Lewy Body Disease
by Eda and Daniel DeJong

This story concerns my mother-in-law, who is in her mid-70s and now critically ill and hospitalized. We all live in Amsterdam; she is from Istanbul. A few years ago she slipped in the bathroom and broke her hip, and since then she has gradually declined, losing her eyesight, immobilized, mentally deteriorating, eating and drinking less and less. A few weeks ago the doctor and nurses started to suggest euthanasia, and indeed it began to look as though that decision might be a matter of days off.

We visit her often. She sometimes mumbles a few words, but since she is fluent in five or more languages, it is difficult to know which one she is speaking. If you repeat to her what you think you heard, her brief moment of attention is already gone. You can never be sure that you have understood what she may have said. She has long periods in which she moans and cries. Her medication is either too light, in which case she is afraid and bewildered, or too strong, which makes her very far away from anything or anybody, including herself. There is simply nothing we can do.

Her condition has been diagnosed as Lewy body disease, a progressive degeneration of the brain which prevents the muscles from relaxing. Her legs cannot be stretched any longer; she is like a piece of wood, with no flexibility in her body. She lies rigidly in bed, crying and moaning. It is horrible and a torture for those who want to help her. We have painful memories of how lively and full of interests and jokes she was until recently, enjoying life in the company of her family and her many friends.

A few weeks ago we had had a serious talk with her neurologist. My wife asked him whether marijuana could help. He said that he did not know (thereby showing that he is open-minded), but that other patients had not shown noticeable effects. He cited experiences with cancer patients and also pointed out that medicinal marijuana was relatively expensive. Which is funny in a country like Holland, where recreational varieties of excellent quality are for sale in dozens of places at very competitive prices. Probably the pharmaceutical channels are manned by very clumsy semi-officials. I may go into this later.

Anyway, yesterday my wife decided that she could not stand the forced inactivity any longer. She bought some hashcake which we had tried ourselves and had found to be of a very good "head", as they say in Istanbul. She gave some of it to her mother while I was busy in a conference with a client (I am a lawyer). When I arrived at the hospital later in the afternoon, I found to my amazement that my mother-in-law was lying peacefully in bed, able to talk clearly, laughing at things she liked, "in her own body", not wandering mentally as she had been doing for weeks, and falling asleep completely at ease. We could go with a good feeling; she was OK now. Of course, still ill and maybe with not many weeks left to live, who is to tell? But an ally, in the Castaneda sense, had been put to work and very well received.

There will probably be more to share in the future, but we want you to know now about this very practical use of marijuana. We would be immensely interested in comments, feedback, etc.

Greetings and we shall certainly overcome.

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