recommendation paperwork is sent to one of the Licensed Pharmacies in Louisiana where medical marijuana is dispensed.)
I had been in the “know” of the marijuana movement in Louisiana for a while. I remember joining a Facebook group about ten years ago. They would send the latest info, encourage sending letters to your senators, and had several protests like gatherings around legalization. I was never a big smoker in college, or adulthood, probably from the horrible experiences of having low tolerance and freaking out the few times I tried it. As an adult, I became an occasional “closeted” consumer to help calm my anxiety, fatigue, and tension pain. The taboo and shame surrounding the subject were still very real. We were taught marijuana is a “gateway drug”, getting “high” was sinful in nature, and only people in the “street life” smoked weed.
I was none of this. I was a wife, a mother, a professional, and a Christian. Therefore, I quickly learned to give myself boundaries for being a closeted marijuana consumer. That is, never partake in public, never partake socially, and never partake before you have somewhere to go.
When the original medical marijuana legalization came to fruition in Louisiana, it was VERY strict; basically, you had to be dying or going to die in the near future to be eligible for the required doctor’s recommendation, and there were only a handful of doctors who were either eligible or even willing to provide said recommendation. There was still a sense of taboo and shame in even trying to navigate the requirements. Also, there wasn’t a lot of detailed information provided to the public. Where do I start? Who do I ask? If I ask my doctor will they think I have addiction issues? Will this go down in some kind of permanent record? Will I be considered a bad mother? The list of questions goes on.
I remember passing a billboard on I-12 every morning that announced medical marijuana eligibility including any debilitating illness. It was around the time I had received an official fibromyalgia diagnosis and my symptoms kept getting harder and harder to bear with the added stress of the pandemic. I was taking a lot of medication with unpleasant side effects and at times I was not able to function at all. I was a complete mess. I decided to research more into the new eligibility requirements to see if medicinal use would be an option for me. The research led me to the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
Even after the extra research, there was still a lingering sense of imposter syndrome; which is common among those with chronic illnesses, especially invisible ones. Maybe the doctor won’t believe my pain. What if they think I just want to get high? What if this goes on my medical record? I decided to be brave. I researched a few clinics and picked one that had good reviews.
I was able to get a same-day virtual appointment. That calmed my nerves a little as I didn’t have to be denied or judged in person, but I was still apprehensive as I awaited the appointment time. I received an email to fill out new patient info which asked the normal questions from any doctor’s office about preexisting conditions and family history. Then it was time to virtually meet the cannabis gatekeeper. Honestly, as the session starts, I’m still nervous, still waiting to be judged, still thinking the doctor will think I’m some kind of drug addict, but it was quite different. He comes onto the video feed, introduces himself, takes care of the housekeeping as he collected the $200 initial consultation fee. He was very approachable, he wanted to hear about my pain and actually was in agreement that he thought this would really help. Oh the relief, I can feel my nerves ease.
It’s only medicine not the gateway drug of my mother’s era. I also think it helped that I was able to provide documentation from my rheumatologist regarding my condition as I explained that other medicines were not giving the total relief I needed. He recommended that I start slowly with using THC-infused tinctures, then tapper higher quantities as needed. As we finish up the appt. he says he would fax over the recommendation to the Baton Rouge pharmacy (dispenserary) and I can receive medication the same day if I get there before closing. To my surprise, there was no judging, there was no ah-ha gotcha moment. There was such a relief, it was so easy.
Continue reading about this journey to securing flower marijuana in Louisiana here.