Cannabis and Pain Control 14.8.2012


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Today was a terrible day.  The pain Clinic was crazy!  I have never seen so many people waiting to see the Professor.

When you are sitting in a queue for hours with people you meet every 28 days, you get to know the fellow patients.  But today there were two new faces.  An attractive young woman and her tired looking mother.  They appeared to not be very cultured or refined people.  The young woman was the sister of a patient who, like Vic, is too ill to come to the Pain Clinic.  His sister (S) and mother (M) are his proxy’s.

S became very agitated because she was told – “no appointment,  no consultation, no prescription”.  She actually used some choice language!  She kept saying “It is not for me.  I actually don’t care….”

She however bullied the nurse into agreeing to allow the unscheduled appointment.  But it was a long wait and S, I suspect, is a little ADD.  She was babbling about her brother and his pain and the sacrifices that the family had made after the brother’s motorbike accident.  At one stage of the monologue she said “Sometimes I just think I must give him some poison….”

Holy Moses!! It flashed through my mind “What type of person is this?”….

I was intrigued by the personality so I started chatting to her.  All it took was one or two questions and a flood of emotions and words poured out of them.  Sitting there I realized that I blog and that is what she was doing… S was blogging…..verbally.

She started telling their sad story.  Brother had been involved in a motorbike accident and spent weeks in ICU, ventilated and suffering some brain damage, severe nerve damage and lots of fractures.  He spent many months in hospital and gangrene developed in his leg.  His leg was amputated but the gangrene spread and this lead to 3 further amputations!  The mother said if she had known how he was going to suffer she would have prayed for him to die.

A small percentage of amputees suffer from phantom pain.  “Although the limb is no longer there, the nerve endings at the site of the amputation continue to send pain signals to the brain that make the brain think the limb is still there. Sometimes, the brain memory of pain is retained and is interpreted as pain regardless of signals from injured nerves.” http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/phantom-limb-pain.  Brother apparently squarely falls into this category.

Sister loudly proclaimed, for the world to hear, that she sometimes considers giving her brother  enough morphine to end his misery.  She believes that he is hanging onto life until his insurance claim pays out so he has something to leave his children…

The mother is taking care of her son.  It is obvious that her life has come to an end.  I see the despair in her eyes when she says “He doesn’t sleep.  Yesterday he threw his crutch at me…..”

Sister then whispers, in a conspiratorial manner, “We buy him lots of extra medication”

I asked them whether they had ever considered giving him cannabis.  “Oh yes” they said.  “We made him tea and he hated it!”

“It is better if he smokes it” I said

I looked around and saw shock and surprise register on everyone’s faces.  I could see them think “How can this (sweet) middle aged, conservative, Afrikaans speaking lady even know about cannabis?”

Well, I do know about cannabis.  I have researched every single aspect and possible pain management method and product and my research includes the effect of cannabis on pain relief.

  • Marijuana helped reduce pain in people suffering spinal cord injury and other conditions. In this study, 38 patients smoked either high-dose or low-dose marijuana; 32 finished all three sessions. Both doses reduced neuropathic pain from different causes. Results appear in the Journal of Pain.
  • Medium doses of marijuana can reduce pain perception, another study found. Fifteen healthy volunteers smoked a low, medium, or high dose of marijuana to see if it could counteract the pain produced by an injection of capsaicin, the ”hot” ingredient in chili peppers. The higher the dose, the greater the pain relief. The study was published in Anesthesiology. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20100218/medical-marijuana-has-merit-research-shows

A couple of years ago I bought some cannabis and put it in brownies for Vic to eat.  She hated it.  I gave her some to smoke.  She hated the effect that it had on her.  I know it is illegal.  Personally I have never smoked or eaten the stuff so I do not know what effect it has on people.  I have read, in 100’s of publications that it reduces the pain perception and can stop the devastation of Alzheimer’s.

I will stop at absolutely nothing to relieve my childs pain.

I then had a light-bulb moment – I realized that the mother and daughter were no different to me.  They know the heart wrenching despair of caring for a loved one who has indescribable pain.  They too pray for their loved one to find peace and release in death.  They will also do anything to relieve the pain of their loved one.

I just have an extra layer of veneer

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