Medical Marijuana for Pain

“It’s My Body”
August 20, 2012

It was the “burning to the bone” and “knives in my back” pain that provoked me to call my friend to get me some medical marijuana last night. I just went through a week of incredible stress—physical, mental and emotional—and the pain in my back is excruciating.

It is amazing how marijuana takes the edge off pain and gives me relief. Sure, there are pain medications like Vicodin or Percocet available, but I personally choose not to go that route since narcotics are addicting, cause constipation, and mess up my head and mental clarity.


Having advanced Multiple Sclerosis causes me to have pain from many factors:

*stressed body parts
*nerve damage

I use a wheelchair, so the long hours of sitting intensify these problems. During the past week, out-of-state family came to visit and stayed at my house. Even though they pitched in to help, I was out of my daily regime of intermittent resting and exercising.

The stress from so much confusion/activity under my roof intensified my muscles to tighten, posture/spasticity to worsen, depression and moodiness to set in.

My usual relaxation techniques of deep breathing and Yoga did not de-stress me this past week. Then the barometer dropped and the rains came, increasing the pain even more. There’s no way to escape Mother Nature. If any doctor or researcher tells me that rain, barometric pressure swings and humidity coupled with heat does not affect a person’s multiple sclerosis, I say “bull crap.” I know my body and I know how I feel.

Pain is transmitted by nerves, and pain from nerve damage is different from the other types of pain. It doesn’t originate from muscles or bones, but from the central nervous system as nerve pathways are damaged by the MS lesions. This pain has been described as burning, aching, or stabbing. Sometimes there are prickly or itching sensations. Sometimes sensations get “mixed up”, where pain can be caused by the clothing that is worn. People who have had shingles can relate to this kind of pain.
After over thirty years of living with MS, I’ve accumulated a lot of nerve damage. When pain occurs from nerve damage, forget the aspirin or Ben-gay or any other over-the-counter meds. It just doesn’t work. Often, a couple of shots of scotch or ice packs will deaden the pain for me, but not always.

Chronic pain interferes with life physically and emotionally. Not only is pain depressing; it causes one to become agitated affecting concentration, memory, and being civil to people.

I tried medical marijuana before, and it definitely takes the edge off the pain for me. I’m not a regular user; I use it when all else fails. The way I see it, I’d rather take a few puffs of a joint than take a boatload of pain killers or alcohol.

Personally, I don’t care if it is illegal. The voters here in Arizona said “Yes!” to medical marijuana at the last election. But the state is fighting the path to go forward with it because it is illegal at the federal level. And the haggling will go on and on because government really doesn’t want to legalize it. But they will turn the cheek the other way to the dangers of texting or using cell phones while driving in this state. Or do nothing about the abuse of prescriptions for narcotics by doctors. How stupid is that?

So I have joined the underground. There are ways to get it and hide it. I have shed my good-girl image and doing what I have to do. If the cops want to arrest me over a joint, then that’s a chance I will take. But they have to catch me first and I am pretty clever.
I’m getting relief in the privacy of my home and not bothering anybody.

It’s my body and it’s my choice.

Massage Therapy: Guest Post

“Beneficial for Many Conditions”

July 27, 2012

I was approached by Melanie L. Bowen requesting me to consider a guest post for my blog. After reading the article about the benefits of using massage therapy during cancer treatment, I agreed.

When reading her article that follows, you can substitute “MS” every time the word “cancer” is used. Massage is an excellent therapy for persons with MS, giving relief for both body and soul. And this would be true for other chronic illnesses/conditions as well.

Using Massage Therapy During Cancer Treatment

Massage therapy is a growing career field, as most people love to indulge in a good massage. Those who become massage therapists usually do so in order to help people relax. What can be especially satisfying for the therapist is the knowledge that he or she is making a real difference in the life of someone who particularly needs extra special care. That person could be aged or suffering from an injury, from stress or from a chronic illness, such as cancer.

There are many complimentary therapies that can be used alongside traditional cancer treatments. Most doctors now support the use of massage therapy to ease the physical discomfort, anxiety and fatigue that often accompanies having cancer. Depending upon the type of treatment chosen and the stage of disease advancement, the physical effects may be severe.

For example, when a person is suffering from mesothelioma, the pain and stress can be quite overwhelming. Massage gives you the opportunity to help alleviate the emotional distress and physical pain often experienced with this diagnosis.

The benefits provided are numerous. Massage therapy during cancer treatment is considered an integrative intervention. Through skilled hands, you can:

• Increase the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid, helping the body to flush itself
• Ease muscle pain from spasms and built up tension and toxins
• Augment the effects of pain medication while stimulating the release of endorphins
• Decrease inflammation, edema and swelling

There are some precautions to follow while getting a massage while treating cancer. Soft tissue areas should be avoided like:

• The tumor site
• An open wound, a tear or an area of skin breakdown
• A radiation site
• An area effected with redness, pain, swelling and warmth

Current medical and professional studies now demonstrate the efficacy of massage therapy in assisting those with cancer in managing their pain, anxiety, fatigue and depression. Sadly, cancer is increasing and many of those diagnosed are going to look for complementary and alternative medical therapies and integrative interventions.

Keep in mind that there are very minor risks involved in using massage therapy during cancer treatment as long as a physician has given the green light. Massage therapy used during this time in a client’s life can truly make a difference in his or her physical comfort and mental state. Without a doubt, this is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have.


For MS patients receiving injections for DMA’s, the same precautions should be followed for soft tissue areas.

I was curious after reading Melanie’s article about insurance coverage for massage therapy for MS and did some research. Medicare said they will cover 80% of the cost, as long as the massage is done by a licensed massage therapist who is employed by a physical therapy facility/center. My insurance carrier, Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, will cover 100% under the same requirement! BC/BS told me this is something they just started in 2011.

So it is worth inquiring about massage therapy with your private carrier. After all these years, it is finally getting the recognition and support it deserves from both doctors and insurance companies.

For those of us with MS, massage is not just a luxury for sore muscles, pain and spasms. It is a necessity, and certainly worth pursuing.

Thank you Melanie, for your contribution and efforts!