Migraine by Anonymous

I have been experiencing acute migraines for the last 24 years.  I am now 46 years old, a business school graduate with an MBA, a husband and father of an 18-year old.  I have a successful career and am active in my community and in my church.  I have had a love-hate relationship with marijuana since I was 15 years old.

As a youngster, I generally resisted using marijuana with family and friends because I was an athlete and serious student and felt that I would be a loser if I smoked frequently.  I would participate from time to time, and enjoyed the experience, but guilt got the best of me, and I left it behind for many years.

When I was about 22 years old, I inherited the tendency to get migraines from my mother and a few family members.  I tried over-the-counter meds for many years and went to many doctors who thought I had sinus headaches, too much stress, too little exercise, too much exercise,  was not drinking enough water...you name it  and a doctor probably told me it was the reason for my migraines.  It wasn't until I was about 30 that I found a physician (a D.O.) who understood the issues and had studied migraines thoroughly.  It was then I started taking various medications for treatment.

I've been on Midrin, many forms of  the triptan family of medicines, Advil, Tylenol, Excedrin migraine, and aspirin.  Doctors have prescribed antidepressants (amytriptyline, Wellbutrin).  I was taking Midrin first, and if that didn't work (I seemed to build up a tolerance and it doesn't work any more for me) I'd inject Sumatriptan or take an Imitrix pill, and then summarily puke, and the migraine would be so intense that I wanted to die. 

I'm serious about that level of pain.  If you've never been there you might think I'm exaggerating.  My wife knows I'm not, as she was the one always holding me while I was crying in pain and hugging the toilet.  I was experiencing a headache every day and would start out my day with either Tylenol or Advil, followed by more every four hours.  I was taking a triptan drug (Maxalt and Imitrex) about 3 or 4 times per week. 

I should also add that my father died of a heart attack at 41 years old, and his father went the same way at 43.  Two of my brothers have already had heart attacks.  People with heart disease in their family history or heart problems should not take triptans.  I suffer from high blood pressure, but thankfully do not have heart disease yet.  Every time I took Maxalt or Imitrix my heart raced, my chest felt tight, and I would get irritable.  It always made my migraine worse, and then I had the added concern of a heart attack!  It seemed that nothing was working and I was doomed to suffer migraines almost every day of my life.

In the summer of 1998 I took a sabbatical between jobs and was experimenting with marijuana. I smoked once or twice a day (small amounts) and I didn't have any migraines that entire period.  When I moved for a new job, I didn't smoke for over a year and suffered everyday headaches again, plus migraines 3 or 4 times per week. 

I then tried smoking marijuana a few times when I had a headache, and it always helped with no side effects.  I kept getting frequent migraines, so I began smoking a little every day.  Again, no migraines for the entire 4- or 5-month period.

Because I was active in my church, I gave up marijuana, feeling guilty.  For over a year I didn't smoke any and again suffered frequent migraine attacks.  Again I tried over-the-counter meds and triptans with no benefit but plenty of side effects (rebound headaches, chest tightening, heart racing, etc.).

Six months ago I secretly started smoking marijuana again (much to my wife's dismay).  Guess what? Not many headaches, and when they did occur they were very minor.  Marijuana is so effective for me that I can smoke a little in the middle of a migraine coming on strong, and ten minutes later be out exercising or working in the yard.  I certainly couldn't do that with any other med.

So, after countless hours doing Bible study, I an convinced that that God placed it on the earth for our benefit, and man has made a mess of it.  Once I was clear in my head, through much contemplation, Bible study, and prayer, that responsible use was OK for me, I started researching the medical side of the issue.

Then I found that it was safe, effective, moral, not a sin...but one problem stood in the way.  It's illegal!  Next stop was my physician, who after much discussion about my 24 year bout with my illness, agreed that medical use was allowable and prescribed it for me (I am fortunate to live in CA).

The only problem I have now is not breaking the law by obtaining the medicine, which is a chore indeed!  I'm not quite sure what to do about that, but I'm working on it.

In the meantime, regular, responsible use has kept my migraines at bay.  I haven't had a serious migraine in six months, and have only taken a total of about 12 Tylenol in that time (compared to my previous 4-6 per day).

I am still successful in my career, an athlete (world class at times), a productive member of society, and a good father and husband.  Unfortunately, I have become less active in my church because they think it's a sin, but that's between me and my God, not for man to decide for me.  I do multi-million dollar deals on a regular basis; my mind is sharp and intact.  Because I travel frequently (airplane travel is a migraine trigger for me) I now can do my job more effectively, but I have to hide my use.  Before I used marijuana for migraines, I would suffer in hotel rooms, sometimes canceling meetings and travel because I was stuck in my hotel room in intense pain, taking meds that would make me throw up.

My pastor doesn't understand (I've brought it up before), certain friends and family wouldn't understand, heck, even my 18-year is against drugs, so I can't even discuss it with many people in my life.  They all know about my triptan, Tylenol, etc. use, but they can't know about a medicine that works for me. 

My hope is that some day I won't have to hide my medicine use, and that I can have legal access to my medicine without fear of prosecution or social stigma.  I'm ashamed of being a citizen in a country that, because of greed and lies, we no longer have access to a simple plant that our creator placed on this earth for our benefit.  In Genesis, God saw that everything he did was good...He didn't say it was all good except for this one plant (and no, marijuana is not the fabled tree of knowledge that Adam and Eve went for).

I've struggled with this issue for 32 years, and I finally have accepted that marijuana is a safe and effective medicine.  Maybe some day I'll have the guts to tell others in the hope that social change can occur to the point that government leaders respond to citizens and medical experts and change our laws.

Imagine what we could do with the estimated $40 billion a year the U.S. government spends on the drug war.  If I had one message for our elected officials it would be this - - keep fighting against addictive Schedule 1 drugs...but please, please, come to your senses about marijuana.  Don't let pandering for votes because you're afraid of not getting elected get in the way of doing what's right and ethical.