Features

Cannabis helped me heal

Published on March 5, 2019 by David Wylie

Here's the moment the morphine really kicked in.

With the recent story about former NHLers taking part in a study on whether cannabis can help concussion recovery, publisher of the oz. David Wylie shares his experience.

Fractured memory

I remember flying over the handlebars of my mountain bike. Then fog.

I opened my eyes and tasted dirt. My face felt sunburned and I was thirsty. I’d been there for a while. I vaguely remembered some dream.

I tried to sit up, but screamed from the pain. Then I laid back and groaned, becoming aware of the aching in my back and the stinging on my cheek and arm. Fog.

More time passed before I heard a familiar voice in the distance calling my name.

“David!”

“Here,” I managed weakly.

My girlfriend at the time had found me and was calling 911 from up the hill.

Bits and pieces of a fractured cellphone conversation trickled back, and I realized that I’d somehow managed to call her after the crash.

“I’m hurt. Help.” …

I was on an isolated hill and couldn’t move. Search and Rescue had to use an ATV with a trailer to get me to the ambulance.

One of the first responders asked me my name. I had to think hard about it. They asked me simple questions to test my memory, trying to determine how badly I had rattled my brain. I slowly started to come back to myself and joking with paramedics about what they were giving me through an IV.

Inspired by morphine in the Kelowna ER, I posted a selfie to social media.

Cannabis as medicine

I knew I hit head first, but hadn’t yet begun to comprehend what kind of long-term damage a concussion can actually do.

While I worried about my back, those who knew better worried about my head. Thankfully, I was wearing a helmet and I was lucky enough not to suffer any serious trauma, despite the dive into the dirt and rocks.

Still, the concussion took its toll.

In the weeks after the crash, I suffered from headaches, dizziness and nausea. I had trouble focusing my eyes and tired easily.

This was the pivotal moment I personally experienced the significant benefits of cannabis as medicine.

Concussion recoveries require long periods of time over weeks and months spent in a quiet place – without screens or books – where the mind can rest and heal. That can be hard for an active mind at the best of times, but with the pain in my back from the crash, I was finding it impossible.

Post-concussion, the emergency room staff gave me a bottle with a handful of the drug Dilaudid, one of the more powerful opioids. When it ran out, I asked my doctor if he could refill the prescription. He laughed, and instead gave me a prescription for Tylenol 3. It didn’t help.

I could see then how easily it could be to get hooked on opioids.

I was lucky enough to have someone close to me at the time who was able to get quality cannabis. It was exactly the medicine I needed, and eased the pain and settled my mind into a state where I could properly recover from the injuries.

After the crash, I learned about concussions and was surprised at the how life-changing they can be. Even a mild concussion can have long-term and debilitating repercussions.

More research into how best to support concussion patients with cannabis is a welcome sight.