Hello Invisible Reader!
Be sure you read the article that the title of this blog hyperlinks to. It's an important article published in VA Watchdog dot Org and my blog today is based on that article.
Picture this. You wake up every morning. You grab a bottle of water, head to the bathroom and pick up your pill box. It's a seven-day pill box broken into four times for each day. That's right. You take so many pills every day that the only way to keep track of them all is to organize them in a pill box. Bleary eyed, you open up that mornings "section". Disgusted, you empty the 10 or so pills into your hand. You take meds for pain, meds for depression, meds for your stomach because all the meds you are taking for pain are eating up your stomach, laxatives and stool softeners because your narcotics have you so blocked you go days without a bowel movement and vitamins because you've lost 60+ pounds in the last year and your doctor is concerned about the weight loss. You don't eat because the pain you are in all the time has killed your appetite. Do you recognize this person? Is it you? Do you repeat this ritual two, three or four times time a day? Barely awake, you take your pills and pray the pain will subside enough for you to move around a little. Already still groggy from sleep, your medications make you even more groggy. You have errands to run? Out of the question unless you have someone to drive you. The morphine, assorted pain pills and depression meds have seen to that.
Too tired to do much else thanks to all the pain and depression meds, you sit at home. You watch television or you browse the internet. You can't sit at your PC for too long because your legs begin to swell and ache. You notice it's been 4 or 5 hours since your last dose of pain meds. Back to the pill box for your second dose of the day. More pain meds, More morphine. Time for a nap. When I wake up maybe I won't hurt so much.
I slept too long. I wake up stiff and sore. My hands and arms are numb. Pills won't help this. I have to "shake" this off. I get on the computer and hope that I can work out some of this stiffness. The pain meds just make me groggy and do little to help and soon it will be time to take my next dose. I take more pills than the second dose because included in the third dose of the day are all my stomach meds and I have to take them so that I can try to eat. If I wait to long to take my third dose I'm in too much pain and lose my appetite completely. My partner cooks dinner. Sometimes, if I've taken my meds on time and I've napped during the middle of the day, I can eat. Not much, I have very little appetite, but I can get some food down without choking on it.
I get back on the computer for a few hours. I have responsibilities to people online. Commitments I'm obligated to and no matter how tired I am and/or how much pain I'm in I went into these obligations freely and willingly knowing how much of my time they would take and I am bound and determined to meet these obligations. I enjoy the work I do online. It keeps my mind off my own troubles, allows me to block out my own pain and depression. Most of all, it allows me to help other Veterans whose problems are far more serious than my own. I've learned a lot this past year about filing disability claims; both social security disability and VA disability, and I enjoy sharing what I've learned. I'm not kidding myself. I have a long way to go before I can really be effective, but in the meantime I do what I can.
A few hours of that and it's time for my final, fourth, dose of meds of the day. The last dose will knock me out. Two pain pills and an anti-anxiety pill -- two of them. I need the anxiety meds at night. If my partner touches me when I sleep I wake up frightened and unaware of my surroundings. I wake up in the middle of a panic attack not knowing where I am, who I'm with, what I'm doing. I'm terrified and my heart is pounding out of my chest. I'm fighting to get out of my bed and away from my partner as she attempts to assure me that I'm safe, that I'm home, I my own bed and everything is okay. I hear the words she is saying to me but I don't comprehend them and I fight to get away from her and out of our bed. I'm usually in such a panic to get out of the bed that I often hurt myself getting out of bed. I lock myself in the bathroom, smoke a few cigarettes until I'm calmed down enough to g ack to bad and when the panic settle down and my heart stops racing, I go back to bed.
So why am I telling you this Invisible Reader? You have to be asking yourself this. Did you read this article that preceded my narrative? Medical marijuana. It's the wave of the future, Invisible Readers. Believe me, if I had my druthers, I'd much rather smoke medical marijuana than take all the pain medication that I do. I can't smoke it because according to the narcotics agreement I signed with the VA Pain Management Clinic I've agreed to submit to random drug testing one a month. If I test hot for anything other than a therapeutic level of opiates I won't get my monthly supply of morphine. I don't relish the thought of going off my morphine cold turkey. On the other hand, if I could get my hands on some medical marijuana I suspect I could go off a lot of the crap the VA doctors have me on.
I have a buddy in New Mexico. He's an OIF Veteran, 100% service connected for PTSD. All the meds the VA Doctors prescribed him failed to help him. Somehow he got hooked up with a group that promotes medical marijuana for the treatment of PTSD. My friend is like a different man now. California allows the use of Medical Marijuana.. Michigan allows it. New Mexico allows it. The VA doesn't recognize it because it's a federal agency and possession of marijuana is still a federal crime.
Let's assume I can smoke marijuana for the first couple of days after my drug test. Let's assume I've done that. Let's assume that it only take a couple of hits off a joint and I'm totally pain free. I'm not high. I'm not groggy. I'm just totally pain free. Why wouldn't I want to smoke that instead of taking all the meds that I take each day? Those prescription meds are making me sick. Those prescription meds are wearing me out. Those prescription meds are causing me to lose weight. Those prescription meds are causing other health problems. Eventually, the VA will have to increase my VA Disability Payments to include those secondary conditions caused by those medications provided a can make a case for it ... which I'm sure I can do.
How about it VA. How about getting with the program and passing out some medical marijuana to us?
Invisible Reader, what are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them. Tell them to your congressman or anyone who will listen to you. Me, I'm just one Veteran in cyberspace with no influence. I'm just someone who is curious to hear what the rest of you, also in my same boat, are thinking.
Until the next time......