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    “Eight years ago, Brenda was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was in stage one when they found it.  She underwent the lumpectomy and sentinel node.
    A lumpectomy is where just the tumor is removed as well as the normal breast tissue that closely surrounds the tumor. Sentinel node refers to the removal of lymph nodes under the arm to check for the spread of the disease.
    “They shoot radiation into your breast and they follow it up to the nodes to make sure that you don’t have cancer in your lymph nodes. And I did not, so all I had to have was radiation…and hormone therapy. Because my cancer was fed by the estrogen.”

    Tamoxifen is used to treat certain types of breast cancer that require estrogen to grow. It’s often used following surgery and radiation.
    (Drugs.com can provide more information on this line of treatment.)
    “That’s the drug from Hell, too…the hot flashes were like a hundred times worse. I mean you just break out into a sweat all over. For no reason. I mean 25, 30 times a day. And the radiation…it was..I don’t know…it was a weakening. It didn’t hurt. It was completely painless. You wonder, what are they shooting through your body? But you…can’t feel it. But you can afterwards.”

    Brenda still has scars from the over-spray of the radiation, now, eight years later. It burned her skin. Brenda was lucky that she’s dark skinned.
    After the treatment, “…they were surprised because they said, most of the time, the skin peels away. But I’m part Indian. They said I did very well.”
    One of her breasts is bigger than the other because of the effects of the radiation.
    “After the radiation, it left you very drained. And, so nauseous, you didn’t even want to think about food.”

    Brenda had heard that cannabis was good for treating the nausea following cancer therapy. So she tried it. “…and I could eat my dinner.”
    Maintaining a consistent weight was important. The wasting that follows this kind of treatment can kill just as easily as the cancer it’s self.

    Brenda underwent thirty-five days of radiation. “…Boom, boom, boom.” That’s the deliberate way the treatments went. Then, another type of radiation. “They gave me two different kinds.”
    “If I hadn’t had the cannabis to get through the nauseousness, I would have lost weight and, I don’t know, …who knows what would have happened.”

    “Cannabis gives me a lift. It doesn’t lay me back or anything. I want to do things, and it gave me energy that I didn’t have at that time. I could eat. That was the important thing.”

    Following smoking cannabis, she did have some respiratory irritation, but that was minimal and could have been remedied if she would have known about vaporizers.

    Brenda also suffers from arthritis in her knee and in her hip. In addition, she has chronic pain in her feet and has had surgery in both of them.
    “…I get around real well. Fifty-seven and I still mow the grass. I usually smoke cannabis before I do. It kind of lessens the pain and keeps me going.”
    The anti-inflammatory benefit of cannabis helps her with her arthritic pain. “It takes your mind away; away from your pain.”

     Brenda sums up her feelings about cannabis by saying, “They should let people grow their own medicine if they want to. And it would be so easy. So easy for somebody. Plant a little seed. Get some medicine.”

    Here is my video interview with Brenda:

    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.  “

   In spite of everything he’s been through, Richard is a remarkably easy going guy.  Unless you knew him, you’d never know that he was chronically ill.  But then, his more obvious scars have healed. 
    In 1991, while working construction, Richard fell over 40 feet, severely dislocating his left shoulder.  Five surgeries were to follow, so was pain that would not go away.  This was in addition to three herniated discs in his neck and seizures that he has suffered from as a result of multiple head injuries.
     Through it all, he has seen 7 pain management Physicians.  They intern doled out the usual fair of highly toxic prescription pain killers,  – OxyContin, Methadone, Morphine, and Percocet – common opiates.  In addition, the was given Dilantin to offset the seizures.  
    These drugs, though highly addictive, can be quite affective in reducing or even eliminating pain in the short term.  Unfortunately, because of their toxicity, they are normally only prescribed for short durations.  People with chronic pain are almost always left lacking once their physicians have exhausted their short list of narcotics.

