Acromegaly, Migraines, Marijuana - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:02 PM   #1 (permalink)

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Acromegaly, Migraines, Marijuana

I have a combination problem that seems to involve multiple topics that I've read on here:

I'm a male in my early 30's and I've been sober for four a half years. My drug of choice was always alcohol, it runs in both sides of my family and I'm the only one with any kind of long term sobriety in it.

After the first year of my sobriety I started to get really awful headaches, along with sensitivity to light and sound. After an MRI the doctors found a tumor on my pituitary and I was diagnosed with acromegaly. Basically this means that my body is producing WAY too much growth hormone. 3 years and two surgeries later, my symptoms are for the most part under control, but the condition is incurable at the moment, and my life won't be the same again.

The biggest issue I have is the side effects of either the surgery, the tumor, or the condition. I have migraines everyday; and I do mean everyday all day long. You could set your watch by them. They start in the morning when I first wake up, in the middle of the day, and the final one at about 9 o'clock at night.

I have read through all the threads here and I have been through every treatment. I have tried the Topomax, I have taken the butterbur, I have had the botox injections, I have had the feverfew, I have even done the treximent. The problem with the drugs that work is that you can only take them 9 times a month maximum or they can cause real damage. Because I get between 3 and 5 headaches a day this isn't really a feasible option for me. The treximet is strong enough that I can take one, but it will only last for 9 days.

Long story short-- one of the groups that I belong to has recommended that I try medical marijuana. They don't know my history with sobriety. I asked my doctor about it and he seemed to actually agree. The reason is because the only other medications I can take run a higher risk of doing damage to my liver and kidneys and have a lower chance of actually working.

I have always put my sobriety above everything else. I own my own business, I have a loyal group of friends, a woman I love, and a strong spiritual foundation in the program.

I guess I'm just nervous because this actually feels like it might be the right decision. That after I have tried the traditional medical approach and found it lacking, that I am no longer willing to risk my long term health for short term gains.

I would be the first one to stand up in a meeting and say that marijuana is a mood-altering drug and that living sober doesn't leave room for it.


I'm stuck.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hello there dbrklynboy, and welcome to our corner of recovery.

Originally Posted by dbrklynboy View Post
... I've been sober for four a half years. ...
Congratulations on your 4.5, that is awesome

Originally Posted by dbrklynboy View Post
...the condition is incurable at the moment, and my life won't be the same again. ...
I don't have the same conditions you do, I have my own set of chronic, and terminal, conditions. All of which cause intense pain.

I had brain surgery a few years ago, which left me with horrible headaches. The docs tell me that's common after any invasive action involving the skull.

You mentioned that you have tried many things, and you state Topamax, but you did not say anything about 3-tier pain management. Topamax, along with the other neuronal stabilizers, doesn't work if you just try it. It takes several months of titrating the dose upwards, and generally requires a second med in the same family at the same time.

Perhaps you have tried the above, and just did not mention it.

Originally Posted by dbrklynboy View Post
... reason is because the only other medications I can take run a higher risk of doing damage to my liver and kidneys...
well... _all_ meds will cause damage if taken long term. One of the approaches in 3-tier pain management is to "rotate" the meds every couple years in order to avoid, or at least minimize, those risks.

Originally Posted by dbrklynboy View Post
... I'm stuck....
Not yet. You and I can talk a little more about _exactly_ what you have tried because there are a whole range of treatments you did not mention.

The best website I have found on 3-tier is one for Migaines. The medications, and the treatment plans, are the same for _any_ type of chronic pain, not just migraines. You may want to look through it and see if you find anything useful:

Migraine and Headache Preventive Medications - Too Many Options to Give Up!
Migraine Medications: Preventive, Abortive, and Rescue

Originally Posted by dbrklynboy View Post
... I would be the first one to stand up in a meeting and say that marijuana is a mood-altering drug and that living sober doesn't leave room for it....
The _official_ view of AA in regards to using chemicals for medical purposes, including old-fashioned pot, can be found here:

Sunsets are not endings. If I have enough faith, they are beginnings.
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:25 PM   #3 (permalink)

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I've heard about ongoing research regarding some of the compounds found in marijuana, the non-psycoactive components (not THC) have real promise and/or results in a number of areas: pain reduction, even the possibilty of preventing cancer mestatacizing (spelling?).

If you live in or near a state in which marijuana is legal for medical use, I would contact as many clinics you can to see about the possibility of tinctures made from non-psycoactive components. I don't know if such a preparation might exist yet or not, but it certainly would be worth checking into.

Obviously you don't want to jeopardize your sobriety with the unwanted effects of THC. However, I remember a discussion on either this site or another one in which people were talking about how some folks are able to "take or leave" various substances, nearly anything; others cannot touch anything without (eventual) loss of control; I also think it may well be true some people can take or leave certain substances yet find there is one thing or another that is addicting to them without the rest. We all know plenty of people, for example, that can have wine with dinner and never have an issue, never exhibit any signs of alcoholism. Or the many people who are prescribed pain medicine post-surgery and have no problem stopping it after the need is gone. Not all of us are wired that way, though.

