Visiting Trudy — A Nurse’s Tale of Healing with Cannabis

nurse_with_patientVisiting Trudy — A Nurse’s Tale of Healing with Cannabis

Once upon a time not too long ago, I visited an idyllic home in the beautiful hills of a small New England town. The home was well-maintained despite being perhaps the original farmhouse on this particular road. As I drove down the long, cobble-stoned driveway and found a space out of the way to park my car, I noticed a small pond behind the home filled with a variety of duck species. There was a tire swing hanging off of a weeping willow’s branch that was likely used by children at some point, but someone had cleverly managed to turn it into a planter full of bright, delicate perennial flowers. There were rocky, rolling hills with knots of grass and brush, bent birch trees, and maple trees distributed over the landscape as if a painter gently placed each element with care and attention to every detail. In attempting to describe this home, I realize that I can’t even begin to adequately depict the beauty that I was privileged to observe. The perfection. The serenity. The peace. All of these elements were present and clearly enjoyed by whomever lived on this beautiful property.

It was late spring in New England. The smell of lilac and pine mingled in the air. Robins, chipmunks, squirrels, blue jays, and a couple of cats were all going about their days as these creatures do on perfect spring days. The ducks were happily splashing and quacking to each other in their little private pond. The sun was warm and I couldn’t help but take a moment to take a deep breath of gratitude for this gorgeous day. I was alive, I was well, and I had benefited from this home visit on my nursing route without having met the patient. And then, I entered the home.

The 1850’s farmhouse was painted bright white with red shutters, complete with a barn-door for the front entrance. I used the hand-crafted iron door knocker to make my arrival known. In less than a minute, I was greeted by a gentleman who appeared to be in his forties. He was about six feet tall, with a slender build and a boyish face that featured a few deep furrow lines between his eyes, and a couple deep creases that crossed his forehead.

This man introduced himself as George, the patient’s son. He forced a smile, nodded when I introduced myself, shook my hand, and then turned to lead me to wherever my patient was inside of the home. His smile quickly gave way to a look of uncertainty and what I perceived to be sadness. It is a look that nurses are used to seeing from family members. Suffering is not easy for anyone, and it is not a state of being that is experienced by the afflicted person alone. The loved ones of an unwell person suffer as well. This poor gentleman was no different. His mother was ailing, and it was easy to see that his heart was breaking as a result.

The house being an old farmhouse was not large, but it was very much a maze of different well-built extensions. A couple turns to the left, slight turn to the right, a walk through a stone-walled breezeway that lead into a small sun-room completely filled with potted plants. Every plant was very healthy, flourishing in the warmth and rays of the sunlight that filled the entire space. My patient’s son gestured to the tiny woman sitting in her wheelchair in the corner of the room. Her dark hair was braided down over one shoulder, a few gray strands accented her face. She had beautiful olive skin and looked a lot younger than her date of birth — a vital statistic that I had knowledge of after reviewing my patient’s chart. She had bright blue eyes, and knotted little fists. I noticed that George looked just like his mother. When we entered the sun-room, my patient was reading the newspaper, and had a blanket over her lap despite the room temperature being around eighty degrees.

“Mom, this is Marissa. She’s your nurse today.” My patient’s son put his head down and walked out of the room. I put my hand up as if to say thanks, but he didn’t acknowledge the gesture.

My patient peaked over her newspaper and spoke to me as if we hadn’t just met. “He brought me groceries today. He drives over an hour to visit me, does it a few days a week. He’s a good boy, I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

Before I could respond she continued, “Marissa. That’s a pretty name. So you must be here to play with your computer and document that I’m not a corpse yet, so you can tell your company to send a nurse out to poke at me tomorrow.” It was a statement, not a question.

My patient started wrestling with her newspaper, attempting to fold it back into its original shape without any success. “Oh, and to make sure that I take my pile of pills?” she quipped while still struggling with her newspaper.

I laughed. This little lady in the wheelchair may have been laid up with a chronic disease, but she had the wit of a stand-up comedienne. I reached for the newspaper, she handed it over without hesitation.

“I guess I’m not going to be able to fold the newspaper today! You just never know with this darn disease!” She laughed at herself, but I could sense her frustration. I folded the paper and placed it on the table next to her collection of pill bottles.

My patient took a sip of her water, I took the opportunity to finally respond to her. “Thank you, my parents did a nice job choosing a name. I am here to confirm that you are indeed alive, and that you are sticking with your treatment plan. I try not to play with my computer until after the my nursing assessment. And if you need a visit tomorrow, I will make sure that it is scheduled.”

