I’m taking the spotlight off of me today. It’s Monday. I didn’t sleep very much. Little Miss Toddler Girl and me will head off into some sort of adventure soon, but this morning has been all things sluggish and slow. Not much else to report. So I’d like to share Celeste’s story today. Celeste’s story is very important for anyone who is interested in using cannabis in a therapeutic way. Healing is possible with cannabis; Celeste is proof of this. I hope you enjoy reading her story as much as I enjoyed learning about it, and subsequently writing about it! Much love, many hugs. Namaste dear readers. <3
P.S.A. – DON’T LOOK AT THE ECLIPSE WITHOUT PROPER EYE PROTECTION!!! DON’T GO BLIND!!!
Cannabis Patient — Fighter of Lyme Disease and MS
Celeste Gallagher is all parts inspiring, kind, thoughtful, and oh so knowledgeable about cannabis. She has struggled with chronic illness for the most of her life. She’s technically disabled. She’s also the kind of person who won’t let anything stand in her way of living. Certainly not serious disease and disability.
I remember the first time we met. Celeste walked into the medical marijuana dispensary where I worked, assisted by two canes. She worked her way over to where I was standing and started to peruse the dispensary menu. She reviewed the menu with a slightly furrowed brow and struggled to balance enough to bring the menu close to her face. I offered to hold the menu for her, but then she carefully set the menu down and completely surprised me. All of a sudden this disabled lady’s face lit up as she requested her selections off the menu. Her excitement filled the space as she basically reviewed each product available on the menu. She explained that this strain is great for pain relief, that strain will be infused into coconut oil, this other one is great for creativity. She went further — CBD is great for anxiety, THC kills Lyme bacteria. Her enthusiasm for cannabis was evident, her knowledge about cannabis was impressive. I found myself wanting to learn more about this remarkable person.
During our initial encounter, Celeste explained that she has multiple sclerosis (MS), that her knees are bone on bone, that she has Lyme disease, and that she’s been off all pharmaceutical medications for three years. I knew that I needed to sit down with Celeste to learn her more about her health history, and how she ended up medicating with cannabis to manage her chronic conditions. I knew that this incredible person had a great deal of information to share with people who were struggling with their own chronic conditions.
To this end, Celeste already helps people in our community. She assists people interested in medical cannabis by driving them to the recommending physician’s office so they can register as medical marijuana patients and gain access to the dispensaries. And then she’ll meet these cannabis newbies at the dispensary to help them make an informed product selection and purchase. And then she’ll help these people understand how to use cannabis in a therapeutic way. She’s a medical marijuana patient who advocates, supports, and empowers fellow medical marijuana patients.
Intrigued by Celeste? I certainly am. I reached out to her and asked to meet. We sat down for a couple hours sometime this past spring and this interview was the result:
M: Okay Celeste, how many years young are you?
C: I’m 58.
M: What is your occupation?
C: I have my own business — Gallagher’s Milk Paint. I’ve had my own website for 13–14 years. I work from home.
M: That’s great!
C: I applied for a grant for women with disabilities. I won the grant and started my own business. I paint American flags (on big planks of wood), fill orders that come through the website, paint reproductions. It’s been the best thing. (Visit Gallagher’s Milk Paint here.)
M: That’s incredible Celeste! Good for you. Okay, shifting gears. Let’s talk about your health. How do you define your chronic condition?
C: I have Lyme disease. Lyme caused multiple sclerosis.
M: When were you diagnosed with Lyme disease?
C: I was misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) first. That was ten years ago. My doctor treated me with chemotherapy (immunosuppressive therapy) for three and a half years. The chemo destroyed my blood. One spirochete (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) turns into 6 million spirochetes in one year. My body swelled, my blood pressure went through the roof. I was near death.
Celeste was near death because her body was overwhelmed with the untreated co-infections related to Lyme disease including bartonella and babesiosis. These co-infections caused the swelling. Her immune system was severely compromised from chemotherapy; her nervous system was being degraded and destroyed by Lyme disease. She suffered a heart attack — a severe side effect one of the immuno-suppressive medications — Humira. And the long-term chemotherapy negatively effected her liver function.
M: At that point, what happened? You obviously found a doctor who diagnosed you correctly?
C: I started working with a Lyme-literate doctor who also has MS. She started me on IV antibiotics for three years. Antibiotics make you feel horrible, but they saved my life. The Herxheimer reactions were pretty severe too. I just felt so sick.
A Herxheimer reaction occurs when antibiotics kill off bacteria or yeast in the body. These reactions are necessary to rid the body of bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Symptoms of such reactions may include fatigue, brain-fog, muscle and nerve pain, chills, sweats, impaired memory, impaired cognition.
M: When you contracted what you now know was Lyme disease, what were your symptoms?
C: I was hiking mountains and walking six miles a day before I got sick. I felt sick to my stomach and extremely tired. Six months later, I was flat on my back. I had soreness in one joint one day, and soreness in another joint days later. This is because the spirochetes migrate. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t walk. I felt like I was pulling a truck. My ears were ringing and I had a sore throat that wouldn’t go away. I felt like I was turning to stone.
M: Did you have the characteristic bulls-eye rash associated with Lyme disease?
C: I was bit by a bunch of tiny ticks — nymphs. Little brown ones. And then there was a deer tick on my stomach. I did get the rash on my stomach.
M: Let’s talk about cannabis. When did you start switching from pharmaceuticals to cannabis?
C: A friend brought me some Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). I’ve been smoking cannabis for thirty years, so he suggested I give it a try. This was three years ago. RSO caused a Herxheimer reaction after three months. It also completely cleared my liver function to normal.
I have to tell you, my doctor wanted me to quit marijuana or she wouldn’t treat me any longer. I was in a Lyme remission, and I didn’t want to stop working with her. So I quit which caused a full relapse of Lyme symptoms. It caused seizures too. So I went back on the marijuana. My symptoms subsided. And now my doctor has me talk to other Lyme patients about marijuana!
M: That’s a sign of a good doctor! She’s learning from you. Good, I’m glad she’s in your corner. What would you like people to know about cannabis in regards to treating Lyme disease?
C: Cannabis kicks Lyme to the curb. It’s one of the strongest antibiotics in the world. Nature provides it. It has to get into the body to fight Lyme. I always tell people that they have to eat it. I make coconut oil with it. I freeze it and break off small pieces of it. I add it into food. You have to keep (a concentration) of cannabis in your body for it to be effective. Your cells have to be saturated.
M: Has cannabis helped you with any other symptoms?
C: I feel that I would be dead if I continued to take antibiotics. Cannabis has also helped me to reverse diabetes, it completely (resolved neuropathy.) It reduces the swelling that happens during a Herxheimer reaction. I have not had a cold or illness in three years. And I feel like it’s opened pathways in my brain. I feel like cannabis has increased my intelligence. I feel like it’s helping me prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
M: Okay Celeste, thank you for your time today. I really appreciate it. Is there anything else you would like people to know about Lyme disease or cannabis or both?
C: Yes, Lyme patients are at risk for committing suicide because of the severe symptoms. Having brain fog, being shaky, dealing with massive pain, stiffness. Your depth perception is altered, it feels like you’re underwater, you feel detached. If your doctor doesn’t believe in Lyme, advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to change doctors. If I could go back in time, I would use cannabis immediately. Anyone who is struggling with Lyme disease should try cannabis.
M: I fully agree Celeste. Thank you so much for taking this time to speak with me. I really appreciate it.
C: Thank you.