Clifford Deuvall: Medical Cannabis Was The Best Thing To Happen In My Life
MMJ Patient: Clifford Deuvall, Waco, TX
He was taking 25 pills a day, was wasting away at just over 100 lbs, and was at the verge of succumbing to a numb existence . His medical issues were taking over his life and he didn’t think there was any way out… until, he educated himself about medical cannabis. We’ve heard it again and again and Clifford Deuvall is here to tell his story about how he gained back control of his life and his health without the help of his doctors.
What medical condition have you been struggling with?
The foundation of many of my medical issues comes from my chronic neuropathic intractable pain. I suffer from arthritis, anxiety, and a few other physical and mental conditions that I inflicted from my military service. Although I’m not formally diagnosed with PTSD, my doctors say that I show all the symptoms.
How long have you been experiencing your medical condition?
I started experiencing symptoms back when I was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in Southeast Asia in the mid 70s. I was in operation and was a little too close to a blast. At the time, I didn’t think I was really that injured, but when they decided to process me out of service to send me home to get evaluated, I realized that had inflicted much more damage than I had thought. They sent me directly to a special medical facility outside of Albuquerque where they diagnosed me with severe issues of pain and an eye condition that they thought was glaucoma. Over the course of time since leaving the service to present day, I have been diagnosed with numerous other medical conditions: I’ve had six knee surgeries, had an eye removed, I’ve gotten a metal plate put into my arm after a fracture I’d gotten in the blast had finally broken through, and I’ve found some lesions on the right hemisphere on my brain. And that doesn’t even complete the list which I can go on and on.
What medications have you been taking that were prescribed to you by your doctor?
Oh my gosh! I’ve been on so many different medications that I can’t even begin to list them all. I was put on opiates during and after my numerous surgeries, codines for the pain management, and benzos for the anxiety. The final straw was when my doctors put me on various opioids. I was on methadone from 2005 to 2009 and taking it three times a day to try and control my pain. It was slowly killing me. I’d gone from being an avid educator who traveled anywhere and everywhere to speak to doing absolutely nothing. And that wasn’t even the worst of it; it wasn’t even doing a sufficient job in controlling my pain, I was still suffering! At one point, I was being prescribed to take 25 pills a day; it was as if that’s all my day consisted of was taking pill after pill after pill. My weight dropped to nearly 100 pounds; I was sick and I couldn’t function.
That’s when I started to vaporize marijuana to help me with the pain since my other medications weren’t helping me. The only repercussion this ensued was that I had to be taken off methadone immediately since, according to my contract, I was not allowed to come up positive for THC when taking this particular drug. It was honestly more of a blessing than a punishment though. Yes, I went through withdrawals initially, but the marijuana helped me endure that. I also was sent to drug rehabilitation by my doctor for breaking the contract, but when I arrived at my counselor’s desk and told her about the education and research I had been doing on the plant and what it had done for me, she sent me on my way and told me that I never had to come back. She knew that I didn’t have a drug problem. I had educated myself and personally made the decision to choose medical marijuana over my bottles and bottles of pharmaceuticals. It was very validating to hear from another health professional that I was on the right path. The only barrier I faced in bettering my health was the government telling me that I couldn’t do it.
That’s when I started to vaporize marijuana to help me with the pain since my other medications weren’t helping me.
What side effects did you experience from the prescribed medication by your doctor?
Lethargy and basically a lot of antisocial behaviors. I didn’t want to get out and let people see me the way that I was. I also suffered from sleeplessness and insomnia and obviously struggled with weight. I couldn’t eat [I didn’t want to eat] I began just wasting away. But something even worse than all those that many people don’t realize until it’s too late is that these pharmaceuticals actually start damaging you internally. A very severe side effect that I’ve had from taking all these drugs were the resulting liver problems. I started passing proteins through my liver and I was worried that I would have to go on dialysis. I had anxiety, I was irritable, and I was being destroyed from the inside out. My prescriptions were killing me; my doctors were prescribing me medications that were hurting me, instead of helping me. So, I did what was best for me and turned to medicating with cannabis.
What type of alternative medicine have you tried aside from your doctor’s recommendation?
I have used cannabis salves (creams) to help with a lot of my pain issues. I smoke cannabis and I’ve also tried CBD in capsule form. After my foot surgery, I cleaned the wound every day and slathered it in cannabis cream and my orthopedic surgeon was looking at it and said, “I’m good, but I’m not that good. What did you do to it?” I told him that I’d been using a cannabis salve and he shook his head and said “Wow! This needs to be legal. That’s all there is to it.” I began to even educate my doctors; not with written research, but in tangible results that they could physically see. Even though they couldn’t give me any recommendations legally, they told me to keep doing whatever it was I was doing.
How long have you been using the alternative medicine?
I’ve been using alternative medicine for about 5 or 6 years. I founded the NORML here in Waco, Texas and I went to my first NORML conference in San Francisco in 2009 and was introduced to the high quality medical-grade cannabis that existed in the industry and was simply astounded. I felt like a freshman in college being inundated with all this new information. Since then, I’ve only been using medical-grade cannabis; many people don’t even realize that there is a difference, but there definitely is.
When I was on all those pills and prescriptions, I was convinced that I would soon become a drooling idiot; cannabis changed that! My doctors had given me every medication they possibly could and nothing was working. They had run out of resources and were just giving me whatever might work. They stopped even sending me to the pain control clinic anymore because there was nothing they could do for me. And that was that, there was nothing more that western medicine could do for me, so I went the alternative route.
How have you felt since you started using the alternative medicine? Compared to your prescribed medications?
It’s been the best thing that’s ever entered my life in terms of being able to help me get my quality of life back. I try to speak at events all over Texas, as well as other events outside of the state. I do as much as I can to change legislation and get people to see the benefit in using legal medical cannabis. My life has really improved because of it and the only regret I have is that I wish I had known about it sooner. What I know now could have saved my son’s lives. So what I seek to do now is to educate; I want to spread awareness and share my story. I’ve been able to integrate myself back into society and not be that drooling idiot I once thought I would be and that’s something worth sharing. In today’s society when you are diagnosed with a disease, you are pumped with one pill after another. They have a pill for absolutely everything, but those pills are not your only choice. There is something that is natural and more palatable and that’s medical marijuana.
There is something that is natural and more palatable and that’s medical marijuana.
Do you think you will continue with using alternative medicine?
Yes, because it is the best thing that works for me without creating other problems… Well, besides legal problems of course. It’s been found in some people’s DNA that they are not receptive to certain western medications and where does that leave them? What are they to do? You’re sitting here pouring a drug into me and then when that doesn’t work, you pour another one and another one and another one. Do they not get it that cannabis is what can help people? We don’t need all these toxic pharmaceuticals when we can have access to medical cannabis. This is what works for me so this is what I’m going to do. My doctors have come to understand that I have chosen to self-medicate and they respect my decision. They know I have my health under control. All they worry about is the legal repercussions that it could bring upon me. But you have to do what you have to do to stay alive. I’m going to continue to self-medicate whenever possible and I’m going to continue to advocate for medical cannabis.