Good for Morgan Freeman, for speaking out on his ailment. Even today, people are sometimes still stigmatized for it and many medical doctors still don’t fully recognize the predicament it creates for those suffering from it.
Some 30-40 years ago, in fact, it used to be fashionable (and socially acceptable) to dismiss fibromyalgia as a psycho-somatic condition of “neurotic” women: of people in chronic pain who were then either ignored or even subtly derided by the medical establishment and often their own families, too, and who, as a result of such misogyny and such lack of compassion, had to carry the double burden of both physical AND psychological suffering. Then, some 20 years ago or so, men started showing up with the same set of symptoms and the same “syndrome” — and some medical doctors realized fibromyalgia was a real condition and deserved to be researched and understood so as to produce a possible treatment regimen and eventually, perhaps, even a cure.
Now, pre-school children are being coming up with fibromyalgia (it often takes up to 2-3 years for the right diagnosis to be made as small children can’t fully verbalize the entire set of symptoms troubling them), and there’s more and more evidence that some of its forms are related to the toxicity of our food and our man-made environment. By now, we also have real-time brain imagery showing how the condition affects the functioning of the brain itself, showing that it requires far more mental effort (the use of more brain centres) for the most basic behaviours and actions — such as simply engaging in a conversation. Improvements in our imaging technology are thus making it possible for us to understand a bit better why people with fibromyalgia tire so easily and why, in very severe cases, they experience debilitating fatigue (which then triggers aggravated full- or partial-body muscle pain) at the slightest exertion.
Unlike Freeman, I myself have constant, daily fibromyalgia pain in more parts of my body than I’m consciously aware of after about 8 years of chronic pain. It’s there, but unless someone touches me or I press the particular body part against a physical object such as a piece of furniture, say, or a doorway — and although my central nervous system and my brain do register the pain — except for a few areas of my body, I’m no longer consciously aware of it. My body, however, is.
No Big-Pharma drug has done a thing to alleviate the pain except a medication derived from cannabis. I had to stop taking it a few months ago, though, because, being a synthetic product, whatever Big-Pharma companies do to cannabis in producing their drug was interfering with my sense of balance and causing other problems, too. I’m now about to start using medicinal marijuana: because here in Canada it’s still legal, and because I can afford it. It’s not covered by OHIP, our health system in Ontario, or by my Extended Health Insurance either.
But what about other Canadians who’re struggling with this (or another illness) medicinal marijuana can help them cope with — and who can’t afford it?
What about those in Canada who don’t have $100 or $200 a month to spend on just one medicine, on medically prescribed marijuana?