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Should Patients Fight Their Right to Choose to Self-Medicate with Marijuana?

When Pills Are No Longer an Option

Credit: Instagram @Those_Stoner_Kids

Who knows your body better than you? Most doctors now will meet with you briefly and do maybe one or two tests based on what the assume is wrong with you and, in my experience, if they can't find anything wrong they blame it on mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. The unfortunate thing is most people who have chronic illnesses don't always present symptoms all the time making it harder to not only treat but to diagnose itself. 

Those of us that battle chronic illness know how difficult that war is. Also known as Invisible Illnesses, warriors afflicted understand the struggles of doing even the most basic needs such as showering, eating and sometimes what they have is so severe it takes the persons mobility. For those who are lucky enough to get a diagnoses, sometimes that proves to be a difficult struggle as the doctors who "care about our health and well being" and are under an oath "to do no harm" sometimes don't listen to the patient when they try to explain symptoms, issues from past medication, or concerns that they may have. 

So when a patient brings up that they are self-medicating with marijuana because it works and because they have tried pills, is it right for them to shame them? I understand that they are not allowed to say anything good about it since it is still federally illegal but I don't understand their need to act as if a plant is the end of the world and the patient is usually labeled as drug seeking. 

Personally, I suffer from gastroparesis, anxiety, depression, PTSD and a hiatal hernia. Diagnosed with the paresis in 2014, a follow-up endoscopy showed I had a hernia. They did not tell me of this and only prescribed pills that every time I tried them gave me all the rare side effects they assured I would not get. They couldn't grasp (and still don't) that I can not process the capsules. 

2016 I spend most of the year trying to get to the bottom of very bad abdominal pain. By the middle of the year, my PCP tells me that because she cannot find the source of the pain that she believes it to be my mental illness manifesting physical issues. She sends me to a psychiatrist which provides me only with an additional diagnosis of PTSD, further increasing the list of things wrong with me.  

Fast forward to 2018. I get a new PCP for which I am excited for since my last one seemed disinterested on continuing to find out what exactly is wrong with me (fun fact gastroparesis is not a singular thing, it in itself is a symptom of something usually much worse) 

I go into the waiting room and I am there for a good 15 minutes before I am called back. Then I talk to the nurse who is taking my blood pressure about the stuff that's been going on like my molar breaking (which now is completely gone) and that hernia has been hurting much more and having other abdominal pain. I wait for my new doc for another 20 minutes which I understood since maybe she's backed up because of all the patient load. 

She finally comes in and the goes over my chart. Looks at the previous notes about the pills and problems and looks at me and says, "So what are you wanting me to do?" I tell her that I am just catching her up and hopefully be able to do something to find out why I have gastroparesis and so many symptoms and hospital visits. She sees that I don't use medication and that I self-medicate with weed. "So you use therapeutic marijuana?" (italics to inflict the tone in her voice. I am proud to say that is on my chart. I kept telling them I used it and it wasn't added until 2017.) I reply that I do which helps me manage my pain, appetite, my anxiety, and depression without being on a handful of pills a day.

She sits there for a moment and proceeds to say that she "is not a miracle worker" and that "there's no such things as magic, you've got to take the pills." I try to explain that I can't handle them and she just says she doesn't know what to do. She also tells me that my hernia isn't of concern that they only do surgery on it if it's really bad and she can tell by looking at mine that it's not that bad. Then just kind of leaves me on that. She doesn't even walk me out, leaving the whole experience as cold and uncaring.

I have had other doctors do the same and people that have become close friends that have shared their stories on how their doctors have shamed them or straight up told them what they were doing was wrong. 

We wouldn't have cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system if we were not able to break down and use it for its whole purpose. It is natural and nothing added to make it available for use. Whereas pills are manufactured and usually not fully studied before being released as whatever the creator says it could be used for or doctors cross prescribing medication used for other purposes. 

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