Patient Story- Jeff Bronstein
Excruciating pain from multiple surgeries plus severe health issues lead Jeff to being prescribed a cocktail of opioids. Cannabis gave him relief, got him off the opioids and gave him his life back. Here’s Jeff’s story.
Thirteen years ago, Jeff was given a year to live unless he changed his ways. At only 50 years old he was suffering from an array of serious medical conditions including recently diagnosed diabetes, fibromyalgia ad serious back issues. He had just had a pulmonary embolism that had traveled to his heart and lungs. His multiple surgeries for his neck and back had left him in severe pain. And because of his immobility, he was seriously obese. In Jeff’s own words, he was a mess. Today Jeff is a different man. He is active, normal weight, his diabetes is in under control, he is relatively pain free and he is enjoying life. What changed? How did this seemingly miraculous 360 turnabout occur?
As is way too common, when Jeff was in the intense pain his doctors started him on Vicodin, then OxyContin. Jeff was having a hard time functioning because of all the medication and when he went to his long time doctor, who happens to be the head of pain department at a well know medical group, he was told basically that there was no choice for him but to take the opioids or to be in pain. For about 11 years Jeff took the Norco, the Oxy , the Percocet…you name it, he took it and he had to keep taking more and more to feel any type of normalcy. When he couldn’t sleep at night, he was prescribed Ambien. Jeff says, “I was getting concerned. I was hearing about people dying from the drugs I was on and I knew I had to do something. I have a wife and children and it’s important to me to be there for them.” When Medical Cannabis became legal in Illinois Jeff finally felt he had a choice. But it wasn’t easy for Jeff to get a card because his long-time pain doctor would not sign for it. He went to several doctors before he found someone who would certify him even though he had several qualifying conditions.
This is where Jeff’s story takes a turn for the good. Jeff started on Medical Cannabis and went to PDI Medical Cannabis Dispensary. He consulted with Dr. Nick Salamie, Pharm D and PDI Medical Pharmacist. It took some trial and error to get the right strains and the right dosages but once he did, he got results. Jeff says these results include 95% of the neuropathy pain in his feet have gone away which has allowed him to begin exercising again. Once he started exercising, he lost a lot of weight. He went from over 400 pounds to a normal weight. With the weight loss, came more benefits including getting his diabetes under control. Cannabis helped him sleep so Jeff stopped taking sleeping pills. His emotional well-being improved and now he was able to go back to his work and his passion which is music.
Today Jeff is totally off all opioids. He feels he is mentally sharp again. Jeff says that Cannabis mellowed him out so that he could find himself again. He is a musician and cannabis enhanced his desire and love for music and his instrument—the trumpet. Opioids kept him from playing the trumpet – he said it made him feel like he was a wet noodle. After being on cannabis, Jeff could go back to work after being on disability for 10 years.
Jeff says, that Dr. Nick and Elle, PDI Medical Product specialist have been so helpful to him. No matter what, he says they are always there to answer my questions and make recommendations. Recently he was in the PDI Medical dispensary and had some pain issues and Elle suggested a topical THC. Jeff said, “it is unreal” My knees hurt and within 20 sec to a minute they feel better after I put this on. Same goes for my neck and lower back. It made such a difference. I never would have thought a topical could work like this.” In addition to topicals, Jeff say that he also had success with edibles and concentrates. Jeff said when he first started with the cream, he needed it every day. It would give him 5-6 hours of relief. Now he says he doesn’t wake up in pain anymore so he doesn’t need the cream until the afternoon when he knows he has rehearsals coming.
Medical Cannabis has helped Jeff in other ways. He says he feels like his body now knows how to heal itself. He used a recent rotator cuff surgery as an example. He said typically surgery like this has a long recovery time but he healed quickly. He said he no longer has chronic bronchitis and frequent colds. His diabetes is also under control. Before Jeff started on cannabis medicine his A1C was 13 which is off the charts. (note: A1C test is a blood test that provides information about your average level of blood glucose. The normal level for people without diabetes is 4-5.6%.), After Jeff went off the opioids and onto cannabis and started losing weight, he had an A1C of 5.8. He attributes this in large part to the cannabis. His doctor told him that you never see this—as he is now in normal range.
Jeff’s life has turned around. He went from lying around the house in pain to enjoying life, to being active and involved. He says,” I didn’t have a life before. It was very depressing.” Jeff knows that a stigma is still attached to people who use cannabis, so he hasn’t told too many people about this. Now he says, his testimonial is his way of trying to help others. He is so happy with his success that he wants others to know that cannabis could potentially help them too. He says, “take control of your health, I was in such a bad place and now I am better. I want people to read this and to know that they can get better too. “
Jeff’s pain level has gone from a 9 to a 3 over the course of cannabis therapy. He is very glad to have his life back but he is angry that it took so long for him to get on this natural plant that heals. He says his doctors don’t talk about addiction. They just prescribe harmful opioids and he is angry that cannabis wasn’t available sooner and that his doctors were not proactive in helping him. He says that his life is 99.9 % better than it was 3 years ago but wants to know why other countries are so far ahead of the US. Insurance doesn’t cover Cannabis medicine, but it covered his opioids. That makes it difficult for Jeff and many others but he is willing to give up a lot to be able to use the Cannabis to medicate because feeling better is worth it.
Jeff gets emotional when he talks about PDI Medical. He feels that the professionalism and respect he got there has helped him find the medicine that works best for him. He appreciates PDI Medical Pharmacist Joe Friedman who goes out of his way to say a kind word and to make sure that he is getting what he needs. Of course, he still has a bad day but the good days outweigh the bad days. Maybe he has 1 bad day a week. He says he feels better now at 62 then he did when he was 50. Great news Jeff!