Cannabis Patient Story: Wendy (part 2 of 3)
The Source proudly shares this cannabis patient story from our friend and podcast host, Wendy. Below, in part 2 of 3, Wendy shares how she reclaimed her well-being through sheer determination and medical cannabis treatment. (If you haven’t read part 1 of Wendy’s story yet, find it here.)
I can vividly recall the moment when my acquaintance, Donna, transformed into a true friend—someone who would play a vital role in the challenging journey to wellness I was so invested in. It was the moment when she fearlessly offered me her cannabis.
As the marijuana’s effects began manifesting within me, Donna explained that it was her final day of work for the next three months. She had completed all work duties as a teacher at a community college and had taken the next semester off for a much-needed break. Without hesitation, she made a heartfelt commitment to assist me daily until I was healed. I knew this was a sign that I was on the right path. Now I would have daily support as I worked towards wellness.
Weaning off pharmaceuticals
Having a companion like Donna by my side throughout the withdrawal process from all the pharmaceutical drugs was a source of immense comfort. Each day presented its obstacles, from the physical struggle to move and care for myself, to the mental and emotional struggles, including anxiety, fear, and depression, to the sheer determination required to persevere. Donna proved to be a godsend, a constant presence who would urge me on, even in moments of excruciating pain, relentless in her encouragement, "Let's get higher."
My body and brain were still adjusting to the fact that it was medicine. It was a bit of a mind-twist at first due to all of the reefer madness indoctrination I had encountered throughout my life.
So, we did. Day after day, we leaned on marijuana as a tool to navigate my tumultuous journey to healing and wellness. The process was particularly grueling due to the difficulty of weaning off pharmaceutical medicines like Gabapentin, Cymbalta, morphine, and Percocet, which all posed unique challenges throughout the healing process. Some challenges included electric shocks in my arms and legs, nausea, deep depressive thoughts, heightened anxiety, muscle spasms, and extremely heightened pain.
The side effects were easily alleviated by the marijuana I was using. I needed Donna's encouragement to use cannabis, as my body and brain were still adjusting to the fact that it was medicine. It was a bit of a mind-twist at first due to all of the reefer madness indoctrination I had encountered throughout my life. But the side effects of withdrawal were devastating at times. I had to start to trust in the process and enjoy the elation, happiness, and decreased negative symptoms the plant provided me.
As I embarked on my journey with cannabis, I indulged in whatever foods I desired. Ben and Jerry's ice cream became a staple in my diet, and Donna graciously ensured that all my cravings were met. However, the repercussions of eating these foods were apparent in the form of my weight, which had soared to nearly 300 lbs during my illness, and continued to climb.
I felt ashamed regarding my size, recognizing that it negatively impacted my physical and emotional health, although my physicians never broached the topic. It became evident that other health remedies were equally crucial in conjunction with cannabis to achieve balance and wellness. While marijuana established a foundation of homeostasis within my brain, blood vessels, organs, and body as a whole, it opened my eyes to the importance of considering other lifestyle choices for optimal wellness and well-being. I knew I would need to tackle this soon, but I had more important concerns to handle first.
Obtaining a medical cannabis card
I realized that obtaining a legal, medical marijuana card in Massachusetts was vital for treatment. Until then, I had relied on Donna for access to my medication. It was time for me to stand on my own two feet, both figuratively and literally. However, the journey proved to be more complex than anticipated. I discovered that my doctors couldn't prescribe cannabis outright; they could only provide a "recommendation."
Additionally, most clinics refused to recommend medical cannabis for fear of losing their licenses since it was still federally illegal. As a healthcare professional, this revelation was startling. Driven to keep moving forward, I kept researching and eventually found a clinic called Cannacare Docs that housed healthcare professionals capable of providing medical marijuana recommendations.
The side effects of withdrawal were devastating at times. I had to start to trust in the process and enjoy the elation, happiness, and decreased negative symptoms the plant provided me.
