This is a patient story which has individual details of course, but I want to tell you about it because it is also a typical story for thousands and thousands of patients in Germany. First I want to point out that this patient is FEMALE. They have different bodies. And of course, have to do the same jobs as men but get paid less. This makes an impact on their healthcare too of course. Many of my colleagues do not consider using the same medicine on men as on women.
When I first began to learn about women’s medicine, as a male doctor, I first had to learn that indeed the biological differences between men and woman are both large and small. Women of course can make a new life with their bodies (with a little help from us of course).
I have learned a lot from the indigenous people of the world. This starts with Native American or indigenous tribes in the U.S.. Their herbal lore is significant globally. They use plant-based medicines to treat everything from internal bleeding to pain, fever, burns and many diseases of women’s health. This starts with birth control, pregnancy, giving birth, stemming post-birth hemoraging, and of course having many different recipes for menstrual cramps.
And this is what I learned. Women in our society, in Germany, are given the same pain killing medicines that are given to men. However, they are only given the same doses. These conventional medicines are in fact not made for women’s bodies, but men.
Cannabis, as a pain medication for women falls right in this situation.
How does that present in medical practice?
A female patient, about 60, came to see me. She wanted a medical cannabis therapy. She had suffered fro a bad motorbike accident when she was 21. She had lost her right leg and a big part of her hip. Since that time, she had been treated as a chronic pain patient. She had been pregnant two times – and only used natural medicines – to the astonishment of her gynaecologist.
However she kept being pushed onto heavy chemical stuff, over and over again, including injections. She came to me, unbelievably fed up. She had repeatedly escalated her case to senior medical authorities, including the chief of ambulance, because the conventional drugs failed, again and again to help her. And when she asked him for medical cannabis he had a terrible reaction. He told her she would become an “addict.” He told her she would become “schizophrenic.” He told her a lot of things (as a chronic pain patient) that were both inappropriate and not true. Not to mention disrespectful of a patient with almost 40 years experience in handling her own condition.
I helped this patient. I got her permission, through BfarM to use medical cannabis.
Now, she is in the same boat as every other patient who had permission before the law changed. She cannot afford cannabis in a pharmacy and her insurance will not pay.
Honestly, her biggest problem is the psychic anger which she suffers from – having so recently won victory only to now have it taken away. That psychic anger triggers physical pain for her. She has now written anonymously to 10 doctors begging to help her. So far, she has found none who will help her.
I understand that you see. I left my position as a national insurance doctor in 1986 after watching 45 patients turned down for therapy they requested by their insurance companies. And we are facing a new crisis in this situation.
Where will this woman find a doctor? And further, will she still be on the therapy in two years, or will her insurance companies deny therapy on the grounds that this is too costly, or she is an “addict.” As a chronic pain sufferer, these labels mean nothing.
What will happen to this brave woman? I am afraid for her. That is why I am trying to do something, anything to help patients like her.
I live in Bavaria, Germany’s most conservative state. I do not want to see people forced out onto the streets to beg or steal for their medication. I do not want people to suffer when I know there is a way they do not have to.
I am a doctor. That is what I do. But I am also a German.
Being German means this to me. It is the commitment to a country where there is a strong sense of family and community and a love of process, high tech and innovation. There is a reason the world loves our cars. And there is a reason I live in Bavaria, a German state with conservative traditions in almost everything.
But we are also a country that supposedly has a medical system where even the oldest, poorest and sickest can get help when they need it.
That is at core, a core part of who and what we are as a country.
And from my perspective, that also means something else. That means the rapid, efficient inclusion of medical marijuana in our mainstream health system and distribution to those who need it now.
To be continued