Hey guys! I am Amanda. You may also call me “Hands”, “Red”, or “Manda”. I am a 30 year old, Softball playing, video-gaming, animal-loving fiend, who also happens to have Multiple Sclerosis. I live with my wife, 3 dogs, cat, gecko, AND in-laws, in Simi Valley, CA. I love to laugh, make others laugh, draw, watch horror movies, and learn all there is to know about cannabis!
*Hears voice off in the distance* “Amanda. Hands. Red. What do you use cannabis for?”
I am SO glad you asked, voice! In 2010, I was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, which is my immune system attacking the protective coverings in my Central Nervous System. You know, the part of the body in charge of … everything. The relapsing-remitting part just means that the attacks on my body can come and go as they please!
Here is what MS is, according to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society:
Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
Within the CNS, the immune system causes inflammation that damages the myelin (the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers) as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and the cells that make myelin. When myelin or nerve fibers are damaged or destroyed in MS, messages within the CNS are altered or stopped completely. Damage to areas of the CNS may produce a variety of neurological symptoms that will vary among people with MS in type and severity. The damaged areas develop scar tissue which gives the disease its name – multiple areas of scarring or Multiple Sclerosis.
Like I said before, I have Relapsing-Remitting MS. There are 3 other kinds.
CIS: Clinical Isolated Syndrome: is a first episode of neurologic symptoms caused by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system. It must last at least 24 hours, and not all patients with this episode will go on to develop Multiple Sclerosis.
I am pretty sure I had 2 or 3 of these “Clinically Isolated Syndromes” throughout my childhood, up until I was diagnosed. I am also fairly certain I am close, if not already into, our next type of MS.
SPMS: Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: follows an initial relapsing-remitting course. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to a secondary progressive course in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function (accumulation of disability) over time.
PPMS: Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: is characterized by worsening neurologic function (accumulation of disability) from the onset of symptoms, without early relapses or remissions.
Still with me? 😂
There are over a dozen disease modifying therapies for MS. Some are injectable, oral, and others are infused into the bloodstream. I take what is called, Aubagio. A pill once a day. As someone who has this little gem, it's both a scary, and FASCINATING disease. No two patients with MS are the same. We each have our own special blend of MS, I like to say. Our symptoms can be any of the following: Fatigue, numbness and tingling, spasticity, weakness, dizziness, vision problems, bladder problems, pain and itching, cognitive changes, DEPRESSION is a big one, and mood changes at any time. There are reports of new symptoms all. the. time.
So. How do I deal? Cannabis! I smoke it, dab it, eat it, etc! I love the stuff! The fact that it's instant, is the best part. I have so many symptoms, it's hard to name them all. BUT. It’s great for my full-body pain, mood changes, insomnia, migraines, restless legs, cognitive function, YOU NAME IT!
I used to run Cross-Country and Track & Field, in high school, and I know I had symptoms then. I can no longer run to cope with my C-PTSD (That’s a whole other blog!), so I play softball one day a week, and I use cannabis when I need that extra, VERY QUICK fix. When Alice introduced it to me in 2013, I didn’t know how much it would help me down the road. It was just helping me sleep, back then. Now? I use it for any symptom that comes up, and it works! Without cannabis, I would be a slug, stuck in bed most of the day. IF NOT ALL OF IT! It's an amazing little plant, that has helped me find out who I am, and I can only hope my story may help you be less afraid.
P.S. my inbox is always open. 💜