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“As a disabled person and full-time carer, cannabis enables me to support my partner”

Kerry Davies shares how medicinal cannabis helps her manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression.

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Kerry Davies (right) is a full-time carer for her partner, whilst managing her own health conditions.

After years of pain medication and antidepressants, Kerry Davies came off all her NHS prescription drugs when she started consuming cannabis medicinally. Here, she shares her journey so far.

Kerry Davies battles daily with the symptoms of fibromyalgia and PTSD, as well as her history of anxiety and depression. 

When her partner was left blind after suffering three strokes due to a rare brain disease, Kerry also became her full-time carer. 

In this interview, she spoke to us about her journey with medical cannabis, overcoming stigma and how her prescription ensures she can be there to support her partner. 

Cannabis Health: Can you tell us a bit about how things were before you started taking cannabis?

Kerry Davies: I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, PTSD and I’ve always struggled with depression and anxiety. I have problems with fatigue and with fibromyalgia, pain and depression is just a never ending cycle, because if you’re never out of pain it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed.

I was trying all the medication that my GP prescribed but it just made me feel horrible. I was groggy, my thought process was affected and it made me feel worse, not better. 

CH: How did you discover that cannabis was helpful for managing your symptoms?

KD: My dad was a police officer so I had always been very anti-drugs and associated it with negative connotations. My partner used to smoke cannabis and it was never thrust upon me, but one day I asked her if I could try it. I just thought, ‘I’m in so much pain, what have I got to lose?’

I experienced the dumbing down of my pain levels and generally felt better in myself. I wondered why I hadn’t tried it sooner. I was taught at school that cannabis is a very negative thing, I didn’t know anything about the medical side of it. When I realised it was helpful for me I decided to continue with it. As soon as I started using cannabis I came off all my NHS prescription medicine. 

CH: How did you go about accessing it initially?

KD: My partner used to be able to get it through a family connection, but when she became ill and I became her carer I had to start sourcing it myself. 

I had to get into dodgy taxi drivers’ cars and things like that and I did question why I was doing it. I was trying to help myself by accessing something that makes me feel better, but it made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Then, because I hated doing that, we started growing at home but that made me feel even more anxious because of the illegality of it. 

CH: At what point did you realise this was something you could get on prescription?

KD: I had heard about CBD and tried over-the-counter products, but it always tasted vile and never did anything for me. I also tried speaking to my GP about medical cannabis, but they didn’t know anything about it. Then I read an article in the newspaper about somebody who had been pulled over with their medical cannabis prescription on them, so I started rooting around even more and it all snowballed from there. 

CH: What was your experience like of accessing a prescription? 

KD: It was quite daunting at first trying to find where to start, the information I needed and the right place to go. I just started ringing around the various clinics and happened to find the one I’m with now. The service manager was so helpful and informative. She was a medical cannabis patient herself and had lived with pain, so it felt like I was speaking to someone who understood where I was coming from, rather than a clinician just going through the motions.

CH: Can you tell me about how your prescription has helped your day-to-day life?

KD: As a person who is disabled, as well as being a carer for a disabled person, that can affect my condition negatively. Having medical cannabis to relieve my symptoms means that I can better look after my partner because she really struggles without my help. We just kind of muddle through together, but I have to do extra stuff and that has a knock on effect on me and my fatigue. I have been prescribed strains that have more of an uplifting effect to help with that.

There’s also the social aspect, without medication I can’t do things like this interview. I can’t talk to other people or go to the shop. It has helped me so much to just be able to cope with normal day-to-day things that people don’t even think about. 

CH: What do you find challenging as a medical cannabis patient?

KD: I still struggle with the stigma around it and I always try to keep away from people [when I’m medicating] and not draw attention to myself, as I worry that they might say something. One of the things I was always told as a kid is not to bring the police to our door, so even though it’s legal I constantly feel like I’m doing something wrong. 

My partner and I also attend a lot of music events, so we constantly have to inform the venue’s and explain its medical cannabis, as so many people are just not aware of it. 

CH: What would you like to change about the current system?

KD: I would like to see medical cannabis available on the NHS. As a carer and a disabled person, I’ve got a medicine that works for me but I’m paying for it. My mum is interested in trying it because she suffers with pain, but there’s no way that she can afford it. I barely manage to afford it as I’m on benefits. The only reason why I continue to pay is because it gives the protection of being legal so I don’t have to worry as much. 

I also wish I could speak to my GP about it. My surgery currently has no record of me as a medical cannabis patient so how can that be safe in regards to potential drug interactions? When I speak to the doctor at my clinic he is great, but there needs to be more education among NHS doctors.

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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