A ‘Fibro Warriors’ journey to accessing medical cannabis
Andie Willis has been battling with the UK’s healthcare system since the age of 16. The post A ‘Fibro Warriors’ journey to accessing medical cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Health News.
Andrea Willis, also known as Andie, has been battling with the UK’s healthcare system since the age of 16. Now in her 40’s she has found a treatment that works for controlling her pain and gives her a better quality of life.
Andie Willis, 49, lives with constant pain due to the debilitating condition fibromyalgia, resulting in symptoms including muscle spasms, dry mouth and constant fatigue.
But fibromyalgia isn’t the only health condition Andie has struggled with from an early age. She has undergone several operations for her pelvic problems and a hysterectomy as a result of gynaecological issues.
Recently appearing on Channel 5’s, How to Live with Chronic Pain Andie shared her story and her battle with her health hoping to help and empower others.
Although she was initially told she had Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the joints, Andie was sure she had been misdiagnosed.
The condition can affect people of all ages, but older adults are more at risk and swelling is common in this disease, something Andie never experienced.
After going back and forth to the doctors for almost five years, in 2011, she bit the bullet and took herself to a fibromyalgia specialist who eventually confirmed that Andie had the condition.
“For three months, all the medication that I took for rheumatoid arthritis was stopped, and in all honesty, I felt no difference,” Andie explains.
“After trialling lots of medications and experiencing so many adverse reactions, I finally settled with gabapentin.”
Andie started her blog Life as a Fibro Warrior in 2014, to share her own health experiences, in the hope of reaching out to help others.
After a TV researcher came across her blog on Twitter, they approached her about taking part in a documentary to share her journey to accessing a medical cannabis prescription.
“It was only by chance that somebody read my blog on Twitter,” says Andie.
“She was a researcher and asked me about my journey with medicinal cannabis. I feel quite passionate and strongly about it and that’s how I ended up doing the documentary.”
The show documented Andie’s journey getting a prescription through Sapphire Medical Clinic.
“I’d heard so much about medical cannabis and how much it helps with pain so I knew wanted to try that route,” she says.
“I went through many consultations to determine that I have tried everything under the radar, in order to be prescribed medical cannabis.
She adds: “At the clinic, everybody has been really supportive and I feel like I could never stop taking cannabis now. I’m still on my other medications but at this stage of my life I’m thinking about reducing my gabapentin.
“I know that I’m only able to say that because I’ve had such a positive result with cannabis.”
Andie now medicates three times a day, saying it has helped her sleep better, controls her pain, as well as seeing considerable improvement in her IBS symptoms.
“Starting on medical cannabis has significantly helped me to sleep better and therefore, I feel less fatigue,” she says.
“I’m not claiming that all my conditions are under control, but it has certainly helped with many.
“At the moment, I take cannabis three times a day. My husband insisted on creating a spreadsheet, through which we monitor my dosage and keep a general record of everything in case I need to increase or decrease my medication.”
Since the documentary Andie has had dozens of people reach out to her about the possibilities of accessing the treatment themselves.
“Since the documentary, people have commented on my blog praising me for my courage. Many have plucked up the courage to call the cannabis clinic themselves and book their first appointment,” she says.
“Some feel apprehensive talking about it, but say they would feel comfortable speaking to me.
“I know there are so many people out there who want to learn more about the benefits cannabis can bring, however, due to the stigma attached, it’s still a taboo subject.”
Due to a lack of access on the NHS, Andie funds her own prescriptions, costing £195 that covers her for just under two months, but she understands that the financial burden means it is out of reach for many people.
“It is financially and emotionally draining,” she admits.
Her son, who also suffers from IBS, faces an additional hurdle. He can’t access a prescription because in the UK you have to show you have tried every available treatment option before cannabis is considered an option.
“I can’t seem to figure out why the UK is so far behind,” she says.
“Despite laws that were enforced in 2018, only three people receive it on the NHS.”
Andie is now planning to celebrate her 50th birthday in Thailand next year, which she strongly feels she is has only been able to plan as a result of medical cannabis improving her health so much.
Even though still struggles with her own mental and physical symptoms daily, Andie is dedicating her time to spreading the world about the potential health benefits of medical cannabis.
She adds: “If I can help just one person [in accessing cannabis medicines], I would feel so great knowing that I’ve done something right.”
Read Andie’s blog here
The post A ‘Fibro Warriors’ journey to accessing medical cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Health News.