When it comes to the use of CBD-infused topical care products to ease chronic pain, I am about as green as the plant itself; I’m fortunate enough that a quick visit to the massage therapist is more than likely to fix whatever issues may arise. But for those who endure pain, either from a rough accident or psychologically damaging experience, it’s a different story.
I decided to reach out to someone with firsthand experience using topical CBD to treat their injuries. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Elizabeth, 65, suffered a traumatic boating crash and has been living with the after-effects of that episode for more than fifteen years. She spoke to me about the accident, her experience with cannabis and how a shift in perception around cannabis can help many more like her in the future.
Thanks for taking the time to chat today. So I’m going to assume you’re no stranger to cannabis in general, right?
LIZ: Hahaha, no, I am not. I enjoy smoking cannabis, typically. For years and years, it was purely recreational.
Growing up in the seventies must have really given you easy access.
LIZ: Not as much as you’d think. Growing up, it was always viewed as much worse than alcohol. Alcohol was terrible, underage drinking would get you in pretty deep shit. But cannabis? That wasn’t something you talked about unless it was with friends who smoked. It was very hush-hush. Even then, it was all recreational. And over the years that’s become so much more common, of course, now that it’s legal. There are all of these people that smoke it that you didn’t know ever did before.
I know what you mean. Speaking of legalization, what are your thoughts on it?
LIZ: I’ve got mixed emotions. On the one hand, it does help bring about that culture, you know, this idea that the plant has these tremendous medicinal capabilities. That it can provide all sorts of remedies. Legalization has opened the door to that, and that’s just such a positive thing to me. And if the government were to subsidize it as such maybe we’ll see a decline in the abuse of prescription meds. Opioid-related deaths were something like eleven thousand last year in this country.
And on the other hand?
LIZ: Well, you know, on the other hand, it’s more widely available to people who shouldn’t have it. Younger people, mostly. Cannabis can negatively impact the developing brain, so for me, personally, I don’t know if legal marijuana is controlling access or making it more accessible. Ultimately though its benefits outweigh the adverse effects.
I was going to ask you about your accident, and whether you could share any of the details. How are you feeling today?
LIZ: Well, as I mentioned, it was about fifteen years ago now, my husband and I were both involved in a boating accident. It was a hit from behind on the water, this boat that was relatively the same size as ours. They had about ten people in that boat, six were children, four adults. We had four adults and two children aboard ours. We were on our way to get ice cream.
A rear-end in a boat? How does something like that happen?
LIZ: We had seen them on the way. They had stopped and started their boat up again as we passed. So once they speed up, the prow of their boat lifts out of the water. They couldn’t see what was in front of them and basically just plowed right into us. I was actually hit by the boat as it drove on top of us. It was just a slight touch on the shoulder, but it was enough to cause severe whiplash and fracture my scapula.
That sounds horrible, almost like something out of a movie.
LIZ: Definitely. The impact ripped the outboard motor in half. I was hit directly, and my husband was also hit. He was slammed into the windshield.
And you were up in cottage country at the time. How did you manage to get everyone out of the boat and to a hospital?
LIZ: So, incredibly, there were these firefighters on vacation who happened to see the whole thing go down. They came to grab the two children out of our boat and helped bring us ashore. And waiting there was a paramedic, an OBGYN, and a nurse I think. And they were all friends up at the cottage for the weekend. They called us an air ambulance that took us to the nearest hospital. But yeah, definitely a moment of sheer luck, so glad that they helped us out.
Definitely a freebie. How long was your recovery?
LIZ: I was off work for about 3-4 months. Neither of us could drive, so after coming home from the hospital, we stayed at our cottage for a few days until we felt strong enough to sit in a car for a few hours’ drive.
Did the hospital provide you with any painkillers?
LIZ: I was prescribed codeine initially. I tried to be careful about taking it because it can be highly addictive. A week into my recovery, I was having all these hallucinations and some horrible stomach pain. So I stopped taking them. After that, I managed the pain through a lot of over the counter aspirin, and just mind over matter, I guess.
So after that experience, was that when you tried using CBD?
LIZ: Well, osteoarthritis has set into a lot of my joints since. Like my knee is a mess, it’ll have to be replaced eventually. I still experience pain, and I use CBD oil for the worst of it, which really does help. A friend of mine also makes a roll-on that’s felt like a miracle for mild or moderate pain. I typically use either one depending on the severity of my pain. I was wary at first. I didn’t expect it to work, to be honest, but it works literally for the whole day.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
LIZ: Hmm, I guess only the fact that this country should try looking at the benefits of cannabis in different forms from a medicinal perspective. It could really change people’s lives. My husband and I could be spending our time using mobility devices or just sitting around. CBD products have helped change all that for us, I hate to think where we’d be without it.
Traditionally, and for many others out there, cannabis serves only one purpose. But the healing benefits have made a profound difference for somebody like Liz on her long road to recovery. Sitting down with her was an eye-opening experience for me, not because of cannabis, but because something about her seemed reborn. As we navigate this new world of legalization, there are more opportunities for cannabis to occupy more than just the recreational space in our lives.