THC and its Implications for Insurance Changes in the US

The use of Dronabinol, synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol,has absolutely lead to an improvement of my symptoms of Congestive Heart failure (CHF) that I have suffered for twelve years.

This morning on learning from a number of sources, that my pre-existing condition of CHF may preclude me for eligibility for health insurance, I was simultaneously surprised and smug.

Living with heart failure has been a very real test of my physical and psychological resources. My particular type of heart failure (diastolic) is little understood and less well treated than the more common forms. My entire adult life I have struggled to keep my blood pressure at or above 90/60..Most of the time it has run at least ten below, both diastolic and systolic.

Now one year into joining Vidant Wellness Center, a well planned gym with a holistic approach to wellness, I am working out bi-daily with enormous benefits. The caveat for me is that without the nausea and pain control afforded me by dronabinol (THC), I would probably have degenerated into a state of unhealthiness that would require at least two caregivers for the time to give me a daily shower and carry out the basic range of motion exercises to allow me to stay alive.

After one year I am not only feeling a constant and remarkable recovery from my debilitating heart failure symptoms, I can actually have brief, interruptions, if I do flip back into a slight worsening of heart failure caused by external influences. Twice I have relapsed. The first time after exerting myself with unrealistic physical burdens of packing up 176 boxes of belongings over three
days during our downsizing. The added burden of being put on a deadline because these boxes were headed for auction provided an even greater pressure when I found I had that time frame of three days.

Fortunately with the excellent teamwork of my Cardiologist’s office, I was able to get back on track. I did not go to the gym for six weeks, but I did manage to walk up and down the stairs of our apartment twelve times a day during my hiatus.

Back in the gym I quickly regained my stamina and endurance. I use a circuit of floor/ machine exercises to strengthen my core, walking, extreme stretching, and swimming, to improve my cardiac output. A year ago I could not manage a two hour shopping trip. Now we can go shopping at three different food markets, and I am still able to come home and unpack everything we bought.

For me heart failure has been very depressing. I could not physically do things I used to take for granted. Over the past two and a half years, that has changed, and so has my need for the number of cardiac drugs I started with before commencing synthetic THC. My capillary fill is awesome, and my recovery time has gone from two hours after my swim to less than ten minutes.

I have a smart and knowledgeable female Cardiologist, Dr Noel Peterson, who is very experienced in specializing in women’s heart disease. She recognised, before many in her field, the strain on the heart and the subsequent weakening of heart muscle through the use of Chemotherapy and radiation used in the past.

I suffered my symptoms of CHF for four years before I finally found this amazing doctor. When we met I was still going through a barrage of tests to rule out coronary heart disease. No doctor ever took into account my lifestyle choices. All my adult life I walked two miles daily, ate a vegetarian diet, did not smoke, drank socially. No more than two drinks per day and no more than five per week. I have never eaten deep fried food, even while living in the South for almost two decades! I am scrupulous about what goes into my body. In our house, my husband and I stick to home prepared foods, using mainly Australian, Mediterranean, or French recipes. We eat fresh fruit in season, and vegetables with snacks consisting of nuts, avocados, or fruit such as dates or grapes.

The combination of using THC to quell my symptoms of pain and nausea, and working with my Cardiologist who had been able to take me off 120 mgs of nitro per day, 120 mgs of isosorbide, a channel blocker,and halving my dose of ace inhibitor, I am cruising on just two cardiac drugs, the ace inhibitor, Lisinopril 10 mgs/daily, and a diuretic, lasix 80 mgs daily.

In conclusion, when I learn that the government is cutting down on insuring people with pre-existing conditions like CHF, I just have one thing to say. I am grateful to my medical team for giving me the opportunity to take a drug, little understood, so that I can benefit from it and become so much less dependent on healthcare. I have taken control of my health and have reaped the benefits of THC and my health insurance company is also better off than before. In the last three years my claims have gone from $30,000+ to this year where I have had two doctor’s visits, and not yet met my $500 deductible. Not bad for a little old lady of seventy three. I feel wonderful thanks to synthetic THC!

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