CANNABIS CULTURE – Meet MJ Martin; a young, vibrant woman. A married mother of three with no known previous health concerns. Seemingly unexpectedly, she began having excruciating chest pain, and trouble swallowing. MJ was in pain daily, unable to eat or drink. Doctor after doctor, test after test and MJ was finally diagnosed with Achalasia.
Achalasia is a rare esophageal motility disorder affecting about one person in 100,000 per year. There is no known cause or cure, but recent research shows that it is an acquired neurodegenerative disease due to the failure of distal esophageal inhibitory neurons (autoimmune disease).
Having a warrior’s heart lead MJ to research alternative medicines. After educating herself on Cannabis, she decided to try it. Here is her story in her own words.
I was in pain. I had lost a bunch of weight and I was struggling daily to get food or even water down at times. I had seen many doctors but, even to them, it was a mystery as to what was causing all my discomfort. This one particular day was rough. I woke up like I did every morning…sick to my stomach, sore throat, chest pain, and still having no idea what was wrong with me. It was tough to get going but I managed, barely, and headed to work. I had an extreme headache, my stomach was nauseous, and I was very malnourished and dehydrated. After being at work for a few hours I started to feel light-headed, so I tried to force down a protein bar in hopes to give me a little more energy so that I could make it through the day. Well, shortly after eating the protein bar I started to have extreme pain in my chest.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and my face and hands went pale. My co-worker looked at me and said, “You don’t look so good.” I told her something felt wrong then I immediately left work, got in my car, and headed to the hospital. While on my way to the hospital I was talking with my mom, and, after her asking me a few questions, it dawned on me! The protein bar was stuck! That day I ended up being admitted into the hospital and spent the next week going through an inordinate amount of testing. It was exhausting.
This was the 5th stay at the hospital and this time I was admitted. I had stopped being able to swallow altogether. I was so weak and tired, and the extreme chest pain was unbearable. It was the 5 days at Swedish hospital and lots of tests (including the barium swallow test and manometry pressure test) that FINALLY gave me a diagnosis.
I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Achalasia. Achalasia is an autoimmune disease that effects the esophagus and GI track. It is when the smooth muscles in the esophagus cannot move food down which can cause regurgitation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. I continued to see hundreds of doctors, tried many medications, and even had several procedures and surgery but, in the end, there was still no relief from the pain. I eventually met others through a support group I had joined that had told stories of how they had gotten relief from cannabis use. Their stories gave me hope, so I decided to start doing my own research. I felt I didn’t have a choice because the doctors had no idea how to help me and had pretty much given up on me. I had to figure out what to do on my own.
In my research I found that cannabis helps by calming the nervous system, stopping the pain, increasing the appetite, and relaxing the smooth muscles in the esophagus and GI track. It was a little ray of hope for me so of course I was willing to try it. I started off with smoking. I smoke pre -rolls, use a bong, and I vape. I’ve been told that dabs might be better for me so I’m looking into that.
My medical bud tender was also very helpful in suggesting new things to try, such as CBD oil, Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), and tinctures. So far smoking seems to be the best way to medicate since it goes right to the source and gives me instant relief. I have also found that Indica strains are the best for me because they increase my appetite and relax the esophagus so that swallowing food is easier. By treating my symptoms with cannabis, I don’t have the side effects that I have had with all the medications the doctors have had me try in the past. I take RSO and I smoke to keep the pain at bay. I can function better in my daily life. I am no longer spending the day in my bed and I’m slowly getting my life back to some-what normal…the way it was before this illness. Finding cannabis has saved my life and has given me a passion to help others; so much so, that I have decided to create Flower Girl Queens, a line of health and beauty CBD products. I am creating tinctures for anxiety and sleep and several beauty products for the face and body. I launched Flower Girl Queens in January 2018. A portion from every sale will be donated to The Achalasia Awareness Foundation.
I am really excited for this new chapter in my life and I have cannabis to thank for that!