“My name is Trudy. Gertrude is the formal version. It means spear of strength. I’m pretty sure that my dear parents never considered their girl named for strength would end up in a wheelchair. And I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t care that Gertrude is an old lady’s name. Even for an old lady! My birthday is May 15th. I was born before the Great War ended. You gals always ask me when I was born. I’m helping you out here Marissa!”

Again, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. This woman spoke a mile a minute and I found it challenging to get a word in edgewise. Fortunately for me, she readily provided the information I needed without asking.

“It’s good to meet you Trudy. You have a beautiful home!”

“I do? Is it still nice? I haven’t been out too much lately. I have MS. You probably know that already from your computer.”

“Yes, I do know that you have multiple sclerosis,” still not knowing exactly how to approach this little firecracker of a patient, I went on to compliment her house, “Your home is absolutely gorgeous Trudy. I love the planter in the back! Very pretty and clever!”

Trudy looked at me with a bit of a confused look. Despite her vision problems, she had an uncanny ability to lock her blue eyes with mine. I could tell that she was running through her property in her mind, trying to figure out which planter I had admired.“The tire swing! Ah yes. My grandkids did that last summer. The flowers? Are they blooming?”

I took a second to share the details of what I had observed, and enjoyed, before entering Trudy’s home. She didn’t take her eyes off of me for a second as I spoke. I realized it had been a while since Trudy had left her home, or had even been outdoors.

“So let’s talk about my computer and what I know about you Trudy.”

Trudy explained before I could utter any questions — “I have multiple sclerosis. I was diagnosed twenty years ago. I lost vision in my left eye a few years ago, and I’m legally blind in the other. I cannot drive as a result. I walked well with a cane for years until I lost my balance last Christmas Eve. I broke my hip in that fall. The hip was replaced, but I have absolutely no balance. So I’m stuck in this wheelchair. I have to poop in a commode because the bathroom isn’t big enough for this stupid wheelchair. I wouldn’t make it to the toilet in time even if I could walk. I take all of my medications like a good girl, but I’m not really sure why I take half of them because they turn me into a zombie. After you’re done, I’ll take a handful of these stupid pills and sleep until 6pm. Then I’ll watch the news and drink that protein shake my son brought me against my best judgement. I’ll go to bed at 7:30pm. I turned 70 two weeks ago and I feel like I want to cash in my chips most days. No, I’m not suicidal. No, I don’t feel like hurting myself. And yes, I feel safe.”

I laughed at the last few remarks. “You know all of the questions, don’t you?”

Trudy smiled. “I do. I could do your job. Nurses get paid well to do this, right?”

“Pretty well. If you’d like, I’ll give you this computer and my nursing bag. You assess me and fill out all of the different areas in the computer system. Let me know when you’re done. You can see if you like the job!” Trudy nodded and smiled. It was nice to feel like I was finally connecting with this patient in a humorous way.

I wish that what Trudy had to say was rare. Unfortunately, Trudy gave an accurate description of most of my patient’s days. Existences really. Too many medications, isolation in their homes, not enough constructive therapy that could actually improve function. Basically, a lot of degrading treatments and interventions — a testament to a broken healthcare system. This all leads to feelings of despair and defeat. Many of my patients feel like giving up.

“I’m sorry that you’ve been through all that Trudy. Let’s get the assessment done, I’ll play with my computer for a few minutes, and I’ll get out of your hair as soon as I can.”

Trudy waved her knotted little hand into the air as if to dismiss my last statement, “You’re not in my hair. The physical therapist who is supposed to be here in an hour will be in my hair. She’ll show up sometime this afternoon, but she won’t be here on time. In fact, she’s usually over an hour late. And she never apologizes for her tardiness, and she never calls to let me know if she’s running behind. When she finally gets here, she will make me do tasks that I stink at and give me grief for not doing my exercises. Then she’ll tell me that I need to do these tasks better next time.” Trudy had a solemn look on her face now.

Trying to brighten the conversation, I sarcastically exclaimed, “So you like her!”

Trudy smiled, then looked me straight in the eye with a serious expression. “I don’t care for her, but apparently there isn’t another PT person who comes out here. Hopefully I’ll be asleep before she gets here. Then she can reschedule with George.” Trudy was smiling a little vindictively now.

“Besides her tardiness, do you not like her because she challenges you? Because that’s her job really. To help you maintain function, rehabilitate, and improve your mobility.”

