43-year-old, Jennifer G., from Dorchester, Ma (originally born in Mississauga, Ontario) is a cannabis advocate and game changer who seeks to use her extensive background in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry to empower the evolving regulations within the cannabis industry. Here is her cannabis story:
In 2010, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). At the time, I was a newlywed, a mom to a newborn, five and fifteen-year-old. Once diagnosed, I was committed to not allowing MS to control life. I was an active mom and professional who never wanted to let anyone down or show any type of weakness or vulnerability.
MS changed all of that.
At first, my relapses were mainly around my mobility. It seemed to progress overnight. I went from being able to work two jobs, cooking dinner almost every night, and being an active, involved mom to walking with a cane or walker, needing multiple naps per day, and primarily eating out.
The worst part of MS is that it can decide to redefine your life in an instant and then turnaround to do it again tomorrow. I fought through my relapses, fatigue, and fog.
As I mentioned above, during this time my issues related to MS were mainly mobility related. The pain hadn’t arrived as a daily part of my existence. I mean there was always some pain related to my condition. It would mainly arrive when I had a very active day. I could wake up feeling fine or arrive at Walmart feeling fine then halfway through my day or the store I would experience burning pain, spasticity, spasms, or the dreaded MS hug (think your torso stuck in a vice gripe with Mr. T running the vice). It hurt a lot, but it would go away, and I would resume my activities.
It wasn’t until three years into my diagnosis that I really learned about the debilitating MS pain. It wasn’t bad at first, just popping up occasionally. But the occasional visits turned into a regular thing and began to take over more and more of my daily life. I spoke to my MS doctor about it. I went from expressing my pain at 2-3 to constantly rating it 8 or above with a couple of choice words added in for emphasis.
I tried all the drugs my doctor prescribed for my pain and insomnia. Most, if any improvement, was short-lived. I was on gabapentin, baclofen, clonazepam, amitriptyline to name a few. None of it worked. Without sleep and in constant pain, my depression and anxiety were taking over my world.
My eldest son, at that time in his late teens, started researching and talking to me about cannabis almost immediately after my diagnosis. He even took to growing me a plant at one point, which as a mom, I threw away. I had discussed medical marijuana with my neurologist and primary care doctor but neither of them knew much about it. To be honest, Louis, my son, had all the information and data. We researched it. We gathered the data, scientific data, and decided to go for it. My husband has been a cannabis consumer since he was 14 years old, so I had an expert right under my nose for all this time. He remains my designated joint roller.
I started out with low dose medicated gummies and OH MY GOD! My life changed that day. I was afraid. I was afraid this would be a short-term solution like all the others, but it hasn’t been. I have been using medical marijuana for the past 5 years or more. It still is my go-to and I am off all my other medications for pain and sleep. I have even gotten off my anxiety and depression medications along with loosing over 80lbs due to my new-found ability to be mobile and sleep!
In the beginning, I would worry about what kind of example am I setting for my children. But I realized along the way that my children want me to be healthy, happy, and well. They are not judging me for using medical marijuana. They want a happy healthy mom by any means necessary. I am providing them through my use of this medicine. Do I worry about others judging me? Not really. The people who love me and stuck around through my journey are the only ones I want around anyway.
The fact is that medical marijuana is helping and that is the point. I am optimistic that cannabis will continue to provide relief. There are so many different strains and products with their own unique profiles that the treatment landscape is almost endless. Maybe it won’t always help with the pain or insomnia, but I will take whatever it gives me in terms of relief and function back in my life.
Unlike the prescribed medicines, I have not come across much in terms of negative side effects with cannabis. With my prescribed medicines, I experienced dizziness, constipation, cramping, dry eyes, dry mouth, drowsiness, anxiety, etc., the list goes on. However, with cannabis, the worst of it is laughing or smiling too much, the munchies, oh and the return of my sex drive (sound the horns on that one)!
Is cannabis for everyone? Maybe not. Is cannabis for me? Absolutely!