I’m no angel. In high school I smoked a lot of pot and hash. A straight-A student, who rarely smoked on school days, I felt completely justified getting bake on the weekends. I wasn’t looking for a mellow buzz; I loved getting completely messed up. I had a blast being stoned with my best friend, laughing uncontrollably, and satiating the munchies with hot fudge sundaes and donuts at 4AM.
I partied hard in high school and got it out of my system. I haven’t touched drugs since I was 21. I never felt addicted nor did I have a master plan about being a drug-free person. Feeling totally out of control had been fun, but, gradually, the experience of seeing rooms spin like a carousel and hearing people talk in slow motion felt out of control in a bad way. So I stopped.
I hate feeling drugged even more so now because it amplifies how out of control I feel living with cancer in my body. I chose not to take painkillers after my surgeries, swallowing my pain instead. It took months of convincing by doctors until I finally popped my first xanax. I fear that most medication will make me feel foggy and out of control. Surprisingly, xanax just relaxed me with no fog, no out of control feelings - a welcome experience in the midst of scans and cancer care.
In the ‘Coping With Pain’ section of Everything Changes, I interviewed Dr. Diane Meier, one of top palliative care experts in the country. She talked to me about the most common myths of pain meds. I learned that when pain medications are properly prescribed and managed they can really help relieve suffering.
I’d love an honest conversation about our fears around using pot and narcotics for pain relief, and to hear some positive experiences of how they have been helpful. (I’m not so interested in a conversation about legalizing medical marijuana - I think far too many stoners are using our cancer as their platform for legalizing pot.)
Do you have a fear of prescription narcotics or marijuana? Do you have success stories about working with doctors, nurses, palliative care specialists to relieve your pain through narcotics? Have you used marijuana to ease treatment side effects or pain? What was it like? (Feel free to reply anonymously if you’d prefer.)