Pain Control (part 1)

If you've never had pancreatitis, or seen or been around someone with pancreatitis, it's hard to imagine the pain. It comes in many different ways, is caused by many things, and can be 100% debilitating. Controlling that pain is difficult.

When admitted to the hospital with pancreatitis, you are given a barrage of opiates (after diagnosis). Oxycodone, oxycontin, dilaudid, and fentanyl. Maybe they mix some ketamine in there (they did with me). The goal being to make you comfortable at what is your personal tolerable level. Because of the problems associated with opiates, other medications are brought into the mix such as gabapentin. It's all about finding a balance that maintains quality of life, but doesn't turn you into a habitual user or dependent.

I live in California. We want to move east once the boys are 18, but for now I'm grateful that we're here. There are some benefits to living here. One benefit is that the doctors and hospitals have seen damn near everything, and they've seen it multiple times. My case is not exotic or abnormal for UCSF. There are more than 30 million people in California. The doctors have "been there, done that." My care is exceptional. Another benefit is the fact that cannabis is legal here, and my doctors accept it's medical properties.

I didn't really experiment with drugs as a lot of teenagers did. Cannabis was foreign to me. Matt had been suggesting it for my migraines for years, but I didn't want to go down that road of "drug use". In January of 2018, things changed. The pain was getting worse, I needed to do something, and I asked Matt about cannabis. Matt was at work so he did some Googling, sent me some links about medical cannabis usage, and sites that would help me get a medical permit. The next day, permit in hand, I Googled "how to use pot". Ridiculous, I know, but I didn't know anything about it. A few hours later I had some delivered to my house. I used it sparingly and it helped a little bit, but wasn't a "go-to" for pain control. An ambulance ride and 5 day stay in the hospital changed that.

After my hospital stay in May 2018, I had a massive attack. I had exhausted all of my normal pain control methods (oxy, tylenol, motrin, heating pads), and Matt said "I'm going to load a bowl for you to smoke. If that doesn't work, we're going to the ER". I fought him a little, but I really didn't want to go back to the hospital. He loaded it, handed it to me, and then went to the restroom (#1, not #2). In Matt's words..."I went to the bathroom and you were in the fetal position crying. I came out of the bathroom and your sitting in the couch playing xbox, wiggling your feet. I asked "are you good?" "Yup (with a thumbs up) Be quiet though, I'm hiding in a bush"." If you've never played the game Fortnite, the bush comment might not make sense. After that, cannabis became a very high priority.

Before I end for tonight and prepare for part 2 I want to let everyone know that some may not approve of cannabis and that's okay, but for me this is this best way to control my pain without being dependent on opiates.

Sandra Kellas

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