By Op-ed Blogger, Quinton Charles & Hannah Laing
Posted August 23rd, 2021
Are you living in pain?
We at Green Wellness Life are aware that a lot of our customers (and a lot of people in general!) live with daily pain. We also know how isolating it can be to be in a room full of people living their lives without having to constantly manage their pain levels. One of our staff members, Hannah Laing, is 19 years old. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 15 and Fibromyalgia at 18. The following interview is an attempt to offer insight into how Hannah and many others function while living in pain.
Quinton: So Hannah, tell us a little about the pain that you deal with.
Hannah: Because I suffer from Fibromyalgia, my pain often comes in flairs. Some days I’ll wake up a little stiff, but it’s still manageable. Other days I’ll wake up hurting and throw up. Those are the days that I can’t (and don’t even want to) work up the energy to get out of bed. That’s how bad the pain can be. I find that, sometimes, my body just shuts down and I’ll sleep for twenty to thirty hours without being able to keep my eyes open, no matter how hard I try. As you can imagine, having to sleep a day away every once in a while makes being a young human extremely difficult. What I wasn’t prepared for was the mental aspect of living with pain. I thought I was going crazy; I’m too young to be this uncomfortable in my own body and doctors rarely took my concerns seriously because I looked so healthy and was young!
Q: I can’t imagine how difficult that is. Was it always this bad?
H: No, I didn’t even know I was sick until I went to a hematologist with my mother for a routine test. I have a black belt so I always assumed all of my pain and bruising was from fighting. Once I stopped sparring, the bruising and the pain wouldn’t cease. After that, I started to experience more and more symptoms, including regular vomiting episodes and occasionally losing my vision. This eventually led to my Fibromyalgia diagnosis and I began evaluating treatment options.
Q: I’m not exactly clear on what Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis are and what they entail. Could you give me a summary?
H: Sure; I had no idea what they were either. RA is an autoimmune disorder that manifests as swelling in my muscles and joints. Fibro, on the other hand, is a neurological disorder so it affects pretty much everything. That means I look like a dalmatian with lovely little purplish spots and when I get a cold, I am down for the count.
Q: This sounds pretty limiting, living with this. How do you manage it? I know that it will sometimes mean that you can’t get to work or school, but how do you deal with it when it isn’t too severe? At what levels of pain are you able to function? Do you have anything that you find helps? Tips?
H: When it comes to managing my pain, it really is an all hands on deck approach. I had to change my diet, how I exercise, even the vitamins I take. The first thing that I did was to eliminate meat and gluten from my diet. This dramatically increased my energy levels and decreased my swelling and nausea. I also do yoga regularly to prevent and reverse some of my lost mobility. One unexpected thing that changed my quality of life has been taking Endoca Raw 50mg capsules. Before I was hired at GWL, I had dabbled in CBD previously, but I couldn’t find a product to even dull the edge of my pain. What I didn’t know before this job, was that raw products, specifically those containing CBDa, were a great fit for me. Anecdotally, CBDa has been beneficial for living with persisting pain and I myself was surprised by the relief I found. It is important to remember that everyone’s body is different. CBD can neutralize in different ways and elicit different responses from everyone. For myself, since finding the right CBD fit, I have been able to reduce, even eliminate, some of my medications. That’s a very personal process and I’ve worked closely with my doctor on it. It has been really impactful to not have to rely so heavily on prescription painkillers and given me the ability to focus on my health with a more holistic approach.
Q: You mentioned a few things there in addition to the CBD, like diet and exercise. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you use these to help with your RA and fibro?
H: Sure; when I was first diagnosed with RA, my doctor, (shoutout to Dr. Voelpel) sat me down and explained how health relies on the food we eat more than we care to admit. She explained how RA starts in the gut and there is even a specific enzyme that is in my gut that indicates that I have RA. The best way to manage my health was to focus on healing my gut and that included eliminating a lot of foods that I didn’t want to. I haven’t had Olive Garden breadsticks in almost 4 years and may I just say, it’s worth it. I accidentally ate something with gluten the other day and I wound up hunched over the toilet, bloated beyond belief. I had no idea that something as simple as the food I choose to eat would be the difference between managing my symptoms and being defeated by them.
Q: I’m sure that a lot of people are unaware of how much their diet affects their health. I had no idea that RA was in the gut. What about your aches and pains? Have you tried any CBD topicals before? I have and I’ve found them to be pretty helpful when I’m sore from the gym or from having slept in an awkward position.
H: I have tried many topicals. I like taking CBD internally to try and regulate my flares, but topicals are great on a rainy day when my body is a little extra fussy. I like the Pure Ratios patches a lot because they are easy to apply and I can receive several days of relief without having to reapply every 2-4 hours. It is pretty inconvenient to have to rub a paste all over when you’re in pain in the middle of a lecture or at work. Although, when I do want to rub something into my neck (slipping disks suck), I always grab the Endoca Salve. It’s pretty awesome.
Q: I’m glad to hear that you’re managing it. Obviously, CBD isn’t a cure, and you still deal with pain daily, but it’s good to know that you’re powering through it and that CBD, regulating your diet, and exercise are helping you in this endeavor. As always, we love having you on our team and are so glad that you can bring your knowledge and story to others who struggle with similar ailments.