Allan Vannin spoke to an anonymous sufferer of Ankylosing Spondylitis, a long-term condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed, about the benefit that the legalisation of medical cannabis could have for them.
What conditions are you living with and how were they caused?
I am living with Ankylosing Spondylitis*.
What is the prognosis?
The prognosis is basically I will suffer with pain for the rest of my natural life, mostly first thing in the morning and as the day progresses and I become more mobile the pain is decreased.
Is there a cure?
Unfortunately there is no cure.
How long have you been living with this?
I’d say the last few years the condition has progressed more and more, some mornings are unbearable.
What is an average day like living with these conditions?
Average day consists of waking up early due to the pain, (my doctor informed me this is when I should take pain relief, anti-inflammatory’s etc) I choose to wake up and do a stretch and workout which usually takes around 45 mins, if there’s time a bath usually helps as well. From here I will usually go to work which involves a lot of manual work and working in tight spaces under floors, in lofts etc. During the day the pain becomes less and less as I am more active, so I am usually fine as the day goes on as long as I have not been kept up the night before with any pains or discomforts.
What is a bad day like living with these conditions?
A bad day with these conditions I wake up in agony, unable to stretch or workout and the day takes a while to get going, if I’ve had to take any prescription medicine like Narproxen** etc. my stomach usually gets quite unsettled or I become bunged up making me feel quite uncomfortable.
What treatment are you on? What benefits do these drugs bring your conditions? Do they cause any side effects?
I am prescribed Narproxen and asked to take Pain relief either Ibuprofen or paracetamol as well. Truth be told I try to avoid taking these if i can as they don’t agree with my stomach usually leaving me bloated, bunged up or feeling sick. They obviously help if only for a little while but due to the nature of my back condition the medicine is merely masking problems and not really solving anything, I feel the exercise and stretches help the most.
Have you tried anything else?
Yes, I smoke cannabis for pain relief, if I’m woken early around 4am in pain I usually find a strong Indica*** alleviates most of the pain and actually helps me get back to sleep for the couple of hours before work.
What have you tried? Can you describe the before and after effect of these other drugs? Are there any side effects of using these?
Medical Cannabis, before effects I will usually be quite stiff and also a bit of a negative mood as I know this back condition is ongoing, Once I’ve had a dose of cannabis, I feel more relaxed, more able to do my exercises, my mind is a bit more at ease and I feel a bit more positive about the situation. Only side effects are not really negatives but things like an increased appetite, depending on strains the occasional ‘sofa lock’ which Isn’t very proactive but to be fair on days where I’m suffering I don’t really have a proactive day anyway so this just helps with the pain and mood.
Where have you found these other options?
I’ve used cannabis for many years and have always been interested in the abundance of ways this incredible plant can be used, not just in medicine but in materials and recreational uses, it really is a wonder plant.
I either get a friend to point me in the right direction or sometimes have to meet people I don’t really know and purchase a product that could be of really poor quality and extremely overpriced.
I have occasionally ordered from vendors who supply medicinal cannabis but I have been criminalised for this in the past. Since lockdown it has been very difficult to acquire.
How do you feel about purchasing them this way?
I feel like a criminal, or like I am doing something untoward…I know I’m not, I have been to countries that embrace Cannabis and I’ve seen how easily it can be regulated and distributed and how much of an enormous industry it is. I often feel paranoid of being arrested or criminalised again, which in my eyes is utterly and completely wrong in this day and age.
Are there any negative aspects of this/these options or buying them this way?
Yes, mostly around the criminal side of being a cannabis user and also meeting drug dealers who are only in it for the money and don’t care what they’re selling or who to. I am also at risk of being arrested etc. when meeting such people
How do you feel about the future of you condition?
It’s not going to get better and that’s a fact, if anything it will be worse.
How would you like to see the future of your treatment progress?
I would love to be able to have access to different varieties of medicinal cannabis, grown properly and regulated. it is such a beneficial thing to my everyday life and a fistful of pills in the morning is not the route I want to go down.
Do you have anything to say
I just hope to god that this island wakes up and realises the economical, medicinal and beneficial properties cannabis has and how much of a huge difference it could make, The Isle of Man has a real chance to be pioneers at something and to do it well and also reap all the rewards……but alas I fear this is just a pipe dream, no pun intended.
** Common naproxen side effects may include:
indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain, nausea; headache, dizziness, drowsiness; bruising, itching, rash; swelling; or ringing in your ears.
*** Indica strains often have higher levels of CBD and less THC. Indica is sought after for its intensely relaxing effects. It may also reduce nausea and pain and increase appetite.