By Heather Ritchie
As Americans, we always think of our health system as advanced and all-encompassing. Two women experiencing very different, life threatening issues see it otherwise.
Wendy Morris was your typical mother and wife, trying to navigate a busy life and take care of her family. As a teenager, she experimented with alcohol and cannabis, like many young people in high school. Eventually, Wendy stopped using all drugs and alcohol and straightened her life up. She went to college, got married, had kids, and worked in corporate America like many others living the American dream.
The Health Problems Begin
Around 2010, Wendy began having problems with her knee out of the blue. She didn’t know how she’d injured it and it didn’t necessarily hurt so she decided to wait and see.Then the knee eventually swelled upso much that she had problems walking.While it wasn’t exactly painful, it became so swollen that Wendy couldn’t walk without limping. She wasn’t sure what to do, but she decided to see an orthopedic doctor.
The physician asked if she’d had blood work, drained the fluid from her knee, and gave her a cortisone shot. He took x-rays and everything looked okay. After her other knee swelled up, she went straight to a rheumatologist. That physician sent the fluid off for testing.
Wendy started to have sharp joint pains all over her body. The doctor told her that she either had rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis and she started Wendy on methotrexate.
The medicine made her nauseous and affected her general health. Eventually, she was prescribed a biologic that cost $1500 a month. There were multiple problems with this step in her medical journey. Her health insurance had a high deductible and the biologic cost thousands of dollars every year, escalating her medical bills. She also had lung infections as a side effect of the medicine. In the meantime, she was weaning her young child, but she could no longer nurse her with the drug in her body.
Doctors told her that she needed to prioritize her life, but her family was equally important to her. They said that she needed to decide what was important. Wendy said, “Ok, Listen. I don’t know what you mean by what’s important. I have two children, and I can’t give one up. They don’t go back.” Wendy and her family had a home and a mortgage. They couldn’t live without heat or food. So what, exactly, should she give up?
Wendy went to a third doctor who took her off of all of the medicine because she was constantly sick. He said, “We’re making you sicker, not better. We have a Hippocratic oath.” Six months after eliminating all of the medication, she was given an even worse diagnosis: DCIS or ductal carcinoma in situ. Breast cancer ran in the family. Her mother passed away from it at the age of 32 so there was a real fear after her mother dying so young that she wouldn’t be here for her kids.
She had a lumpectomy that was not successful, so she then had a single mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries at the age of 39. About a year later she had a complete hysterectomy because doctors found a complex cyst on her ovaries.
The Peak of the Health Crisis
In addition, Wendy’s pain was still an issue so she found yet another rheumatologist. This one really seemed to understand Wendy. She was patient and listened, spending large amounts of time with her patients. This doctor decided on a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis when skin issues began to flair. When her insurance changed, and her doctor wasn’t on the plan, she still allowed Wendy to come in for Prednisone shots. Ultimately none of these methods resolved her pain and the doctor closed her practice because of her own personal problems. Wendy could barely walk across the room. She was so numb at night that it would wake her up. Half of her body would be numb. In the morning, it hurt to get out of bed because it felt like she was walking on glass.
Wendy was tired of being constantly sick and in pain without having any quality of life. She and her husband decided that they had to choose a different solution. Wendy couldn’t do things with her kids and trying to work had proved next to impossible.
The solution that they settled on was medical cannabis. Wendy had a friend whose husband was given medical cannabis. Before she spent $300 on a medical cannabis card, she tried some. And for the first time in years, she slept through the night and didn’t wake up shaking off the numbness.
She also mentioned surgeries and how usually you leave the hospital after a surgery with a prescription for Percocet. When she got home after gallbladder surgery, she consumed cannabis and never needed any of the other medicines that the doctor prescribed for her recovery.
Coming to Terms with Using Cannabis
So, she obtaineda medical cannabis card and went to the dispensary to get her medicine. A mix of CBD that is a 50-50 ratio with a THC content of 10-12 percent seemed to work the best. This 1:1 THC to CBD ratio enabled her to work withoutdiscomfort. Wendy uses flower since it works better for her than other ways of consuming cannabis like edibles. The problem was that she would go back to get the same variety and the dispensary wouldn’t have it. Other chemovars didn’t work as well. She even went so far as to call the growers and ask how they could get more of her preferred blend regularly and they said, “We can’t keep up with the flower demands because we need so much to makes the bakes and edibles.”
At this time, she had been sober since she was 19. She was devastated and ashamed that she was ingesting cannabis again. She felt like she was a failure at being a mother and that her kids could tell that she smelled like cannabis. When her 8-year-old asked if the flower would hurt her, she had to explain that cannabis was a flower that helped her walk and hike with her children.Even the 8-year-old was affected by the general stigma over-shadowing the plant. Wendy asked her if she was afraid of the medication bottles from regular doctors and she said no because none of them were for her.
