My name is Natalie and I am 32 years old. I have suffered from chronic illnesses all my life. I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at the age of fifteen months, so have never known life without it. I was then diagnosed with iritis aged 7 and my bowel problems started at the age of 8 or 9. It wasn’t till I was 26 that I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. Just 4 years later and 2 days after my 30th birthday, I had emergency surgery to remove diseased parts of my small and large bowel and an ileostomy formed.
About 9 months after my surgery, I started my blog, The Spoonie Mummy. It had been something I considered for a while and at the beginning of 2017, I took the plunge. I wanted to show people that even with chronic illnesses, life could still be fun, fulfilling, meaningful and full of happiness. I wanted to help raise awareness of my often invisible conditions and help and support people with similar illnesses to me. Since starting my blog I have felt incredibly lucky. I have met some amazing and inspiring people, been given opportunities to work with great companies and been able to support many people experiencing health problems and having surgery. Receiving messages thanking me for my informative or supportive blog posts has meant the world to me. I also got the chance to become a host on The IBD & Ostomy Support Show – a weekly, live YouTube show during which we discuss everything IBD and ostomy related. This has broadened my ability to connect with people and offer my support and advice. I am not medically trained but I have a lot of experience having spent my life in and out of hospital. I take a keen interest in my illnesses and like to learn about them to give myself a good knowledge base to help inform my care.
The case of Billy Caldwell has been high profile news in the last couple of weeks. For those who haven’t heard about Billy, he is a little boy who has epilepsy. He was suffering upwards of 100 fits a day. His mum discovered CBD oil lessened his symptoms greatly, helping him achieve a better quality of life. On returning from Canada with a six month supply of his CBD oil, prescribed by a Canadian doctor, the medication was taken away from them. Billy’s mum has since had to fight through the courts and has now been granted the right to continue this treatment, albeit having to take him into the hospital for it to be administered.
Cannabis is currently a controlled drug in the UK. Cannabis plants are made up of hundreds of cannabinoids which all have different effect on the body. The most common forms of these are THC and CBD. THC is the strain that recreational drug users take to get ‘high’. CBD does not. CBD is also a type of cannaboid which is not under the controlled drug status. This is why hemp (which contains CBD) can be industrially grown in the UK (with a license) as it contains little or no THC. That is why you will see some CBD oil in the shops, Holland and Barrett for example, sell it alongside other supplements. The CBD oil in question has a higher amount of THC in it which is why the problem has arisen.
The oil is thought to help in many ways, including as pain relief, relieving inflammation, anti seizure and reducing anxiety. There has been no conclusive medical studies to prove this. Licences have not been given for CBD oil as a medicine but it can still be bought as long as there are no claims made that it has medicinal benefits. Sativex, which has a 50-50 mix of THC and CBD had been approved for use in the UK to treat multiple schlerosis. However, in 2014 NICE gave it not recommended status as it felt it was not cost effective. The Home Secretary has now announced a review into the use of cannabis oil as a medicine.
So I didn’t write this letter to provide information. I am not medically trained but I thought it best to try and explain the background and current laws surrounding the use of cannabis oil. I wanted to get across the reason so many people want to at least have the chance to try CBD oil to treat their ailments. Firstly, that is a point to remember. This may not work for everyone. Not everyone will even want to try it. But we would like to be given the choice to see if our chronic illnesses could be helped by this drug.
Apart from suffering huge problems myself with pain, inflammation and anxiety, I have met so many other people struggling with diseases like Crohns Disease, Arthritis and Epilepsy. Many struggle every day with simple tasks, like getting out of bed, showering and dressing. They are on strong and costly medications daily, including low dose chemotherapy and biologics which affect the immune system to the point where they can not leave the house in fear of getting an infection. Anxiety can make the everyday tasks seem impossible – making a telephone call, looking in the mirror and joining your family to eat.
I find many people who are so vehemently against the legalisation of cannabis oil have no experience of chronic illness. Having to fight through your every day to just complete the most basic of tasks. To grit your teeth and bear constant pain every single second of every tingle day. To slowly lose your friends due to you not being able to meet up or even reply to their messages. I implore you to think about these people, who live like this every single day. And to know that there is no cure for what you are facing, it will be your constant for the rest of your life.
We don’t want your sympathy, we adapt and learn to manage in our own ways. There are many online support groups and bloggers like myself out there who try our best to make sure people do not feel alone and get every tip and trick that may be of use to them. We ask that this be legalised, for medicinal use. That we can get a prescription from a doctor and a safe form of the product. That we can try something that may help give us more relief than anything else we have tried.
The medications I currently take have some terrible side effects including destroying my immune system, nausea, sickness, insomnia and an increased risk of certain cancers to name but a few. They make me feel semi-normal so I have to weigh up the pros and cons and take a risk. I have had to have a hip replacement and cataract surgery due to the effects of my medications I have had over the years. I would like the chance to try this in a safe and legal way. If it worked it could get me off some of the strong medications I am currently on and help save the NHS a small fortune.
I know this post may receive both positive and negative feedback. I am very willing to listen to all views as long as they are thought out after reading what I have written and not abusive. I ask you to put yourself in my shoes, and thousands others who are much worse off than me. Our chance at a medication that could be vitally helpful is being held up due to the fact it is misused by so many. As with any medication, it is all about a choice. Some people may not want to try it. But give us who do, the chance and let’s see if it really does work like it is for little Billy.
I am tired of this constant pain, the nausea, vomiting, hospital stays and struggling to move. Please give me the chance to try CBD oil and see if it can make a difference.
Thankyou for reading,