*Disclaimer: The opinions in this post are mine alone and publishing of this post is not an endorsement by this website for this treatment approach*
This post is my story about my 28 year long (and counting) journey living with chronic kidney stones and how using cannabis has helped me.
Greetings and salutations my fellow kidney stone sufferers. Today I’d like to talk about hope. I’ve been quoted as saying “Hope can be a dangerous thing” many times over the years. I’ve come to realize that I was a lot more messed up than I had realized. I’ll start there and end up with why I now feel that hope is a good thing again.
I’ve lived with kidney stones since 1989 (As far as I can remember, possibly earlier). I grew up in a small town in Indiana. I was abused. I’ve known pain my entire life, more than I ever wanted to know. My first experiences with stones were thought to be bladder infections, and were treated with the home remedy of cranberry juice. I would get very sick but eventually get better. This might have been once or twice a year.
When I was 17 and living in an apartment, I got very sick at work. Drove myself to the hospital and was diagnosed with a UTI. Sent home with some Tylenol w/ Codeine. A week later while in the bath, I passed my first stone that I “caught”. Dang thing stuck to the tile on the wall. Had it analyzed (calcium oxalate) and everything started to click.
Joined the Navy to get out of town. Got married at 19. Passed two stones my first year of marriage. It stayed the same from 1989 until around 2009. Then it got worse. I started passing a stone a month. I thought I was going to die. I had been taking opiate pain meds for acute pain as long as I could remember. Now that it was all of the time, I was taking opiate pain meds for chronic pain. I spoke with my doctors, family and co-workers (They’re family, still are!) and we went for the opiate pain therapy plan. Worked great for about a year. Then a downward slide. I got worse. I was checking out on Life. It was much easier to “function” when not feeling ANYTHING.
It was around August of 2015 that I realized I had to make a change, and a big one. I started weaning myself off of all medicines I was prescribed. This took several months. I live in Washington State, and had experimented with marijuana as a teenager back in Indiana. I was an idiot as a teenager, big time idiot. Hard not to be when you think you’re alone in life, even with family there to help that you’ve turned away from. (Sorry family, you know who you are).
I spoke with an employee of mine about medical cannabis, as the laws were passing here for full out recreational use of the drug. I gave medical cannabis (I believe I was vaping Rick Simpson Oil at the time) a try. It worked for my nausea and pain! Then I got some more and it didn’t work as well. Go figure. Turns out it was black market.
I spoke with my pain specialist about the drugs I was supposed to be taking, and the drugs I was actually taking. Turns out opiates are pretty toxic for long term use. Turns out that most of the states finally realized this and were maxing patients out at 120mg morphine equivalency per day. Did I mention I was abused? Here is where that comes into play. I have a distrust of “modern medicine”, as I don’t consider it that modern. I’ve been suffering for almost 30 years. Not one answer except, “Here, take these and we’ll see how it works”. My pain doctor explained more things to me than I can go over here, I’d encourage anyone in a medical or recreational state to speak to your doctor candidly if you are a user.
I started going to the recreational shops. Trying out all of the various “delivery” systems you can use with cannabis. Concentrates, edibles, sublingual. You name it, I bought it.
IT WORKED! But it’s extremely cost prohibitive to use as your primary pain medicine. I now cultivate my own flower material, and process my own edibles and tinctures. I can’t stress this part enough. I make my own medicine! I know exactly what plant it is, what it was fed, where it was grown, when it was harvested & how it was processed. All of those things make a difference, even with the same plant! It’s so therapeutic I can’t put it into words. I enjoy gardening already. I enjoy baking already. Most of my medicine I take internally, in the form of cookies. Little more exercise needed, but I find a cookie to be better for ME and healthier for ME than a bottle (or bottles) of pills. I haven’t taken opiates but once in over a year and a half! For me this is huge, as I see the political and economical winds blowing. Prohibition is ending, it’s only a matter of time. I’ve taken control of my own body. My own health. There isn’t a drug that a doctor can “take away” from me, as I’ve learned to cope and be self sufficient.
My 2016 yearly physical I passed with flying colors. BMI right where it should be. The year before I was 223 lbs. Had been for years. I was 160.1 lbs for my physical this year. I pass a LOT more stones, but they’re MUCH smaller. I have managed to decrease my stone size by increasing the frequency at which I pass them. This is through diet, exercise and true pain management.
I now have hope again. Once I realized that true “pain management” does not equal “not feeling any pain”, that was my epiphany. The pain is always there, but manageable most days. Now I don’t “hope” for a cure and get discouraged. Now my hope is that I can help others in a similar position. Be a resource for people. And have as good of a damn day as possible. What else in life is there?
Editor’s note: Current research suggests that cannabinoids/cannabis are useful in the treatment of chronic pain. There is currently very little information on the risks and benefits of using cannabis for kidney stone patients. Always consult with a medical professional before you make any changes to your treatment plan. Two additional resources you may want to review on this topic:
A recent review article on the use of cannabinoids from the Journal of the American Medical Association. The article concludes “There was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity”.
A Colorado urologist’s experience with treating patients who use marijuana, including his warnings about potential negative effects for patients.