Fibromyalgia by Kelly McKinnon

I am 55 years old, disabled by fibromyalgia, arthritis, and diabetes. I have recently discovered that these have a strong correlation with hepatitis C (HCV).  People who have HCV have a much higher incidence of these conditions than the general population. I seem to have acquired this virus at age fifteen, when I had a lung removed and was given a blood transfusion. I was diagnosed with HCV when I was about 41 years old. I am divorced and I have a son and a daughter. I was a carpenter/cabinetmaker for 12 years. A fall from a truck at work made me go back to school and get to work in the engineering field. I became a computer-aided designer/drafter with a certificate as a petrochemical piping systems designer.

I began smoking marijuana on my 18th birthday as a recreational user. I was also a musician, so I used it to help with creativity. I had several scrapes with the law over my use before I was 21.

I got married when I was 25 and became a carpenter that same year. I had always done pretty physically demanding work from the time I got out of school onward. W I began to realize that I always had aching muscles. I know when you have not used certain muscles you go through a period of aches and pains while they are building up to your level of demand. But this was different. I ached long after the break-in period. I asked other people who did the same work  if they had the same problem. No one had that problem.

Becoming a carpenter was very demanding. I lived in rural Maine. I grew much of my own food; cut and split my own firewood, and built my own house. But early on I realized I could not do any of that without smoking pot frequently. My muscles and joints ached all the time if I had nothing to smoke.

My use was only at night after my kids were in bed. I had used meditation and other relaxation techniques but nothing was as helpful at relaxing me and allowing me to go to sleep as smoking a couple of joints before going to bed.

I knew there was something wrong but could not figure out what it was. I was always looking things up in medical books, but never could find anything that hit the nail on the head until I was in the bookstore one day and saw the word fibromyalgia on a book title. I picked it up and began to read about all that I had experienced. I soon went to my doctor and he sent me to a rheumatologist who made the diagnosis. This was in 1997.

In 1991 or 1992 I had been diagnosed with HCV, but I was not treated for it until 1995. That is when they put me on interferon injections every other evening for 18 months. If I had not had pot to smoke, I would not have been able to deal with the nausea and chills and sweating that came on in the middle of the night.

Today I live in South Carolina,  and as a newcomer I don’t know were to get any marijuana. For the last six months I have been forced to use the meds that my doctor prescribes; namely tramadol, robaxin, etodolic acid, and oxazepam for sleep. They are marginally helpful.

Just recently a friend on his way to Florida came through with some marijuana and left a little with me. The contrast is amazing. I feel more optimistic. I can actually walk better and for longer. I sleep very soundly. The chronic flu-like whole-body ache from the fibromyalgia just slips into the background of my consciousness after I have smoked.

HCV and FMS are accompanied by depression. I have had my rounds with that too. The doctors have had me on Prozac, Zoloft, imipramine, desipramine, amytriptaline. All of them had nasty side effects and did little good. It would be so much simpler to just consume one medication that covers a multitude of conditions and has few or no side effects.