My story began in 1996 when I was pulled into a rubber mill at the Firestone plant in Des Moines. I ruptured three disks in my lower back and damaged nerves to my legs, which lead to fibromyalgia and eventually my having to use a cane.
I was transferred around the plant to various jobs for disabled people until 2000 at which point it was obvious that I couldn't perform my duties and was let go for medical reasons.
I fought for two years to get SSI disability, and have been on disability all this time. My treatment was to give me pain killers and muscle relaxers. This went on for years and my dosages of pain killers kept increasing all the time because my pain level would increase so my med dosages where increased to the point of where I was on 100mg Fentanyl patches (a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine), 80mg of OxyContin, and 5mg of hydromorphone.
Even with the massive amounts of narcotics during the majority of this time - I would be in enough pain to where I hardly was able to sleep. So I began using cannabis to ease my pain and help with my insomnia, which it helped considerably. There was a time about 5 years ago when I was unable to obtain cannabis. I eventually reached such a low point in my life, laying in my bed for most of the time and in chronic pain, that I decided that this was just to hard and I decided to end my life. I took 10 or so fentanyl patches and plastered them all over my body, ate whatever pills I had left and drove myself to ledges to die in a peaceful place. Someone found me, called 911 and I was flown to Mercy hospital where I was unconscious for 14 days. It took a month of therapy to get me able to do things on my own again and during my time at the hospital they weaned me off of the narcotics, which is what was best for me, or I probably would have tried to end my life again.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with PTSD after some mental health issues arose but my blood work was soon showing signs of toxicity from the prescribed medications like Lithium, and it was a struggle to find a mental health care provider. Afterwards, I had managed well because I was able to obtain cannabis again and use it for my pain, my fibromyalgia, and insomnia. Soon, I found myself arrested with a 5 year suspended sentence and placed on probation. Prior to sentencing, I went through a drug treatment plan and finally found a mental health care provider who quit within 5 months of prescribing me a variety of medications.
Now, I have yet another mental health provider and between the medical and mental health issues, I am on a cocktail of 12 different medications. One prescription alone costs the insurance company over $1,600/month and it hasn't improved my condition.
I have lived and worked in Iowa since 1983 and I hate the thought of leaving my home and this state, but what options are people in pain, PTSD, mental health issues, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and a great more variety of illnesses left to do? The legislation system can't seem to be able to work together to come up with a plan to help us.
When I was able to use cannabis, I was able to take a lot less prescription medications and was able to get relief. It is my intention to go back to using cannabis if it means selling my home and moving to a state where medical cannabis is legal, because the state of Iowa is so far behind. I feel I am left with no choice.
Patient & Caregiver Stories
These stories represent real Iowans suffering from complex medical conditions that need access to medical cannabis right here at home.