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‘Without cannabis, I might not be alive today’

August 28, 2013 – In our ongoing series of profiling medical marijuana users, we look at how cannabis is making one man’s life bearable in the face of unimaginable suffering.  Find out how David Michael helps control his debilitating seizures with marijuana, and learn why he is putting out an SOS call, as in Sick of Suffering.

David Michael, 33, lives in New South Wales, Australia, and this is his story:

“As a child, when I was four, I was playing in the garden, slipped on some rocks and cracked the side of my head open, which caused me to have a high fever, seizure and mini stroke. The accident left me with my seizure disorder and other neurological problems (neuralgia).

cannabis saves lives seizuresI suffer from Petit and Grand Mal epilepsy, as well as cataplexy. As I got older, cataplexy and all its symptoms – seizures, night and day terrors, sleep paralysis, waking paralysis, nausea, hunger suppression, muscle cramps and spasms, numbing and tingling, cold sensations etc – became more prevalent and dominant. The Grand Mal lessened.

When you suffer this intensely, as a child and growing up, you reach a stage where you now suffer all three forms of PTSD – Pre (the fear and trauma of knowing it will happen), Present (the experience actually happening) and Post (the constant torment and fear of it happening again) Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I’ve been hospitalised from having a seizure on a pushbike. I’ve almost drowned (on at least three occasions) from a seizure striking me while swimming – usually from cold or other shock. I’ve fallen off the toilet at least five times onto tiles face first (sometimes against the door, which means I’m trapped until I wake up as no one can push it open). I’ve collapsed in the shower on a few occasions and once had the glass shower doors fall in on me, and was trapped under them.

All this torment was made even worse by the fact that cataplexy is an Orphan Disorder, meaning it’s not suffered by a large percentage of people, and as such not studied as deeply as other illnesses such as epilepsy.

Cataplexy is a life-threatening disorder. Every day of my life I live with the trauma and fear of having a seizure, smashing my head or another vital body part as I collapse, and probably ending up dead. I’ve got scars on my head from close calls already.

So how does cannabis help me? At 14, after smoking marijuana with friends, I discovered that a cataplexy seizure I was having lessened and passed through the body, instead of smashing me down to the ground and turning me into a rag doll.

It lessens the chronic four-hour long exhaustion and weakness I go through after an attack.

Marijuana stops a shock wave seizure (caused from body impact), so I don’t collapse to the floor in a trembling mess, drooling, wetting and soiling myself.

It stops me from being tormented by vicious night and day terrors. (Imagine a night terror on steroids, which is when you wake up you can still see it – to coin Frodo – ”with my waking eyes” for up to an hour after it fades).

Also, sleep paralysis sucks! Having half your body paralysed when you wake up in the morning, and having to literally drag yourself out of bed, is terrible. I have to endure my body being completely paralysed while lying in bed feeling like you’re falling through it, floating over it or being tossed around on it and I can’t do anything about it. Cannabis lessens and/ or suppresses these experiences.

Cataplexy is a neurological disorder and one thing about neurological disorders, is they give you muscle cramps and spasms which are painful and annoying. Smoking cannabis alleviates both my spasms and cramps.

Cataplexy suppressed my hunger, so I can go all day (or even a few days) without feeling hungry, and just get more and more nauseous instead. I also get vicious nausea in the mornings. Cannabis alleviates my debilitating nausea and restores my appetite, or at the very least stimulates it so my stomach growls and tells me, “Hey, you need to eat!”

Cannabis helps me sleep and sleep without all the torture described above.

If all this doesn’t sound like enough of a horror story I also have arthritis, inflammation and digestive disorders. Cannabis helps alleviate the symptoms of these painful disorders too.

If my Australian government and Big Pharma had their way, I’d now be poisoning my body, destroying my organs, suffering side-effects and risking death from the flood of toxic drugs that they want me to score from them while they rob me (and others like me) of my human right to benefit from cannabis as my chosen medication. When I was younger, I was given a seizure medication and it made me depressed, miserable, cranky and didn’t do anything for my seizures; so my mother took me off them.

Without cannabis, I and many others might not be alive today. Cannabis is a true proven life-saver, a proven panacea, and a proven non-toxic medicine.”

As told to David Silverberg

By David Silverberg