“I don’t like her because she treats me like a child. She calls me sweetie and pats me on the back when I stand and pivot onto the commode successfully. Pivoting onto the commode is not something I want to celebrate. I’m not a baby being potty trained. Plus, she always moves that darn thing into the room I’m sitting in. I don’t want my toilet to follow me around.”

Before I could respond, Trudy continued expressing her dislike for this physical therapist, “She’s a smoker too. I’ll never understand health care workers who smoke cigarettes! I can’t stand the perfume she wears in a poor attempt to cover up the smell either. It makes me nauseous every time she visits.”

Trudy took a deep sigh and shook her head. “Anyhow, I should stop complaining. It could be worse I suppose,” Trudy lifted her head and set her shoulders back as if she had just shrugged something off. “Thank you for listening Marissa. I didn’t realize how frustrated I’ve become. It’s been a long road for me.”

Trudy went on to explain that she’s worked with many physical therapists in the last twenty years, and that she simply felt like she had no rapport with this one. Patients deserve to work with health team members that they are comfortable with. There was really no reason for Trudy to have to endure such degrading treatment and discomfort. I knew that there was another physical therapist who could be sent out to Trudy’s home.

“I’ll email my manager Trudy. I’ll email her to see if there is someone else they can send out. You can also contact my agency to ask for someone else.”

Trudy nodded in agreement, “Thank you Marissa. You’re not the first nurse who has contacted your manager about this. I won’t hold my breath, but I hope that someone else can come here.”

I spent the next fifteen minutes assessing Trudy’s vital signs, performing my physical assessment, reconciling her medications. And yes, I “played” with my computer to document everything that I had assessed. I reviewed her patient file to make sure that I had completed all of the tasks that I was there to do.

“Okay Trudy. I am all set. Is there anything else that I can do for you before I go?” Trudy looked me square in the eyes again. I could tell that she was thinking about something.

“I have a question for you as a nurse. My son, George…” Trudy seemed to be contemplating something that was difficult for her to ask. She took a deep breath and explained, “My son George wants me to smoke pot. He says that it helps with MS. I haven’t smoked pot since the ‘60’s when I started having kids. I quit smoking cigarettes back then too. George said that I could eat the pot since I’m not keen on smoking. I don’t know. I’m tired of being under the influence of drugs that don’t help much. Do you know anything about this?”

At this point, I was the one who had to contemplate my response. For a Registered Nurse employed by a company that has a no-tolerance drug policy, answering this question could potentially place my career, not just my job, at risk. However, I had heard of patients experiencing relief from neurological disorder symptoms. I had a patient who used cannabis oil to control his Parkinson’s tremors. I had another patient with Crohn’s disease who not only experienced relief from his symptoms by smoking cannabis, his condition went into remission. Nurses are taught that health and the ability to heal are universal human rights. Therefore, if a remedy promotes a reduction of symptoms, promotes improved function, and improves quality of life, then patients should have access to said remedy.

Cautiously, I expressed my standard answer for medication changes, although it was a stretch considering the “medication” in question. “I would discuss this with your physician, Trudy. Review your medications to identify potential interactions with your medications and pot. I do know that patients are using pot to treat symptoms of MS, but I don’t know much more than that.”

Trudy looked out her large picture window into one of the picturesque hillsides that surrounded her home. She took a deep sigh. Trudy’s frustration with her condition was palpable.

“Is there anything else I can do for you Trudy? Before I go?”

Trudy was still ruminating on her question about pot. “George just wants me to try anything and everything that’s out there. He’s my youngest. He thinks that he can fix anything. But he can’t fix this. I don’t mean to keep you Marissa. I am fine. Thank you for your help today.”

I wasn’t sure what to say in regards to George. I shook Trudy’s hand, wished her a good afternoon, and packed up my nursing bag. I found my way back into the kitchen where George was sitting. I shook his hand and he showed me out. “Thanks for coming today.” George said as he opened the big barn door.

“My pleasure. Your Mom is a very special lady. Be well George.” George nodded and cast his view downward as he closed the door.

Some patients stick with you like glue. Trudy was one of those patients for me. She was full of life in a body that wasn’t working properly and she conveyed that very notion in a way that imprinted on my heart and mind. I thought about her question about pot. About cannabis. I had my own experience with cannabis, but I didn’t have a severe neurological disorder like Trudy. I used cannabis to treat insomnia, pain, and anxiety. I had for years. But I couldn’t place my career at risk. So I refrained from divulging my personal story, or from promoting cannabis use directly to a patient who was on service with my employer.

