Category Archives: Minding the Body

Therapeutic Cannabis for Pain

Note: I am largely off the internet at the moment. Guests have graciously offered blog posts that I believe will be of interest. Today’s is by Wendy E. N. Thomas, an extended member of my family. Wendy has appeared on NH Public Radio, WZID, WMUR Channel 9, and been featured in Parenting NH, Backyard Poultry, Woman’s Day, and Reader’s Digest for her chicken stories and adventures in thrift. Find her blog at https://simplethrift.wordpress.com/

By Wendy E. N. Thomas

I’m the mother of six kids. I have a job and I volunteer for community events. To look at me you’d never know that every few hours I either vape or eat an edible made from cannabis.

But I do.

I am a card-carrying member of the New Hampshire therapeutic cannabis program. This means a few things:

  • I have a physician who has known me for at least three months and who can vouch that I have a condition that fits the state’s criteria and I have symptoms that are on the state’s approved list.
  • I have a condition which has not responded to other treatments.
  • And I am allowed to purchase therapeutic cannabis at an approved dispensary.

In my case I have Lumbar Stenosis, a condition that arose from a combination of being hit by a car when young resulting in many orthopedic surgeries (years of favoring one side of my body) along with multiple high-weight baby pregnancies. And to top it all off, I have chronic Lyme disease that has left me with muscle and nerve damage, as well as arthritis. My poor body didn’t have a fighting chance.

My approved back condition comes with the approved symptom of chronic pain. Like many others who have chronic pain, in the past I have been on pain contracts (a narcotic prescription renewed every month). I have tried supplements, diets, and eaten so many over-the-counter anti-inflammatories that my gut may never recover. When you are in pain, you’ll try anything.

But I’d still be in pain. All. The. Time.

After hearing a friend’s story of how therapeutic cannabis helped him with his pain situation, I decided to try it out.

First thing you need to know about therapeutic cannabis – it’s not about getting high.

It’s about having a low dose of CBD/THC in your body at all times. Everything is measured and labeled. You know exactly how much you are taking.

Could you get high if you wanted to? Of course, just as you can get drunk on alcohol if you want to.

But for many of us who have been left on couches, numbed out by narcotics, when we are given something that finally tackles the pain, we don’t want to be zoned out – we want to get back in the game.

I am a writer. I need to have a clear mind when I write – I write while using my small doses of therapeutic cannabis.

I make plans for my daughter when she needs a ride, I shop, I read books, I make dinners for the family, and I watch the news while using this product. No one can tell, except that I seem a little more active these days. A little more excited about getting outside.

Since starting the NH therapeutic program, this is what I’ve found:

  • My pain level has gone down roughly 90 percent (I still have pain but there are times–extended moments–when I have no pain at all).
  • I haven’t taken one Motrin in the past five weeks (even though it’s rained almost the entire time and I don’t do well in rainy weather).
  • My muscle tremors have stopped.
  • My shooting nerve pain has stopped.
  • My blood pressure has gone down 29 points.
  • I sleep through the night.

There is definitely a stigma attached with marijuana, MJ, the wacky weed. We’ve all been taught that drugs are bad – did you see what they do to your brain? Recently Attorney General Jeff Sessions even said that “Good people do not smoke marijuana.” Pot is seen as a bad thing, an entry drug into hell. But here’s the thing, there is much we don’t understand about this plant. Sure it can make you high, but it also has a lot of healing properties. We shouldn’t be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When used therapeutically, cannabis can literally give people their lives back.

Recently I participated in a 5K walk, something I wouldn’t have been able to do before starting the therapeutic program. I got a medal when I crossed the finish line. It hangs on my office wall – a reminder to never, ever give up.

The ABCs of Creating Conditions for Healing

Please join me

Sunday, May 7, 1-3 pm
250 East Main Street, Batavia, OH  45103

Your Take-aways

+ Consider how to transform attitudes to support healing
+ Learn how to reconstruct behaviors and make better choices to support your body’s efforts to create health
+ Gain your own insights through a guided visualization that will involve exploring any dis-eased part of the body

Feedback:

Thanks for a most thought-provoking talk. I’ve done little else but think since we were together. Who am I? What matters most to me? What do I hope to be when I grow up? How big is my part in the scheme of things?… The talk was a wonderful thing for me.

The ABCs of healing was eye-opening and can help with my health issues.

Beautiful, heartfelt, easy. I gained an understanding of the power of healing through all modalities.

This Surprising Prescription is Free

For ye shall go out with joy, And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills shall

forest bathing
forest bathing

break forth before you into singing, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12, JPS Tanakh 1917

 

Have you ever walked into a forest and felt bathed in peace?

