Pubdate: Sat, 31 Mar 2007
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2007 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Lisa L. Van Camp


Growing up as the daughter of a physician, medical issues were
frequently discussed at home; malpractice, illnesses, surgery and
drugs were all common topics of conversation. I often read through my
father's medical journals and found them to be both fascinating and
educational. As an adult, medical journals still intrigue me, and I
subscribe to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Today I am personally faced with several medical issues. I live with
multiple forms of arthritis and, as a result, do a great deal of
research on them. I have had multiple joint replacements due to my
arthritis, with more surgeries looming in the future. I also have been
diagnosed with Dercum's disease. Dercum's disease is marked by painful
fatty tumor growths. It is a progressive, crippling, disfiguring and
extremely painful disease. This dreadful disease has been a part of my
life since 1984.

My pain has many sources. I must constantly battle discomfort that
radiates from my nerves, muscles, connective tissue, bones, vascular
system and lymph nodes. Then there are the painful tumors to be considered!

Because of all the difficulties associated with my medications, I
found myself searching for an alternative source of pain relief.
Before long, I was studying the pros and cons of medical marijuana for
pain relief. I found sound evidence that supports its use for
chronically ill patients like myself.

One of the most startling facts that I discovered about medical
marijuana is that not one single person has ever overdosed from it! On
the other hand, about 500 people die every year from aspirin
overdoses. Acetaminophen toxicity actually causes liver damage or worse.

It is my sincere hope that the Illinois legislature chooses to help
patients like me this year by giving us another option to manage our
pain besides the narcotics many of us have become reliant -- even
addicted -- upon. Some people say that allowing medical marijuana use
will just make marijuana accessible to many who are not exposed to it
now. This is quite laughable when one considers how many families have
members currently exposed to potentially lethal medications like
anti-depressants, muscle relaxants and pain medicines such as codeine
and morphine only because they have a sick relative living with them.

Please remember that there are people like myself who live with
constant pain that cannot be managed with current legal medications.
We desire to be more active with our families and our communities, and
maybe even feel good enough to rejoin the workforce. Medical marijuana
can provide relief from our devastating illnesses and allow us to have
a better quality of life.

Lisa L. Van Camp