After my shift, I figured that I could at least find some resources that would help Trudy understand the benefits and risks associated with cannabis use as it related to her condition. I started to search the Internet for reputable resources to share with Trudy. I could find plenty of discussion board information from other MS patients. There were plenty of bloggers sharing their experiences with cannabis. I pored over peer-reviewed research journals for articles related to treating MS symptom with cannabis, but my search came up short. There wasn’t much available unless I wanted to convey the risks associated with cannabis use. I logged back into my work email to review my patient visits for the following day. Trudy was not listed. So I decided to shelve my little research project for a later time and bring my long shift to a much needed end.

The next morning, I cracked open my trusty old clunker of a work laptop and reviewed my patient list once again. Schedules can change quickly for a visiting nurse, and this particular morning was no exception. Trudy was indeed on my visit list. I was thrilled to visit her again, but a bit disappointed that I didn’t have a list of cannabis-related resources readily available for her to review.

New England weather changes faster than a visiting nurse’s schedule. The next day was dark, cold, wet, windy, and twenty degrees cooler than the previous day. Rain slammed into my windshield making it difficult to see as I drove out to Trudy’s farmhouse in the hills. I parked my car in the same spot and took a deep breath prior to running to the big barn door at the front of the farmhouse. I noticed that a lone duck bobbed across the small pond that now had a relatively choppy current as a result of the wind. The clever little tire-swing that had been converted into a planter swung wildly in the freezing cold wind gusts. Except for the brave little mallard on the pond, there was no sign of life to behold as I had the previous day. I imagined that all of the little creatures were hunkered down in their respective homes, waiting for the less than desirable weather to pass.

Chilled to the bone, a little damp, and awkwardly trying to juggle my nursing bag to protect it from the elements, I grabbed hold of the hand-crafted door knocker and made my presence known once again.

“Give me a second!” A male voice came through the door. A few seconds later, George swung the big barn door wide open and gestured for me to come inside. He was smiling today. A genuine smile, nothing forced. His face looked a decade younger. I noticed that he had his Mom’s big blue eyes.

“Good morning!” I met his smile with enthusiasm and a hand-shake.

“Good morning, Marissa. My Mom is in the parlor today. She had an, um, interesting afternoon after you left. We requested that you come today.” I immediately wanted to ask George a few questions for clarification about Trudy’s interesting afternoon, but George turned on his heels and quickly started to lead me through the house before I could get a word out of my mouth.

George walked an incredibly fast pace through the dark hallways of the farmhouse. If he hadn’t smiled at our greeting, I would have anticipated an emergency situation. Before we reached the parlor, George started calling for his Mother.

“Mom! Marissa is here!” He exclaimed with excitement.

“Okay George.” I heard Trudy’s voice echo into the hallway.

When I entered the parlor, I noticed that Trudy’s wheelchair was placed in the corner of the room. Trudy herself was sitting on a large white sofa, with her legs stretched out on a matching ottoman, and a cup of tea in her little knotted hands.

George plopped down on the couch next to his Mother, nearly sitting on top of her. Trudy shook her hand out from the handle of her teacup and reached for George’s hand. He took it and placed his other arm firmly around her shoulders. They both looked at me with their matching smiles and big blue eyes. I sat on a comfortable chair across from them.

“How goes the good work today Nurse Marissa?” inquired Trudy.

“Pretty well Trudy! My patients seem to be having a decent day despite this raw weather.”

“That’s good. Did George tell you Marissa? Did he tell you what happened?” Trudy was immensely excited about whatever happened.

George was unable to contain his excitement, “Mom tried…”

“Shhh! I want to tell her George!” exclaimed Trudy. Trudy took a sip of her tea and a deep breath before she started to explain. “Last night was a bad night.”

“I’m sorry to hear that Trudy.” I responded.

“It was the best bad night I’ve had a in long time! That horrible boa constrictor showed up last night. You know about the MS boa constrictor?” Trudy inquired.

Before I continue, it’s important for the reader to understand that multiple sclerosis is a disease caused by the immune system’s attack on the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells. This myelin sheath is responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the body. When this myelin sheath is attacked and ultimately destroyed, communication between the brain and body is compromised causing a wide-variety of neurological symptoms. MS symptoms may include fatigue, muscle spasms, cognitive deficits, balance issues, gait and walking challenges, bowel and bladder issues, and problems with swallowing to name a few.

