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Dronabinol has given me back my life. Now it is helping me by making me pain-free and nausea-free, to become physically stronger through gym, swim, and stretching my body.Simultaneously, or as a result of taking Dronabinol, I have reduced my daily doses of Benzodiazepines and thus managing my withdrawal from long-term use https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzodiazepine_withdrawal_syndrome . That has opened my eyes, and my brain to positive possibilities to the future that five years ago, as a Hospice patient, I did think possible.
Living with serious and life threatening diseases for the last decade of my life has changed not only my body.It also changed my personality. Pain, primarily, a constant companion, first with each episode of chest pain related to what was eventually diagnosed as Diastolic Heart Failure. Shortly later the pain of having bilateral mastectomies and dealing with surgery-related chest pain with an incision that extended from just beyond the hairline of my left axilla, across the mid-chest region short gap of three inches over my mediastinum.then extending across the left chest at the same level up into the right axilla.
It was not just physical pain that I found very hard to cope with, but more insidiously, the pain of loss, and recognition that my body, up until I reached almost sixty, was always active, and limber. My brain had a high tolerance for all pain.Early onset Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), totally off the radar during the forties, fifties, and sixties was the most severe pain I suffered. Chronic pyelonephritis, a side effect of pre-puberty sexual abuse, lead to both Chronic Kidney Infection, and Infertility from chronic pelvic infections from an early age.
I lived with pain as though it was a natural thing to do There was nothing to stop anything that ailed someone except to administer an aspirin and a cup of tea. Remember, or of you did not know, I spent the first forty-five years of my life as an Australian Citizen, living in Australia. Preoccupation with ill health was discouraged.
When Valium first hit the market in America and the United States, I remember reading many articles extolling its virtues as the safest treatment of anxiety and stress related disorders. I was never prescribed this medication back then. I was told that my pain was ‘imagination’ and not real. The term ‘drug seeking personality’ was unheard of. My life in Australia was benzodiazepine free.
My phobia of drugs began when I first started Nursing at the age of fifteen. As a Nursing Assistant, I witnessed all kinds of pain. Working in a hospital it was most commonly confined to physical pain and associated with a diagnosis. Morphine came in tablets, and the Registered Nurse (RN), known as ‘Sister’ throughout Australian society, was responsible for the drugs in safe-keeping for and administration to her patients She was also responsible to procure a valid witness so there could be two signatures to sign off on the administration of the right drug to the right patient at the right time in the right amount by the right person the the State issued drug register. All ‘dangerous drugs’ were kept in a double locked cupboard and the only one set of keys to the drug cupboard were carried on the person in change of the thirty-bed country hospital. Most of the RNs passing through that hospital had either served as Military Nurses during the Second World War, or knew peers who had. This encouraged a culture of restricting use of ‘Pain-killers’ to those who seriously exhibited the severest signs and symptoms of pain. Morphine and Demerol were the only pain medications available at that time. These drugs were managed in the strictest and most regulated manner I have seen since the late seventies or early eighties. The sheer weight was heavy with the responsibility of carrying out our duties to protect the community from drugs through our vigilance and education of the public.
My thinking during those years when I was able to go through life without chemical pain relief, and any form of psychotropic drug, was to ‘get over it’. The diseases I had until ten years ago were ‘get over diseases’ The last three however were not ‘ get over diseases’ Each with an age related fatal outcome. My body had become old enough to be worn out in certain parts.
Since turning sixty, I have had to find a way to keep alive.It has been a nightmare physically, emotionally, and financially to get from day to day. Even with the worlds greatest husband, life has been pure struggle.
We have had ten years of confinement to this town. We had ten long years of illness and pain and suffering. The Valium relieved my anxiety over paying the bills and it increased my activity levels, sometimes to almost manic highs. The oxycodone did nothing but block me up and gave me more cognitively impairment than I experience with Dronabinol.
Over the past ten I have begun decreasing my daily doses of Valium and Restoril having been prescribed it for the the last fifteen years! The process while slow and careful, has taken me from sixty milligrams of Restoril to fifteen milligrams I have also taken down the Valium dose from forty to seven point five.
The long term effects of Benzodiazepine usage is as challenging and lethal as alcohol. It has only been in the new millennium that Science, especially in Great Britain has shown that long term use and addiction to benzodiazepines, rank right behind opiate related deaths and diseases, and alcohol related deaths and diseases.
A I have gone through this summer, learning to swim at seventy-two, and physically able to swim one hundred and twenty five yards during my twice weekly workout. It is such a good feeling. I am also working out doing floor exercises and stretching. I have increased mobility, because my fractured lumbar spine, chronic pancreatitis, and Taxol- induced neuropathies of both feet have been completely relieved by taking seven point five milligrams of Dronabinol, Medicinal Cannabis, each morning. One hour later I am pain-free and nausea-free for sixteen hours. The eight hours when these symptoms reappear, after the Dronabinol dose wears off, I had been taking my usual dose of Restoril and Valium to sleep but never managed more than four hours a night. Over the last ten months, reducing my benzodiazepines from sixty to fifteen milligrams of Restoril, and forty to seven and a half of Valium, I am noticing changes in so many areas. I am sleeping better and doing more!
After a decade, two trips were enjoyed this summer. One to Florida, a State I feared I would never get to see because of ill health. The other to Rochester, New York, to attend to a fifty year reunion for the Penfield High of ’67. Both were physically challenging, but I was able to participate very actively and tolerate both long car rides. The Dronabinol kept me pain and nausea free during the rides. The trips were planned because I was no longer boxed in by the Benzodiazepines. Freedom coming from two pharmaceutical corners. One the freeing up of my brain and my mind to seek pleasure beyond the boundaries I had set myself to stay safe/ This Myopic feeling is one of the bad long term side effect of this type of drug addiction. The other the freedom from pain and being able to sit up to fourteen hours in the car. Both instances were so worth it.
As a final note to this blog I just want to emphasise the terrible dangers for anyone who becomes a long term user of Benzodiazepine. It is easy to recognize the drunk, but not so easy to recognise the Valium abuser. Back in the early days it was laughingly referred to here as ‘ mother little helper’. The tragedy is that many children of those mothers, and fathers are now seeing the long term effects of this dangerous drug because it is often the reason for the many physically dependencies the parents now exhibit. Parents for whom they are now caring, and financially concerned about. I am curious to learn of anyone out there going through the same experience. I hope that my Blog/Diary is a means of conveying a way to understand the way Dronabinol has enhanced my life and even as I detox from the benzodiazepines, I am daily gaining control over my live again, and we as a couple are beginning to get our lives back on course.