Hi! I’m Jodie.
I am a Chronic Migraine patient, an advocate, and the creator of MigraineBuds!
MigraineBuds is a passion project I started when medical cannabis had become so helpful for me and I had a difficult time finding others to discuss it with. It was very difficult to find a reliable source of information about cannabis specific to migraines, and I wanted to change that.
My journey started at age 11 when I began experiencing hemiplegic migraines. These migraines were frightening.. and certainly debilitating, but they did not occur often. It was not until my chronic migraines and daily chronic headaches began 8 years ago, that I learned just how crippling migraines can really be. It is not always the pain level, but the unrelenting persistent nature of this disorder that is truly disabling.
Seeking diagnosis and treatment for my pain became my full time job. I saw countless specialists – for headaches, for my jaw, for chronic pain… went to chiro, physio, acupuncture… the list goes on. And so began years’ worth of pharmaceutical cocktails, endless dosage tweaking and a healthy career as a professional waiting room seat warmer.
Now that we are through with my sob story, I’d like to tell you how cannabis became my medicine.
There was a point along the way when my cannabis use transitioned from recreational to medicinal. It used to be a fun way to spend time with my roommates. We’d watch movies and purchase an alarming amount of snacks from the corner store (I always got a crazy case of the munchies).
Eventually though, I became ill, and my headaches and migraines took over my life. I began taking puffs here and there to cope with the pain.
As many of you know, there are commonly four stages of a migraine. The Postdrome stage is the last one – which I describe as a migraine hangover. It’s during this stage I began to notice that consuming just a small amount of cannabis would make my head feel better.
It felt soothing in a way, and protective, like putting bandages over a bruised brain. It didn’t necessarily eliminate my headache but most of the time it would mask, neutralize or dull the pain. It would often improve my depressed mood as well.
It was the difference between being bedridden and being able to do simple chores around the house. At times I was even able to go out with friends because the cannabis made me feel more able. It even increased the level of volume I could tolerate.
I finally started pushing for my right to use medical marijuana legally. And after some time, I succeeded. I really had to advocate for my right to explore this treatment option. There is still so much stigma associated with cannabis, which makes it difficult to broach the subject with medical practitioners, family, friends and employers. Many patients are reluctant to try cannabis medicinally for this reason. This is why it is so necessary to educate and raise awareness. This is not about getting high. This is about finding relief and improving quality of life.
It wasn’t until I reached “rock bottom” in my migraine journey, that I became a full-on cannabis advocate. I had landed in the hospital with a 14 day intractable migraine. They admitted me for 3 full days and put me on a morphine drip. It broke the cycle and I finally had some relief, which was a godsend, but once home I had a lovely case of opioid withdrawal to deal with.
I was given very little guidance as to how to manage from there. My pain management specialist gave me a script for a new triptan, and more painkillers which I was instructed to take daily. Based on the hunch that I was dealing with a vicious case of rebound/medication overuse headache, I instead took myself OFF all painkillers and triptans for 30 days. I know cold turkey isn’t advisable and that you should always taper under the supervision of a doctor, but I had lost confidence in the guidance I was receiving.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My state got worse before it got better, because of constant withdrawal headaches. There were times I couldn’t take the pain and I desperately wanted to give in to that bottle of pills.
Each time this happened, my Husband would hand me my vaporizer. Every single time. He would say “use this instead”. I would vape and vape, this strain or that… I’ll admit I leaned on it pretty hard but it was the only thing I had to help with the pain!
Eventually, the headaches began to lift. I’d have an hour or two without pain. And then a full day.. two days… I will never forget the feeling of waking up without a migraine for the first time in months! It took 2-3 weeks, but I came out the other end a new person. It felt like my brain had “reset”. I had more confidence in my ability to get through the pain without constantly popping pills. I did still take triptans and opioids after that… I do believe they have a place in my pain management plan, but I take a lot less now that cannabis (especially CBD) are my “go to”. It’s only when it doesn’t work that I escalate to a triptan, or an opioid if needed.
I’ve always been a believer in cannabis, but after that experience I wanted to SHOUT about it. I wanted to try everything I could (legally) get my hands on. I had virtually no one to compare notes with, and I wanted to document and share experiences with others! There was hardly any information available out there about cannabis *specific* to migraines and I needed to change that.
So I launched MigraineBuds! A resource for cannabis education, migraine awareness and patient advocacy. A thriving patient community that is a safe place to ask questions, share tips, review products and receive support without the fear of judgement or stigmatization.
So. Where am I now? 8 years in to my chronic illness… Cannabis is a helpful tool… but it is not a cure. I am still in pain constantly, although most people would not know it. I’m sure many of you can relate. We are great actors, aren’t we?
I take it one day at a time. Sometimes an hour at a time. Now and then I let myself fall because I don’t always have enough energy to be strong. But having the opportunity to help others has been life changing. Educating other patients through MigraineBuds has given me a whole new purpose in life when not long ago I’d all but given up on it.
Thank you for being on this journey with me!