I arrived at the healthcare clinic with medical records, identification, and cash for the visit. I felt like I was going underground and stepping into the future simultaneously. The receptionist accepted my state ID and medical records and asked me for the payment. I handed her the cash, hopeful that this was all legit. I knew it was; this was the first time I had handed over cash for a medical appointment before it took place, though. The receptionist asked me to fill out some forms and hold onto them until I was called. I sat nervously, waiting amongst several other patients. I completed the forms, and finally, they called my name.
A clinician in a Cannacare Docs smock asked me to follow him into a treatment room. He took my blood pressure, pulse, and the clinic forms I had filled out. He asked me a few questions and then taught me about Massachusetts's current laws at the time for medical marijuana use. He also explained different routes of administration, how to store marijuana properly, and more. He gave me a handout with all of the information he went over included in it.
Intrigued by their thorough approach, I left the clinic armed with some cannabis wellness education and my recommendation. I had paid the cash fee of $200, a fee I would now have to pay out of pocket annually. Subsequently, I had to pay an additional $50 to the state of Massachusetts to register as a medical marijuana patient. The realization struck me—this financial burden could pose a significant hardship for many disabled individuals. Despite my disability payments being somewhat higher due to my extensive work history, it was a hardship for me, and I recognized the impact it could have on others.
Nonetheless, I felt a sense of relief in becoming a legal patient. Unfortunately, the cannabis industry was just beginning to take shape in Massachusetts, and dispensaries did not exist. I soon learned that caregivers had the authority to grow marijuana for patients, but in a ridiculous twist, the clinic was forbidden from sharing a list of legally approved caregivers. The situation seemed utterly absurd! I had paid a total of $250, yet there was still no medicine readily available, and the limited avenues to obtain it were frustratingly convoluted. "Is this truly how they treat patients?" I thought in disbelief.
Personalized treatment with cannabis
Fortune smiled upon me when, through word of mouth from someone who assisted me with daily tasks such as showers and cleaning, I stumbled upon a potential solution. I mentioned my predicament, and to my delight, my helper knew a caregiver who could help. I felt a sense of joy as he visited my home and assessed all my diseases and symptoms. In his presence, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort and compassion, reminiscent of the days when a doctor would make house calls during my childhood illnesses.
The caregiver asked pertinent questions about the diseases and symptoms I was experiencing. He knew these were predominantly inflammatory and autoimmune. I was impressed with the depth of his medical knowledge. I was filled with gratitude to have this healthcare provider on my team.
My medical cannabis caregiver outlined the marijuana strains he intended to grow specifically for me, both those already available and those he planned to cultivate. He also said he would take the notes he took home and review them further. He let me know if he had more questions after that, he would contact me. It was apparent that he cared very much about my physical health and mental health. He clearly wanted to find the proper treatment and marijuana plants specifically for me.
Expressing my gratitude, I donated money for his effort and received a supply of organically grown, extraordinary cannabis. It was a promising beginning, and Donna shared in my excitement, eagerly anticipating how much of a positive impact this particular natural medicine would have on my health. I was also grateful to share this experience with her, as we had shared so many stories, pearls of wisdom, and some of the most challenging moments of my life. Some were heartbreaking moments, although there were hilarious, beautiful moments too. She witnessed the journey I had embarked on, not knowing if it would work or what would happen. We were pioneers.
As I continued to wean down on the pharmaceuticals and gain more mental clarity, I realized I still had to use arm crutches to walk. Since mainstream medicine had essentially failed me, I decided to examine alternative medicine closely for some answers to this problem. Earlier in my life, I saw a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, an herbalist, and a craniosacral therapist for different ailments and conditions. On all of those occasions, those practitioners helped me immensely. I thought it might be time to revisit that.
It turned out Donna knew an excellent chiropractor, so I decided to see him. When I learned about his fee, I thought, "I'm not sure how I'm going to do this." Between the marijuana not being covered by insurance and the chiropractor, I was unsure I could afford much else. I didn't let it stop me, though. That same voice that told me my body could heal itself kept telling me, "The universe is always providing." So, I kept moving forward. I went to the chiropractor, and he offered for me to see him for half the price. I took this as a sign that I was moving in the right direction and began treatment.
Wellness: a state of holistic health
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as "the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health."
