Tag Archives: Multiple Sclerosis

Medical Cannabis: My Journey

I have been smoking marijuana since I was 15 years old.  Never in a million years did I ever think that I would use it medicinally. I simply enjoyed getting high and forgetting about my days. As a teenager I was rebellious, carefree, and thought I knew the world like the back of my hand (as most teenagers do). I would sneak out, indulge in public drinking, and go for burn rides with friends.

Now, let’s fast forward to two years ago. The exact date was February 4th, 2015.  It was one of the rudest awakenings that I ever got in my entire life. I was going through numerous medical tests for months. The issue I faced originally was numbness/weakness on the right side of my body. I also had consistent vision changes/dizziness. After the tests it was confirmed by my neurologist that I had a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. This honestly wasn’t a surprise because my mother and deceased uncle both have/had  Multiple Sclerosis. (My neurologist is also my mother’s neurologist). I cried. Hearing this news was definitely difficult. I couldn’t cope with my life for a VERY long time. 

I have witnessed my mother struggle with this terrible disease my whole life. I also have witnessed my uncle struggle in a wheelchair around the time that he died. Those memories are still engraved in my mind to this very day.

For those who don’t know, Multiple Sclerosis is when your own immune system attacks your body (the brain and spinal cord). This causes lesions and a lot of muscle spasms and nerve pain. I have weakness in my right side, numbness, tingling, nerve pain, migraines, muscle spasms, and restless legs. 

My first MS medication was Rebif. This was an injection I took three times weekly. The side effects were brutal. I felt like I had the flu EVERY SINGLE DAY. The only thing that eased the body aches and pains was marijuana. Ibuprofen and muscle relaxers only helped so much. 

This chapter in my life is what began my use with medicinal marijuana. I didn’t use it to get high, I used it to find relief.

 I also suffer from PTSD. Marijuana helps lessens my flashbacks.

 You could say that marijuana not only helps me physically but helps me mentally and spiritually too. It makes my body and mind feel “normal” when I used to spend years feeling nothing but aches and pains. 

I’m on an oral pill called Tecfidera for my MS currently. It causes gastro issues and a lot of flushing. Because of Tecfidera I am now two months in remission. I still fight MS symptoms daily. I also use marijuana daily and do not plan to stop anytime soon. Medicated edibles, CBD oil, cannabis oil, smoking, and vaping are all great ways to get relief.

It gave me my life back. Thank you for reading.

-Rebecca Elizabeth A Punk With MS

The Old Me, A Memoir

I miss the days where I didn’t have to pay attention to what I ate, or how hard I pushed myself.

I miss the times where I bathed in the sun with not a care in the world. Nowadays when I’m in the heat too long, I overheat and feel ill.

I miss not having so many doctor’s appointments and having a completely open schedule to do as I please during the days I didn’t have to work.

I miss working a lot.

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I miss the days when my body would not attack itself, the days without dealing with one migraine after another, and the days without having to take so many pills.

Today I say goodbye to the old me, and focus on today the best that I can. I will forever miss the old me, but a part of her will always remain. You can say goodbye to the old you too, it doesn’t mean that you have to completely forget her/him. Take care of yourself and try to accept your current situation  (as tough as it may be.) Dwelling on who you used to be all the time can reopen old wounds and cause you even more unnecessary pain. You can do it, I believe in you.

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– Rebecca Elizabeth (A Punk With MS)

Multiple Sclerosis; Coping With Challenges

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness that causes your body to attack its own central nervous system. This leads to myelin damage and misfiring of the nerves. Myelin is the layer that covers and protects the nerves. During relapses (or attacks)  Your body attacks the myelin in the brain, optic nerves, and even the spinal cord. These attacks cause numbness, tingling, weakness, fatigue, nerve pain, and even possibly the loss of mobility later in life. (this is for some MS patients not all.) Permanent damage can cause a lot of obstacles for patients who are trying to live as normal as possible.

The list of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are long, but being able to cope with the everyday changes, challenges, and obstacles is one of the most important things.

 

1. Find A Support System In The MS Community

The MS community is one that is widespread and always readily available. Before the wonderful world of the internet, patients had to read up information from the small number of books locally available and got any other information on the disease directly from their neurologists. There wasn’t as much research done on MS back then, and it was hard to find others who understood the disease. This lead to more patients feeling alone, isolated, and extremely depressed.

