This past Veteran’s Day, we took the time to be thankful for those who serve and all they’ve sacrificed for our country. One particular veteran, Ron Vineyard, is no stranger to that sacrifice and the perseverance it takes to be a vet.
In fact, living with HIV and the debilitating brain virus, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (otherwise known as PML), he’s also no stranger to the everyday battles of life itself – and what it takes to get the most out of his.
But how does he do it?
With help from cannabis.
Nature’s pharmacy, right outside a national park
Ron lives just outside of Yosemite National Park, where he frequents a diner called The Forks. Most patrons are either locals to the small mountain town, which shares a zip code with one of America’s most prestigious parks, but many are passersby. Climbers, hikers, skiers, tourists on road trips.
While the benefits of using cannabis with HIV are well known – it can be a way to stimulate appetite or curb pain – it’s a lesser known reprieve for veterans (who may experience PTSD) and for those with PML (whose brains are under attack).
But in Ron’s case, it only proven beneficial.
I use cannabis when my medicine doesn’t really work.
Ron says from his patio outside of Yosemite. “When my feet are throbbing and everything. The effect did happen right away because I didn’t notice the pain in my feet. I was able to sleep.”
He goes on to explain how, “it wasn’t a build up or anything – it was almost immediate.”
One step at a time
Ron’s arrival to cannabis came from a friend with AIDs at San Francisco General. Cannabis was adopted early as part of their treatment program and Ron’s introduction – framed within the context of medicine – became something of an adaptogen. His first experience with cannabis was medically beneficial, almost apothecarian.
But, after a debilitating stroke caused by PML, he was worried that he may never be able to walk normally again.
While pharma may be the foundation of his medications, cannabis is the glue that holds it together. When the pills don’t work, the plant steps in.
He may have to rely on a cane, but Ron is still mobile, spry and inviting. Not only is he walking, but he often enjoys fishing and gardening and the gorgeous land that surrounds him.
Cannabis has been a source of productivity and freedom for him rather than something that initiates couchlock and the munchies. It’s a powerful plant that provides the relief necessary for him to “enjoy everyday activities.”
Because it’s often in our mundane that we find the most joy.
As with Mimi’s story, regaining the ability to walk the dog or hold your coffee cup can feel triumphant when faced with medical issues that rob you of the ability to perform some of the simplest tasks.
So, too, with Ron who just wants to be able to sit out, cast a line, and reflect on all the places he’s been, where he is, and and where he may be headed.