Patient Success Stories
Read how medical cannabis helped these Peninsula Alternative Health patients regain control over their health and lives.
‘Life is Good’ again for Mamakat
Until 2009, “Mamakat” as she’s known at Peninsula Alternative Health, was a healthy woman. Her job was physical and she enjoyed being fit and active. That all changed when she fell on the ice in December of that year, seriously injuring her shoulder.
It was the first of three shoulder injuries she experienced over the next five years. Between 2010 and 2014, she had five surgeries resulting in 17 pins and a button screw installed in her shoulder.
Pain management became a constant in Mamakat’s life. During this time, she was prescribed nine different pain medicines, including Fentanyl patches that she said, “caused tremors and made me very lethargic” as well as Demerol and Valium, that she ate “like they were ‘Smarties.”
“From the beginning … I continually told the pain doctors ‘I do not want to end up in rehab once this problem is resolved’.” Mamakat, age 49, said. “I was lethargic, unable to think clearly, very moody and easily agitated when the pain medicine was wearing off. In addition, I needed more and more of the pain pills to control my pain. Luckily, I recognized what was happening to me before I had a problem”.
After a failed attempt to qualify for the cancer drug Marinol in 2015, Mamakat requested a referral from her pain management team to a doctor trained in medical cannabis. She registered on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission website and had a registration number within two weeks.
“I have not taken a pain pill since December 9, 2017. I had absolutely no withdrawal symptoms and I am much happier”, she reported.
Mamakat’s biggest concern when switching to medical cannabis was cost, as it is not covered by insurance. Other concerns were being labeled as a “pothead”, “druggie” and “irresponsible.”
“Most people are supportive of my choice, including my Primary Care Physician,” she said. “By working with my pain management team, PAH included, I have been able to transition off the dangerous pain medicine I was taking.”
She added, “(Now) I advocate daily for Medical Cannabis, helping others through the online registration process. It truly has changed my life.”
In addition to the inhaled product that Mamakat uses for pain management, she uses the topical CBD Freeze Gel for added relief. The only prescription medication she takes is a mild muscle relaxer (Baclofen), which does not cause drowsiness and she says that “a bottle of 30 lasts me about 90 days.” “Medical Cannabis works for me. I feel much better, my outlook on life is better. When I was taking the pain medicine, I would have my husband check on me throughout the night to make sure I was still breathing. I lived in fear taking the pills,” Mamakat said.
“Medical Cannabis allows me to sleep without fear of not waking up, controls my pain and keeps me happy. I do not get the munchies and am not gaining weight. I was fearful of gaining weight and becoming a couch potato,” she added. “I was already a couch potato and since transitioning, I have lost five pounds. Life is good.”
A New Lease on Life
Rudy Tilghman, age 60, is an addict who is not afraid to tell his story. From the first time he tried drugs – at age 4– to his lifelong struggle with alcohol, beginning at age 7 , Rudy has been an addict. That is, at least until medical cannabis entered his life.
The son of a Navy pilot, Rudy was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and moved around as most military “brats” do. He had “rough childhood,” and after his father was killed in action in Vietnam, his grandmother Lillian Grace Ward raised the adolescent outside of Cambridge, Maryland.
Rudy used drugs and alcohol throughout middle and high school, smoking marijuana and cocaine, even using while in the Marines. After being discharged in 1978, he moved on to crack, acid, mushrooms and heroin. Left behind were a bid for the Naval Academy, college and other opportunities.
“Everybody but me knew that I had an addiction. My grandmother loved me unconditionally up to her death in 1996. When I called to say ‘I needed help … I was an addict,’ she said, ‘I know, and I love you; come home.’ She was a fabulous lady. I have lots of respect for her and all she did for me,” Rudy said.
Despite his addiction, Rudy pieced together a life. He attended trade school for electronics, his self described passion, and worked for several years building high-end sound systems. He quit drinking in 1983, but the drug use continued. In 1986, not yet 30 years old, an industrial accident left Rudy with a broken neck and on disability. Rudy’s drug use continued into his 40’s.
In 2003 Rudy broke the cycle. He sought help and stopped using illegal drugs. These were replaced by legal, prescribed pain medications – Tramadol, then Vicodin, then Percocet. As an addict he understands how his addiction works; he craves stronger and stronger doses to satisfy his needs.
“I did not like the way the pain meds made me feel. Didn’t like the withdrawal. Didn’t want to keep going up the opioid medications chain – I was already working my way up and didn’t want the pain meds to affect my sobriety. I wanted something natural,” Rudy said.
Over the next decade major health issues appeared – heart issues, colon cancer, diabetes, depression, reduction of kidney function. His life was catching up to him and he was on 14 different medications.
In January 2018, Rudy was approved for use of Medical Cannabis and began visiting Peninsula Alternative Health. In the six months since he began smoking a low dose of flower, Rudy says that “most days I feel fantastic, better than I’ve felt in years.”
The two biggest improvements Rudy reports are fewer pharmaceuticals and increased motivation. He is down to eight pills a day and he no longer takes diabetes and pain medications. His anti-depressant dosage has been lowered. His kidney function is improving.
As for motivation, Rudy began to exercise and eat healthier, losing 30 pounds since April, 2018. He’s not stopping there. Rudy wants to help others find their best way forward. “With medical cannabis, I have experienced a total lifestyle change,” he said.
Rudy did his research into how or if medical cannabis would affect his sobriety. Because he is under a doctor’s care he is on course. “So far, I do not want anything more than what I am taking.” He advises others in recovery programs to talk to their sponsor, read and do research. “It is critical that you do what is best for you. It’s not for everybody, but absolutely worth considering.”
The biggest challenge Rudy faces is financial. He is on a fixed income and insurance doesn’t cover the use of medical cannabis. But he says he’s going to be okay. He is resourceful and knows that “smoking medical cannabis and being pain free is more important than stuff. It’s about being healthy, motivated, pain free. It’s about being at peace.”