Green Without Envy

By Mia Maysack, PNN Columnist

In the opinion of some, at various points in my life I could've been considered a "pothead." 

If that is how you refer to the medicinal use of a plant that grows freely in nature, I own the judgement with pride.  

I've known people who sit around and smoke loads of grass to the point of everything being funny -- but they're too stoned to laugh. That has never been my intent or relationship with marijuana.

This is another element of living with chronic pain and illness that is severely misunderstood -- the desperation we feel for relief.  After you've tried countless traditional approaches to no avail or improvement, I don't care what anyone says. Every single person reaches their absolute limit or breaking point.

When others have discovered that marijuana is part of my care plan, I've been shunned and labeled as a drug addict by the very same people who puff cigarettes, drink alcohol into oblivion, cannot get through a day without coffee, and poison themselves with food-like-products from a drive-thru window.  

Please explain how a man-made drug produced in a lab is somehow safer than marijuana. The only difference is that the drug is regulated and thereby taxed. Arguably, that’s what all of this is about: Money.  

I haven't come across anything that eases my head or body pain. I have only been able to accumulate a short list of helpful remedies that can temporarily (but not always) assist in my co-existence with pain. 

For example, marijuana helps combat nausea, which aids with proper nourishment and hydration. And when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days or weeks, a marijuana-induced state of relaxation can mean the difference between restful sanity or a trip to the loony bin.  

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There will always be people who abuse whenever they get an opportunity, in the same way that every church has sinners and one bad pizza doesn't mean all pizza joints are bad. The unfortunate choices of a few should not outweigh the credibility of many.

When I ingested my first opioid, it lifted the agony in a way I had never experienced before. I remember like it was yesterday. I thought for sure I was too sick to make it into work but chose to attempt this pill, solely out of desperation. It left me smiling ear-to-ear on my way to my beloved nursing job.

But as I pulled into the parking lot, I was struck with an overwhelming wave of sickness and could barely make it to the trash can before completely losing it. I had an allergic reaction to opioid medication and another potential treatment was biting the dust. 

I do not touch the stuff anymore, but that doesn't change the fact that opioids have proven to be extraordinarily helpful for a countless amount of people. And these same people who were given legitimate prescriptions are now being punished by having their medication taken away, often without a follow up plan or any notice. 

Healthcare providers are balancing on a sensitive tight rope between doing no harm while attempting to avoid ruining their good legal standing or that of their practice. This is causing many patients to feel abandoned, lost and isolated, with low quality of life and high suicide rates.

Peering into the window of someone else's life and judging them simply because you don't understand their thoughts, experiences or desperation is unacceptable.

It's easy to be judgemental and not care about the crisis in pain care if you or a loved one hasn't been personally affected by it. But this is a general societal crisis that affects young and old, rich and poor. Someday it will affect you.

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Mia Maysack lives with chronic migraine, cluster headaches and fibromyalgia. Mia is the founder of Keepin’ Our Heads Up, a Facebook advocacy and support group, and Peace & Love, a wellness and life coaching practice for the chronically ill.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.