Monday, May 2, 2016

Medicinal Cannabis

Hanging at the sea of Galilee (Kineret)

In the sea of Galilee/ Kineret
Wazi was the only one who had his bathing suit!
I was hoping to write this morning, finally, after a long break, due to the holiday of Passover.
I am going to try anyway, but I feel a headache coming on, and all I want to do is sleep. I'm exhausted from our wonderful vacation last week, and the holiday which just ended.

The holiday was wonderful. We spent a lot of it up north with our cousins, in Tzfat, Rosh Pina, and Katzrin. We did wonderful activities. A few stand out as really special, but for me personally, the most special was a bike ride my whole family took around lake/valley/bird observatory in the Hula valley. It was around 12 kilometers of outdoor riding, about a 2 + hour bike ride. Each of us had our own [rented] bikes. Now, this wasn't just *any* bike ride for me. It was the *first* (and longest) bike ride I took, in almost 9 years, without pain. Neither hip hurt, no headache, just me & my family and the nature preserve. THIS was my Passover miracle. My personal freedom ride. Woke up the next morning not stiff or sore AT ALL. My orthopedic surgeon is a genius, the rav that sent me to him is a messenger of Hashem, and Hashem is healing me. The magnitude of that bike ride, for me, cannot be overstated. I never thought I'd see that day.

Robert taking a picture,with Ya'akov, Dov & Wazi

The headaches continue, almost daily. After the bike ride... my legs and hips may have been great (which I never take for granted), but I had a very bad migraine.

Sometimes the headaches bloom into full force migraines, and sometimes I can squelch them with lots of over-the-counter medicines like Excedrin and Advil (together).

Then there is the Cannabis.

Two weeks ago, I decided, after talking with the guy who does acupuncture for me (Eli) and a few other people in the field, to start up taking Cannabis again, this time in hopes that it will help the migraine situation. I made an appointment (after 8 months of not using my medicinal marijuana licence at all) with the new supplier. It was in Tel Aviv, so it was a travel day. (anyone interested in knowing more about the supplier of medical marijuana I am now with, go here.)

I am very impressed with their knowledge, ability to match patients with the right kind of cannabis, and professionalism. Remember the first time I went to the original supplier, and it was a creepy, depressing experience? They gave me oil drops that completely stoned me, but did nothing for the pain. They only had that species of plant for the oil form, no other choices.

There are two main components in marijuana: THC, and CBD. Those two components work in a synergy together, and the medical marijuana companies can separate them, or combine any percentage of either one to mix the correct dose for the individual patient. Here is a bit of an explanation of these two components.

The first supplier gave me a bottle of cannabis oil which was only THC, 25%.
THC is the component that makes one "high". But it wasn't a wellness type of high, it was an awful, detached feeling. I didn't even know the words that were coming out of my mouth. Even though that was the case, I still tried it three or four times, I was that desperate. I tried it primarily at night so I didn't have to drive or talk to anyone. It never felt good. I stopped, and didn't pursue it anymore.

Now I decided to pursue it again... if it can help the migraines, I'll do anything. They are sooooo bad. As I have said before, I have a regular relationship with pain. But headaches are worse than chronic pain in the body. At least mine are. And my chronic pain was (past tense!) pretty bad.

The supplier (called "Tikun Olam") has registered nurses for the counseling sessions. I sat with her for about a half hour-45 mins. Her questions were right-on, and helped me to describe my experience with pain, my history, and what I need. She gave me, as a starter, two bottles of cannabis oil: one is 3% CBD, and the other is 3% THC. That's A LOT different than 25% of only THC. She was shocked that they gave me that. It is totally wrong for my situation.

I have been taking them exactly as I'm told. Three times a day for the CBD, once (or twice depending on pain/need) at bedtime for the THC. I am not yet up to the "optimal" dose they recommended, because you go up incrementally. I'll be there in 5 more days. But, the nurse told me that it takes up to 6 weeks to be in the system before it can have the optimal effect. I am day 13 now. She said after the 6 weeks, we can start to wean off the sleeping pills. She also questioned a different medicine I am on (I am on three prescription meds), and suggested that I wean from that, also, in due time. If all goes well, within the next 6 months maybe (?) I may be off all my prescription meds except the cannabis. That would be amazing. But who knows. I have to find out what is going on with the headaches first and foremost.

I still haven't seen my neurologist. Each time Wednesday comes, I have been busy... either taking care of my friend, her daughter, or my family. This Wed I actually bowed out of taking my friend's daughter so I can have a chance to get into my neurologist. I have to fill him in on these drastic changes. I haven't seen him in 8 months. Things have gotten much worse since then. I am going to request an MRI of my head. My sister-in-law, who is a homeopath and reflexologist, did a little reflexology when we were on a hike in Rosh Pina last week, when I knew a headache was coming on. Based on what she said about where it hurts in my foot when she presses, and where my pain starts with the headaches, she thinks there is a structural thing with the neck vertebrae going on. I hope my neurologist will order an MRI. Otherwise, it'd have to be a CT scan, which is bad for kidneys, and has a lot more radiation. At any rate, please send good vibes for this Wed when I try to get in to see my neurologist without an appointment.

On Thursday I have a blood test for kidney function and thyroid, and other possible anemia factors. Then it's off to Tel Aviv with my friend to see her doctor.

My cousin's lovely wife, who's house and amazing hospitality we enjoyed last week, asked me yesterday how I am feeling. I wrote back saying "vulnerable to headaches". She responded "vulnerable, or suffering?" The answer is "yes, at any given time, every day". At that moment in time I didn't have a headache. But it came that evening. Today I've had a rumbling headache all day, which I squelched from blooming into a migraine by taking 3 Advils and 2 Excedrin all at once. I am now out of Excedrin, gotta buy more immediately.

This is no way to live, and I am finding myself despairing about it.


  1. Praying you can find a good space while you check things out.

  2. the pics are amazing! hope you will be pain free very soon!