Pushing to be the first to get cannabis
Cannabis has given Ashburton Crohn’s sufferer Mark Crotty relief after suffering through almost three years of ‘‘constant, stabbing, radiating’’ pain.
Now he’s fighting for access to medically prescribed cannabis. If approved, he believes this would make him the first Crohn’s patient in New Zealand to get access.
The 26-year-old was diagnosed with the incurable inflammatory bowel disease in 2015. Five weeks ago he called it quits on almost all of his prescription medication and started self-medicating with cannabis daily.
During some of the most severe bouts of the disease he took up to 40 tablets a day including: three types of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, antinausea and anti-inflamminatory medication.
But he found little relief from the medicine and still suffered from intense abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, weight loss and diarrhoea.
Crotty believes ‘‘you shouldn’t have to be on your death bed to get access’’ and is backing the introduction of prescribed cannabis products.
So far he has the necessary letter from his GP supporting his application to the Ministry of Health, but he’s still waiting on the crucial backing from a specialist.
He is hoping to get the goahead by the end of the year.
Before his diagnoses he and wife Jess Crotty lived a ‘‘very comfortable’’ lifestyle. But all that rapidly changed. Kilograms quickly dropped off the healthy 80-kilogram man and within months he weighed a ‘‘frightening’’ 62kg.
His ‘‘crippling nausea’’ meant he vomited at least once a day. When he wasn’t being sick he made constant trips to the toilet.
On average he slept for 16 to 18 hours a day.
‘‘I lived in bed, I’d wake up and felt like I could go straight back to sleep again.
‘‘I wanted to go back to sleep so the pain would stop.’’
Despite his severe physical symptoms the toughest aspect is his mental health. Depression has crept in.
The disease is debilitating both physically and mentally, Jess says.
‘‘I can honestly say we are at the end of our tether. We have tried it the clinical way for over two years, and I have to say, he has gotten worse, not better,’’ she said.
Mark Crotty says to some degree cannabis saved his life, having suffered from Crohn’s for almost three years.