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I Hate Being High, but I’m Trying Medical Marijuana for My Chronic Pain

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I was 25 the first time I smoked pot. While most of my friends had been indulging in the occasional high long before that, I grew up in a home where my dad was a narcotics officer. “Say no to drugs” had been drilled into me relentlessly for most of my life.

I was honestly never interested in marijuana — until one night when I was drinking with friends and they were smoking. I decided, why not?

To be honest, I wasn’t impressed. While alcohol had always helped with some of my more introverted tendencies and allowed me to socialize more comfortably, this just made me want to hide in a room away from everyone.

Over the years I tried it a few more times, mostly to the same results. I decided pretty definitively that marijuana was not my thing …

Then I was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis and everything changed.

In the years since my diagnosis, I’ve experienced varying degrees of pain. There was a point about six years ago where I was so debilitated by pain that I was actually considering going on disability. I wound up visiting an endometriosis specialist instead and had three surgeries that really did make a drastic difference in my quality of life. I no longer suffer from the daily debilitating pain I once did. Unfortunately, my periods still aren’t great.

“I don’t enjoy being out of it. I don’t enjoy feeling out of control or fuzzy, but don’t want to be confined to my bed in pain. So what options do I have?”

Today I have two prescriptions to help me manage that pain. One, celecoxib (Celebrex) is the best nonnarcotic I’ve found for dealing with a bad endometriosis period. While it takes the edge off the pain, there are plenty of times when it just isn’t enough to allow me to continue to live my life. I remain in bed for several days at a time, just waiting my period out.

That would be an inconvenience for anyone, but I’m a single mom to a 4-year-old. I love being active with her, so the pain feels especially frustrating for me.

The other prescription I have is supposed to help me manage those days: hydromorphone (Dilaudid). It’s a strong prescription narcotic that absolutely takes the pain away. It doesn’t make me itch like acetaminophen-oxycodone (Percocet) and acetaminophen-hydrocodone (Vicodin) do. Unfortunately, it also renders me mostly incapable of mothering.

As such, I only very rarely reach for that bottle — usually only at night and only if I know there’s someone else nearby who can help with my daughter if an emergency were to occur.

Those instances are rare. Instead, I’m far more likely to opt for enduring through the pain so I can remain fully aware of my surroundings.

For Leah Campbell, smoking pot isn't about getting high. It's about managing the pain that accompanies her chronic condition and simply getting through the day.