I started to recall in my memory information I had previously known. For instance, sugar, which I had discovered earlier in my life, is known to increase inflammation and is particularly detrimental for individuals not only with diabetes but also with any kind of inflammatory or autoimmune illnesses. I had the epiphany that food can function as medicine, too, and I started exploring this further.
I searched Google for foods that cause inflammation and foods that would encourage health and discourage disease. I added to the search specifically foods that could heal and prevent further disease to the search. I realized that I had to start shopping on the outside perimeter of the market where fresh and unprocessed food lived and at farmers' markets. I learned about pesticides and the dirty dozen list—and how purchasing only organic versions of the foods on that list was important. Nutrition, I learned, was paramount to health and wellness.
While marijuana established a foundation of homeostasis within my brain, blood vessels, organs, and body as a whole, it opened my eyes to the importance of considering other lifestyle choices for optimal wellness and well-being.
Consequently, Donna and I discontinued our relationship with Ben and Jerry's ice cream and instead began purchasing organic food, more produce, focusing on fresh vegetables, and cooking meals instead of relying on takeout.
Furthermore, I recognized the significance of physical activity, adequate sleep, and filling your mind with positive influences. "These are the health remedies," I thought to myself. I couldn't wait to converse with Donna about my contemplated ruminations. The results were fabulous. Together, we decided to start swimming at the YWCA. Being in a women's center made me feel at ease with my body and allowed me to comfortably engage in exercise. Fortunately, we could save money with this new positive endeavor and obtain reduced membership fees.
Swimming was an excellent way to begin to move my body again. I started my physical health journey by just walking in the water. We went to the YWCA daily during the week. It was exhausting at first just going through the routine of walking to the locker room with my arm crutches, getting undressed, donning a swimsuit, and walking to the pool area, where I used an electronic lift to lower myself into the pool at first. By the time I was in, I was already exhausted. I knew this was a health treatment and remedy I needed, so I persevered. I was, after all, a therapist at heart. I knew about all of the evidence and science of exercise and its healing abilities for the body and soul. Before long, I didn't need the lift and could lower myself into the pool. I also went from walking laps to actually swimming in the water.
We soon realized that we were not sleeping enough. I often had increased pain at night, and we had the habit of watching funny TV shows and movies or having deep conversations late into the night. We needed to focus on this issue, as adequate rest is essential for disease healing and prevention of future diseases. We finally committed to establishing a reasonable and achievable bedtime, and medical cannabis was a dutiful aid for this process.
People often ask me how I persevered. It was the fact that I changed my mind and decided that I could be healthier; this was the most essential health remedy.
People often ask me how I persevered through the lengthy and grueling process of recovering health and wellness from such a low point. The truth is, it was the fact that I changed my mind and decided that I could be healthier; this was the most essential health remedy. I studied all the sciences in school to become an occupational therapist. I knew how the body worked. I had rediscovered the fact that it could heal itself.
But I realized that while this is true, you must put the body in the right conditions to do what it is built to do. So while changing my mind to the positive and deciding that I could be healthy was pivotal, cannabis medicine was just as crucial.
It was marijuana creating homeostasis in my body and clarity in my brain, ultimately paving the way for the health remedies and positive changes to be a significant part of my health and wellness journey. I could genuinely feel my physical self transforming for the better. I was starting to lose weight and have more energy, and I could recognize that with the combination of the cannabis plant and the health remedies, I was starting to heal. More importantly, the suffering was ending, and the quality of my life was improving.
Walking without crutches
A remarkable moment occurred during a visit to the chiropractor. He demonstrated improved alignment and strength of my spine, retesting me as he did during the evaluation he performed at the start of the course of treatment. He also had me perform some exercises that I could not previously perform. It was also clear that my pain had lessened.
Encouraged by my progress, he suggested that I try walking around the room without my arm crutches. Surprisingly, I managed it effortlessly, standing tall and meeting his gaze. It was an incredibly gratifying experience, and I exclaimed, "No amount of pills could have ever accomplished this. Thank you, Doctor." He nodded, acknowledging my progress, and said, "We still have more work to do, but you are visibly healthier. Keep going." I wholeheartedly agreed, expressing my gratitude from the bottom, and top, of my heart.
