anonymous face

This man has an amazing story of how medical cannabis saved his life, but he can’t tell the people closest to him.

Anthony was still in his early twenties when he came down with a chronic back problem. He would spend the next eight years living in pain, wasting away on a regimen of prescribed narcotics and useless surgeries – none of it helped.

After so many failed attempts at advanced pain management, he finally decided to give medical cannabis a serious try, and it worked wonders. The plant has since given him a new lease on life, but it’s still a big secret because of his occupation.

Anthony is the pastor at a very large church, and he has no idea how the congregation would react if they knew.

He recently reached out to Green Flower Media to share his story with us. Naturally, we agreed to protect his identity (all names have been changed), and hopefully someday soon he’ll be able to share this same testimony with his congregation and all the other people in his life.

Freak of Nature Back Trouble

back pain medical cannabis

Nobody was sure how Anthony injured his back, and doctors didn’t know how to fix it.

Anthony had been out, working with some students when he first noticed something was wrong with his back. By the time he got home, he couldn’t even get out of his car. His legs just wouldn’t move.

“I had to call for my wife to help and ended up crawling into the house,” he says. “I’d never had any kind of trauma in my back before, so it was really weird – like a freak of nature.”

It turned out that Anthony had seven herniated and two compressed discs in his back, so the doctors immediately put him on Percocet.

Little did Anthony know, he was about to spend the next eight years of his life in a dark, pharmaceutical cloud.

The Pharmaceutical Rabbit Hole

To make things easier, I had Anthony email me a list of the pills he’d been taking:

  • – Fentynal
    – Oxycontin
    – Gabepentin
    – Topiramate (this is a seizure medication they had me on, because they knew the other meds could potentially cause seizures)

    – Lyrica
    – Percocet (I still take this at night to help me with the pain while I’m sleeping, though, as I mentioned, I just baked my first batch of marijuana cookies Saturday, ate one before bed, and didn’t have to take the Percocet Saturday or Sunday… so this could be a good thing!)
    – Naproxen
    – Dilauded
    – Celebrex
    – I used to get regular steroid injections every 2 weeks (until it caused me to pass out)

pharmaceuticals can cause problems

Anthony’s quality of life was far from ideal with all those pharmaceuticals the doctors had him taking.

  • – I also have a neuro stimulator implanted in my abdomen. This device is basically an internal tens unit. It was implanted because I’ve lost all feeling in my left leg due to prolonged trauma to the sciatic nerve. It basically just pulses all day so that I can feel my leg. I have a remote that turns it up and down depending on the pain. It use to run 24/7 on the highest possible setting, but since switching to cannabis it’s rarely even on.
    – I had a microdiscectomy in 2009 (3 years into my pain) It was to cut away the disk that was pressing on my sciatic nerve. That surgery was very helpful at first, but 9 months later it failed, and I was worse off than I was pre-surgery.

     

Wow. After writing out that list, I’m kinda in shock. And the worst thing is, I know there’s more than that.

17 minutes later, Anthony sent me one more email:

Oh, remembered one more medication… Nabilone (i.e. the synthetic big pharma pill form of cannabis). It just made me stupid! I couldn’t talk or hold a conversation on it!

“The thing about all that medication,” Anthony tells me during our interview, “is that none of it ever really did anything to help.”

A Dark Time for the Family

Anthony spent a good portion of those years in bed. On the odd days that he could get up and move around, his head was in such a fog that he would just be standing there, not really present.

Doctor holding pills

Anthony is lucky he wasn’t one of thousands to die from accidental overdose every year. Image from webmd.com

The most problematic medication, he recalls, was the Fentynal. One day after the doctor had upped his dosage, Anthony blacked out while walking up a set of stairs. It was just one of many negative instances during this scary time for him and his family.

“I’ve got two boys who are four and six, so for a good chunk of their lives our hangout time was lying in bed together. I couldn’t even lift them,” he says.

“A back problem like this affects everything, even going to the bathroom for crying out loud. It’s just amazing what a mess it can make of you.”

Trying Cannabis for the First Time

Last year Anthony was working at a call center and getting ready to go on medical leave again because of his back. When a colleague suggested he give cannabis a try, Anthony was speechless.

medical cannabis

How many people are out there who can seriously benefit from medical cannabis yet know nothing about it?

“I honestly didn’t know what to say at first, so I just told him I would go home and talk to my wife about it. It was a big decision to make,” he says.

Anthony and his wife decided he ought to give it a try. The colleague gave him a little bit of pot, and it took Anthony about a week to figure things out because he had never touched the stuff before.

“After that first week, I really noticed a difference in my back. I went off pretty much all the medications I was on,” he says. “But I was finally able to get into a pain clinic and didn’t really know where they stood on cannabis, so I stopped because I didn’t want to be doing anything wrong.”

