Tag Archives: Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana – Important Update

10 Nov

Pain sufferers and pancreatic cancer patients in particular must keep themselves updated on medical marijuana. Here’s to trying to help you – through my own experience.

It’s no great secret that my clinical condition has been going from bad to worse. Ascites is one of my major problems at the moment and I’m in and out of hospital to have my peritoneal cavity drained. Aspiration gives instant pain relief which lasts all too briefly. In the two parallel fights between my physical and mental conditions, two giants contriving against me are exhaustion and pain. They are inextricably intertwined. They combine to make things worse. Pain – which cannot be relieved; pressure which is relentless; pain-killers that often have worse side-effects than the original pain itself. Exhaustion of such intensity that I’m simply too tired to sleep or too anxious even to crawl into bed.

How can one battle all this? Pain control must be one of the key elements. Medical marijuana is a miracle becoming more available.

One of my daughters has always been singing its praises. So has my brother-in-law, Keith – he recently sent me this link to an interesting article from The Vancouver Globe and Mail, “Support growing for medical marijuana in Israel”: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/support-growing-for-medical-marijuana-in-israel/article4901847/

Last Monday, I restarted taking medical cannabis. I am now witness as to how it can help. It’s only been a few days but the results have been dramatic and give hope. I’ve eliminated some of the trouble-giving pain-killing medication already. I stopped taking SOS pain-killers almost immediately. My digestive system is more regular (although eating remains a problem) and last night I slept for more hours and in a position I have not achieved for over a month. Position? I simply mean lying down on my back in my bed… how we take things for granted.

A couple of weeks ago there was enormous media hype here on the latest generation of legalized medical marijuana products. The cannabis leaves are treated in such a way that addiction and the making you “high” elements have been eliminated. I take it in drop format. Go visit the company making lots of the news, Tikun Olam:http://www.tikun-olam.co.il/tikun/olam/-/english.html

Going back to medical marijuana – or should I say moving forward with it – was well overdue. It also makes me think of my other brother-in-law, Philip, and our abortive attempt for me to try it just over a year ago. And it brings to mind one of my favorite blogs, “CAN CANcer be fun?” from 12 January 2012. Give yourselves a happy moment. Just to remind you, the gentleman on the left is yours truly, and my dancing partner, the incomparable PIP. Enjoy http://sendables.jibjab.com/view/g6hI6KIv63g76o1ZHRgg

I cannot thank my brothers-in-law enough at this moment.

Fellow pancreatic cancer sufferers, my recommendation is to try the new generation of medical marijuana.  


Can Cannabis Cure?

7 Dec

Cannabis has made its mark me. Tzachi Klein’s documentary and the relief medical marijuana gave his interviewees, was very impressive.  I must say, I’d never seen myself anywhere near as “ill” or in as much pain as those in his film. I thought I was coping with my pain well enough. This was a new field for me.

As I mentioned, I’ve never taken drugs – not even smoked pot. If the average school teacher had the same charisma and pedagogic skills as my instructor at Abarbanel Hospital (whom I referred to as an ex-junkie in my previous blog) – the Israeli education system might not be the mess it is. And children would certainly be better informed.

“The mood,” he told me, “is what matters most.” You’re not smoking for a high but for the remedial help that cannabis can bring. Pain control, sleep control, relief with bodily functions and movement.  It’s all about mind-set. Be relaxed and ready to enjoy the experience, in controlled quantities and a professional approach. Drink was of the essence – not alcoholic but gentle juices. Lime juice and the like. “Let’s look at what we’re talking about”, he continues. There were a couple of samples on the table. He cuts one open and explains the quality of the leaves – their colour, texture and Government-controlled consistency. Then he cuts open the other – a typical street sample. Even to my untrained eye the difference was striking – seeing is believing. A closer understanding of what goes on in our world. What age do children start smoking? Could they possibly be aware of what they’re buying?

Time to light up. More like a tennis lesson on technique, with the art of breathing thrown in. And then, of course, how to extinguish the remainder; the number of inhalations having been carefully counted. He gave me a few well documented rules and notes to take home. Together with his 24/7 contact numbers. He asked whether I had any questions. I could only think of thanking him. There was a knock at the door. You can leave now – he said. Use the side door – the main door had opened – it was11:40.

Then it hit me. No, I was not seeing naked naughties. It was his language. He had never used the vernacular. No chance of picking up any street jargon or enriching my Ivrit.  He had spoken to me so nicely – in plain and honest  Hebrew. Israel – what a place.

Pip and I walked through into the “shop”. No advertising here. No cigarette packets with Government warnings “Smoking Can Damage Your Health”. Zip-lock looking sandwich bags, neatly packed with medical marijuana – date stamped. And a whole range of ancillary products. I ask for just the “starter package”. I’m reminded that they don’t take cash – just credit cards or personal cheques – together with the original of my police license for “The Holding and Use of Dangerous Substances”.

Pip wheels me back to the car. Not much one can say. We’re on our way home. I gather my girls and tell them all. They’re hanging on my every word. This was such a new experience for us all; none of us know much about drugs.  My family was keen to see me experiment – to safeguard that I could repeat what I had learnt at a later stage if my body and mind might be failing. How Pam and my “kids” – no longer kids by any means – care for me. I lit up in the calm of my home – only to rouse a new sense. Smell. I reminded them that my pain levels were manageable but the smell pervading our living room didn’t fill me with the joys of life. We tried later (according to the pre-determined timetable) in the garden. All that happened was that the procedure irritated me. Maybe I just didn’t want cancer to change my life. I answered my daily follow-up phone call and told my man that it wasn’t “doing it” for me. “No problem – shelve it, safely. Wait till you’re ready,” he replies and reminds me to act responsibly. “The license is in your name for your sole use”.

