Back Pain by Charlotte Hess

I have severe back problems, among them a spinal fusion at the age of 14. I have had several bad falls as an adult and have been diagnosed and treated for deteriorating disc disease of L 4, 5 and 6. I also have herniated discs of the same numbers. In addition, I have an old fracture of the cervical spine untreated after a bad traffic accident. In June of 2001, I fell at work as a waitress, slipped in soup. This fall severely aggravated my condition. Until then, I had been able to deal with the pain, though irritating. After seeing an orthopedic surgeon, I was treated with the usual: anti inflammatory meds, no help. Narcotics and muscle relaxants did little, if enough was taken to relieve the pain, it caused nausea or vomiting. I have taken the following medications: Lortabs up to 10 mg each 4 hours, Talwin NX, Skelaxin: no help, Robaxin, Flexeril, and all the NSAIDs you can name. The anti inflams did nothing except upset my stomach. The narcotics caused a mild dependency which I discovered when I tried on my own to cease taking them cold turkey. Sweats and nausea ensued.

Of course as a teen in the 70's I used my fair share of marijuana and continued as an adult until having children made it not such a good idea. Or so I thought at the time. I have resumed usage and this has helped my pain and muscle spasms greatly. If it were available for me medically in my state, it would be a great help to me. I and my husband use it on a daily basis as finances allow, smoking 2 a day usually. Since there are many varieties which vary greatly in their strength and pain relief qualities, this could be a lesser amount. I am going to be seeing a pain specialist soon, and plan to ask him to prescribe marijuana for me. I only hope this will not result in a call to the local PD. I have also in the last months undergone a series of epidural injections into the lower back and cervical areas, the cost being over two thousand dollars each time, and requiring a day of recuperation. I was given an anesthetic to alleviate the discomfort and anxiety of the procedure. To tell you the truth, this was much more pain relieving than the actual injections. I had four of these treatments, one per week. I was told that they either work or don't. Mine did not provide any relief, and now since I have settled the Work comp claim due to financial need, I have no medical treatment available unless I get this through Medicaid. Medicaid does not last and we are continually losing the coverage if your income goes up by more than a few dollars. Right now, I am without treatment, and am hoarding a few Lortab that I use when the going gets rough.

The use of marijuana helps greatly; it relieves the spasms almost immediately. The pain is much reduced and the relief lets me rest and keeps me from tossing and turning all night due to pain and discomfort. Now I will not say that the high from the pot is something not to enjoy. And as far as driving ability goes, it does not impair my driving, I am much more alert and react quicker than if not under the influence. I have never heard of anyone killing anyone while high on pot, but we all know about alcohol and driving. And I say this from experience: I worked for seven years as a Police dispatcher here in this city. I dispatched many traffic accidents, none attributable to marijuana.

In conclusion, I support legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, and see no reason it should be a jailable offense for casual possession.