It’s not your imagination. It’s real.

The Japanese have a phrase for taking in the healing properties of the woods: shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.”

Studies “show that forest environments could lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, increase parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity compared with city settings.”

Dr. Johanna Budwig, a biochemist, wrote that walking through a forest can recharge our batteries.

Even simply looking out a window at green plants is healing. Post-surgical patients who could look out on trees and grass got out of the hospital sooner, had fewer complications, and took fewer pain medications than those without such views.

Other benefits include

  • Improved sleep and mood
  • Increased energy levels and ability to focus
  • Decreased anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and fatigue.

In other words, it’s not just relaxing to be in a forest. It’s healing, and here’s why: you are literally being showered with essential oils that prevent the growth of attacking organisms.

Like cancer.

Plants are busy sending out chemical signals called phytoncides that ward off insects and help fight bacterial and fungal disease. When we breathe in these phytoncides, our bodies’ immune systems create more natural killer white blood cells that go after tumors and viruses.

So maybe take your next “bath” among trees and imagine they are clapping their hands, showering their joy and healing balm upon you.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Find ways to get out into the woods, or at least get a view of plant life, as much as possible.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793346/

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytoncide

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_bathing

http://www.hphpcentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/5000-paper-by-Qing-Li2-2.pdf

Budwig, Johanna. Flax Oil as a True Aid Against Arthritis, Heart Infarction, Cancer and Other Diseases. Apple Publishing; 3rd edition (December 1, 1994), p. 50.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/

Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgeryScience. 224:420-422.

7 Tips for Reducing Pain Perception

CureToday magazine posted this article as my story. Note that it is best to talk to a health care provider before making changes based on these 7 tips.
If you click on the link and look at the article, that will help prompt CureToday to invite me to write more articles. It also will be helpful for getting the word out. Even better if you share the link. Thank you!
http://www.curetoday.com/share-your-story/7-tips-for-reducing-pain-perception

Psychosocial Support in Cancer Care

Psychosocial support in cancer care was addressed briefly Oct. 8 at the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation patient symposium in St. Louis, Mo.  This was one of several cancer treatment topics that I have been reporting about.

Dr. Yasmin Asvat, clinical psychologist at the Siteman Cancer Center, said, “What is a healthy emotional response to a diagnosis? All emotional responses are valid and appropriate. They’re human responses.”

Initial emotions can include sadness, anger, shock, disbelief, denial, and for a few, acceptance.

“Our bodies are looking for balance to be restored,” she said. “If we are not getting to adjustment and acceptance, how can we live well through this journey?”

Thirty percent of patients experience chronic distress after a diagnosis. “To what degree is the distress interfering with the ability to cope effectively?”

Normal feelings like sadness, fear, and vulnerability can become disabling feelings like depression and anxiety.

“Distress can be experienced throughout the cancer care trajectory,” she said.

Dr. Asvat sees her role as partner in balancing patients’ goals with fears. She tries to provide physical interventions and strategies for fatigue, pain, insomnia, and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Getting Hit Below the Belt

 beltWe cannot change anything unless we accept it.

C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

 

We cannot change something if we are not aware that something is amiss. Awareness of our bodies is critical—especially when it comes to cancer. Awareness of, and then acceptance of anything amiss can be life-saving. The earlier a dis-ease is caught, the more easily it is healed.

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, created to help everyone become more aware of women’s cancers below the belt.

Symptoms can include unusual periods, bleeding after menopause, pelvic pain or pressure, a rapidly growing uterine fibroid; even back pain or bloating. Here is a chart outlining the symptoms for these various cancers: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/gynecologic/basic_info/symptoms.htm . Learn the symptoms and watch for them. If they crop up, please go see a gynecologist.

During 2001 I had a dream in which I was warned I could get punched in the gut. Eight years later I had stage 4 uterine sarcoma. This year about 59,000 women will be diagnosed with uterine cancer, and one in six will pass from it.

Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecologic cancer, affecting about 21,000 new patients. And about two-thirds will pass from the disease because it’s usually caught when already spreading.

Cervical cancer comes in as the third most common, with 12,000 new cases identified. About 4,000 will lose their lives to it.

Vulvar cancer will be diagnosed in about 5,000 women, and about 1,000 will succumb; and 4,070 will be diagnosed with vaginal cancer, which will claim about 1,000 lives.

Watch for symptoms. Be aware. If you notice something, accept that it is there. Get it checked. It could save your life.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Knowledge is power—patient power, says Annie Achee, president of the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation. If you hear a woman talking about symptoms of gynecologic cancer, please suggest getting them checked by a physician.

