Please note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals in this feature. There are thousands of other people in Australia worried about their health, their jobs and their rights. If you have your own story, please feel free to contact us via the share your story section of the site or comment or ask questions in the section below the article.
Hi, I’m Donna…
I love working with children, but more importantly, being able to help those who are struggling to achieve a goal. It’s a beautiful thing to see a struggling child gain the confidence and knowledge to succeed on their own.
My name is Donna and I’m a 45 year old female with a fulfilling career and a wonderful family. I have two children. I work with dyslexic children privately as a reading therapist. I’ve been working with children in a classroom setting for over 5 years and have a wonderful employment history.
In order to work with kids, I have two types of credentials for my current job. I have a working with children’s check and have been trained as a multisensory structured language therapist.
My medical background:
With a history of being abused as a child, my story is a difficult one. Due to the cycle and impacts of abuse, I have significant trust issues, expressive language difficulties, and I am highly reactive with PTSD. To top that off from an outsiders perspective, I also have tattoos and what I’d consider an alternative look.
I’ve been anaemic my entire life and have always had severe bleeding and period pains. For 15 years I explained to doctors how much I was bleeding and how much pain I was in – always to fall on deaf ears.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with endometriosis which helps explain some of the pain and symptoms I’ve had my whole life. That year I went to a doctor to get a referral for a gyno. The doctor was dismissive, and gave me no advice because he was “retiring next week”.
My eldest daughter was 17 and saw how much pain I was in. She offered to find me weed from friends to help with pain…. I finally said yes.
Shortly after this I had two surgeries, tried more hormonal interventions, and after a serious breakdown decided to say no more. I had been working at a public school as a school learning and support officer, but as my endometriosis became progressively worse, I could no longer work.
I tried dropping from five days, to three days, to two days, but I couldn’t actually manage a full day unmedicated. I have endo all through my bowel and bladder which was effecting my bowels and in a classroom, you cant just leave kids to rush to the bathroom.
My eldest daughter was 17 at the time and saw how much pain I was in. She offered to find me some weed from friends to help alleviate my pain. I had tried it when I was younger but it just made me paranoid so I had always avoided it. Since I now had about 20 years of therapy, experience and other interventions, I finally said yes.
I was so angry when I first tried it because it solved so many of my problems. My pain was gone. I had no anxiety. And, when I’m medicating with cannabis, I don’t have panic attacks and my joint pain is significantly diminished.
I consider myself lucky. I’ve been able to train as a Multisensory Structured Language therapist, and now help dyslexic student read as my health allows. I only have a few private students, and even this small extra workload on top of looking after a household has me at about capacity.
I get through the days as well as I do, as thoroughly as I do and as successfully as I do, because of cannabis.
The cannabis prescription conundrum
Now, for the first time in my whole life, I have a happy, fulfilling relationship. I am not suicidal or depressed from being in severe pain constantly. I spend time with my family and I enjoy sex with my husband! Never in my life did I think that this could happen. The problem is that I’m terrified of living without the medication.
I have and continue to keep my GP informed of my usage. She is unable to do anything about prescribing cannabis but is happy with my usage logs and suggests to continue as it works for me. I’d like to have a prescription and to use cannabis legally as a medication but I’m struggling. I learned about medical cannabis clinics on reddit, and did briefly consider calling one.
A teacher friend has a sister who uses one of the clinics and she was telling me that she had to surrender her driver’s licence to get the prescription. I now know that it’s not actually giving up my license but since the laws state no THC in my system I’m concerned about losing my means of transport if my information goes into one of these databases and is leaked.
My pain was gone. I had no anxiety. And, when I’m medicating with cannabis, I don’t have panic attacks and my joint pain is significantly diminished.
After using my medication, I wait extended periods of time before driving so that I am not impaired. I am very careful to make sure that I’m not putting anyone in danger. If I were to lose my medication or my license, I would end up living in massive pain all over again. On top of that, I’ve also been told that if you have a medical cannabis prescription you have to give up your working with children’s check.
I am terrified of living in that pain again. I thank god every day that I have access to cannabis as a medicine. I worry that it’s going to be taken away, and my whole life will fall apart again. While I’m super lucky that I have access to organic strains and a low THC/high CBD variety, many other people aren’t in the same position. I wanted my story to be shared so that other people will feel comfortable coming forward and getting help too.
I’d also really like to understand what the legalities are around medical cannabis and driving and what the implications are for a working with children’s check.
If you have a story about how cannabis helped you with a medical condition or a story of why you stopped using cannabis we’d love to hear it. Please feel free to share your story with us.