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    Bill is originally from Rochester, New York.  He’s been a North Carolina resident for the last six years.
    Bill suffers from chronic pain.  He also suffers from what is called an Acoustic Neuroma.    An Acoustic Neuroma is a benign or non-cancerous growth that arises from the 8th or vestibulo-cochlear nerve. The vestibular nerve is responsible for balance while the cochlear is responsible for hearing.  The seventh nerve which is responsible for facial movement is adjacent to the eighth nerve as they pass through the internal auditory canal.
    The cause of Acoustic Neuroma  is unclear.  The gene that causes this condition curiously waits until the afflicted reaches the average age of 48. Acoustic Neuroma affects 2.5% of the population.
    Symptoms include hearing reduction to complete hearing loss, imbalance or unsteadiness, intermittent or constant facial numbness, tingling, tics, or spasms.  As the tumor grows larger or presses on the brainstem, the patient will experience headaches, facial weakness, vertigo, and unsteady gait due to raised intracranial pressure.

Bill suffers from an Acoustic Neuroma

   

    For Bill, one of the most noticeable symptoms is Tinnitus; a reduction in hearing, accompanied by ringing in the ears, or ear noise.  When the “ringing headaches” start, he has to lay down.  The room has to be dark and without noise. 
    Also with Acoustic Neuroma, there is the constant fear that it’s growing.  Presently for Bill, it has stabilized.   

    Bill has taken a great deal of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.  He has taken Demerol, Codeine tablets, and a number of non narcotic meds.   The physicians seemed to prescribe everything under the sun, including Prozac.   Anti-depressants are often prescribed for other things than depression.  

    Prozac, or Fluoxetine, the generic, in an antidepressant.  It is approved for the treatment of major depression (including pediatric depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, panic disorder and premenstrual dissphoric disorder.  More than 22.2 million prescriptions were filled in the United States in 2007.
    Side effects include anxiety, decreased sexual desire or ability, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, increased sweating, loss of appetite, nausea, nervousness, stomach upset, trouble sleeping, weakness, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, bizarre behaviour, black or bloody stools, chest pain, confusion, exaggerated reflexes, fast or irregular heartbeat, fever, chills, sore throat, hallucinations, increased urination, joint or wrist aches or pain, loss of coordination, new or worsening agitation, panic attacks, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, irritability, hostility, exaggerated feeling of well-being, restlessness, or inability to sit still, persistent or severe ringing in the ears, persistent, painful erection, red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin, seizures, severe or persistent anxiety or trouble sleeping, significant weight low, stomach pain, suicidal thoughts or attempts, tremor, unusual bruising or bleeding, unusual hoarseness, unusual or severe mental or mood changes, unusual swelling, vision changes, worsening of depression. 

Bill is also a lung cancer survivor.

    There’s not much pharmaceutical medicine can do for Bill.  “They just don’t seem to help,” He’s afraid of narcotics.  He’s been through that.  He knows there’s no future for him with opiates.  He didn’t like how pharmaceuticals could keep him from feeling everyday life. 

    With Cannabis he is able to relax and listen to music, and the headache will go away.  The cannabis helps the anxiety go away too.  Cannabis provides relief for him. 

    Bill is a cancer survivor.  16 years ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He was fortunate.  He didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy.  But working his warehouse job proved too strenuous for him, what with the Acoustic Neuroma and now, missing part of a lung.  He was forced to go on Disability.

   He tries to live his life as good as he can.  He volunteers at a local hospital, in Raleigh, the Rex Cancer Center.  It’s very rewarding work for him.  Patients come in and he gives them access to printed resource material.  There’s wigs for women who are experiencing hair loss from chemo.  In general, Bill does what he can to lend a sympathetic and understanding ear to anyone who comes in with a need.
    He’s around a lot of people every day that could benefit from cannabis. But he’s reluctant to talk to anyone about it in fear of violating office policy.  He knows that at least he can provide a measure of help to the hurting, but if he was discharged, he would do no one any good.  But it’s still frustrating for him to watch people suffer, knowing that there was something that could relieve their pain and possibly even stop the progression of their cancer.  He sees so many people who are wasting away from the cancer, the chemo, and the radiation.