Sources:

http://www.foundationforwomenscancer.org/about-gynecologic-cancers/

American Cancer Society, Inc.

Hidden Messages in Pain

She realized her chronic shoulder pain came from shouldering too many responsibilities.
She realized her chronic shoulder pain came from shouldering too many responsibilities.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.

Carl Jung, father of analytical psychology

 

Valuable messages can be hidden in physical pain. If those messages can be discovered, accepted, and examined, rather than avoided, we can gain important insights that can alter our daily lives in positive ways.

This week a woman dealing with the aftermath of cancer chose to return to a practice of approaching her chronic pain with curiosity, living the wisdom expressed by Carl Jung, father of analytical psychology. While Jung probably was referring mainly to psychological pain, cancer patients have physical pain that can be used as a tool for greater personal understanding.

The participant had listened to my guided meditation called “A Conversation with Dis-ease.” During the guided meditation, participants travel inside their bodies to the location of dis-ease in their bodies so they can ask these cells questions for guidance.

She offered the following feedback: “I re-learned that I need to stop throughout my day and go inward. Instead of focusing on avoiding the pain, I attempted to face it and examine it.”

While awareness doesn’t necessarily lead to pain relief, there are times when it can.

For another cancer patient, the chance for relief from chronic shoulder pain revealed itself while she followed the specific guidance of the visualization only one time. She realized her chronic shoulder pain came from shouldering too many responsibilities.

The pain brought her to greater consciousness. She then knew how to change her life to relieve the pain.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

A few opportunities are approaching for a chance to listen to this guided visualization for your own healing journey. Hope to see you soon!

Saturday, April 9, noon

“Subduing the Dis-ease Dragon: The ABCs of Creating Conditions for Healing”

Victory of Light, Sharonville Convention Center

11355 Chester Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45246

Saturday, April 16, 7 p.m.

“Subduing the Dis-ease Dragon: The ABCs of Creating Conditions for Healing”

Stillpoint Center for Healing Arts

11223 Cornell Park Drive, Ste 302 (behind the brown Jewish Family Services building)

Blue Ash, Ohio  45242

Saturday, July 30, 2 p.m.

“Subduing the Dis-ease Dragon: The ABCs of Creating Conditions for Healing”

Milford Public Library

19 Water St., Milford, Ohio  45150

Thursday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m.

“Subduing the Dis-ease Dragon: The ABCs of Creating Conditions for Healing”

Northside LIIFT

Revelation Spiritual Church (Look for the BIG white sign in front yard of what looks like a house)

4251 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati 45223

Click here to hear the introduction to “A Conversation with Dis-ease”

A Return to Exercise

… (Krishna) drove that best of chariots to a point between the two armies, in front of Bhishma, Drona, and all the rulers of the earth, and then said: “See, Partha (Arjuna), this gathering of all the Kurus!”

The Bhagavad Gita, 1:24-25

 

The Hindu god Krishna drove the best of chariots into battle. The chariot can be a metaphor for one’s body. If one’s chariot, or body, is not in the best condition, it can seriously hamper every aspect of one’s life.

I had let my chariot lose some of its fitness recently. My exercise life had succumbed to the excuses of grief after losing my son and the move into my new home. Later I listened to my guided visualization CD, “A Conversation with Dis-ease,” and received the message that it was time to let go of regularly walking for exercise due to a lifetime of issues with my toe joints.

Yes, they were excuses. My psychotherapist called me on it, then encouraged me, once again, to exercise regularly—preferably 150 minutes per week. I was only doing about 60. Time to ramp it up.

choco truffle webAfter I got home, I felt nudged to get my exercise for the day by walking to a nearby grocery store to pick up more onions. While in the store, I took a look at the clearance shelves in the back. I was shocked to find my all-time favorite chocolate-hazelnut truffles there at one third the usual price—expensive chocolates I had only ever seen in two other distant stores in town.

Was that nudge from my son to make sure I had these special Italian chocolates for celebrating Valentine’s Day? I’d like to think so.

I took home two bags of the sweet treats.

What a wonderful gift for following through and doing my part to get my chariot back in shape. Just in time to enjoy some luscious truffles for Valentine’s Day.

 

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Exercise is important for numerous reasons. A common recommendation is 30 minutes of exercise five times each week. Some people use pedometers or download exercise apps on their phones. Some tips for getting started include parking at the far ends of parking lots, taking stairs if and when you can, or simply tensing and loosing muscles while lying in bed if that is what you can do.

 

What is your favorite form of exercise?

What is your favorite kind of chocolate?