Richard uses Cannabis to treat his chronic pain and seizures 

    These toxic pain killers racked Richard’s body with a host of side effects:

OxyContin is a narcotic pain reliever.  It’s used to treat moderate to severe pain.  Side effects include:  constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, sleeplessness, vomiting, weakness, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, confusion, difficulty urinating, fast or slow heartbeat, seizures, severe dizziness, lightheadedness,, or fainting, slowed or difficult breathing, tremor, vision changes.    

Methadone is a narcotic analgesic.  It’s used to treat moderate to severe pain. Side effects include:  constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, increased sweating, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, confusion, excessive drowsiness, fainting, fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, mental or mood changers, seizures, severe or persistent dizziness or lightheadedness, shortness of breath, slow heartbeat, slow or shallow breathing, swelling of the arms, feet, or legs, trouble sleeping, trouble urinating, unusual bruising or bleeding.

Morphine is a narcotic pain reliever.  Side effects include:  constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, exaggerated sense of well-being, headache, lightheadedness, nausea, restless mood, vomiting, rash, haves, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue, excessive drowsiness, hallucinations, pounding in the chest, seizures, shock, shortness of breath, sudden chest pain, and sweating.

Percocet  is a combination of a narcotic and an analgesic/antipyretic, Acetaminophen and Oxycodone. It’s used to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain.  Side effects include: constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, flushing, lightheadedness, mental/mood changes, nausea, vision changes, vomiting, rash, hives, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, change in amount of urine, dark urine, slow or irregular heartbeat, slow or irregular breathing, stomach pain, yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Dilantin is an anti-epileptic drug, an anticonvulsant. Side effects include:  hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, swollen glands, fever, sore throat, headache, skin rash, confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, slurred speech, loss ob balance or coordination, restless muscle movements in the eyes, tongue, jaw, or neck, tremor (uncontrolled shaking), extreme thirst or hunger, urinating more than usual, nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), easy bruising or bleeding, swollen or tender gums, changes in the shape of the face or lips, itching, dizziness, nervousness, sleep problems (insomnia), twitching, vomiting, constipation, headache, and joint pain.  Other side effects may occur.

    A common complaint among chronic pain sufferers is constipation.  Physicians are hardly quick to tell us that a side effect to Opiate pain killers is an apparent shutdown of internal function.  Only those who have experienced it know the terrible pain and humiliation that we experience as a trade-off for the pain – and this is only one of many terrible side-effects.  Rarely do physicians tell you, when this awful side effect sets in, that the cause isn’t a symptom of the disease, but actually caused by the pharmaceuticals that are supposed to be treating the condition.  
    The next thing one can expect their physician to order is a stool softener, and maybe an exchange of medicine to another narcotic, but once someone has been graduated to an opiate/narcotic pain medication, there is very little else available on that level. 
    If this condition persists, one can eventually expect to be fitted with a Colostomy bag.  

    For Richard, there was still yet another hardship to face.  He contracted Hepatitis C.

    Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infectious disease affecting the liver.  It is a very serious, potentially fatal condition.   An estimated 150-200 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C.

    Hepatitis C compromised Richard’s liver.  Now he must be very careful about toxins like Opiates.  Dosages that his physicians used to prescribe would most certainly kill him now.
    His only choices were to live out the rest of his life in excruciating pain and disability, or seek out a holistic alternative that would by-pass the liver entirely.  Cannabis is the only medication that fits that bill.
    When Cannabis is smoked or vaporized, it provides a holistic treatment for pain, seizures, and many other very serious health conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalgia, Lou Gerick’s Disease, and others.  For those who are suffering from liver disease, Cannabis can be safely ingested through the lungs, thus bypassing the liver and  avoiding any unnecessary distress
    What’ more, studies have shown that when heavier narcotics are required for pain or relief from seizures, dosing with cannabis can reduce the amount of prescriptions required to as little as 1/3.

    Cannabis is not only the best choice for Richard medically, it’s his only choice.

