Cannabis conquers my migraine pain

I’ll never forget the moment cannabis entered the scene for me.

I was struggling with yet another migraine. Suffering in silence, laying in bed, clutching a wet washcloth to my forehead. The typical routine for me. I would have to wait several hours until the pain would pass as the three ibuprofen I had taken earlier had no pain-relieving effect at all. That’s how nasty these migraine episodes could be.

A friend of mine texted me, asking to hang out. I replied that I was seriously on my deathbed. This migraine would not subside. He wrote back that he was coming over anyway and that he had something that would help. Inquisitive, I told him to come over ASAP. I was hopeful that maybe he would supply me with a highly powerful pain reliever (prescription migraine pills are somehow easy to find, my mom’s coworker even supplied me Imitrex back in the day). And if anything, perhaps the company and laughter would cheer me up from my migraine-induced slump.

When he arrived at my place, he greeted me with a perfectly rolled joint. Perplexed, I asked him if he was serious.

“Serious as a heart attack,” he said smiling as he handed the spliff to my shaking hand (the excruciating pain from my migraines usually makes me tremble in pain, especially when I’m standing and attempting to live out a normal day).

I was not a pot smoker back then. I was, however, a social drinker, which in retrospect was kinda gross but normal. Most people in their late teens and early twenties partake in social drinking, accompanied by the several occasions of binge-drinking. Downing shots and sipping on vodka sodas (because they’re low-cal!) are all part of a normal life of a young professional. Somehow, as a society, we’ve allowed the copious consumption of toxic beverages to be the mainstay weekend activity. On the other hand, marijuana gets a bad rap for making people lazy. Someone who smokes is labeled a “stoner” while a drinker is considered a “social butterfly” or “party girl.” The discourse alone sways people’s opinion on this harmless plant.

Lighting up and taking a deep inhale into my lungs, I instantly felt the pain begin to dull. I relaxed, sitting on the sofa, and puffed away. Each inhalation drew the pain further away. I was able to sit up straight, something non-migraine sufferers don’t understand. When you’re entire head and face feel like they’re going to explode, merely sitting upright can be challenging.

Nausea and light sensitivity so commonly related to a migraine episode also began to dissipate. I was finally experiencing relief, all thanks to a plant which receives such unfair ridicule and subsequent illegality!

From that moment on, I have come to find solace and relief in cannabis. For me, it has worked wonders as far as pain relief and migraine symptom alleviation. The only downside, of course, is that many countries, states, whatever, do not consider marijuana to be a proper form of medication and it is therefore illegal. This causes issues in getting access to my medicine and forces me in a bind. I risk possible arrest and prosecution in procuring marijuana. I also have to put all my faith into a “drug dealer” to have access to it. I also cannot buy marijuana when I need it as it cannot be easily purchased. Overall, marijuana illegality is a pain (in the head, teehee).

Despite countless scientific studies and reports from leading researchers and peer-reviewed journals revealing the medicinal properties of marijuana (especially for migraine treatment), governments are slow to act. Under the guise of “protecting the public,” government officials are happy to approve dangerous pharmaceutical drugs which come with a hefty price tag and a long list of potential side effects.  It truly is baffling how backwards our judicial system is, especially when millions of people can benefit immensely from the legalization of this plant.

As apathetic as I am about corrupt government and greedy politicians (because if I think about it, I become enraged), I choose to live my life focused on positivity, health, and happiness. I believe that perhaps one day we will witness marijuana legalization across the globe. Until then, I will rely on my friendly “drug dealer” (who is actually a nice clean-cut, professional) and the curative powers of cannabis on my migraine pain. For now, I have to embrace being a “criminal.” At least I won’t be a prisoner to pain anymore.

A Pain Unmatched

From a young age, around 5 or 6 years old, I began experiencing my first headaches. I vividly remember lying huddled on the bathroom floor, my mother beside me stroking my hair as I cried in agonizing pain. My forehead was throbbing, a dull stabbing pain wrenching behind my eyes, I was too dizzy and nauseous to stand up. The only time I would sit up straight would be to vomit. These headache episodes occurred about once or twice every month.

Obviously, my parents were thoroughly concerned to witness their young child experience so much pain and on such a frequent basis. I remember that during one of my first painful episodes, my parents rushed me to the emergency room. The doctors could not offer any explanations and instructed my folks to give me Ibuprofen to deal with the pain, in upwards of four pills at a time!

Through his own research, my father uncovered that I was, in fact, suffering from migraines. As we were unaware of the causes, we adopted methods to address the symptoms. My mother hung up black-out curtains in my room to deal with the extreme light-sensitivity that plague migraine sufferers. The pantry was always stocked with a jumbo-sized bottle of Ibuprofen. And, if my migraines were very severe, a bucket would be placed beside my bed so that I wouldn’t have to spend the night next to the toilet.

As it was the beginning of the Internet age, my father’s novice medical research skills were put to the test. He advised me to begin tracking any triggers so we could start pinpointing causes. I was given a small notebook to use as a “migraine diary”. Through this method, we were able to uncover a bit of a pattern. I usually felt a headache creeping in while at school, usually after lunch. Often, I would arrive home from school after riding the school bus and begin sensing a migraine develop.

My father theorized that perhaps my eyesight was the culprit, perhaps from straining to read the chalkboard in class, and took me to see several optometrists. After a few eye tests, I was deemed to have perfect vision and well-functioning eye muscles. Back to the drawing board.

Jacksonville, Florida, our city of residence at the time, is known for it’s hot, humid weather. Despite the moniker of the “Sunshine State,” thunderstorms and rain showers are frequent. As I began tracking my triggers, a correlation between weather and my migraines began to become evident. Low pressure from storm systems can affect those susceptible to migraines. The medical community has now begun to recognize this alignment and has aptly named it the Barometric Pressure Migraine.

However, this medical discovery was not made nor discussed in the early 1990’s, and I still experienced excruciating pain before a thunderstorm. My parents continued to be my biggest advocates, taking me to see brain specialists and allergists. Following a CT scan, it was revealed that my sinus cavities were a bit large for someone my age. Despite this discovery, the doctors informed us that there was nothing they could do and that perhaps, as I grew older, I would “grow into my sinuses.” The Ibuprofen would remain a staple good in our household throughout my childhood.

Fast forward to adulthood ———————-> I am in my early 20’s and still deal with migraines on a monthly basis. Living in Houston, Texas, the weather is very similar to Jacksonville. Hot temperatures and high humidity create the perfect environment for frequent thunderstorms. In anticipation for the hours of upcoming pain, I was always prepared by having cold bottles of water in the fridge, blackout curtains hanging in the bedroom, and an aromatherapy eye mask at the ready. Suffering in pain (as the years of taking OTC headache medication negated any pain relieving effect), I would pray for the migraine to subside. The pain was crippling, debilitating. After years of anguish, I began to accept my fate. Migraines would be an inevitable part of my life. No drug could alleviate the pain.