Testimonial-James Daniel Baehr- Chronic Pain,Cancer & Nausea

In 1994, I was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer.… the cancer had metastasized to my spine, hips, and ribcage. The neuropathic back pain was excruciating, emanating from my spine to my hips and ribcage. I also experienced an overall loss of strength that substantially limited my ability to work. Employment in the transportation industry involves a considerable amount of carrying, lifting, and other manual labor that requires flexibility and mobility. The performance of these requirements exacerbated the magnitude and amount of pain I experienced on a daily basis and depleted any energy that had not already been beaten down by the disease itself.

I began taking numerous medications to treat the cancer, the excruciating pain that it caused, and the depression I felt as a result of my prognosis and the profound restrictions on my life. My medications included a daily dosage of 7.5 mg of Lortab (a painkiller), .25 mg of Xanax (which combats depression and anxiety), 40 mg of Paxil (an anti-depressant), and 250 mg of Eulexin (which treats the cancer by reducing the testosterone emitted from adrenal glands), and monthly shots of 7.5 mg of Lupron Depot (a testosterone blocker/hormonal therapy). I suffered various side effects from these medications, including persistent exhaustion, general pain, a lack of mental focus, and overall body tenderness. In combination, these side effects were quite debilitating….

From September through December of 1995, I endured nine weeks of radiation. The treatment left me with continued back pain, intense nausea, loss of appetite, diverticulitis, sleep abnormalities, and digestive and intestinal complications. It also left me increasingly depressed.

In late 1994 or 1995, a physician at the Radiology Department at Stanford University Hospital prescribed Marinol to alleviate my pain and nausea from the radiation. I tried the Marinol but did not respond well to it. Not only did Marinol make me feel drugged and not in control of my thoughts or body, but it failed to relieve my painful symptoms. In fact, Marinol just made me feel sicker, upsetting my stomach, disrupting my mental acuity, and causing me to hallucinate. During this period, I was also taking 7.5 mg of Lortab, an opioid analgesic, several times a day and Ambien to help me sleep. These drugs alleviated the pain somewhat, but also made me disoriented, constipated, and caused me to lose my short-term memory and fine motor skills.

Perhaps sensing that my hope was receding as my misery was increasing, a nurse at Stanford Hospital suggested that medical marijuana could alleviate my nausea, restore my appetite, and even help me manage my pain – all potentially without the negative side effects I experienced with Marinol and other medications….

I decided to try a small amount of medical marijuana, and when I did I found that it provided significant relief from the side effects of the cancer medications and the radiation treatment. In addition, it helped reduce the pain I was experiencing from the cancer itself.…This new combination of therapies, which included medical marijuana, turned my health around. Where before I had been doubled over with nausea, couldn’t eat, or sleep, I was now not only able to handle my medications, but could sleep, eat and manage my pain. I found that a small amount of medical marijuana taken in the evening enabled me to sleep through the entire night so that I no longer needed to take Ambien.

Over time, the pain got progressively worse. In February 1997 I began to take morphine to help with the pain. The amount of morphine that I need to take to adequately control my pain leaves me utterly incapacitated, mentally and physically. Medical marijuana helps me manage my pain, while limiting my dependence on more powerful narcotics. When I smoke medical marijuana, I can achieve the same degree of pain relief with a much smaller amount of morphine and with far fewer and less harsh side effects. The coupling of medical marijuana with my prescription analgesics has been one of the most significant and successful aspects of my medical treatment.

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