It was late 2015 and I was at a really low point in my life. By then I had been suffering for over 9 years with an inflammatory bowel disease and I weighed close to 200 lbs. I had just finally received a diagnosis, chronic active inflammation in the large intestine, ulcerative colitis, and proctitis.
No, I wasn’t actually dying, but my quality of life and sense of hope sure were.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation of the large intestine (rectum and colon). The innermost lining of the large intestine becomes inflamed, and ulcers may form on the surface. Symptoms of UC are:
- Pain in the abdomen, joints, or rectum
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stool, leaking of stool
- Diarrhea/ constipation
- Bloating, cramping
- Anemia, fatigue
- It can also affect the eyes, skin, and joints
Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum. It causes:
- The continuous feeling that you need to have a bowel movement
Due to the wide range of painful and often embarrassing symptoms, I had become very isolated in my life. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. My quality of life had greatly decreased. I struggled with my day to day life of raising a family of six. I struggled with finding hope and purpose in life.
Living with chronic illness is extremely physically and mentally exhausting. A torture I could not escape. I was drowning in self-pity, hopelessness, and despair. Every day was spent in pain and sickness.
And then a friend suggested cannabis. At first, I was insulted. Why would I get high? How would that help me? I admit I was highly skeptical. But I was also at my rock bottom and when I compared the doctor recommended medications for IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) to cannabis, the choice became clear.
I applied for and received my Michigan Medical Marijuana patient card in the mail. Thanks to patients and activists who have come forward with their stories and knowledge, I was able to begin my own journey to better health with the use of cannabis.
“I had no idea how much my life was about to change.”
After a year of trial and error, I was able to find a dose and way to administer cannabis that best worked for my body and my illness
As the inflammation within my body decreased, the extra weight I struggled to lose for so many years, began to come off. I lost 60 lbs and started feeling the best I had in a very long time. I didn’t realize just how sick I was until I wasn’t.
I was then able to begin rebuilding strength I had lost from being sick for so long. My body was very weak and out of shape from being chronically ill all of those years. So I started practicing yoga, going to the gym and eating a plant-based diet.
This year I ran my first 5k and biked a 38-mile gravel challenge that pushed my body to its limits. There is no doubt in my mind that cannabis played a monumental role in my success to complete both of those races.
Every day I am amazed at just how much my life has truly changed since I became a medical cannabis patient. Some days I forget how sick I was and how different my life was before cannabis.
I know the chances of experiencing another IBD flare-up is highly likely. I know there is currently no cure for this devastating and life-altering disease.
But I also know that thanks to cannabis, I have control over how I will continue to battle this disease until a cure is found. I can listen to my body and treat it how I know is best for me and my disease. I do not have to suffer through the numerous doctor visits, step therapy, tests, colonoscopies and side effects from the medications.
According to my latest lab work, I currently have no inflammation within my intestinal tract. Cannabis allowed me to regain the power back over my own health, happiness, and life.