I was at the tail end of seventh grade when my father was diagnosed with a blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma, as well as prostate cancer. When his doctors at Bridgeport Hospital told him that he would have to begin radiation treatment, he began his journey into pain management. It was not easy for my father to have to ask for help, but he is the kind of man that will put his pride aside for his family’s well-being.
It was about three years later that my father began his radiation treatment. He would often come home drained from his day working at Cablevision after having to visit his doctors in the morning. It was not easy for my mother and I to watch, but, being the family man he is, he never complained to either of us about his condition.
I was sitting in my bedroom on a quiet afternoon some months after my father had begun his treatment when he asked me to follow him downstairs to give him a hand in the basement. A white towel was hung up on one of the wooden walls that did not have shelves full of knickknacks or Boston Red Sox memorabilia at the back of the room. He stood in front of the towel and handed me his phone.
“Take a couple from the shoulders up,” he said. I took a handful of pictures and then my mother and I decided on which of them looked the best.
I found out a couple of weeks later that I had photographed my father for his medical marijuana prescription card. The idea of my father keeping a bunch of pot in the same house as my mother and I was kind of ridiculous. I had heard stories of my father running with the wrong crowd when he was a teenager, but he was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, served all over the world, and even saw combat in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. He had always tried his hardest to make sure my sister and I stayed on a straight and narrow path, and now he was about to be smoking marijuana in the house.
Medical marijuana has been proven to work on more than cancer patients and other chronic pain sufferers. It has been shown to treat people who have conditions such as Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. In some states where medical marijuana is legal, it may also be prescribed for mental conditions like anxiety or depression. It is not uncommon for veterans to come home with post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions that may affect them both physically and mentally. Medical marijuana is one treatment that can help them manage their senses as well as the intense thoughts and anxiety that come with these disorders.
Five years later my father is not quite cancer free, but he is out of treatment and still managing his pain through a state licensed medical marijuana prescription. He picks up his prescription products once a month and prefers edible and liquid options to smoking and other concentrates. Like a lot of other prescription options, patients can choose their dose, and my father has found out a smaller dose is often right for him. With his liquid products, my father likes to use a eyedropper. It is a measuring tool—imagine a turkey baster—at top of a bottle that collects the right dose. It holds about 0.25 ml of liquid inside of the tube. He then squeezes it out under his tongue and holds it there for about a minute or two before swallowing it or washing it out. It is not an immediate high though; it takes another fifteen minutes to a half of an hour until you feel the effects of the product.
In late April, my father and I sat down on our porch in Bridgeport, Connecticut to discuss his experiences with marijuana as a prescription medicine.
“Pot has changed Scott Purdie!” he said, his shirt sleeves rolled up. “I’ll be honest and tell you that my opinion on medical marijuana is pretty straightforward. It has been around for ages, and I believe from my own experience and understanding that cannabis is an alternative medicine that may help people for whom traditional forms of medicine have not worked well.” He sat back in his seat, took a sip of his seltzer, and threw his hands up a little bit to suggest maybe consuming marijuana products is not as daunting as some skeptics and people in the media may have you believe.
I asked him to elaborate on the idea of how marijuana is an alternative form of medication. Were there any other treatment options out there to compare it to?
“Pot has changed Scott Purdie!”
“You should look at it as an alternative medicine in the same way that acupuncture and chiropractic treatment are,” he said, taking a short drag of his cigar. “Think of it as you do alcohol when it needs to be used as an antiseptic. You can use marijuana safely and in a lot of forms to help some folks in a bunch of different ways. It may be an answer to some people’s issues, but maybe not for the next guy though.” He sat up and closer to me, raised his voice a little bit and said, “It seems to be working to cut down on the number of people abusing illegal drugs and losing their lives to the opioid crisis in our country.”
Two decades ago, my father lost his older brother to heroin addiction. Today he believes in a health care system that looks out for all people and promotes better practices than the medical community has been using for too long.
There are well over five thousand marijuana dispensaries in the United States, and that number is expected to continue to grow as more states legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana. Being that a lot more money has been put into marijuana research in the states that have legalized it, there have been significant developments regarding the quality of products as well as newer ways to medicate. My father picks up his prescription at Curaleaf CT in Milford every month.
There are many options to choose from when it comes to how you want to get the benefits out of your prescription. There are flower buds, edibles, concentrates, and even topical options to choose from, and they all range in potency. If you are not feeling like rolling your own joint, you can select from about a dozen different types of pre-rolls. It is difficult to go wrong when you walk into a medical marijuana dispensary. Plus, they even have all different kinds of glass pieces to choose from for the different ways you might choose to medicate yourself. You can purchase different water pipes and rigs on the spot, every pot smoker’s favorite pastime.
A lot of effort also goes into packaging medical marijuana containers. This is state mandated. The prescription holder’s name and general information is printed on the top of a label and on the side is a breakdown of the product and its contents. Those contents are broken down into indicators such as THC, CBD, THCa and about a dozen others. This specific identification method and produce breakdown ensures users that their prescription is correct.
It is just as important that a patient’s family is okay with how they are being treated. It was not hard for the rest of the family to understand that my father was in pain, and he did not have a whole lot of options on the table. He was either going to be prescribed the same medication that had not worked for him in the past or try something new.
In the time that my father has been a medical marijuana prescription holder, he has gone back to school and even made a career change from working in the corporate world to serving our community as a medical assistant for Hartford Healthcare. He has even been fortunate enough to complete his treatments, at least for his prostate cancer, and make progress toward beating Multiple Myeloma.
“He was either going to be prescribed the same medication that had not worked for him in the past or try something new.”
Five years later, my father uses the same medical marijuana card. He may not even be aware of it, but that afternoon when I centered him between the crosshairs of his camera phone, he taught me a lesson. Do not be afraid and try your hardest not to judge somebody when you have not walked but a day in their shoes. If we lived in a world where more people wanted to ask questions than hear themselves speak, we would be in a much better place. Can you imagine that?
Scott Purdie is a Staff Writer for the Blue Muse Magazine
Header Photo Credit: Unsplash.com