    Back in the early 90’s, William was in a car accident.  He sustained whiplash, a couple of herniated discs, and a few broken bones.
    Complications from the back injury prompted his physicians to put him on a cascade of lethal pharmaceuticals.
    A couple of drugs put him in the hospital, some caused hallucinations, others – uncontrolled body temperature, still others – violent fits.  “The anti-depressants basically made me happy I was in pain,” remarked William.

    Anti-depressants are routinely doled out to the chronically ill under the premise that, whether the cause or the effect, the patient must be depressed.

    William suffered with a migraine that lasted for a year.  He would have to lock himself in the bedroom, pull the shades and lay there in the darkness.  Often he would cry from the intense pain.

William struggled with prescription narcotics

    The drugs that his doctors had him on put him in another world.  They robbed him of his short-term memory.  The only thing that kept him grounded to reality while he was on prescription meds was the pain.
    The only drug that he found that sufficiently relieved the pain was Percocet.  But because of its toxicity, physicians will only prescribe it on a limited basis.

    Percocet, a narcotic analgesic, is used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain.  It contains two drugs – Acetaminophen and Oxycodone.  Acetaminophen is used to reduce both pain and fever.  Oxycodone, a narcotic analgesic, is used for its calming effect and for pain.
Percocet is known to cause dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, sedation, and vomiting, but most serious is its high tendency for dependence.

    William had a friend who asked him if he had ever tried Cannabis.  He admitted that he had used Cannabis on occasion recreationally.  His friend asked him if he’d ever used it to treat his pain.  William realized that when he used Cannabis, he felt better.
    He and his friend went out and obtained some “black-market” Cannabis and William began dosing.
    That day was the first time that he had control over his pain in 14 months.  He cried that day, not because he was in pain, but because he was released from it.

    He’ll always have the injuries that he sustained from that car accident long ago.  But he’s able to manage his pain now, with Cannabis and physical fitness.  He finds that he doesn’t have to dose on a daily basis anymore, but only on the days when the pain is too much.  On those days, Cannabis “… does the job for me.”  With it, he no longer takes any pharmaceutical meds for pain.
    The only side effect he has experienced from dosing with Cannabis is that he got hungry.

    But the story doesn’t end there.  William was diagnosed with Epilepsy when he was eight years old.  He’s been on a wide range of medications to treat it.  Depakene, Depakote, Tegretol, Dilantin, Phenobarbital, Klonopin, and many others.

William realized that he had one month to find an alternative.

    With some of his medicines, all he wanted to do was sleep.  He spent much of the time unconscious.  The Tegretol gave him violent mood swings.  Others would cause him to break out in rashes or hives; one even caused him to bleed on the surface of his skin.
    It was Klonopin that finally enabled him to gain control of his seizures.
Due to the seriousness of Klonopin, physicians only prescribe it as a last resort.  Two of the many side-effects of this serious drug are short-term memory loss and coma, but with the high frequency of seizures that William was experiencing, he considered it a worthwhile trade off. 
    At one point, he was experiencing 12 to 15 seizures a day.

    For years, wherever he moved, whatever doctors that he would have treat him, they would always prescribe Klonopin.
    A few years ago, he fell on hard times.  He owed his physician money, so the physician refused to treat him or sign for refills of his prescription.
    It’s hard for him to discuss this time of his life without him becoming emotional.  He remembers going to his physician’s office, with other patients there, pleading with him to give him his medicine – so that he could work, so that he could drive – he was a single father with two kids – so that he could do the things he normally did that he knew he wouldn’t’ be able to do without that medicine.
    The physician begrudgingly agreed to fill William’s prescription for Klonopin just one more time, but that was it.