    Bill believes that, in spite of the cancer and all, he’s lived a fortunate life.  He feels good about giving back to the community, particularly here in North Carolina, his new home.  It’s very rewarding for him to help people.

    Bill takes walks for exercise.  A short time ago, he began suffering chest pains.  He went to see his doctor and, the next thing he knew, he was in the hospital, looking at a stint procedure.  The cardiologist told him very matter of factly how the procedure would go and he didn’t leave room for discussion.  Trusting that the specialist knew far more than he, he agreed to undergo the surgery.
    Now he must take PlavixLipitor, and a diuretic. 
    Diuretics are often given to offset water retention, another side-effect of the prescription drugs.

Plavix is used to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack in patients who have already had a heart attack or stroke, or have other circulatory problems due to narrowing and hardening of the arteries.  Possible side-effects are easy bruising, minor bleeding, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, bleeding in the eye, change in vision, change in the amount of urine, chest pain, dark or bloody urine, black, tarry stools, unusual or severe bleeding (excessive bleeding from cuts, increased menstrual bleeding, unexplained vaginal bleeding, unusual bleeding from the gums when brushing), loss of appetite, pale skin, seizures, severe or persistent headache, sore throat, fever, speech problems, weakness, unexplained weight loss, yellowing of skin or eyes.

Lipitor  is used to lower high cholesterol and triglycerides in certain patients.  It is used in certain patients to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, chest pain caused by angina, or blood vessel blockage.  It is also used in certain patients to reduce the risk of hospitalization for congestive heart failure, or the need for medical procedures to open blocked heart blood vessels.  Possible side-effects are constipation, gas, headache, stomach pain or upset, weakness, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, bone, joint, or tendon pain, change in the amount of urine produced, chest pain, dark urine, fever, chills, persistent sore throat, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, muscle pain, tenderness, weakness (with or without fatigue), painful or frequent urination, pale stools, red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin, severe stomach pain, swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet, yellowing of the eyes or skin.

    Every day when Bill wakes up, he feels like he’s been steamrolled.  The cholesterol medicine just wipes him out.  He doesn’t have much energy.  Certainly less energy than he had prior to the stint surgery.  He’s laying down more than he used to. 
    He was told by his cardiologist at his follow-up appointment, “you have got to do this.”  “You have got to do the Plavix.   You have got to do the Lipitor.”  “You’ll have a heart attack if you don’t take the Plavix. “The stint will close up. ”  “The medicine won’t be activated that’s on the stint”.
    Bill felt like he was sold a bill of goods.  He felt that he had been lock into this.  He knew that he wouldn’t be the same.  “My body has been invaded by surgical steel.”  He just didn’t know that he’d be locked into taking a harmful, debilitating drug for the rest of his life.

    He smokes cannabis on an as needed basis.  He uses it when he “just feels bad.”  It helps him feel better.  It takes away the tired feeling that he gets from taking all the “lifestyle” medications.    He has found that the cannabis helps the prescription meds work better by minimizing the side effects.  
    He suffers no side-effects from dosing with cannabis apart from having an appetite again, something the pharmaceuticals had taken away.  
    Bill’s conversation turns quickly to the people he knows are undergoing chemotherapy.  “It would definitely benefit people who are undergoing chemo or radiation.”
    With Cannabis he gets the same desired affect every time.  With prescriptions he built up a tolerance. 

    Bill believes people should have the choice, especially if they are chronically or terminally ill.  He believes it is everyone’s right to determine how they should manage their pain.  
    He knows it’s tough on everyone when someone becomes chronically ill.  It affects their family; their friends,   He just doesn’t understand why the powers-that-be, the lawmakers can’t see this.  “If there’s a substance that allows people to have relief, make it available to them.  People who need cannabis have to go to the street.  The streets are dangerous.”      