Wendy has finally come to terms with using cannabis because it truly changed her life and allowed her to live and function better. It was an arduous journey though. She takes cannabis as the medication that she requires to keep herself healthy.
Katie has a different, heartbreaking story about how cannabis truly saved her life. She’s also close to Wendy and wants to share her story to give hope to others ina similar situation.
As a teenager, it was the social norm for kids in high school to use cannabis. At that time, she never used it for its medical benefits or even really understood them. Later in life, she would realize just how important to her life the plantreally was.
Katie developed severe and crippling anxiety. She couldn’t function in everyday life. She couldn’t hold a job, couldn’t leave her home, or do anything without her palms sweating and shaking. There was the constant fear that she would have a full-blown panic attack. Her panic attack disorder was severe.
Katie went to several psychiatrists that put her on a variety of medicines. The medication had side effects, and Katie didn’t feel like herself. It was as if the medicine altered her personality. When they put her on Benzos because of their rapid effects on her severe panic attacks, it left her feeling like a zombie, and she couldn’t function throughout the day.
The Realization that Cannabis Helps
Katie discovered that cannabis could help alleviate her anxiety because chemovars with higher CBD relaxed her without creating the zombie-like effect. It made her instantly happy! She says that if you’re freaking out and can’t control your emotions, smoking cannabis calms you down. While it hasn’t completely cured her, it has helped her tremendously.Katie also suffered from an eating disorder and found that cannabis helped this too. She currently considers herself in recovery from that disorder.
Katie credits cannabis with saving her life. She never had an appetite and wouldn’t or couldn’t eat and keep food down. She had severe stomach pains to the point that she would have to purge to feel better. With cannabis, she has an appetite. Katie was able to hold food down and actually enjoy it. Everything tasted so good, and she wanted to eat meals.
At the peak of her illnesses, no one could help her. Her body wasn’t responding to the medicines. Katie felt hopeless. She’d been through a time frame where she sobered up, but today cannabis is her medication. Without the plant, Katie would still be struggling or would no longer be here, of that she is sure. She wouldn’t be who she is today without cannabis.
First and foremost, Wendy hopes that what they are building with Cloudponics will give other people the opportunity to grow their own cannabis because, as she says, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting arrested for going to get your medicine. Your house shouldn’t have to smell like a grow tent and cannabis should be available, safe, secure, and you should know the product you are consuming.
In April of 2017, Wendy and her husband were very pleased with cannabis and how it helped her function and improve her daily quality of life. However, they were very irritated because they couldn’t get the cannabis blend that she needed. Her husband said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a business that provides the tents and all the pieces you need and goes around like a pool guy, but for your grow box or tent.”
While investigating their options, they discovered Cloudponics, whose inventors are from Chile. Cloudponics is considered an ag-techcompany that develops in-home, internet-connected professional grow systems. They’ve developed two excellent products, the GroBox and GroControl.
Cloudponics System and How it Works
“The GroBox is a fully automated system for growing cannabis and other plants at home.” It allows the home grower to grow high-quality plants without the hassle. You can control the whole process from your smartphone. GroControl is a nutrient dose and controller for existing grow rooms. Cloudponics is developing a heavy-duty GroControl for large-scale commercial operations.
Wendy says that the automation of the system helps even the most clueless grower. Since it’s automated, the homer grower doesn’t have to worry about measuring nutrients, and other complicated parts of the grow process. It’s perfect for those that are too busy to manage a typical grow system. She said that her garden is nothing but weeds and bugs, a general mess. This system eliminates that.
Katie and Wendy are working on a video series for Cloudponics that shows anyone how to grow with the GroBox. It will be on their social media websites and YouTube when it comes out. They are excited to take people on the Cloudponics journey. Both women are showing their grow box because they genuinely believe in the technology and think that it is advantageous to prospective medical cannabis patients. There is an app that controls the process. Much like the Apple watch that tells you to breathe, the Cloudponics app can tell you tosing to your plants.
Since the process takes time, the financial benefits aren’t immediate, but over time they make the GroBox worth the price to begin your grow. They estimate 10-12 ounces per grow and if you did four grows a year you’re looking at $78 an ounce in the first year. By the second year, you’re probably down to $13 an ounce if you pay the box off.
Cloudponics fully supports you, and you can contact them directly through the app. They can provide resources andguidance throughout the process. The app gives you task lists. It tells you when you need to trim or if your nutrients are low. It’s a huge time saver, foolproof, and enables you always to have the products that you need.
Cannabis brought happiness to two women that had debilitating illnesses that severely hindered their quality of life. It may have even saved their lives. Companies like Cloudponics are trying to make sure that people that need medical cannabis can easily grow what they need. They are taking out the middleman and providing a cost-effective and efficient solution.