 Can cannabis cure? Fortunately, my cancer hasn’t needed me to put it to the test.

Medical Marijuana

4 Dec

About 20-odd years ago, a ninety year-old orthodox lady stepped down from opening the Ark at her great-nephew’s Bar-Mitzvah in Jerusalem and said to us as an aside “If you live to my age, you get to do everything”. It was also the first time that Pam and I had sat together in a Reform Synagogue. Years earlier, growing up in London in the swinging 60’s, I was at Wembley Stadium to witness England winning the World Cup and even saw The Beatles live at Hammersmith Odeon. But I’d never taken drugs – not even smoked pot. Then last year, I got cancer – and my life over-turned.

Things deteriorated very rapidly at the beginning. But I don’t think I was desperate. My kids still ask whether I was, or perhaps whether I still am, in some sort of denial. I said “no” then and still say “no” now. I lost of lot of weight, couldn’t eat and was in an unfair amount of pain. Retching had become a routine. I was receiving radiotherapy almost everyday and chemotherapy once a week. Our search for a better solution continued. Tel Hashomer offered alternative medicine as well – acupuncture and medical marijuana.

I acquiesced to acupuncture amicably, but medical marijuana? Me? Go for it Dad – the kids urged me on. This is your chance to get with it. Did they know something I didn’t know? Were they using substances without having told me? We were certainly in new waters. And I’m no great swimmer. You have to try everything – what do have to lose?

I don’t know what made me change my mind but I agreed. Like everything in life you have to negotiate the administrative obstacles. First up, I have to get a letter of consent from my oncologist, then a referral from the professor of alternative medicine and of course, obtain a police license for “The Holding and Use of Dangerous Substances”. Is this really me? But first, I’m told I have to watch the recently aired Channel 2 documentary by Tzachi Klein[1]. I report back to the kids – they seem to think that this is the best thing that’s happened in the family since sliced bread. Dad’s going to become a junkie! I’m given an appointment for 11:20 at Abarbanel Mental Health Hospital, Bat Yam. Abarbanel? Bat Yam? For the uninitiated, it’s as likely as me going for walk at night in Harlem in the 90’s or finding a kosher butcher in Bradford. But first we have to watch the documentary – which we do en famille. It’s one of those true bonding experiences where we all feel part of this “adventure” together. The programme itself brings a sensitivity to those (like myself) with a pre-conceived negative idea of a substance with a suspect image. 

I’m on my way to Abarbanel. My girls each volunteer to take me, but my brother-in-law, Pip, is on hand to help as always – and he drives me there.

We more or less know where Bat Yam is – but nothing could have prepared us for Abarbanel. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McgJ8G5576g for a general idea). The gates are more like a prison than a hospital. The security tight by Israeli standards, to say the least. I show my documentation, letters, referrals and recently obtained license. The guards, after their laborious check, reluctantly let us in. Not the car – just you – they tell me. I’m wheelchair-bound I reply. Sentiment doesn’t seem part of their job, nor happiness part of the hospital. People are all over the place. Some lying down, some wandering aimlessly around, and others self-inflicting themselves with injuries. What is going on? Park near Building 5, I tell Pip – even though we arrived almost an hour early and I could do with a dose of fresh air. Not only do I want to save Pip a long push of the wheelchair – the place just doesn’t look safe for the likes of us.

Did I say Building? It’s more like a condemned shed that should have been demolished years ago. There are lots of people waiting; no queue, no-one to ask. We finally find a friendly face. I’ve got an appointment for11:20. How many people in front of me? I’m really not feeling well. Any chance of going straight in? Your appointment is for11:20– you’ll be seen at11:20.

If ever there was any need for confirmation that this place was not normal, this was it. Swiss timing in Israel?

11:20 comes and we’re summoned in. I forget to take off my sunglasses. It’s more like an interrogation room in a B-type movie than medicine. I need to go to the toilet but having seen the facility on the way in – I go for restraint. A monologue from my interlocutor. He tells us that he was a junkie and knows where we’re coming from. Legalised marijuana – don’t think you’re going to hallucinate and see naked naughties, he continues. He asks me what I’ve used before. He doesn’t seem convinced by my “Nothing” reply, and says he’ll start from scratch. I’ll teach you and control you – this is no “High and Bye”, he smiles. He’s somehow winning my confidence. The body and mind have to be ready for the experience – you have to act responsibly or your license will be revoked. It is in your name for your sole use. “Where are the kids now?” I ask myself. Shame they’re not here for this delightful demonstration.

I get home with my quantity of cannabis and my girls are giggling with anticipation. They even suggest another bonding experience en famille. I remind them that I really don’t see myself yet as having passed the threshold of pain and I’ll only use it as and when the time comes.

What did the marijuana do for me? Watch this space for my next blog.

[1] The programme (narrated by Uri Glazer) was first aired in January 2010 and is truly illuminating (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ8HZtD6aZI) . Together with other media exposure (see http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1263147921967&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull ) it increased public awareness immediately. Demand for medical marijuana (cannabis) in Israel increased 5-fold!