Going on Cannabis for Good

man rolling a joint

Stories like Anthony’s inspire us to work hard in de-stigmatizing cannabis for others.

Anthony’s experience with the advanced pain management clinic was discouraging from the very first visit.

“The doctor had been looking over my file the previous night and told me straight up that he didn’t know if there was anything he’d be able to do for me,” Anthony says.

They tried everything, including injections and the computer implant into his abdomen – nothing helped. Making matters worse, Anthony wasn’t allowed to go back to work, even though he had a family to support.

“I even tried working from home, but two months later I had to go on medical leave again. That’s when I decided to really give cannabis a good shot.”

Within three weeks he was again off all of his medications except for the occasional Percocet to help him sleep at night.

A New Lease on Life

“Not only was I no longer stuck in bed, but I was able to work part-time at least and play with my kids all the time. Being able to get out of bed like that was HUGE!”

dad playing with son

Can you imagine not being able to play with or even lift your children? For a lot of ailing parents, this is an everyday reality that medical cannabis can remedy.

 

His wife Lisa has also noticed a dramatic difference since Anthony went off the narcotics in favor of cannabis. “There were some major side effects with all those pills. He was always sick, always tired, miserable and cranky,” she says.

“He constantly wanted to be alone and never wanted to connect with anybody, including the kids and myself. It was a very dark experience for all of us.”

Now, Lisa says, there’s a smile on Anthony’s face that hasn’t been there for years. He’s sleeping through the night and getting up first thing in the morning – it’s amazing.

“I got my husband back, and the kids got their dad back,” she says.

Navigating the Legal System

After about a month on cannabis, Anthony told his pain doctor that he’d gone off all of his medications, and the doc was amazed. “He knew how bad I’d been, 30 years old and walking with a cane for the past five years – he was stunned by the difference.”

But here is where the cannabis program is kind of messed up in Canada, Anthony says. “Although the doctor told me to continue doing what I was doing, he wouldn’t sign off for me on the government program.”

cannabis demonstration Canada

In June 2015 the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana users could legally consume other forms of the drug, including pot cookies and cannabis tea. Image from marijuana.com.

Anthony explains how his doctor basically wanted him to break the law because he was afraid to risk his own reputation.

“The medical associations here in Canada have basically told their doctors because cannabis hasn’t been approved as a medical product, if people are caught giving out a recommendation, they’ll lose their medical license.”

Even with the confusing system, Anthony wanted his cannabis use to be totally legal, and luckily he was finally able to get his official recommendation from a pot-friendly center in Halifax.

The irony gets worse in that, unlike with all those pills that did nothing to help Anthony, the government offers no health care coverage for medical cannabis.

“Even though we finally found a medicine that works, there is still a lot of frustration,” Lisa says. “All those narcotics that were so quickly prescribed were more affordable with tax breaks and government support.”

The money for the medicinal cannabis comes right out of their own pocket, and Lisa – like a lot of other people – can’t understand why it’s not more available or backed up by the government.

Overcoming the Stigma

For the longest time, the only perception of cannabis Anthony new was the typical stoner image portrayed in the movies.

But after his first surgery, when he was stuck in bed for three months, he watched just about everything on Netflix including a few documentaries that got him thinking and researching into the true nature of cannabis.

“That’s when I first realized that there are a lot of regular people out there using cannabis for the betterment of their life,” he says.

After that, his only reluctance toward experimenting with marijuana for pain management revolved around the legality of the substance.

“The Bible is very strict about following the law of the land, so, as a Christian, it was very important to me to be totally legal in my use.”

inside of the church

Do you think Pastor Anthony should be able to comfortably discuss medical cannabis with his congregation?

The staff at his church are well aware and mostly indifferent to Anthony’s newfound medicine, but he is still afraid to tell his congregation. “I don’t like having to keep a secret like that, and I’m sure some people have wondered about it, no doubt smelling it on me from time to time,” he says.

Anthony talks about how he would love to be able to tell them, to be open and honest about it as opposed to just leaving them to wonder. But he’s worried that it might offend or upset people.

Using marijuana for pain management, Anthony has never experienced any of the euphoria that he’s heard other pot users describe. Although he’s continuously experimenting with strains to find what works best (he currently favors a 2:1 CBD/THC ratio) it hasn’t helped him creatively with his songwriting or anything like that. It just keeps the pain away, allowing him to work and to enjoy his wife and children.

“I’ve seen so many doctors, including the top neurosurgeon in North America, but all of them said the same thing. They told me it would take a miracle for my back to get better,” Anthony says. “It’s terrifying to have a doctor say that, but I finally found my miracle.”

Are you inspired my Anthony’s story? If yes, share it with the world. Let’s keep spreading the good news that medical cannabis WORKS!