Written by: Efrain Diaz
Back in the glittering ’70s, the Hepatitis C phenomenon was not known, only the more typical Hepatitis B. Back then I became a
professional boxer and it is all too common in the sport to exchange blood as it is a part of the game.
Then came the 90’s, and one day after making a blood donation I received a letter saying that my blood donation could not be used due to elevated enzymes and that I should consult a doctor in order to find out the reason. I did not think too much of it and after a regular physical I was told that I was positive for Hepatitis C. I started to research the illness, and to take better care of myself; drinking milk thistle, not drinking alcohol. Within two years, I began to seriously experience the effects of Hepatitis C. My stomach was looking bloated I was feeling way less energy and getting nauseated occasionally. I finally decided to consult a doctor specifically about the Hep.
C. I was then told that I have a huge amount of viral load and that I have the very worse strain (genotype1A) that it is the most stubborn and resistant to treatment. My doctor told me that there was a 30 percent chance that treatment would work for me but that if I did not begin treatment my body would not be able to tolerate it later on.
So, I agreed to give it a try. This was after being told about the horrendous and severe side effects I would experience 38 hellish weeks of weeks of Pegasys treatment. I could not believe the way the treatment package was delivered to me, in a portable icebox. It came with an instructional video, showing a patient self-injecting medication directly into the liver, and the needle was quite long, with the instructions to inject the entire needle directly into the liver or stomach. It hurt, especially feeling when the contents were entering me. It is a burning feeling that made me feel like I was doing hard drugs or something! Between injections and eating 12 pills each day, I immediately began to feel the unpleasant side effects on the very first day of treatment. It felt as if all the energy and strength was being sapped from my body. As the days turned into weeks I felt more and more depressed and my mood was swinging madly. The weakness was so physical I found myself always leaning on the wall or slumping in a chair. I had no kind of energy. Every time I would eat, I would feel full after just a few forkfuls. The feeling of impending doom and sadness was overbearing.
It was at this point when I realized that whenever I had medicinal quality marijuana, it helped alleviate many if not all of the symptoms I was suffering from. I was better able to eat and hold down my food. The marijuana also lifted my mood so much, that I was able to think about positive things rather than the nightmares caused by the chemicals being injected. I even had pleasant dreams of sleeping after taking marijuana, a
very thankful relief. There were many days when I had no marijuana to provide relief, and the difference was glaring. It is no mistake, it is no placebo type thing, marijuana is a pure and wholesome effective medicine that enabled me to deal with it all (my illness) and enabled me to go on and not give up. And it is illegal.
Before I became a professional boxer, I had first tried marijuana as a young experimenting musician. I can remember my first reaction. It was a pleasant feeling and made humour larger than life! I laughed and had the munchies. Whenever I played my bass guitar or on percussion, the experience took on a broader realm. I had tried drinking and other drugs at the time and nothing gave me the safe, coordinated, euphoric state of consciousness that marijuana could. I began to use it to try elevating my creativity much in the way I had read that the Jazz giants did. I found they were on to something.
Growing up in the inner ghettos of the South Bronx, I was surrounded by drug users and as a young kid was exposed to the street horrors. But marijuana was never something that I saw as a threat. Because I was so satisfied with smoking it I never had the urge to try getting into something harder. I can thank marijuana for sparing me the dreads and downfalls of hard drugs. Cannabis ain’t no damn “gateway drug” as the Babylon system calls it. I have had many years of enjoying the recreational herb and to experience deeper prayer and meditation, bringing me into a more solid foundation of inner consciousness. I see cannabis as a blessing, and when I began treatment for Hepatitis C, I was already aware of the benefits of medical marijuana and I utilized it myself. As I said before, there were many days and weeks when I had no marijuana. When I tried street-grade marijuana rather than medical marijuana, there was no relief. Those were the most difficult days. It was those days when I felt the full-blown side effects from the Pegasys treatment. My nausea was severe instead of mild, my appetite was non-existent. I drank way less water than I could have and my nights were long and unwelcome. I couldn’t stand anything. If it was not of medicinal quality, then it was practically ineffective.
To doubters that say medicinal marijuana use is bogus, or an excuse to “get high”, I say that I am living proof. I know that cannabis used to treat health ailments is the safest, most tolerable, and incredibly effective medicine that can be used. I would have never made it through the entire 48 weeks of self-injecting (directly into the liver) and daily pill swallowing. I would have lost even more weight.
Eating is vital when undergoing this treatment, especially as it causes you to have zero appetite. Today it is six months after finishing off the Pegasys treatment. I am still going through severe symptoms as a direct result of the treatment. I never had a problem sleeping until the treatment, but now I have a severe case of insomnia along with muscle spasms. I can’t seem to fully regain my normal body weight and I feel cold when no one else does.
My doctor says it could take a year before I am back to “normal”. I know that something changed within me, ever since getting on Pegasys. I am grateful to be healthy and alive. I hope that Hepatitis C will not become the epidemic it is predicted to be. Many retired boxers are testing positive. There is something profound that happens to you when a doctor tells you that you are facing your own death. You discover things about yourself you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. I became aware of the undisputable medicinal value of marijuana. It is about time that more of the medical community begins to take advantage of this most incredible and effective medicine that, yes, is also such a pleasure to take. It should be made available to those who choose it over dangerous chemicals.
Stop the lies being told about marijuana. Marijuana should be free as any plant that grows. I have never heard of an overdose from marijuana.