While I'm certainly not recommending you try MM, especially if it isn't in a form in which the THC isn't present, but it might be worth at least contemplating whether or not you are one of those people who might only have their issue with alcohol but can responsibly use something else in which the motivation is NOT to get high.
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Pandorable (08-28-2013)
Old 03-12-2013, 12:44 PM   #4 (permalink)

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Thanks for the quick responses! I love the program and all the support you can always find.

I am not familiar with the "3-tier" phrase but I will say this; I am currently on Topomax and I have been now for 3 months. I started off at a very low dose and have gradually increased from 50mg a day to 200mg. While taking that I was also taking a calcium blocker and that wasn't doing anything for the first 3 weeks, so then we tried just doing a naproxen with also tylenol. No luck. Then imatrex.. which did wonders. The problem was that I could only take 9 a month. So after the first month cycle I had to withdraw from the imatrex so that I could try the treximet which is the combination of the naproxen and the imatrex. This was thought to abort the migraine and hopefully the Topomax would prevent the migraines, after the treximet had aborted them.

The topomax hasn't prevented them, the treximet did work for the first 9 times that I tried it, then it stopped working, after the last round I went through the withdrawal again which was worse this time and my neurologist doesn't want me to try using anymore of the treximet because it's built up in my system. That's why we went with the botox injections.

I have been to 3 neurologists so far and they have all said the same thing to me, which is that they first of all understand very little of what causes migraines to begin with, but also specifically with my case, it could be scar tissue from the surgery, or neuralgia from the damage caused by the tumor. Each one would be treated very differently.

To be honest just looking at that site you gave me makes my stomach drop, I do recognize many of the medications. I went through year of injections also with a medication called sandostatin which is specific to pituitary adenomas and reduced them a little bit, now I'm on a different one called somatuline depot, which is supposed to help after about 5 months (on month 3 now).

It's hard because my doctor has said that the calcium inhibitor and antidepressants don't work in cases like mine. I tried the blood pressure medication and it had no effect, but how do you know if you've done it long enough? It's all very confusing. : /
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Old 03-16-2013, 10:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi dbrklnboy. I really feel for you. I get migraines, too, and know how debilitating they can be. I seem to get mine at certain times of the year but have had weeklong ones and I know just how frustrating that is.

I haven't found what works to prevent them yet but I still keep looking. I use imitrex injections which work fairly well as long as I don't use too much of it. I tried topamax but after reading this thread I realize I didn't really give it a long enough trial. I also have Toradol when I go to the ER. It's toxic to use more than very infrequently but works really well. They also give me benadryl which seems to help. The ER doc said that the benadryl and the compazine both help with the migraines themselves, not just the nausea or whatever.

It's a tough decision whether or not to use MM. It's something I would like to try but I actually don't want the high feeling even though I was addicted to pot in my twenties. I also don't want some of the other side effects either. I have wondered if a THC free form was available.

Marijuana has a lot of constituents in it, THC is one of many and I think no one knows how much of the medicinal effects come solely from the THC. There might be other ways to mitigate the "high" of using MM. I've heard that the tea can be very helpful but less intoxicating. Or maybe you might be able to use it just at night so you can sleep off some of the effects.

Acupuncture might be helpful, too, it might give you some extra pain relief. I've also just been told about something called low dose naltrexone which seems to work for a lot of people with various conditions. You can look it up online and see if it sounds interesting and talk with your doc about it.

I know how overwhelming and confusing it can be when trying to treat ongoing, chronic and longterm pain issues. Sometimes reading through all the options is enough to cause a migraine, huh?! I hope you can find something soon that will bring you relief.
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Old 03-24-2013, 01:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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H Dbrooklynboy - I am happy to give you the results my husband has had with marijuana. My husband has chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, HBP. He is in fairly constant pain from the pancreatitis most specifically when he eats - he also has significant scar tissue from 2 operations on his abdomen.

He has been on a myriad of pain meds. This is a viscious cycle because the very meds that relieve the pain also wreak havoc with the digestive system. After 8 years he is certainly addicted to them as well. The other issue is when the pancreatitis flares up it causes horrible vomiting so he is unable to keep the meds down - very bad for the BP issues.

Marijuana was suggested about 2 years ago by his GP, then by his endocrinologist, then by his GI. Honestly it has been a godsend. It not only gets rid of the pain but also gets rid of the nausea. He has reduced his intake of oral pain medication by half or more. He has a better quality of life. Our hospital visits have been reduced from 6 - 7 a year to 3 last year. He uses it as need be - its probably been 2 - 3 months since he has used it. He has been using it for about 2 years.

I do want to let you know last year he relapsed after 10 years sober from alcohol. In my personal opinion I do not believe the marijuana was the trigger. I believe it is because he stopped working his recovery and combined with feeling so much better travelled down the path of thinking he could socially drink and just be normal - NOT. He did choose sobriety again after a couple months.

I am not schooled enough in this subject to advise you what would be the best idea for you. In my opinion, when you are chronically ill and specifically are dealing with chronic pain if - you have exhausted the meds available, or are just exhausted dealing with new meds, and their side effects, and the length of time it takes to find out, and the overall depression in finding out they don't work - well, you deserve a quality of life.

Until someone walks in your shoes they can't understand - only YOU know if its time to try.

God bless - I feel for you and I hope you find some relief soon.
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Pandorable (08-28-2013)

acromegaly, confusion, medical marijuana

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