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“Knowledge is power and when you decide to take your life into your own hands, and realize you can do this with a $50 machine, a $5 spatula and a plant you can grow for free in your backyard…
you can do this, and it is awesome.”

-Shona Banda (Author of “Live Free or Die”)

What is a Cannaversary?

I adopted “Cannaversary” from Shona Banda, a woman who took control of her own health by making her own cannabis oil similar to RSO (Rick Simpson Oil). Shona Banda documented her success with this cannabis oil in her book  “Live Free or Die”.

I first learned of both Shona Banda and Rick Simpson from Amber Thurmond Ostrom, a budtender at the dispensary I was visiting at that time. I spent several months studying both Shona Banda and Rick Simpson along with any and all information I could find on Cannabis and Crohn’s, cannabis and autoimmunity, etc…I still continue to research and learn all I can about this plant.

Eventually I purchased “Live Free or Die” and reading it brought me to tears. There were many aspect of Shona’s struggles and journey with this disease that I could relate to on some level. Her story and her success with Cannabis oil gave me true hope for the first time!

So today, September 19, 2017 I have my own Cannaversary!

I am happy to announce that after a year of following Shona Banda’s method for cannabis oil, I have my own Cannaversary! I have my own anniversary of when I started using cannabis oil, my own anniversary of when I started truly taking control of my own health and gaining back a quality of life pharmaceuticals and western medicine had failed to help me achieve. While I am not in remission, I am not in constant pain day in and day out…and that alone is HUGE! I still have challenges as I am still healing; there have been a few set backs over this last year.

Those set backs now are not nearly as bad as set backs have been in the past! To be honest, I still have frequent and unpredictable, ummmm, errr…bathroom breaks. However, the tearing inducing pain of those frequent, unpredictable bathroom breaks has been replaced by mild cramping and discomfort with little to no pain.

I have Crohn’s disease, the same disease as Shona Banda.

I have Crohn’s disease, the same disease as Shona Banda. Although we both share the same disease, like many others with Crohn’s, our stories are very different. No two Crohn’s patients are the same, this disease effects each of us differently, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have suffered from health issues pretty much since birth however, I was not diagnosed with Crohn’s until Dec 2006, at the age of 31…I am now 42 years old.

Over this last decade since diagnosis, I have tried steroids (Prednison, Lialda, Budesonide, etc.), I have tried chemotherapy meds (6-mp), I have tried mesalamine drugs (Pentasa), I have had surgery (small bowel resection) and I have tried biologics (Humira). None of have help me achieve and remain in remission of my Crohn’s disease. Some would help for short periods of time, but only until the next big stress in life hit. I have tried various dietary and lifestyle changes along with alternative medicine in an effort to achieve remission, but nothing ever kept me in remission because inevitable life gets stressful and that always causes my Crohn’s to rear its ugly head.

My last flare up, beginning in Aug 2014, started with a period of stress as a new school year began with a new position and changes to curriculum, expectations and testing standards. Over the next few months this stress took an incredible toll on my health halting my success and headway I was making at the time with strictly dietary changes. I had been doing a paleo type diet for about 18 months by then.

Oct 2014 I ended a typical school day with a weird rash on one of my eye lids. The next morning I could not open that eye, the eye lid was filled with fluid. I went to my primary care doctor and was placed on antibiotics and soon after a painful rash developed on my face and eventually spread to my chest. That rash would not clear up. As a result, I took a medical leave of absence beginning Dec 2014. I thought it would be about a 3 week leave to deal with this bizarre rash-swollwen eye thing that had not cleared up in 2 months.

Little did we know that this was the beginning of the end; the end of my 15 year teaching career and my life as I knew it.

