Hopegrown Spotlight: Friday Night Lights

August 5, 2017

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My Journey with cannabis starts in the summer of 2016. I was a young, healthy, active student-athlete on the men's soccer team. Getting ready for the upcoming season in the fall, I was excited and working hard to stay in shape during the off season. I was exercising daily and eating a healthy diet when I started to experience something I do not wish upon anyone. Bloody stool. Being the hard-headed male I am, I blew it off and said it would go away with time. After the next couple of days, I started to have excruciating stomach pain and a constant urge to pass gas and diarrhea. 

Growing Concerns

At this point, I became more concerned and told my mother, a registered nurse. She told me that it was a real concern so I made an appointment to see a gastroenterologist. The appointment wasn’t until three days later. The following day I was making a delivery for work when I had to make multiple stops to regain my energy after every building I passed. I called my mom. Very worried, she told me to go straight to the hospital to get blood work done. 

Diagnosis

After multiple hours at the hospital they told me I had extreme anemia with very low levels of hemoglobin and would have to be admitted to the hospital. The next step was to have a procedure called a sigmoidoscopy (which is as unpleasant as it sounds.) During the procedure (yes, I was awake), I was told the eerie news. I had ulcerative colitis.  A chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It can be hereditary but none of my family members have it. This disease causes ulcers in my large intestine which leads to inflammation. It has no known cause and is a lifetime disease. Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are gastrointestinal disorders in a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Treatment

When treatment finally started I was told I’d be in the hospital for another five to seven days. Hooked up to an I.V and given fluids to help my iron levels go up. I was stuck in a lousy gown and socks with rubber on the bottom and had routine blood test every six hours to see if my levels were going up; which unfortunately they weren't so more had to be done. The next day, I started my first blood transfusion. No change. Following day, little progress after second transfusion. After a third and final transfusion my levels were close enough to normal and staying steady. After a total of five days in the hospital I was released and given two medications and three vitamin supplements.

Looking For Answers

Feeling depressed and upset with life I was ready to get off the pills and get back to normal life. I felt like an old man with my pill organizer for the week and was tired of taking seven pills a day. After a couple weeks of seeing little to no progress, I was fed up with the pharmaceuticals that were costly and time consuming. So, I began researching homeopathic remedies when I stumbled upon a YouTube video discussing the benefits of cannabis in treating ulcerative colitis symptoms. I was skeptical yet intrigued. If this was an actual possibility, more fine tuned research needed to be done.

 After a week of scouring the internet I learned that cannabis could greatly help with my symptoms (cramps and inflammation.) I also became aware of a recent breakthrough in ongoing IBD research that connects CBD (cannabidiol –one of the beneficial cannabinoids found in cannabis) as a possible cure for colitis. The next step was acquiring a recommendation to purchase CBD medication from a dispensary. I headed back to the internet where there was lots of information but nothing on one site that helped more than the other. I eventually found an online doctor who wrote  my recommendation and had great reviews. 

Field Trip to Dispensary

After three days, the recommendation came in the mail and I went to my first dispensary. Hesitant and scared, I entered as if it were still illegal to do what I was doing. After being greeted with warm smiling people and shown into the next room I was a little more comfortable but worried I wouldn't get the correct product for my ailment. I told the budtender behind the counter what I was trying to accomplish and he recommended exactly the same product I had researched earlier. CBD drops. When he told me what to get, how to use it and how often, I felt relieved and happy that the cannabis scene isn't all it's made out to be, the bad way the media portrays it most of the time. 

Pills to Drops

I was due for another check-up in ten days and was excited to start this new cannabis regime. I went from seven large pills to a few drops twice a day. Feeling better during this time I couldn't wait to get back to the hospital. Prior to my doctor starting the check-up he told me to keep my expectations low. After all the tests, he had a shocked look on his face and said it was incredible how clean my results were.  

Full Circle...

A week later, I stumbled upon my friend and old high school teacher’s twitter profile with a link to his website, Hopegrown.org. The website is like Angie’s List and WebMD for medical marijuana. After a few minutes on this site I realized that I could have gone through Hopegrown to accomplish everything; from cannabis health benefits and research to finding a doctor or dispensary. It was all on one site and much easier- time saving and more reliable than some of the other sites that just didn't look right. After going through what I went through I thought it would be best to help others and provide the easiest way of doing so with the simplicity of sharing a website like Hopegrown.org.   

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