Post Brain Surgical Pain
by CJ Heavey

I was first introduced to drugs in 1969 when I was 15-years old. What a drug! It got me high, spaced out, mentally impaired. On some occasions, I was totally wasted. I found I needed higher quantities of the drug as it wasn’t doing its job. This all lead to other readily-available narcotics coursing through my system on a fairly regular basis.

These addictive, mind-numbing, liver-damaging drugs were recommended not by a local street pusher, but by my trusted physicians. Percocet, Darvocet, codeine, even morphine during hospital visits. Drugs, approved by the government, to help ease my debilitating pain. Drugs that often didn’t work. My pain increased causing frequent vomiting followed by fainting requiring more hospital visits for stitches or dental work when I knocked out two front teeth after bashing my face from fainting.

In 2000, I had surgery for a brain tumour. I was given an anti-seizure medication called Dilantin. In less than a week of taking this federally-approved drug, my behavior morphed to a crazed state. My speech was slurred, I couldn’t walk straight and crashed in to walls, once smashing my head smack dab on my surgical site. A little stress and I raged with a furious temper. Ninety percent of my body became sheathed in a purple rash. And, I wound up with liver damage.

My pain continued and more narcotics were prescribed when needed. With the liver damage, I now became quite concerned about ingesting my government-approved, addictive narcotics.

One day, when I could barely stand up straight from pain, somebody recommended marijuana as a pain reliever. After researching, speaking to medical teams, and trying other various alternatives, I was finally approved for medical marijuana via Health Canada.

The marijuana not only helped with my pain, it also helped with seizures, stress, and behaviour. And it doesn't damage my liver!

What a relief to be given an herbal medication to cover a myriad of health woes! Cannabis takes effect within a couple of minutes rather than up to an hour. I have total control of my dose for my particular level of pain at the moment.

My 82-year old dad must have been impressed with the changes in me as he bought me a gift of a vaporizer to use. Recently I’ve begun eating baked goods.

I wish I could end on this positive note of finding an herbal medication that has helped me far more than any government-approved narcotic. Unfortunately, thanks to various laws, being a medical marijuana recipient in Canada can be a frustrating experience.

Instead of the quick turnaround time granted to those being prescribed narcotics, I cannot simply stroll from my doctor’s office to the neighborhood pharmacist. I fill out forms, submit to Health Canada, then wait up to two weeks for my meds to arrive.

My medical marijuana license must be renewed every year. Since it can take up to eight weeks to renew, one must send in the forms early. According to my doctor’s office, my renewal forms were submitted to Health Canada on April 4. On April 22, I phoned Health Canada to ensure my renewal was received. A representative said they’d get back to me within five days. It was a very long five days, as it wasn’t until May 14 that Health Canada phoned to say they cannot locate my renewal forms. The clock is ticking as my license will expire.

This July, I will be a ten-year brain tumor survivor. It has been the most difficult years of my life with three attempted suicides shortly after my craniotomy and Dilantin toxicity.

I'm an American (now dual) citizen living in Canada. There are a few reasons I've not returned to the US, one of which is this frustrating legality of marijuana.

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