The rash and my health continued to go up and down until May 2015 when a colonoscopy revealed 50+ ulcers in my colon…my Crohn’s disease was back with a vengeance and in a new location, my colon. I had never had issues with Crohn’s in my colon so I did not initially recognize when my Crohn’s was beginning to flare, most likely from the added stress on my immune system due to the bizarre rash. So per routine when I am in a flare, my GI doctor put me on all the usual protocol; all the steroids and things that usually got my Crohn’s to calm down and get back under control. Eventually we would find that those usual routines were not working.
Against the wishes of all my doctors I tried to return to work part time on a modified schedule with accommodations…however, by Labor Day weekend that year I was severely ill and back in the hospital for 8 days. When I followed up with my GI doc after my hospital stay, I got just about the worst news I could have heard.

The doctor looked me straight in the eyes and said
“You are dying”.

The doctor looked me straight in the eyes and said “You are dying. Everything that usually works for you is no longer working. If you continue on this path you are looking at death or at the very least having your entire colon removed, requiring an ostomy bag. Its time to try something else. A biologic. I think you need to get on Humira”.

And so I did.
I wanted to try the cannabis oil I had heard about, but given what my GI doc said, I was not sure time was not on my side so I went with Humira. Humira healed the 50+ ulcers in my colon in about 3 months or by Jan 2016. However, Humira did not get me into remission and I was/ am still having issues with uuummm, eerrr…bathroom breaks (frequency, cramping after eating and when I needed to “go”, etc). By my 4th month on Humira, a rash was developing on my upper left arm; soon it spread to my chest, neck and face.

It was a painful, blistery rash that was a reaction to Humira…more specifically the additive ingredient polysorbate 80. I had to stop Humira because of the severe adverse reaction. After talking with my GI doctor and using the “Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation” website, I found that 7 out of the 8 recommended biologics for Crohn’s disease contain polysorbate 80, leaving me 2 options.
1- take Cimzia, the one biologic that does not contain polysorbate 80
2- return to strictly to my natural approach adding cannabis oil to the regimin

After that it was clear to me, I knew then what I wanted to do to live.

I thought about my 2 options. I discussed these options with family and friends. I continued my researching and I found another story of a young man named Coltyn Turner who also using only cannabis oil to treat his Crohn’s disease with great success and no side effects. His story was my final piece that I needed to hear…after that it was clear to me, I knew then what I wanted to do to live.

I started planning and figuring out how to make my own RSO (Rick Simpson Oil). I made a small batch and it helped some, so I made a second small batch..but I messed up by not getting all the alcohol out and my body hates alcohol so I ended up sliding backwards and things were not really turning around.

By September 19, 2016, the biofeedback I do as part of my natural approach was showing inflammation in my body @71% (ideal is under 10%). After reading those scans, my doctor that does the biofeedback was urging me to go back to the GI doc and start Cimzia.
I explained how I finally had everything ready to go to start making cannabis oil another way without alcohol. I explained the method Shona Banda used. I explained Colty Turner’s story of success with cannabis oil alone after western medicine and pharmaceuticals failed to make him better, in fact he got way worse from those meds!

After explaining and discussing all I had learned, my doctor agreed to give me 1 week to try the cannabis oil…if NOTHING improved after a week of using cannabis oil I WAS going to start Cimzia…she refused to let me push things as far as I had the previous year (that hospital stay in 2015). That very day I started making and taking 3 capsules a day following Shona Banda’s method. The following week my biofeedback scan showed enough of an improvement that my doctor was willing to let me keep trying the cannabis oil as long as I came in weekly for monitoring to make sure I did not go backwards.
We were all so excited have something that was working without side effects!

By the end of 9 weeks of only taking cannabis oil, my inflammation level was down to 11%!! Once we hit that point we knew there was no going back!! There have been many ups and downs over this first year, and like I said earlier…the ups are more than the downs.

I am healing

I am healing, my body is learning how to find homeostasis again! I have started working with a friend who has experience as a cannachef (that’s a chef who cooks with cannabis) and we are going to try to see if we can refine the oil process I am using and hopefully get even better results and achieve remission! But even if I don’t achieve true remission, even if I never ever get back to working, I can take comfort and joy that I at least have a quality of life can live with, a quality of life unlike any I have had in years. And for that I am grateful!

Thank you for reading, you can read my next update to my story here: My 19th Month Cannaversary.

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