Eighteen months ago, my closest friend died from metastatic breast cancer. I have a lot to say about this event, but for here, let’s just talk about pain medication. During the last weeks of her life, before hospice care, she had a medical appointment at one hospital or another on four days out of the five work days.
Our city roads are unbelievably bad. The driver in front of you will suddenly swerve severely which usually means there is a giant pothole. You can tell a local, they will follow swerve. But no matter how carefully I drove, and believe me I was careful, driving across the city was a cause of immense pain and distress to her. I remember it as yesterday 18-months later, she would swear and curse, urging me to drive faster to get it over with.
My friend beat the big C once. But after a few years, it came back. Slowly at first but then with gathering intensity and a race to the finish which none of us, including her, expected.
About three months out from the end, she was dealing, but clearly having a lot of pain. I asked why she didn’t have painkillers and her response was the beginning of an education for me. She responded that she did have painkillers but only wanted to take them when it was more than she could cope with.
Then she explained she didn’t take the painkillers because they were high powered and as far as she was concerned dealing with the side effects was worse than dealing with the pain.
We are not talking about minor pain. I imagine that childbirth ranks up there. But we are talking about pain levels the likes of which I hope you’ve never experienced.
In our state,weed is not available medicinally. But we had a friend who had a friend … well, you get the idea. A brownie or two got stashed in the fridge, but she was reluctant to take that too. She was a law-abiding soul and didn’t want the implications. Though now I look back and wonder and what would they have done?
I understand why lawmakers are reluctant
I get why the authorities don’t want to open what they see as Pandora’s Box. Their reasoning ‘If you make it ok for medical use, you’re going to start an epidemic of addiction’ is spurious. Those who want marijuana for recreational use are getting it from somewhere anyway.
Those who need it for medical reasons really need it and to deny is well cruel and unusual. Even if she had died an addict, so what? She died anyway, brutally early, after a pain filled month or six weeks, following which they pumped her full of opiates anyway.
I understand that the use of marijuana may lead to the use of something else, but then the abuse of opiate-based painkillers would imply that medical marijuana couldn’t make things any worse. It is time to reconsider.