Banana Kush gave me the opportunity to walk without excruciating pain for the first time in more than a decade.
As a disabled woman with chronic pain, I decided to take what little money I had saved and go to Denver, Colorado. Not just to visit family, but to see if the stories I kept hearing about marijuana and chronic pain had some merit to them.
Marijuana had been taboo for my entire life. So it was surreal to walk into a public place and see dozens of different strains laid out for me to browse.
Some days, it is hard to shower or put on my shoes.
I asked an employee what strains helped with chronic pain, and she recommended something called “Banana Kush,” a hybrid of both Indica and Sativa. I decided to give it a try.
I got back to my sister’s place and took a few careful puffs from a homemade pipe. After a while, I felt good. Better than I had in a long time. My sister asked if I was up for taking a walk, and I agreed. Had I been asked the same question just a day before, I would have said no.
Walking around causes me agony. I have a herniated disc in the lumbar region of my spine that pushes on my sciatic nerve, causing a great deal of pain. So much that on some days, it is hard to shower or put on my shoes.
When we started our walk, I kept waiting for the inevitable pain to strike. But the familiar spasms didn’t come. I managed to walk close to half a mile with little discomfort.
We walked around downtown Denver, taking in the sights and scenery. It was magical. Even walking to the grocery store and back — nothing special for the rest of the world — gave me a triumphant feeling.
Later on, the simple act of cooking dinner for my sister and brother-in-law brought me more joy. I was able to stand for more than 5 minutes at a time. I hadn’t been able to do that for the last 10 years.
All the while, I kept saying to myself, This should be legal everywhere! It’s a miracle drug!
All the while, I kept saying to myself, This should be legal everywhere! It’s a miracle drug! It was much better than taking opiates and ruining my concentration, or taking nothing and just riding the bad times out. Of course my body paid for it the next morning, because I hadn’t been that mobile in quite some time, but I didn’t mind.
There was one thing that depressed me, though — the fact that when I got home to Florida, I would have no choice but to return to my limited lifestyle. If only I could have this every day. I would be able to exercise more, which would help me drop the extra weight, which in turn would drop my blood pressure and my glucose levels. If marijuana was legal in Florida, I would be able to have an active life again.
As I experienced the benefits of this wonderful drug, I could not help but think back to my late husband. He had cancer, a very aggressive type called metastatic melanoma. I had tried to talk him into using pot back then. Even though it wasn’t legal, it would have been easy enough to find. To me, the illegality was trivial if it alleviated his suffering.
I had seen how well it worked for Rita, a friend of mine who also had terminal cancer. Her physician told her it certainly couldn’t do any harm, so she tried it. And it worked! It helped her deal with the pain and overwhelming nausea that comes with chemotherapy treatments. Plus, her outlook on things improved dramatically. Seeing the improvements in attitude and the nausea relief it provided her, I decided to try to talk my husband into it.
So his job and the backwards laws of Florida held him hostage, forcing him to endure suffering he could have avoided.
Now my husband was a pretty straight-as-an-arrow guy. He didn’t even drink. But I thought that this one time, he might acquiesce. I suggested pot. I explained how it worked for Rita. I pleaded. I told him I’d shoulder the blame if he got caught.
But he refused. He was afraid that if he were to partake, his employer would do a random drug screen and he would lose his job and our insurance. So his job and the backwards laws of Florida held him hostage, forcing him to endure suffering he could have avoided.
I knew, even though I was not yet ready to admit it, that it was unlikely he would ever be able to return to work again. But how do you tell someone that? How do you tell your husband to give up the ghost? Don’t worry, smoke some pot. You won’t make it back to work anyway.
So I remained silent.
Knowing what I now know, I would have been more insistent. It may not have extended his life, but it would have made what was left of it a whole lot more bearable.
Sadly, I lost him, not long after he slipped into a coma from brain tumors, before we had the chance to say our final goodbyes. That still haunts me to this day.
My stay in Denver ended and I returned back home to Florida, where I’m afraid to attempt to locate any weed for fear of losing my disability benefits.
My pain has returned, and I’m doing my best to cope with it. I’ve even researched moving to Colorado, but it’s just beyond my means. So I suffer.
I’ve even researched moving to Colorado, but it’s just beyond my means. So I suffer.
I wonder how many other people can’t treat their misery at this very moment. Every day my own chronic pain reminds me of them, suffering along with me. It’s unjust and heartbreaking and barbaric. Every day, reading about the incarcerations and the firing of people whose only crime is to relieve their suffering, I’m reminded of the absurdity of the situation.
I wonder about dignity, and how we have something that can help provide it.
But we don’t.