Trudy’s “boa constrictor” is a spasm of the intercostal muscles, the muscles between the ribs. Often called the MS Hug, this type of spasm causes pressure or “girdling” around the midsection of the body.

“I do know about the MS boa constrictor Trudy. How long did it last? How are you feeling today?”

Trudy smiled. “I am exhausted, but that’s par for the course. The episode didn’t let up for a over an hour. I felt like I was being crushed, the pressure was too much for me to handle. George wrapped me in my giant ace bandage, but that didn’t help either.”

George interjected, “She was crying and writhing in pain. I hate it when she has these episodes.” George was trying to blink back tears.

I was perplexed at this point. They both greeted me with smiles and positive vibes. The story they shared about this awful episode of pain and anguish didn’t match.

“Thank goodness George stayed with me last night. He tried to give me some valium, but I couldn’t swallow the pill,” Trudy continued to explain.

“So, what happened?!?!” I blurted out, surprising myself. I couldn’t contain my curiosity.

“I smoked pot!!!!” proclaimed Trudy, “I smoked pot and within minutes, the spasm stopped! Minutes!!! I would’ve had to wait at least a half hour for the valium to kick in if I had been able to swallow it.”

“And she’s awake today!” George was now the one to blurt out in excitement, “She’s usually a zombie for the entire day after she takes valium. And then she wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”

I was speechless. My mouth had literally dropped open. I knew that pot, that cannabis had therapeutic value based on my own experience, and the experiences of a couple of my patients. Based on the conversation that Trudy and I had the day before, I never considered that she would try pot any time soon, let alone the same day as our visit! Desperate times do call for desperate measures though.

“Trudy, I am floored! How many puffs did you take? Did you tolerate the smoke okay?” I tried to keep my nursing head on straight, but I really wanted to banter with Trudy like I would a close girlfriend.

Trudy handed her tea cup to George and managed to bend her knees off of the ottoman so she could sit up straight. She had a very serious look on her face.

“I took two puffs. I did cough and I was nervous that I had done myself in. Coughing with a constricted chest is not good. I felt light-headed and again, I was nervous. I told George that I wanted to go to the hospital.” Trudy looked over at George and nodded at him as if to say that everything was okay now. She continued, “George asked me to give it a few minutes. We were basically yelling at each other. It was not a good scene. But then I felt the constriction release, a little at first. And then it was completely gone within five minutes.”

Trudy gathered her hands in her lap and looked down. George let a lone tear roll down his cheek. And now my eyes had sprung leaks too. Trudy tried to shake her head as if to shake her tears away, but her tears fell one after the other onto her tiny hands. She looked up at me and said “I haven’t felt relief like that in years. Why have my doctors not told me about pot?”

At the time, I didn’t have any answers for Trudy beyond the fact that cannabis was federally illegal, and the medical cannabis program in our state was just underway. I assumed those were the reasons why Trudy’s doctor didn’t provide any information about pot. The research, as I had found out the evening before, just wasn’t available.

Trudy sat up straight again, she took a couple of big sniffles, and a quick brush across her face with both hands. “No more crying!” she announced. We all laughed and agreed. No more crying.

The rest of my visit with Trudy was comprised of the typical nursing visit activities — physical assessment, documentation, reconciling medications.

“Are you going to document that I smoked the pot?” Trudy asked.

“Yes. I am going to document that you used cannabis to treat your ‘boa constrictor’ episode with immense relief.”

“Is that going to have a negative impact? Will I get kicked off of the nursing service?” Trudy was nervous now.

“From what I understand, your benefits can’t be taken away for using a recreational drug. You’re not the only patient I have who has used pot to treat symptoms. I do document my other patient’s pot use, both medical and recreational uses. And those patients have been on service for a long time.” It was the best response I could give, although I certainly had my reservations. I knew I had to educate myself further in this area. I had to educate myself further about therapeutic cannabis and the potential ramifications using cannabis may have for my patients. I also needed to know the legal, ethical, and professional issues that I may face as a nurse who advocates for patients like Trudy, patients who benefit from the use of cannabis.

I had been at Trudy’s house for over an hour by the time I closed my old, not-so-trusty laptop. I packed up my nursing bag and checked the time. I was running late for my next visit. But I couldn’t detach myself from Trudy. Had my schedule allowed, I would’ve stayed there all day with her and George.

