Ease the pain
Patient profile: Tiffany Lawson
Tiffany Lawson worked for years as a bartender, which involved staying on her feet for hours at a time and carrying heavy cases. She also worked at Target, stocking weighty items on shelves. Her back pain had become so severe, it made doing any kind of work extremely difficult.
So three years ago, the 29-year-old Sacramento resident opted to get a medical cannabis card. “I have severe back pain that will lay me up for weeks at a time,” said Lawson, who has stage 1 spina bifida—a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal chord.
“My back is basically shaped like an ‘S,’” she explained. “It’s not noticeable by looking at me unless I’m having a really painful day, then you can tell the difference in my walk a little bit.” She said her pain can make it difficult to stand or even sit for a long time and that pain shoots through her body, even her toes.
Lawson was worried that her stage 1 spina bifida would become progressively worse. She said she didn’t want to end up in a wheelchair. The pain was also causing Lawson to have severe anxiety and panic attacks.
“Because of the back problems, the anxiety would get worse,” she remembered. “The back pain would spread into my shoulder and trigger an anxiety attack out of nowhere. I literally felt like I was dying from the anxiety attack.”
Lawson’s mother, who had been using medical cannabis, suggested that she get a cannabis card rather than popping Vicodin and Advil, as she had been doing fairly regularly.
Lawson was especially impressed with her local dispensary—not only for their meds, but also for the other things the center offers, such as acupuncture and classes that educate about the science of cannabis.
And, as for the pain, she said that although cannabis does not completely alleviate her suffering, she is active again. “I’ve already started on a garden in our backyard this year,” she said. “I think if I didn’t have the marijuana, I wouldn’t be able to do that.”