Vail Daily letter: Marijuana saved me |

Vail Daily letter: Marijuana saved me

Eliot Cambel
East Vail, CO Colorado

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with a cancerous cyst. It was surgically removed, and to this day there is not one minute that I don’t think about it. During the operation, in order to remove the tumor, the surgeons felt that I needed a little creative rib removal.

I had the rib partially removed. The alarming effect was life-changing in so many ways.

Three months out of surgery, when I should have been almost fully recuperated, I had to walk with a staff. Every step with my foot on the side of the surgery sent electric shocks from my sciatic nerve all the way to my spinothalamic tract. The pain and inflammation in the surgery area became constant, weather patterns changing especially “fired me up,” and I was at a loss.

I also was having appointments for massage, physical therapy and acupuncture and various nerve blocks/trigger injections to no avail on the pain-management front. In fact, it got worse.

Fast-forward to last winter. My tolerance for opiates has skyrocketed, and they no longer are working for my pain. I’m desperate. I’m worried I may end up a “junkie” for the rest of my life. Four and a half years into opiate therapy, and I need to have some form of opiate in my system or else I will become dreadfully sick. If I don’t, I will become an achy, throbbing, muscle-spasming mess.

In February, one of my good friends offers me a path. He gives me a month’s supply of a vaporized form of cannabis. Yes, it is marijuana. It is the clippings near the bud of the flowering leaves that has been vaporized by introducing it to high heat for a short amount of time, ground and put into a gelatin capsule, similar to an echinacea capsule. Within a month, my symptoms have eased and my opiate usage has decreased.

By April, I’m from 120 milligrams a day of oxycodone (in various forms) to just 20 milligrams. My doctor enthusiastically puts in my prescription to Colorado for my medical marijuana card.

It’s now September 2010. I am opiate free daily and 90 percent pain free. I take 500 milligrams of vaporized cannabis at night and feel no pain/spasm in my rib cage until 2 or 3 p.m. the next day. There is no increase in dosage due to tolerance. I do need to smoke my marijuana occasionally, mainly to relax my muscles in the area … and, yes, I need a Percocet on those really bad days, but for the most part I am “drug” free daily.

Medical marijuana saved my life! Do not take it away from those who could need it.

As for the emergency-room physician at VVMC who posted his complaints, I am one of the 700-plus registered recipients in Eagle County. Even if I were the only one to benefit from this drug, you as a physician who has taken an oath to serve mankind should be ashamed.

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