This post was inspired by a comment left by Nat.
It took me a good year and a half before I figured out a cannabis and diet and nutritional protocol that worked for me to treat the debilitating symptoms and pain of my Crohn’s disease. After an entire year spent trying various cannabis products and finding profound pain relief and significant healing of my gut, I next started a regimen of top-quality supplements and 100% organic and fermented organic foods. After an additional 6 months on the new diet, combined with continued cannabis use, finally I started feeling noticeably better. Against considerable odds, I had managed to heal my gut well enough to process and absorb nutrients from food, and I had added a quality multivitamin, digestive enzyme and whole nutritious organic and non-GMO foods to provide those nutrients and it worked.
After being out-of-state treating with medical cannabis and organic and fermented organic foods for a year and a half, and having nowhere else to go and no way to get there anyway as I was still too weak to travel, I felt I had the energy to try to “make it” in my new home state. For a year and a half after that I was able to continue paying for out-of-state housing and medical treatments by working intermittently on my small business and by maxing out my credit and liquidating my modest assets but now everything is gone; by itself, my ability to work intermittently will not be good enough to sustain my health, my home or my life. Not only am I broke and my credit destroyed, my financial documents are a shambles and will be so indefinitely due to my inability to reliably maintain the books of my small business putting need-based benefits out of reach. The 3-year gap in my medical records beginning when I abandoned Western medicine and sought alternative treatment with medical cannabis means I am ineligible for disability-based benefits too. While I may be able to fix some of this with a bankruptcy or other action and start over eventually it will be some time before I can even apply for a rental property let alone afford to pay for one in a cannabis legal state or anywhere — I have truly lost it all trying to finance my journey to heal myself with medical cannabis.
I need somewhere to rest, relax and recover for at least a year while I clean up this mess and I need to do it in a cannabis legal state so that I can continue my treatment. That is what I need if I am going to remain relatively healthy, pain-free and to repair the damage all of this has caused to my finances and to my life and obviously doing so would be in my best interests. And — notice that’s an and, not a but, that’s important — there is likely no way I am going to be able to do that. I am in a cannabis legal state now, and I have figured out a way to heal from and live with Crohn’s disease, but after 3 years I simply cannot afford to stay.
And at the same time I also cannot afford to leave a cannabis legal state with this serious incurable and conventionally untreatable medical condition and doing so would in fact be pure insanity. Everyone I tell about this says “you can’t leave, you need your medicine!” and of course they are right. Without access to medical cannabis, I will lose the hard-won gains I have made in my health and well-being — gains which have cost me everything to achieve and maintain even for this short while — only to plummet once again down the Crohn’s-hole of excruciating and intractable physical pain, debilitating systemic effects and digestive issues including dangerous erosions, ulcers, inflammation and other partial bowel obstructions, malabsorption, dehydration and malnutrition, the escalating and aggregating side-effects and iatrogenic illnesses and injuries that come with conventional Crohn’s treatments and unavoidable psychological trauma from both the illness and the treatments themselves. Within days of stopping my treatment I could easily land in the hospital or worse as I will be unable to control my affect or behavior while suffering from intolerable intractable pain and even though I can see this entirely foreseeable result coming from a mile away, there is nothing I will be able to do to stop it.
This is a perfect illustration if not the very definition of a dilemma — I can’t afford to stay and I can’t afford to go. There is simply no way I am going to be able to do what I need to do to maintain my hard-won new state of relative health and to somewhat maintain my treatment, my home and my life and everything is in fact conspiring against it. So what is the point in finding out what alternative treatment “works for you” — in other words discovering your legitimate needs as a chronically ill person for whom conventional treatments did not work — if you will be unable to fulfill those needs anyway in the long-term or at all? What are seriously chronically ill people supposed to do to maintain our health, our homes and our very lives when Western medicine fails us?
Unfortunately, the answer appears to be that we are not supposed to maintain our health, our homes or our lives — the point of seeking so-called alternative treatment under capitalism and patriarchy seems to be that chronically ill people liquidate our assets and the assets of everyone we know if they are willing to help, losing everything and for as many households and generations as possible at that, and then go back to our role and original station as pincushions, lab rats and torture victims, consuming medical and other goods and services that don’t help us and that we don’t even want and otherwise being good conformers and consumers until we die. Self-help rhetoric then, including all discourse around alternative healing which centers figuring out and declaring our “needs” so that they may (presumably) then be met is just another capitalistic and patriarchal scam. It is exactly as Nat said in the comment linked to above: “How many millions of women KNOW what we need and still get NOWHERE?” And relatedly, how many resources including time, money and energy did we spend/expend figuring out our “needs” only to realize that actually reliably meeting those needs would be impossible?
In my own case, I was willing to risk and ultimately lose everything in my quest to heal myself from the ravages of an untreatable, incurable and progressive autoimmune disease because at the time I felt as if I had no meaningful choice and nothing of consequence to lose. My quality of life was nonexistent and I woke up crying every day — if I was even able to sleep and when I even had the energy to cry — devastated that I had not died during the night and not knowing how on Earth I was going to get through another day with this quality and quantity of pain. Because capitalistic and patriarchal medicine had failed me so completely, and because I was critical of it anyway, I thought and felt at the time that I had “right” on my side and that finding alternative treatment was the smart and indeed the only thing to do.
