January 02, 2018 | SimoneFischer
Managing chronic lyme disease through the power of Cannabis.
Approximately 20 percent of people diagnosed with Lyme disease are living with chronic pain even after receiving antibiotic treatment — Dilan among them. His experience with Lyme began in late childhood.
“I never found a rash, but I could feel my brain pulsing like a really bad headache. I started showing signs of Lyme when I was in school. Chronic fatigue, neck and shoulder pains, body aches, cold and hot sweats, body and facial twitching, brain fog, bad nausea and my vision started to change like if I’m in a dream state,” Dilan said.
“I was sensitive to lights too, especially florescent ones. I was dealing with panic attacks and I didn’t want to get out of bed. These were all symptoms of Lyme Disease that I did not know at the time.”
After looking at a map of the United States on where Lyme disease is most reported, the East Coast has the highest amount of reported cases, according to the CDC. However, toward the southern end of California there is a concentrated area of Lyme reports. Dilan believes 30,000 cases reported each year is not accurate.
The CDC uses a data collection technique called a “surveillance system” that doesn’t capture every illness and only focuses on “concentrated areas” of Lyme disease reports in the Northeast and Midwest.
Dilan believes Lyme is under-reported because not everyone has the telltale rash. Although the Dilan family did the best they could to clear tics from their property, it still wasn’t enough.
“My siblings were being bounced around to group homes back then, but from 1990 to 1994, my mother was well enough to take care of me and my two brothers. She had been dealing with mental illness all her adult life and was constantly in and out of mental institutions. But towards the end of 1994, things took a bad turn after living in a house with a bad tic infestation. Suddenly, she wasn’t normal,” Dilan said.
“She was showing all the symptoms of Lyme, and I remember seeing the “bull’s eye” rash on her leg but none of us knew. Her doctors weren’t Lyme-literate and she had already been in the system for so long, they assumed her symptoms were mental health issues.”
When his mother had become too unstable and sick again, Dilan and his older brother went to live with his estranged father, who had just recently recovered from a life-long addiction to heroin.
“It was so hard as a teen watching my mother try to get well as she went from outpatient facilities to mental institutions. My mother died in 2001, the year I graduated high school. I feel Lyme disease was a huge contribution to her becoming unstable again. She was never diagnosed with Lyme disease, and my belief that whether she did have Lyme is highly controversial within my family. I’m the only one that believes this.”
Despite his late mother’s history with mental health, it was Lyme that drove her over the edge in the end, Dilan believes. Dealing the death of his mother at such a young age was immensely traumatic, and affected the nature of his Lyme diagnosis. When Dilan began showing many of the signs of Lyme in school, his family thought he was dealing with mental health issues like his late mother, Dilan said.
Dilan saw a psychiatrist who told him he was experiencing symptoms of depression, when the truth was he was experiencing symptoms of Lyme.
“Three doctors later at the age of 20, I saw a Lyme-literate doctor by the name of Dr. Miguel Gonzales out of Thousand Oaks, California. I had to pay out of pocket to see him, which was very expensive, and I was tested. It came back positive, but I could not afford further testing at the time to see if it was still active, and what co-infections I may still have.”
It is a difficult diagnosis for doctors to make.
“There are other bacteria’s that tics can transfer to humans. Long-term antibiotics are the only thing Dr. Miguel Gonzales can recommend which would be extremely expensive: $50,000 to $100,000 out of pocket. The treatment would rehabilitate me for at least five years, and there is no guarantee it would work,” Dilan said.
RELIEF THROUGH CANNABIS AND FAITH
Years after his diagnosis, Dilan still deals with persistent pain and fatigue.
“I use strains with high CBD. I deal with inflammation and I need to reduce it, so smoking Cannabis gives me the best relief. For inflammation, I prefer strains 2:1 strains with high CBD and low THC like: Canna-Tsu, Cannatonic, Critical Mass (2:1) because THC helps CBD work better. For rest and sleep, I like Phyre Glue, Silver City Diesel, Star Dawg.”
Dilan chooses living soil Cannabis due to its organic cultivation practices pushing Cannabis plant genetics to its full potential, resulting in the best medicine.
Antibiotics are the first thing doctors recommend, but the out-of-pocket expense is too great for chronic conditions. Cannabis allows Dilan to fight inflammation without the risk of creating any superbugs.
“I want to bring down inflammation in my brain and the pain I feel in my shoulders. I use edibles when it comes to getting really good rest. I don’t do edibles during the work day because it’s too heavy, or maybe I just haven’t found my daytime dose yet, but my job is demanding and I must be mentally alert.”
Dilan said Cannabis helps him control his inflammation so he can continue to work full-time and support his family.
Dilan is the assistant garden manager at Phyre Farms, an OLCC-licensed recreational grow. The job demands his best work and he must stay sharp despite lingering fatigue.
“Everybody is different, so I don’t expect what works for me will work for everyone else with Lyme. I deal with chronic fatigue, so a balanced diet is extremely important too. What you consume and put in your body either helps you or makes it worse. I also use hydrotherapy to help reduce my chronic pain,” Dilan said.
“I used to surf back in California and I think it really helped me being in nature and talking to God while the waves came in. Surfing and the beach helped me, but I don’t have that kind of access in Oregon, so hydrotherapy is a solid substitute.”
Without question, Dilan is a man of conviction. He is passionate about his faith and the relationship between God and Cannabis.
“I am a man of faith, and I am a Christian. When my mother went through all of her craziness, she would still wake up and listen to Spanish Christian radio. She loved God with her whole heart and soul. I used to have conflict between my faith and my feelings about Cannabis, but it all went away when I started using it for my symptoms. I would get instant pain relief. I believe God created this plant to heal our bodies, and even to use recreationally in a responsible and not abusive way (Genesis 1:29, Genesis 9:3),” Dilan said.
“Anything can be abused. Food can be abused and become an addiction. Those that knew me best in the conservative circle knew I was sick. It took courage and trust in God for me to step away from ignorant fear-based Christians. I use this plant as medicine to find relief from my symptoms, and find freedom from unhealthy convictions,” Dilan said.
Dilan believes there is a divine correlation between faith and Cannabis. After all, Cannabis is natural and comes from the earth. Even beyond the realm of Christianity, Cannabis is not tolerated in most religious spaces. Despite the relentless shunning of Cannabis from the religious right, Dilan said he owes his healing to Cannabis and God.
“Logically, in my heart and spirit, I know God supports Cannabis. There is an agenda to the conservative Christian community that runs this nation, and I believe many Christians’ understand the plant, but don’t want to go against the agenda or lose positions of power,” Dilan said.
“I asked God if he supports my Cannabis consumption and the answer is simple: Cannabis takes away my pain so I can play with my son and treat my wife right. What more evidence do you need?”