By John Berfelo
“Medical marijuana saved me from a life on pharmaceutical drugs…”
My name is John Berfelo and this is my story…
June 23rd 2005, I awoke to sun rays piercing through my bedroom window it was 5:30am.
I decided to head off to work early to get a start on a long and busy day. I was a glazier by trade, my official job title was an architectural metal mechanic / glass worker I installed windows and the aluminum frames in high rises and commercial buildings in Vancouver B.C.
I was the first one on the job that morning at 6 am, every-one started at 7am so I began by getting the job ready for the guys. I was going to work on the second floor deflec-tion header, this was located at the top of the frame for the glass that would be installed later and it needed to be sealed with caulking on the inside, it was 28 feet above the ground floor.
I decided to use a scissor lift for the job so I would be able to reach it. We had a machine called a Genie 2000 lift and it had a 48*89 platform with a full 4 foot metal railing around the edge to ensure safety; there was also a 2 foot gate at the side of the lift to enter the platform.
I went to the Job Box and got all my equipment and loaded on to the lift. I was getting ready to head out with the machine and thought maybe I should back vinyl for top of the frame, this is a hard rubber seal for the windows so I also grab a few rolls of vinyl and throw them beside the gate to get in and out, it was tied off because the latch was not working.
It was now roughly 6:15 am, I drove the scissor lift to the building and positioned it so I could work on the south east corner I had to reach the top of the second floor now being glazier it was always challenging and took a little finesse to get the job done. I loaded up the caulking gun and got to work. I started to walk backwards towards the end of the frame, I was running a nice caulking bead and if you are caulker you concentrate on the end of your caulking gun to ensure that perfect bead.
Now when I first loaded the lift I threw a few boxes of vinyl on the side near the gate and not remembering I tripped while I was walking backwards and fell back towards the gate which was not working properly, I still had the caulking gun in my right hand.
I only remember a few things after this. The caulking gun hitting the side of the railing and me trying to grab onto the gate with the other hand, stepping back with my right foot and nothing was there. I was falling, I then briefly remembering trying to get to my cell phone, and I could not turn my head I also remember someone holding my head then bright lights and commotion.
I had just fallen 28ft onto concrete and my life had changed forever!
This was the next 7 years of my life: my fight from the start to survive from my injuries, to overcome great obstacles and challenges from the extent of my injuries, to fighting Work-Safe B.C to have cannabis accepted for chronic pain and for acceptance of my injuries.
I protested to try and draw awareness to how injured workers were and are being treated, forced onto Social assistance, losing my house, living on the streets and helping educate the public and other injured workers on cannabis for pain control to being published and winning awards for my accomplishments and more. This is my story about one man’s battle to overcome his pain with natural standardized cannabis.
I awoke in Royal Columbian hospital on the 24th of June. I was scared and confused and in intense pain, I was screaming and a nurse was sitting beside me, she said my name and automatically gave me something that put me back to sleep. I broke my neck (c 6 burst fracture) broke my teeth, fractured my skull, shattered my left elbow, broke my hip, torn ligaments and bone fractures in my foot and cartilage in my knee. My C4-C5 is also com-pressed. Anterior wedging between T12-L1, my L3-L4 –L5 herniated discs slightly narrowed with early lipping. Last of the back is a L5-S1 disc herniation with right S1 nerve impingement. Lots of PAIN!
I now have some major nerve damage in my lower back and neck. Because of the c-6 burst fracture (I have a Synthes anterior cervical plate with four self-drilling, self-tapping screws between my C5-C7 verte-brae) my strength in my upper extremities has depleted. I now live in chronic pain. I was taking heavy prescription drugs, narcotics for pain, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, anti-depressants and heart pills. At one point of my recovery, I was taking 32 pills a day to deal with all my issues. Cannabis became a major part of my life and recovery. It was the remedy I used to help escape from the horror I was in.
I met Dr. Paul Hornby (Ph.D., Human Pathology) at a compassion club back in 2006 , Paul made something he called Canna-Caps, converted THC in a capsule and the following 1 year I met a RN nurse and she had written a paper on amino acids and cannabinoids for depression. Taking this info and working together we were able to come up with a regimen to help me with my chronic pain, depression, anxiety, nausea and other condition related to my injuries.
Over the next few years I became a case study on natural cannabis for pain control, slowly weind myself off all the pharmaceutical drugs using this regimen and went on to have major back surgery and only used cannabis and amino acids for pain control before and after the surgery.
On May 20th 2008 at 12:30pm I walked into Eagle Ridge Hospital for a L3-L4 discectomy, I had just medicated (Medical Kush) I needed to prepare my CNS for surgery so I took 50 drops on tincture (10 mg THC per drop). This would be my only pain control other than the anesthesia for surgery. I felt the cold burning running up my arm as I was being turned upside down and the Doc walked into the room .
