My father suffered from chronic pain due to osteoarthritis,sciatica, and ankylosing spondylitis from sometime in his 50s until he died at age 65 from emphysema and lung cancer. He spent most of his days, at least while I was a teenage, watching television while downing cups of instant coffee and chain smoking. He was prescribed Valium and Darvocet for the pain back then in the 1970s, but he didn’t like to take them. “Dope is for dopes,” he’d always say.
Fast Forward to when he was dying in the 1990s. He’d changed his tune. “There’s no hope without dope,” he said then.
I have new sympathy for what my dad went through. I never expected that I’d inherit his osteoarthritis and sciatica. It’s severe in my knees, including bone spurs. I can also feel it in my hands and other joints. The sciatica goes from my right hip down my leg into my ankle. My body (esp. my hips and legs) gets so stiff and achy that it’s hard to make myself do any exercise at all, which of course, is the #1 treatment prescribed by all the authorities. And I actually like exercise.
My doctor won’t give me the ‘good drugs’ that my dad got in the 1970s. Nor do I have access to the opioids that everyone else seems to be prescribed. Despite the fact that my stomach can’t handle NSAIDs anymore, I’m not given anything stronger than acetaminophen and lidocaine. Acetaminophen doesn’t do anything for me unless I take it in massive doses. The lidocaine is on patches that I can apply to my knees; surprisingly they bring the pain down a couple of levels.
However, neither of those prescribed solutions actually help with the full body aches and stiffness, nor with any of my other painful joints.
I’m not even 60 years old yet. My current pain levels are not the worst in the world. But here, on the threshold of Crone-hood, I was staring down another 30 years of increasing pain, stiffness, and disability. That was a depressing prospect.
With all the talk about changing the laws regarding marijuana (which was never the awful demon they made it out to be), medical marijuana, and CBD and hemp substitutes, all the claims about how they helped with pain, I started doing some research into chronic pain and those medications. I was very skeptical about whatever could be obtained over-the-counter, legally, (if it worked as advertised, why would they let us have it?) and was on the verge of establishing connections with local sticker salesmen who offered free gifts of smokeable buds. (Weed is decriminalized in Virginia, but still not legal to purchase.)
But, instead, when I saw that the OTC, legal, hemp-based alternatives were readily available right across the street from where my daughter and I was eating lunch that day, I decided to go ahead and try those. I bought some gummies.
Let’s skip the fact that my first dose was far too much. After the wooziness wore off the next day, I discovered that my body was once again loose, fluid, pain-free, and mobile! It was fantastic! I could move again. I wiggle like one of those tall inflatable balloon-men at a car dealership. My knees were still tender, but only when I was up on them. Best of all, it lasted about 4 days before the pain and stiffness began creeping back in. My second dose was much smaller, but the relief of pain was the same. It’s been 3 days and I’m still moving fluidly, with the stiffness only now creeping back.
I’m not offering medical advice. I’m only telling you what I’ve experienced. I no longer see the future as a 30 year slow decline, day after day of increasing disability. I’m no longer helpless; I have some control over the pain. The future now seems doable, with 30 more years of painting, writing, and playing with my grandchildren.