    William realized that he had one month to find an alternative.  He got online and looked up alternative treatments for Epilepsy.  He found a vegetarian diet, exercise, meditation, prayer, and Cannabis.  Because he only had 30 days, he did them all.  he turned vegetarian, he started a strict exercise program, he meditated and prayed every day, and he started smoking Cannabis religiously.
    When the 30 days were up, the prescription was gone, but he didn’t have anymore seizures.
What’s more, they stayed gone.  After a year, he was no longer a vegetarian, he didn’t meditate and pray every day, and he didn’t exercise like he should, but he continued to dose with Cannabis.  It’s been three years and he has not been on any prescribed medicine and it’s also been three years that he has been seizure free.
    About six months after he had been off the Klonopin, William’s physician ordered an EEG at the local hospital to check the progress of his Epilepsy.  What they found was that the seizure activity in his brain had actually increased, but they no longer surfaced.  He no longer had any visible seizures.

    William is a hard working American.  He works a full time job and contributes greatly to his community.  William takes care of special needs children.  So much so that a number of local agencies compete for his services.
    He’s raised two children on his own.  Now he’s helping others raise their children.
    All William wants – instead of pumping his body full of pharmaceutical toxins, making him sick, lose his memory, lose his mind – is just to be able to medicate with Cannabis once in a while, so that he can be clear headed and pain free, so that he can continue to be an asset to society.

    To view more of our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit our website at www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet .  We need your Testimony.  Please contact me today about scheduling your interview.  Help us change law through your personal story.  I can be contacted at seren001@swbell.net.

 

Terri Garr suffers from Multiple Sclerosis   
    I just finished watching CNN’s piece on Teri Garr and her private battle with Multiple Sclerosis. 

    I grew old with Teri, though I always thought she faired better with age. I enjoyed her many movies and natural beauty.  Very funny, too.
    Who would have thought this morning, while watching a very young Teri Garr on an old rerun of Star Trek and commenting on how attractive she was then, that later that same day I would be Blogging on her.

    Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, potentially debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord.  Doctors and researchers think the illness is probably an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system attacks part of your body as if it’s a foreign substance.

    I was curious if Teri’s maintenance, if not remission with this illness may be due to her using Cannabis.  A little research showed that she is a paid spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company.  I can see how that might inhibit any admission from her to using Cannabis.
    Further research revealed that Ms. Garr has served as Chair for the
National Multiple Sclerosis Society since 2002 and as Chair for the Women Against MS.
    Garr said back in 2005 that she won’t advocate medical marijuana for MS-related pain because she doesn’t want her 11-year-old daughter trying the drug. But she agrees that as a
relaxer, pot is “probably better than booze.”.   Obviously, she is quite familiar with its Anti-anxiety properties.

    But a lot of research has come out since then.  The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has, in fact recently come out with their own endorsement of Cannabis for the treatment of MS.    
    The odds are looking very good that Garr doses with Cannabis. 

 Joe uses Cannabis to treat his MS

    “There are several drugs out right now that can’t stop multiple sclerosis, but they can slow it way down,” Says Garr who has also suffered side effects. “They also made me puff up like a balloon. So I looked horrible. I hated that.”
    The first time I read this, I jokingly said that if the bloating was due to weight gain from overeating, Cannabis may be the culprit, but that’s obviously not the case here.  Terri’s symptoms appear to be more pharmaceutical by the way it sounds..  Definitely not something to joke about.

    I truly do hope that Teri uses Cannabis if for no other reason than to offset the symptoms from her pharmaceuticals.  According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society ,these are approved drugs for treating MS and its symptoms:

 Avonex:  An Interferon beta-1a drug, Avonex’s primary benefit is as an anti-inflammatory.  Side-effects include  flu-like symptoms, injection–site reactions, depression, seizures and liver problems.   A one month supply of Avonex can run anywhere from $1600 to $2000.

Betaseron is a Interferon beta-1b drug.  It’s an E. coli derivative.  Its primary benefit is also as an anti-inflammatory.  Side effects include depressed mood, anxiety, trouble sleeping, restlessness, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, bruising, swelling, oozing, injection-site reactions, weakness, headache, muscle pain, weakness, stomach pain, swelling in hands or feet, skin rash, and irregular menstrual periods…other side-effects may occur.