As my healing and transformation continued, I grew increasingly bothered by my hair. I realized that remnants of pharmaceutical chemicals were lingering in my hair, creating an unpleasant and unclean sensation due to their combination with hair dye remnants. While driving with Donna one day, I revealed that I had been thinking about shaving my head. She wholeheartedly supported me and promptly pointed out a nearby salon. We pulled over and practically ran into the salon. I explained my intentions to the receptionist, who agreed they could accommodate my request. As each line and section of hair was gradually shaved off, I felt a growing sense of liberation. Tears welled in my eyes when the task was completed, followed by laughter. I loved it; there was no longer anywhere to hide.
As each line and section of hair was gradually shaved off, I felt a growing sense of liberation. Tears welled in my eyes, followed by laughter. I loved it; there was no longer anywhere to hide.
Shortly after that, I realized that I had not only regained the ability to walk without assistive devices but also shed 25 pounds and successfully weaned myself off ten pharmaceutical drugs. I began to feel genuinely well, with cannabis effectively managing my pain, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. I had limited hope before this transformative journey when I relied on sixteen different pharmaceutical medicines. At that time, each month, new ailments and symptoms would emerge, such as viral meningitis, high fevers, and myasthenia gravis, including drooping eyelids and double vision, causing hospitalizations. I even had an allergic reaction to the flu shot.
However, these symptoms gradually receded into the background as my use of medical marijuana, my lifestyle changes, other herbal supplements, alternative treatments, and the sheer determination to improve my life took hold instead.
Returning to the mainstream doctor
I became increasingly aware of the impact of illness and the mainstream healthcare system on others. Realizing the need for guidance with the remaining six medications and wanting to demonstrate the potential of cannabis and positive lifestyle choices, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. As I anxiously waited in the room, unsure what to expect, my doctor entered. I stood up and walked towards him. Upon seeing me, he smiled uncontrollably and exclaimed, "Wendy Edge, is that really you? Standing tall without any device, looking slimmer? How did you do it?"
Before, new ailments and symptoms would emerge each month. But these symptoms gradually receded into the background as my use of medical marijuana, my lifestyle changes, other herbal supplements, alternative treatments, and the sheer determination to improve my life took hold instead.
Overwhelmed with emotion, tears in my eyes, and hope in my heart, I explained my journey. To my delight, my physician wholeheartedly supported every decision I made. He revealed that he legally couldn’t tell me to stop taking any of the medicines I was previously on. “You have a diagnosis that goes with every drug prescribed. I could have lost my license if I told you to stop them. I’m glad you found alternatives and are feeling better,” he said.
Returning home, brimming with pride and motivated to continue my pursuit of health and wellness using natural means, I decided to meditate on my next steps. I closed my eyes, finding comfort in my seated position. Instantly, a vivid image of a bulldozer appeared in my mind. Intrigued, I asked my higher self for its meaning. Then, the bulldozer reappeared, its depths filled with pill bottles and injections. It was an incredibly powerful revelation.
Synchronicities & a new passion
Months had passed since I last heard from my wife. I was missing her and was unclear about the future. The following morning, as I opened my email, there it was—an email from her.
As a musician, she shared her latest song creations with me. Given our separation, I was wondering if she would continue doing so. However, the subject line read: "New Song." I anxiously opened the email, discovering that the file was labeled "Bulldozer." The file name was another sign. It was a treatment for my soul.
Not only did we still have a connection, which was mentally and emotionally affirming, but the bulldozer had some importance. The connection between my meditation from the previous night, the journey I was embarking on, and my doctor's visit suddenly became clear. It became apparent that I was meant to help others understand and access cannabis, learn about the health remedies, and explore alternative healthcare options.
People needed an alternative to mainstream medicine. If they desired comprehensive well-being beyond the reliance on pills, tests, and surgeries, they needed to understand the potential benefits of using cannabis as medicine and discover what other options were available.
And so it was. Bulldozer Health was born.
Continue reading about Wendy’s health journey in Part 3 »
If you are interested in learning more about Wendy's consulting services, visit her website or contact her directly via email at [email protected].