When you're chronically ill, and weighing your treatment options you often do research and try to paint yourself a realistic picture. You want to hope, but you don't dare; not until all the facts are present and accounted for. When I started research on medical cannabis, I was skeptical–maybe even cynical. I had already tried so many snake oils for pain management and I was tired of being jerked around. What I found when using medical cannabis, is that not only did it help me with my pain, my appetite, and increase my quality of life, I also realized that there were a few underrated benefits no one talks about enough:
Friendly and Knowledgeable Dispensary Employees and Budtenders
Do you want to understand fear? Go to the ER and tell your doctor you have two chronic illnesses. Then watch that same doctor pull out his smartphone and google one of your conditions. That's the life of chronically ill people--we are left to self-advocate for our care, often becoming more knowledgeable than medical staff. It's exhausting.
The dispensary we frequent sees a lot of different kinds of patients from all walks of life. My husband and I shopped around for a “home base” dispensary–a place where we could trust the people working there; where it felt comfortable and relaxed-- a place with fair prices and good products.
Eugene’s market is flooded, but it wasn’t long until we found Mary Jane’s Pot Shop just a few blocks away from where we live. Zaine, my husband, went in a couple of days after they opened and picked out some medicine for me. He liked how welcoming it felt, and how accessible all the budtenders were. He’s built a rapport with the employees there now, and they know what he’s looking for and all about my Crohn’s/Fibro needs.
Budtenders like questions, specifically, they like knowing what’s going on and how they can help. They care, they’re on your team, and they want you to get feeling better just as much as you do. Take the same amount of time carefully picking the places you get your medicine as you do the doctors prescribing it, you won't be disappointed.
From flower, dab, and concentrates, to topical creams, edibles, vaginal creams, oils, patches, the list of possible treatment options goes on and on. There are so many ways to take cannabis-based medicine, and it’s safe to shop around with very few physical repercussions. The variety of products can be tailored to fit your care plan. For example, to manage my Fibromyalgia I like to smoke a hybrid flower in the beginning of my day, and an Indica with a moderate THC for around lunchtime. At lunch, I can smoke socially with my neighbor (who is also chronically ill) and we’ll chat about life and such while we get out of pain together. Then we can share coffee/tea and snacks. If I need to I can sneak in an edible or two for body aches if necessary. Then, as my day is winding down I smoke a bowl or two myself and find fitful sleep, or if it’s been a bad day, I can call Jay (another chronically ill friend), and he’ll bring his rig and we dab high THC concentrates until we’re both better.
Autonomy and Customizability
I can pick when to take my medicine, I can pick where I get it, how much I’m willing to spend, how much I need, how I plan to use it, what strains I get, where it’s grown, how it’s grown, etc. This is the freest I have ever felt in a treatment plan. The regiment I have listed out above is much more detailed and a combined effort between my husband and I. We get to work together to fine tune the treatments I use at my pace.
Fun and Sociable
This seems weird to write about in an article about chronic pain and medical treatments, but I’m going to be 100% honest: cannabis makes me social. It gets me out of that anxiety funk and makes it easier for me to talk to people. I don’t use it as a crutch for my anxiety either, rather, it’s helping me work out WHY I’m anxious and help me be social even when I’m not medicated as well!
Also, you know what? My pipes are cute.
I take as much pride in having cute pieces as someone who decorates their cane or ostomy bag does. It doesn’t change the fact that I have something wrong with me, but it does brighten my day. I have a cute, blue swirled glass piece and another in green. Recently my husband surprised me with a pink one-hitter, and an orange pipe, with glitter embedded into the glass and a butterfly perched on the front. They’re just little pipes but I like them, and when they're cute, I take pride in them, and I take care of them.
There are so many hidden benefits to cannabis as medicine; these were just my favorite. I would urge anyone in legal states to discuss your treatment options with your doctor and do some research yourself. You never know, medical cannabis could be that crucial tool missing from your toolbox.