Copaxone:  (Glatiramer) How Copaxone works is not fully understood, but it appears to reduce relapses.  Side-effects include can include anxiety, back pain, chest tightness, diarrhea, ear pain, fever, flu symptoms, infection, flushing, joint pain, loss of appetite, mild redness, pain, itching, nausea, neck pain, nervousness, painful menstrual flow, rapid eye movement, skin nodules, stomach pain, sweating, swelling of the legs and feet, vomiting, weakness, weight gain, abnormal thinking, dizziness, fast heartbeat, memory loss, tightness in the throat, tremor.

Novantrone:  (Mitoxantrone) Novantrone is used to reduce relapses.  Among it’s side-effects are:  rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, chest pain dark pink or bloody urine, fast or irregular heartbeat, fever, chills, sore throat, persistent cough, increased, decreased, or painful urination, mental or mood changes, anxiety, depression, mouth sores, inflammation, severe pain, persistent tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, sinus infection, sudden, unexplained weight gain, swelling of the hands, legs, or feet, unusual bruising or bleeding, vision changes.

Rebif:  Rebif is used to reduce relapses, as it seems to be the cover point for most MS drugs,  as well as the fact that researcher have no idea how this one works, either.  Side effects include:  drowsiness, flu-like symptoms, headache, tiredness, fever, chills, back pain, muscle aches, weakness, pain, stomach pain, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, change in vision, chest pain, dark urine, depression, feeling cold or hot all the time, infection at the injection sight, seizures, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, unexplained change in weight, yellowing of the eyes, or skin.

Tysabri:  Tysabri is a monoclonal antibody.  It’s also a very dangerous drug.  It’s usually given to patients who cannot use other MS treatments or for patients with whom other treatments don’t work.  They don’t know how it works, either.  Side effects include diarrhea, headache, joint pain, muscle cramps, pain in the arms or legs, tiredness, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the muth, face, lips, or tongue, changes in balance, eyesight, strength, or thinking, chest pain, or discomfort, chills, dark urine, depression, dizziness, fast heartbeat, feeling cold, fever, flushing, muscle pain, nausea, painful menstrual periods, painful urination, right-sided back, stomach, or side pain, severe or persistent headache or tiredness, shortness of breath, sore throat, suicidal thoughts or attempts, swelling of the hands, ankles, or legs, tremor, vaginal discharge, itching, or odor, vomiting, yellowing of the skin eyes.  By the way, this is not a complete list either.

     Chances are, Garr uses Cannabis for medicine.   Why do I believe that?  According to recent statistics from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society one out of every two MS patients already use Cannabis.  That’s not only good odds, it’s good reasoning on behalf of the average Multiple Sclerosis patient.  After all, using Cannabis means the average MS patient won’t have to use as much harmful pharmaceuticals, or maybe not use any at all.

     Dr. Denis Petro is the consulting Neurologist for the Multiple Sclerosis Patients Union.  In one of our Patients Out of Time videos, Dr. Petro remarks on the fact that there are currently no less than 7 clinical trials that prove that Cannabis does have anti-spasticity benefits for the MS patient. Petro, whose research regarding Cannabis spans over 25 years, is frustrated by our government and media’s refusal to recognize what other countries the world over already accept for years, Cannabis is real medicine.     
    “Drug companies only want to do research on something that will bring money down the road.” Concluded Petro.

Dr. Petro speaks to the press regarding Cannabis treatment for MS

    All things considered, if all Teri is experiencing is bloating and she’s not experiencing any of the other more lethal side effects of prescription drugs, I’d  have to say she’s either using Cannabis, or miraculously fortunate.
    The only prescription drugs available that actually benefit MS patients cause terrible side effects, that is, except for one, cannabis.  And cannabis allows MS patients to use less prescription drugs while increasing their effectiveness.