Nowadays at the click of a button, you can find friends who also have MS and even endless topics about the disease. The world is at your fingertips (literally) so go out there, make some friends, and educate yourself as much as you possibly can. Being a part of the community will make your hardships and challenges much easier because you can relate to others who understand.  I use M.S. Connect and MS Pals on Facebook. These are great groups for support.

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2. Know It Isn’t The End

You may be newly diagnosed or may have been dealing with this disease for years. Regardless of the situation, days get tough and yes it can be very frightening. Remind yourself that the medical field is advancing daily. For example; scientists just found out that our blood molecules can possibly define what type of MS we have and what treatments will help us.  This is a huge breakthrough in MS research. We haven’t found a cure yet, but we can’t give up hope.

 

3. Pick Up A Hobby

Hobbies are a great way to pass the time, especially for those who are on disability. If you do happen to work still, a new activity or hobby could help lessen your depression. For me personally, I write, I draw, I even play guitar sometimes. When I don’t have the energy for that, I read or I watch my favorite T.V. show. The distraction helps me get through my harder days, and being productive in writing makes me feel like I am doing something that benefits others since I no longer work. You can find something that will help you too. Check out Creative MS Expressions, a community on Facebook where others with MS share their art and creativity. Mary Pettigrew (The founder of MS Pals) Runs this group and is a huge MS advocate in the community.

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4. Get Involved

If you feel like you want to help make a difference or just need to get out of the house, The Multiple Sclerosis Society has many different events where you can meet others and fundraise for the fight against Multiple Sclerosis. If you want to see when an event is happening near you, be sure to click the link! There are also other opportunities they offer that include advocating and volunteering.

5. Take Care Of Your Body

Having MS means being aware of what you put into your body, and making sure you exercise. This will make you stronger over time and can help combat fatigue. Healthy eating (such as reducing inflammatory foods) and taking vitamins are some simple yet very effective ways that can help you through this MS journey.

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I hope that this article helps you overcome your current MS challenges and obstacles. Remember that you are not alone and that there are many people who are here standing/sitting right beside you throughout this battle.

-Rebecca Elizabeth A Punk With MS

 

 

 

Marijuana and the Stigma that Surrounds it

Okay, so we hear all kinds of things about marijuana in our everyday lives (especially lately with legalization across the nation). Parents across the USA fear for their teens and fear  the possibility of their younger children somehow getting a hold of the plant.  Major media outlets such as CBS news have gotten on the reefer madness hysteria bandwagon  about a rare syndrome that has been around since the beginning of time for marijuana users. The syndrome is easily halted by stopping marijuana use and even taking a hot shower.  All that this type of media exposure is doing is putting nothing but fear into people about marijuana’s legalization movement when the plant itself helps people more than harms them. I can’t think of any situation where marijuana is harmful to someone.  The DEA even recently put CBD on the same list as other Schedule 1 drugs (which includes heroin and marijuana) CBD is from the marijuana plant but does not get you high, it relieves pain. Will the federal government ever accept the fact that a plant from the earth isn’t as harmful as alcohol or opiates?

There may still be a war against the federal legalization of marijuana but many people agree on one thing; other parts of the world have legalized it and now it’s time that the U.S.A. followed.

For an example, I’m a 25 almost 26 year old woman with Multiple Sclerosis.If you have no idea what Multiple Sclerosis is, click here. Marijuana doesn’t just help my muscle spasms and nerve pain, it has also stopped a lot of my P.T.S.D. symptoms.  It slows down my racing thoughts and  gives me a chance to think before acting irrationally.  This miracle plant has gotten me off muscle relaxants and has given me a chance at a better life.

I live in the state of Maine and I am blessed to have a medical marijuana card, but our Governor Paul Lepage is determined to try his best to halt recreational use another year against the will of Maine voters. This means if it doesn’t get legalized recreationally, i’ll have to pay a lot of money to renew my medical marijuana card this year and pay more for something at the dispensary that I could otherwise legally grow myself for less cost.

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Marijuana doesn’t only help with MS, it helps with many symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease,  Cancer, Lupus, Lyme Disease, and everyday chronic pain. There are many other conditions it helps, but to list them all would take a century.

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If you know anyone who is misinformed on the benefits of marijuana, step up and speak out. This is a way that you can inform them (or even possibly change their mind on the topic).  With a lot of hope and advocating as much as possible on the topic, we can get one more step towards legalization.

-Rebecca Elizabeth A Punk with MS