Trudy touched George on the arm and gestured to him quietly. He knew exactly what she was asking. George got up from the sofa and retrieved Trudy’s wheelchair. He then lifted his mother to a standing position, assisted her as she pivoted into her wheelchair, helped her shift in her seat, and pushed her forward into the center of the room.

“I want to see you out Marissa. Thank you for your help. You are very good at your job.” Trudy was now looking up at me from her wheelchair. She opened her arms, I dropped my nursing bag on a small table so that I could give her a hug.

“It’s been pleasure taking care of you, Trudy. Although I didn’t do much. George really deserves the compliments.”

Trudy looked up at George. “He’s a good boy. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I’m letting him take me out to lunch as a thank you.” George chuckled, his big smile returned to his face.

“You’re a firecracker Trudy! I love your attitude. I’ll see you soon. I have some shifts coming up in the next few days, I’m sure I’ll see you.”

“You better. I requested you after you told me that I could request another PT person. Oh, by the way. That lady that I don’t care for — she never came yesterday. Turns out she called out of work with an illness. A young woman about your age came instead. She was wonderful. Didn’t make me do anything with the commode!” Trudy’s big smile returned to her face as well.

George proceeded to wheel Trudy through the dark hallways of her home. I followed them out. We said our good-byes by the big barn door and George swung it open. I’d like to say that the sun was now shining, the birds were chirping, late spring had come back to this little New England farmhouse in the hills. But that would be false. It was still miserably cold, the rain was flying sideways into Trudy’s foyer. The sun was nowhere to be found behind the thick, dark clouds that coated the sky.

Trudy looked up and laughed, “You want me to leave the house on a day like this, George? It looks like the end of days out there!”

“Okay Mom, we’ll order in today. Maybe we’ll smoke the pot and order a pizza!”

Trudy shook her head. “Okay George. I’ll consider it if you think it’s a good idea! You take care Marissa. Be careful!”

“I will be careful Trudy. I’ll see you soon. Have a good afternoon. Bye George!”

Trudy and George waved from the door as I ran back to my car. They stayed at the door waving as I drove up the cobble stoned driveway. I beeped my horn and drove away with my own big smile splashed over my face.

Some patients stick with you like glue. Trudy was one of those patients for me. I continued to care for her over the next few months. In that time, she continued to use cannabis to treat her MS symptoms, although she switched to cannabis-infused oils instead of smoking “the pot.” And she used a vaporizer as her “rescue inhaler” when she needed fast relief. She worked closely with a physician who was certified to recommend cannabis, as well as her own physician to find the treatment protocol that worked best for her. Trudy’s physician was actually quite impressed with how much her condition improved with her therapeutic cannabis use.

Trudy regained her ability to walk with a walker within six weeks of working with her new PT. She suffered from vertigo which caused her to have serious balance issues. She felt that cannabis helped with this by reducing her “spinning” symptoms, thereby allowing her to gain confidence with her walker. Once she gained enough confidence with her walker, she called the home care agency to have her commode removed and given to someone who needed it. That was a happy day, let me tell you! She was able to taper off of several medications that didn’t serve her well, including the valium. She was discharged from the nursing aspect of her home visits by the end of the summer because she was doing so incredibly well.

The greatest benefit of all came about because of Trudy’s own strength, determination, and will. Trudy wanted to be a part of the world again. She worked hard to be a part of the world again. She taught her grandkids how to make planters out of old boots, watering cans, and pallets. Her beautiful hillside yard was peppered with these unique little gardens by the end of summer. She attended MS support group meetings on a regular basis and went to church every Sunday. She told me that she had proudly become “that cannabis lady” in her social circles. And once a month she agreed to a cannabis and pizza date with George. This little firecracker of a lady was not just a spitfire stuck in a broken down body any longer, she was living again. She was definitely living again.

During my last visit with Trudy, she asked if I recommended cannabis to all of my patients now. I told her that I would teach patients about cannabis if they asked. I explained that I was really diving into the research and known benefits of therapeutic cannabis. She nodded and said “Good. Cannabis heals. It should be available to everyone who needs to heal. You keep up the good work Nurse Marissa.”

“I will Trudy, I will.”

Many of the details expressed in this story are indeed very true. However, the characters are fictional conglomerates of several patients who have greatly influenced my career as a nurse, as well as my perspective in regards to treating chronic disease symptoms with cannabis and other complementary, alternative therapies. Any information provided in this story is not intended as medical advice. Health, wellness, and medical concerns or questions should be discussed with a qualified physician.

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