    250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis by a physician. Tell me again why Medical Cannabis is illegal…

    To view more of our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit our youtube channel at www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet/.

    This is my friend Jack.  Jack’s a pretty remarkable guy.  Jack has MS.  I’ve interviewed a number of people with MS, but none quite as remarkable as Jack.

The first time I met Jack was in 2006 while traveling across the country with Journey for Justice 7.  My good friend and Denver Caregiver Diana McKindley agreed to introduce me to some of her patients.  Jack was number one on the list.

Jack is slowly making his way back from Chronic MS

    At the time of my interview, Jack was still having difficulty talking.  So for the interview, Diana agreed to read a short speech to me that Jack had prepared.
    We take for granted the choreography of muscles required to sustain speech.  Jack has to concentrate and apply great effort to do what comes naturally for us, even when all he is trying to do is say a few words.

    In 1994, Jack was diagnosed with Chronic MS.  This progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis is the similar to what claimed the life of comedian Richard Pryor.
    In November of 1994, he woke up and tried to stand.  He fell and never walked again.  Two months later, he lost his speech.  He moved from Breckinridge, CO to Denver to live with his Mother.
    Growing weaker, his older sister told his Mother to put him in a nursing home.  He was in a nursing home three more times.  His mother asked him to make her his legal guardian. 
    Now bedfast, people would speak in front of him as if he was already dead.  This is a common complaint from MS patients, according to Diana, Jack’s caregiver.  “They may appear to be in a coma state, but in fact they’re wide awake.  But they’re treated like they’re dead.”

    Jack was moved in with a black man with cerebral palsy.  Every day, the man would come over to Jack and tuck a Cannabis bud down between Jack’s teeth and gum, to sooth Jack’s discomfort.  Jack told me that he would suck on it all day.  It helped him get through the discomfort he was experiencing.
    He was given a G tube and was put on a liquid diet with a pump.  His health was at its lowest.  He weighed 85 lb.   He couldn’t move at all.  He was on a drink liquid diet only.  He started praying to God.  He said, “It made me feel better. ”

    Six month later, Jack’s Gall Bladder was removed.  Following surgery, the nurse was talking to him as if he could respond.  His nurse leaned over him, looking into his eyes, and asked him if he would like a drink of water.  He thought that would be good, so with all his strength, he winked at her.  She screamed with joy.  The nurses and doctors surrounded him. 
    He had no movement for two and a half years.

    In November of 1998, Jack was healthy enough to have his G tube removed.  By  December, he was able to eat soft foods.  He was now up to 100 pounds.  He Started speaking, one word at a time at first, and began moving his left arm, left foot and toes.
    In Jan. of 1999, Jack applied for section 8 housing, by July they had found him a place. 

    At the time of my interview, Jack was living by himself.  He’s witnessed many miracles.  He now speaks sentences.  He feeds himself.  Brushes his teeth, holds his own glass.
    He gets three visits a day seven days a week from his health agency since he was still not able to cook, clean or bathe.  But he’s proud of what he can do. 

    The pain Jack suffers now is in his neck.  It is not related to his MS.  He has a narrowing of his spinal cord.  The doctors told him that he would have a 50-50 chance of correcting it with surgery.  He’s on a lot of pain pills – 100 Percocets per month, 40 Dilantins per month, and a Morphine patch ever three days.
    Using Cannabis allows him to cut his pharmaceutical use in half.  With Diana’s help, Jack was in the process of setting up his own Cannabis garden.  He wants to grow his own medicine to save money.  He’s hoping to eventually be a legal caregiver as well and help others who are chronically ill.

        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.

    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.

    Anne is a registered nurse.  For a time, nursing was her life.  Unfortunately, this profession that she loves so much has slipped beyond her reach.  In 2001, she became disabled. 

