As a member of the 502nd Infantry, US Army 101st Airborne, my unit was deployed to the kingdom of Jordan in the late 1980s. Soon after, I found myself diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) awaiting a medical discharge instead of starting my second enlistment.
I’ve presently had MS for over 25 years. Each time I went to the doctor with spasms or atrophy that was bending my body into painful and unnatural positions, I’d walk out with a new muscle relaxer or pain pill. By 2003 I found myself taking a cocktail of approximately 59 pills a day which did little for the pain and spasms, and instead turned me into what felt like a sleeping zombie. I’d literally fall asleep in the middle of a conversation! I was a prisoner in my own body.
Later that year I had a muscle spasm that lasted for days. Nothing I did or took would stop it. My cousin came over and convinced me to try cannabis. By the time we finished, my body had stopped twitching and I felt relaxed for the first time in a long time! I was also experiencing another strange sensation: I was hungry! At first, my wife was worried about my smoking on top of all the pills I was taking, but cannabis was providing unparalleled relief from the spasms and atrophy. No spasms or atrophy, no pain! After discussing it with her, we took inventory of my pills and began tapering down the ones I no longer needed thanks to the relief provided by one cannabis cigarette a day! We not only reduced the overall number of pills to just 24 per day, we were able to eliminate some intoxicating medicines all together. By the time we were finished I no longer took Valium, Xanax for tremors, Gabapentin, morphine and Vicodin for breakthrough pain, and several others. Also I reduced the methadone I take every day.
Since that time I have literally been a new man! I used to lay in bed for weeks at a time. I neither had the energy nor desire to ever leave my house. The pills had been making me sicker and weaker. Now I only stay in bed at night and go outside often (when it’s warm outside) and do the things I love – attending Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Cubs games when I choose.
While the Medical Cannabis bill had passed in the Illinois legislature we had all been waiting for the Governor to sign it. My wife saw Governor Quinn at the Lincoln Hotel in Springfield and wanted him to meet me. He had to leave the Lincoln but told her he’d meet me in his office the next morning! He was on time and very nice. He was concerned with what I had to say. I told him about our Medical Cannabis bill and he said he would seriously consider it. When the signing came about I was asked to not only attend but to speak and I received the first pen he signed the bill with. Along with Governor Quinn, Senator William Haine was instrumental in getting Representative Lou Lang’s bill passed and signed. All of us patients who need this medicine are now waiting for the particulars such as dispensary locations, ID registration, and other necessary components of this newly legalized medicine to take effect so we can avail ourselves access.
We now know that this medicine may come in edibles, in vaporizers, tinctures and other ways of dispensing the product that we so seriously need; this personal journey, from Airborne to MS to Activism, has taught me much – mostly, how to think through stress, prepare for contingencies, and deal with life’s obstacle course.
Edited by William Abens
Posted by bwb
Three Veterans with PTS: Cannabis Therapy 2013