Patient Story: Diana
Sometimes, you meet people who change your life in unexpected ways. One beautiful Colorado morning, Diana and her husband signed up for a Colorado Cannabis Tour to round out their weed-centric vacation. I noticed them immediately as I hopped on the bus. “I LOVE your pants. They have bongs on them, with bows!” I exclaimed probably a little too excitedly. Diana seemed momentarily taken aback by my enthusiasm, which happens occasionally, but we quickly connected and were sharing shopping tips right off the cuff. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to hit it off with people. As the tour continued and the afternoon riders bounced and smoked around Denver, I spent much of my time enthralled in conversation with this young couple from the East Coast.
Diana is a relatively normal woman in her mid twenties. She (obviously) has great fashion sense, likes to travel, and loves trying new things. Her and her husband were having an even better time in Colorado than they thought, and when I heard their story, I found it impossible to not make myself a resource where I could. The devout conversation about Diana’s illness and how cannabis helped her during her time here, hit home with me. And with her permission, I felt I had to share a little of her story.
In May of 2013, at 23 years old, Diana tried cannabis for the first time. She never touched it growing up, and was taught to believe that “potheads” were lazy and stupid, a reasonable misunderstanding, given the D.A.R.E. years and the conservative nature of her hometown especially. After meeting her soon-to-be husband in 2012, and seeing the how even with casual use, his demeanor did not seem to be dramatically affected, Diana decided to give it a whirl. After all, the numerous prescriptions weren’t helping, and at times, were making her worse. This very young woman was already at her wits end with the physical pain and endless doctors visits. At this point, she had been searching for an answer going-on three years in her so-far 6-year journey of various misdiagnoses and undiagnosed symptoms. Diana said what she experienced from that questionably sourced, unregulated East Coast bud was so profound she hasn’t stopped hoping and fighting since.
You see, Diana suffers from a number of things from severe digestive and pelvic issues, chronic anxiety, depression, insomnia, as well as OCD. She suffers from a variety of symptoms that cause her chronic pain, social discomfort, and personal issues as well. After discovering how beneficial the use of this plant was for a lot of her conditions, Diana and her husband decided to take a vacation to Colorado. And while she was here, they both found the difference astonishingly undeniable.
“Cannabis allows me to eat more than 500 calories a day, use the restroom regularly, and cope with pain from my pelvic and digestive conditions, as well as daily pain from nerve, joint, and muscular problems. It allows me to break myself of OCD cycles.”
The years of pain, tests, and inadequate treatment options have taken it’s toll on Diana, and she is partially in a wheelchair. The discussion of if she had IBS, Crohn’s, endometriosis, or something else entirely all started to feel like more guesswork was happening. While no doctor has been able to fully diagnose her conditions, she says that cannabis is the only remedy that has been able to positively affect so many of her symptoms. “The topicals I tried in Colorado helped my feet, legs, and pelvis more than any modern prescription has that [my primary care doctor] has given me. Cannabis has allowed me to at least relax my mind and muscles enough for short spans of time. You really take for granted things like your intimacy capabilities, walking, going to the store, so many little things until you’re unable to perform them because of ailments.”
Facing a Stigma
Back at home, the idea of cannabis as a medicine is still a pretty off-limits topic. Her parents don’t feel comfortable admitting that this plant has played a role in their daughter’s improvement, and the current pharmaceutical-based medical care system is all that they have known. When Diana tried talking to her mother about her new medication, she said, “All I know is my daughter was 26 and on the verge of disability, and for whatever reason modern medicine didn’t work for you. You’ve found something that I can tell is helping you, and that’s all I care about”. Her father, a conservative preacher, has been less apt to discuss the issue at all. For now, Diana feels hopeful about swaying opinions through living her truth, and following what she feels is the right path for health. Her family and friends don’t necessarily understand her healing relationship with cannabis, but Diana certainly hasn’t let that stop her. “I’ve accepted that I’ve chosen a life and a medicine that not everyone will understand at first. I love my family so much and I don’t fault them for not understanding just yet. I hope one day I can turn their opinions, thoughts, and views completely around.”
On this particular tour that started out like many others, I met a strong young woman who inspired me, and reminded me of why it is I do what I do. Giving people a place to feel comfortable consuming, to ask questions, and to get insight on navigating this shift in our culture is important to me. It’s when lives like hers and her husband’s are changed for the better that make the long days worth it. I guide to help people find answers, find connection, and to help them share their stories. When people open up to me, I feel honored that they share their journeys, and privileged to help them along their path when I can. Diana and her husband were so emphatic about her improvement health-wise while she was able to medicate sufficiently here in Colorado, they have made the decision to follow their path of cannabis as a medicine, wherever that may lead.