    Anne has a rare autoimmune disease, called Adult Onset Stills Disease.  She’s one of five people in the state of North Carolina with that diagnoses. 
    Still’s disease is a form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, characterized by high spiking fevers and transient rashes.  It’s basically a very progressive form of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Anne has a rare Autoimmune Disease

    She also has degenerative joint disease in both knees and both hips, all requiring immediate replacement.
    She’s been through two back surgeries and now has what’s considered a ?failed back?.  She has a herniated disc at L34, L45 is bulging, and L5S1 is bone on bone.

    Anne has Fibromyalgia.  Once referred to as arthritis of connective tissue, Fibromyalgia is classified by the presence of chronic widespread pain and tactile allodynia.

Anne has replaced her prescriptions with Cannabis

    Anne has Myofascial Pain Syndrome.  Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a painful musculoskeletal condition, a common cause of musculoskeletal pain. MPS is characterized by the development of Myofascial trigger points (TrPs) that are locally tender when active, and refer pain through specific patterns to other areas of the body.

    Anne has Chronic Pain Syndrome.  Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists longer than the temporal course of natural healing, associated with a particular type of injury or disease process.

    She has been through chemotherapy to try to kill her extra white cells, to slow the illness? degenerative progression.  It made her terribly ill and caused her hair to fall out. 
    She was continuously in pain.  Her physician had her on a daily regiment of six class two narcotics, muscle relaxers, and sleeping pills.
    Nothing that the physicians and specialists tried stopped the pain and progression of her disease.  They told her that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 40.

    Now at 38, she doesn’t know what life holds for her.  All she can hope for is some measure of quality of life.  She really wants to go back to work.  That would give her fulfillment. 
    She’s up for a third spinal surgery at Duke University Hospital.  She’s had six major surgeries in the last eight years.  She’s praying that this time it’ll work; that it will help her start again.
 
    Though her church background forbade her from using cannabis for any reason, when she was thirty-three years old, she tried it for the very first time when she suddenly lost her physician and her scripts stopped.  In one fall swoop she was forced to come off OxyContin, Morphine Sulfate, Percocet, Dilantin, Valium, Flexural, Robaxin, and sleeping pills. all at one time. 
    Cannabis, though illegal, was the only medicine available.  Without it she doesn’t think she would have survived the ordeal.

    The first time that she dosed with cannabis, she felt that she was free again.  It helped her with depression and elevated her mood.  But most of all, it freed her from unmentionable pain. 
    Anne was physically devastated, as much from the pharmaceuticals as from her illnesses.   She believes Cannabis can free her from both.

    Modern science is confirming that Ann is correct when she says that Cannabis relieves many of her symptoms.  Doctors and researchers listen to Professor Raphael Mechoulam, who first isolated THC in Israel  in 1964, at a Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, hosted by Patients Out of Time. In this video, Dr. Mechoulam explains the role of Cannabinoids and Cannabis as an anti-inflammatory agent – highly effective for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, as well as it’s neuroprotective properties. 

Cannabinoid System in Neuroprotection, Raphael Mechoulam,PhD                    

With her condition properly managed with Cannabis, Anne truly believes that she could go back to work. If only the medical community did not discriminate against her medicine through random drug testing.
   
    Now that she has found a holistic alternative to her harmful pharmaceuticals, she would like to have her healthcare supervised by one of her local pain management clinics, but all that she has applied to have refused to treat her because she uses cannabis. 

    She has done her research.  With all that she has been through with conventional medicine, she insisted on being thorough.  What she found was a wealth of medical evidence, all affirming that cannabis was the safest and most affective medicine available to treat her illnesses.

    All she wants is some measure of quality to her life; to safely, legally, and sufficiently treat her illnesses.  For her, Cannabis is what she needs.

    View all our Patient Testimonies at www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet. Patients and prospective patients, we need your help.  Please consider giving us your video testimony.  Together, we are strong, together we will abolish prohibition, once and for all.