I was already a skeptical consumer of medical goods and services, having seen and experienced a terminally ill sibling’s lifetime of interactions with the capitalistic patriarchal medical machine. And as the daughter of a profoundly abusive, sadistic and misogynistic Western medical doctor and nurse, as if there is any other kind, I had long seen through the Big Pharma and Western medical scam (they aren’t God y’all, and even the good ones have profoundly conflicting interests, and the bad ones probably hate and enjoy hurting you) and had already been seeking alternative healing for 2 decades by the time I fell seriously and permanently ill. As a child and teenager myself, my parents had subjected me to multiple unnecessary surgeries including tonsilectomy, adenoidectomy, wisdom and other tooth extractions and various oral surgeries, torturous orthodontia, dubious long-term treatment with prescription drugs that weren’t even prescribed for me and which my dad had procured from work, and the abject horror of living with quite frankly a monster in my father, whose colleagues once presented to him in front of his wife and children a “Golden Speculum Award” for having performed the most unnecessary vaginal exams on female patients in the emergency room of the hospital in which they all worked. The “award” which consisted of a literal speculum painted gold hung on the wall of our family home until I suspect my mother took it down and apparently “lost” it.
As soon as I was able, as a young adult in the 80s and 90s I began exploring the 60s and 70s Hippie ethic generally and sought out natural food, medicine and experiences as an alternative to my mainstream past which I knew was completely insane and toxic. This was the era of psychological self-help and physical self-help was closely related and many people my age were actively pursuing both. What no one really did of course was to talk about why “alternative” healing methods were even necessary in the first place, just that it was a different or even a better “option” which is of course consumerist language and not the language of anti-capitalist or anti-patriarchal dissent.
Eventually I came to realize that capitalism and patriarchy were a real thing and became highly critical and even feminist in my thinking although feminist action is another matter entirely isn’t it? It is in fact very difficult to activate in a feminist way from within patriarchy and it is similarly difficult to activate against capitalism or in a non-consumerist way when people in so-called developed countries have been separated from the land and therefore from our ability to grow food, forage, or live. Here, unlike in some other places, it’s literally “buy or die.” Of course, a natural extension of both anti-capitalistic and anti-patriarchal thought is to become anti-capitalistic and patriarchal medicine, or against what is known as Western medicine or even medicine generally since it was appropriated from the real natural healers of the past including midwives and so-called witches. But what about related anti-Western-medical action? Are we allowed to follow these thoughts through to actually acting on them long-term to better our health and our lives?
Having experienced this myself, and having come to the end or near-end of my journey to treat myself alternatively with medical cannabis, although I still believe I had right on my side in pursuing alternative thought with regard to my health, the implicit assumption that related alternative action in defiance of Western medicine is even possible long-term seems to have been incorrect. While I seem to have been supported in my decision to consume alternative medical goods and services and to liquidate my assets and bankrupt myself in the process — and I believe I was supported in that because it happened, meaning that I was allowed to do it — in the end it hasn’t mattered whether I successfully identified my needs because actually acting in my own individual best interests long-term is impossible. And under capitalism and patriarchy that is absolutely the case where all people are expected to conform to social roles allegedly for the good of society and where any so-called needs of the individual are dismissed or declared to be redundant even when they clearly are not redundant, as in the case of oppressed people whose needs are not met by meeting the needs of “society” where “society” means “the people who actually matter.” Of course, in the case of capitalism and patriarchy, the people who matter the least and are therefore the most oppressed are women.
Although even on my best days I am still quite ill, at significant personal cost I have been able to regain some quality of life through my treatment with medical cannabis, something I was unable to achieve or maintain after 2 years of Western medical treatment which did nothing to help me and was actually making me worse. I consider it a significant and hard-won personal success that I have achieved a mostly tolerable level of pain and symptoms and have largely regained my ability and desire to perform self-care and keep home including cooking healthy meals for myself and caring for my pets, to work intermittently, and in doing so, prolonging my stay in a cannabis legal state and my ability to continue to treat. But in the end, it is exactly as Nat said. Now I know what I need to do, and have, and take, in order to live my best life as a seriously chronically ill person but it doesn’t matter because under capitalism and patriarchy all care and attention to the individual disappears once the individual is unable to do those things for themselves and that is exactly the position I now occupy. Continued individual care and attention is certainly not supported by “society” and is especially unsupported for women who as oppressed people are disallowed from furthering their own interests generally and prevented from accumulating assets to further any interests at all.
And the thing is, even though this has ended so terrifyingly badly, I can’t even say I made a mistake. I may’ve even ended up worse than nowhere, facing looming homelessness and the inability to take care of any of my needs including food, water and shelter and of course, the base need to treat intractable pain. But I had no meaningful choice. I really had No. Choice. but to liquidate my assets and do exactly what I did. Even when we act correctly, even when there is no choice or no meaningful choice and we take the one and only road available, it still ends up in the same place. And in my case, I am currently researching travel tickets and planning to leave a cannabis legal state when I know what I really need to do is stay. I know this is a crazy-train to nowhere and I am literally going to buy a ticket to ride it off a cliff and to my own demise.
The literal insanity of what I am calling the “alternative treatment dilemma” is frankly starting to get to me and I am feeling more and more physically ill and less and less mentally able to tolerate the psychoactive effects of my medicine which I desperately need but have recently mostly been unable to take, or not in the proper dose I know works for me. Despite my hard-won success with alternatively treating my disease with medical cannabis, my Crohn’s is once again in a full flare and I am circling the drain, virtually guaranteeing one or more visits to the hospital against my will upon my arrival at wherever the hell I end up, and that’s even assuming I will financially, physically or in any way actually be able to leave and arrive at a destination. After that I can’t see things improving as I will be an untreated Crohn’s patient without access to the only treatment I have found to work through years of costly trial and error — medical cannabis. I cannot believe this is happening to me, but it is happening. And by definition and intention, there will be very little or nothing I can do to stop it.