    When asked if he would like to say a few words to his state legislators, he said, “Take a serious look at cannabis as a medical alternative.  Every week I’m moved by patients who could benefit from Medical Cannabis, people who are unable to eat, that are having chronic pain, they’re prescribed a lot of different drugs.  The spirit that these people show is visibly affected by the heavy dose of radiation and chemotherapy.  This is one thing that can help them.  Medical Cannabis.  Please take a serious look at this.  Offer it to people as an alternative.” 
    “My God, ” Bill adds.  “When people are sick, they want something that will help them.  They don’t want to be bombarded by more prescription drugs.  It becomes a quality of life issue.  …people are dying as we speak.  “

    Buddy is 86 years old.  He started in the tobacco business when he was 17.  He didn’t retire until he was 73. A buyer for Kent, Newport and Old Gold, the fast paced, highly competitive world of a tobacco broker was the driving force for most of his life.      

    Buddy outlived his wife by eighteen years.  Now it’s just him and his son Tom.  Tom is his father’s caregiver, now.  Tom is also chronically ill.

    Buddy has been suffering with Neuropathy of the feet for twenty years.  He said that it feels like nails piercing the bottom of his feet.   ” I jus’ never had anything in my life to hurt like this.”

Buddy believes Cannabis could Help Relieve his Chronic Pain.

     Neuropathy encompasses more than 100 diseases and conditions affecting the peripheral nerves-the motor, sensory and autonomic nerves that connect the spinal cord to muscles, skin and internal organs. It usually affects the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, tingling and pain.

    Buddy is a veteran.  He served four years during World War II.  He was told that it was probably the long walks packing heavy equipment that lead to his feet problems.

Two recent scientific studies (Headline from 2007) have confirmed what Buddy has found (that conventional narcotics don’t work for his condition) and what he has been told (that Cannabis is effective for Neuropathic foot pain). The following video from the 2004 Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, hosted by Patients Out of Time, features Dr. Donald Abrams, who conducted one of the studies in San Francisco, explaining the protocols for his government sanctioned research.AIDS, Pain & Cannabis, with Donald Abrams   

    Buddy also has Rheumatoid Arthritis.  He’s been ailing with it for 12 years.  
    Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, systemic Autoimmune Disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints, where it causes inflammation and destruction, and some organs, such as the lungs and skin.
    The stiffness in Buddy’s joints confines him to his easy chair and hopelessly shackle him to pharmaceuticals.  He had to elevate his legs to make it through our interview.

    Buddy has skin cancer across the top of his head and down his back.  Squamous Cell Carcinoma is one of several colored cancerous lesions visible on the surface of his bare scalp.
    Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common cancer of the skin (after Basal Cell Carcinoma but more common than Melanoma). It usually occurs in areas exposed to the sun, and can generally be treated by excision only.”

    Buddy told me that most times, he’d rather be dead.  He quickly adds that he won’t kill himself, but, “…I’d rather be dead.”  The pain he deals with is that intense.
    Over a decade of chronic illness and inefficiently treating it with prescriptions drugs has lead him to this point.  There must be something else.  For Buddy, even the thought of dying is a welcomed relief when faced with the ever growing pain he is experiencing. 

    Buddy and his son Tom are avid readers.  That’s evident from the stacks of books that fill their home.  Decades of captivity to their illnesses has honed their ability to research.  It is that energy that they focused on finding relief from the pain and discomfort they both experience.   
    Though conventional medicine fell short of a solution, one 4,000 year old medicinal herb continually surfaced in their study.  Cannabis.  From what they read, studies had shown that it not only could relieve pain and was a natural anti-inflammatory, but could also be used to increase the effectiveness of conventional medicine so that they could minimize the damage to their livers and digestive systems.     

    Buddy and Tom don’t want to break the law.  They don’t want to live out the rest of their lives in excruciating misery, either.  Buddy says his state legislator won’t listen to him because he’s a Democrat. 
    It seems all too many of our elected officials are out of touch with the chronically ill.  They steer clear of the controversial issues like Cannabis, even when they know that millions of Americans could benefit from this holistic medicine. 
    What’s it going to take?  A hundred testimonies like this?  A thousand?  Just how many more chronically ill Americans must face the fear and indignity of prosecution, even as their very lives are in peril from disease or critical injury.

    To view more of our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet/ .  We need your Testimony.  Please contact me today about scheduling your interview.  Help us change law through your personal story.