    Eddie & his wife, Diana were the first two patients that I interviewed back in April of 2006 prior to the beginning of Journey for Justice 7.  Their story epitomizes the heartbreak endured by many of the chronically ill.

    When Eddie was 7 years old, he was hit by a car while riding a bicycle.  He sustained a serious head injury.  Diagnosed with Epilepsy, anti-seizure medications like Dilantin quickly became a part of his every day life.
    Though Eddie grew up, he was never quite free of the seizures, that is until much later when he tried cannabis.  To his surprise, not only did it alleviate the seizures.  It also put an end to the blackouts and the “funny feelings”  that he has had in his head since the accident.

    He wasn’t sure if it was the cannabis that was countering the seizures, so he stopped taking it for a short while.  Soon after, he suffered an Epileptic seizure, totaling out his wife’s car.  Fortunately, he had just dropped his son off and was alone when he hit a telephone pole.

Eddie suffers from Muscular Dystrophy and Epilepsy

    In  2004, Eddie was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy.  At this point, he realized that he needed stronger medicine.  something that would relieve the pain; an anti-inflammatory for the cramps in his legs; something viable; something that would help him keep the weight on.  Something that wouldn’t further compromise his frail immune system with toxic side effects the way pharmaceuticals most certainly would.
    What he discovered was , again, cannabis.  Only cannabis could adequately treat his varied illnesses.  He could eat.  He gained 45 pounds.  With his small frame, every pound is a blessing.
    He could distance himself from the pain.  Simple movements were again possible.  With cannabis, Eddie could do without his cane and his wheelchair more frequently.

    Eddie’s wife, Diana was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  She discovered that with cannabis, she not only could feel better and fend off the onslaught of her disease, but could even go back to work.

    Even though the $350 to $450 a month for commercial, black-market cannabis was often more than their meager budget could bear, Eddie made every effort to dose regularly with cannabis, because both he and his wife realized that with it, they felt better and were more productive.

    Unfortunately, the state did not see or care what benefits Eddie and Diana were receiving from cannabis.  The state of South Carolina apparently has a blind adherence to the law.  Because of that, the powers-that-be didn’t care about their crippling disabilities.  They didn’t care that the healing benefits of cannabis was all that was holding this family together.
    The state took Diana and Eddie’s children.  That was a couple years before my first interview with them.  Still, now, four years later, they can only see them during a supervised visits.
    Their kids have suffered abuse while in foster care and their grades have suffered.

    Eddie, like so many other chronically ill Americans, has found that his greatest adversary is not his life threatening illness, but the very government that was pledged to preserve and protect him.

    To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet.

    My first interview with Joe took place in April of 2006 at Ken Locke’s home in the Appalachians, just prior to the start of Journey for Justice 7.

 

Joe uses cannabis to treat his MS

 

    Joe suffers from a type of Multiple Sclerosis.  At the time of our first recording, he still did not have a firm diagnoses.   He suffers from muscle spasms, general weakness, loss of muscle control and balance – all of which make it virtually impossible to walk.  Joe has a power wheelchair.

 

    Joe finds that cannabis is the only medicine that adequately treats his symptoms without the debilitating side affects of prescription drugs.  It relaxes his limbs and back far more adequately than pharmaceuticals.  Also, cannabis allows him to avoid anti-depressants for treating his anxiety. 
    Unfortunately, the high cost of black market cannabis often forces him to choose between food and relief from his symptoms.

 

Joe’s only relief is from Cannabis

 

    Cannabis continues to be his oasis from pain and atrophy — when he can get it, of course.  And that is increasingly becoming more difficult.  The only outlet for Joe’s medicine is the street.  His age and medical condition make this a difficult prospect since cannabis is illegal in North Carolina.  Joe can only expect an occasional taste of the freedom and relief it can provide.  For now, he must suffer silently knowing his government favors the fat pocket books of big business lobbyists to the wellbeing of the chronically ill. 

 

    To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet.