Push­ing to be the first to get cannabis

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR PLACE - LAURA BAKER

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.

JOSEPH JOHN­SON/ STUFF

Mark Crotty says to some de­gree cannabis saved his life, hav­ing suf­fered from Crohn’s for al­most three years.

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