The anesthesia has worn off, it is 6pm I am being moved to the recovery room, I asked the nurse to please pass me my supplements, GABA, Tryptophan, Same-e, Canna-caps and cannabis tincture, cannabis cookies I took my supplements administered 30 drops of tincture and fell asleep. I woke up at 10pm and took 2 x 50 mg canna-caps (JKT-THC 50 mg CBD 2 mg)
I remember while recovering the next day a nurse came in and said you’re the guy that just did major back surgery with only natural supplements, she wanted to know what I was taking and spent the time to write everything down, I had a great conversation with her about cannabis and my injuries and how I was able to live a better quality of life.
So what are Canna caps?, Canna-caps are standardized,
quality controlled, activated natural
product cannabis capsules. Standardization means that each cap contains the
same dosage of a major active. In the case of canna-caps they are standardized
to the dosage of ‘IHC, which is by far the most abundant active in the
capsules. So, each capsule contains the same amount of THC. Also known, is the
amount of Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabinol (CBN) in each cap.
Benefit of Canna-caps
By Paul Hornby
Canna-caps offer a safe alternative to smoking cannabis. Many persons using canna caps find that their smoking decreases significantly. A few caps a day pro-vides a feeling of general well being, whereas persons in chronic pain find best relief administering every four to six hours. Canna-caps can be designed to suit individual needs, taking advantage of the strain specificity of cannabis they are often provided in am:pm formulation for day and nighttime use, on canna-caps a person tends to eat good, sleep good and poop good, “we maintain that oral cannabis is the medicine of the future and that as an herbal medicine standardized, natural product cannabis will be a leader.”
I became Dr Hornby’s first published study on natural standardized cannabis. The article was published in the Cases Journal.
Standardized natural product cannabis in pain management and observations at a Canadian compassion society: a case report.
Hornby AP, Sharma M, Stegman B.
An adult Caucasian male with excruciating pains fol-lowing multiple traumas was monitored, daily, over one year while managing chronic pain by self-administering quantifiable amounts of natural cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabidiol, and Cannabinol were all measured in tinctures, capsules, smoke-able product plus some baked goods, prior to their adminis-tration. By allowing standardization, the subject was able to develop a daily regimen of pain management that was resistant to a battery of most patent analgesics.
Medical marijuana saved me from a life on pharmaceutical drugs…
Pain was a hard to deal with; doctors put me on what I would like to call the “Pain special” when dealing with severe trauma:
1.Pain killers, narcotics: oxycontin, morphine,Percacets, Tylenol 3…
2.Anti-depressants: Apo-Amitriptyline, Effexor,Venlafaxine, Ceperlex
3. Anxiety pills: Ativan, Xanax, Lexapro, Valium
4. Nerve Blockers: Gabapentin, Lyrica
5. Muscle relaxers: novo-cyclobenzaprine, methocar-bamol
6. Sleeping Pills: Immovane,
7. Blood pressure & antacid pills: Pariet and antihy-pertensives
This is how our current medical system deals with the seri-ously injured. I was taking heavy prescription drugs, nar-cotics for pain, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, anti-depres-sants and heart pills; these medications caused a lot of confusion and disarray in my life.
While on the cocktail of prescription drugs I found that I was always chasing pain, forgetting almost everything, not being able to make decisions properly, emotionally I was a mess always crying and hating life. Pharmaceutical drugs contributed to a lot of problems from side effects that were not related to my injuries and made them worse, and only at times, made them better. Life was a roller coaster ride, up and down, sudden unanticipated stops and screaming pain!
I had to learn to deal with my chronic pain, muscle spasms, depression and more issues related to my fall.
Today I am free from pharmaceutical drugs and happy to be more in control of my pain levels because of standardized cannabis and natural supplements like GABA, Tyrosine, PS 100 just to name a few that I have found effective for my pain control.
I hope I will be able to help others understand how cannabis can help people that suffer from chronic Pain, neuropathic pain.
Information on these supplements can be found in Issue 22 of Treating Yourself Magazine Pg 62-63 Why Amino Acids work
Not only using this plant you need to learn how to grow your own medicine. It was also important to recovery. It gave me structure, it gave me life again, learning and watching this plant grow was therapeutic, I wanted to produce my own organic medicine and working with Dr. Hornby we were able to standardize mine and other medical grows, previous TY Issue 32 pg 82-84 Standardized Medical Cannabis Grows By Dr. Hornby and John Berfelo
Other articles published;
Standardized Cannabis and Pain Management by A. Paul Hornby, Ph.D
For the past 7 years I have studied extensively on the efficacy of cannabis and how it affects the central nervous system and helps me with all my conditions related to my 28ft fall. I want to tell the world how cannabis has saved me from a life of addiction on pharmaceutical drugs.
Today, as my Back-to-Work Program funded by WorkSafe B.C, I work as a Legal Medical Cannabis educator /advocate at a local hydroponic store in Surrey B.C; Pacific Northwest Garden Supply 15374 103a ave Surrey B.C and can be reached on Monday’s and Friday’s between 10am-2pm
I help educate the public to better understand the endo-cannabinoid system, CB1 and CB2 receptors; about the body’s own THC anandamide (AEA) and how cannabis helps people like me suffering from chronic pain and other conditions.
Medical Cannabis and natural supplements have saved me from a life of pharmaceutical drugs and addiction, it can save you too!! My fight has now lead me to the B.C Supreme court to have cannabis covered for seriously injured workers.