My Body, My Illness, My Choice: Living Illegally Healed in Sweden

I have a primary immune impairment since childhood. That means basically that one is born with an HIV/AIDS-like immunodeficiency, but it’s not caused by a virus and it’s not contagious, but a genetic “disorder”. This I’ve had now already since birth. But due to various circumstances, and a healthcare that is beneath all contempt, I have remained undiagnosed until recently. I’ve never received adequate care or treatment in Sweden. Instead of examining me, they have chosen to drug me. So now the disease progression has led to a near critical point, when all my symptoms rapidly have become aggravated. I’ve gone in and out of the emergency rooms the recent weeks.

My chronic symptoms are, among other things; extreme pain due to chronic inflammation of the spine, which caused the bone changes and a narrowing of the spinal cord, which gives constant nerve aches in the body, and intense spasticity, cramps and nerves impacts, chronic nausea and 2.5 years of daily vomiting.

This, the Swedish healthcare has medicated with various drugs on prescription. I’ve received prescription tramadol, buprenorphine, oxycontin (synthetic heroin), Valium, Ritalin (amphetamine-like substance), Zolpidem/Stilnoct, Lyrica, flunitranzepam and a number of other hard drugs, quite legally, paid for by taxpayers, to pick up free at the pharmacy .

The police are surely familiar with most of the drugs mentioned above, as they’re also common on the streets. That I am very aware of, since I’ve been followed and stopped by people who have overheard at the pharmacy, what I was collecting (most of the drugs I never took, and the rest only when necessary), and wanted to buy them from me. Since I live in Biskopsgården in Gothenburg (just come and visit, I don’t care), then it’s less of a pleasant feeling, when being stopped by a bunch of guys who are after your legal prescription drugs.

My symptoms require a numbers of narcotics on prescription, if I want to be treated with legal substances. But after the first time I’ve had experienced opioid withdrawal, because of physical dependence on tramadol, which the doctors said was just a “little stronger painkiller,” I started researching on alternative ways to get relief for my symptoms. I’m involved in several international support groups for chronically ill people, and in all of them, medical marijuana is praised as a miracle cure for people who suffer daily, from various chronic diseases, just like me. I’ve smoked cannabis in Finland as a young teenager, since it was decriminalized there, and no big deal at all. Many seniors with rheumatism had one or two plants in the window, it wasn’t uncommon at all. And even today you can legally collect cannabis in the Finnish pharmacies on prescription.

I decided to try it for medicinal purposes, if it might give me even a little relief of some of the symptoms. I was actually against all forms of drug use for myself, felt great without coffee and alcohol, and hadn’t been drunk since my son was born, but I had absolutely nothing to say about what other adults choose to do with their bodies and brains. And since I’d experienced first hand, what the prescription drugs had done to my body and brain, and I was tired of walking around like a zombie at home and not get any significant relief. As well as having a chronical fatigue that cannot be described, partly because of the body’s impaired immune system, and because, as tired as I was, it was often impossible to sleep due to the constant nerve aches. So I figured it was worth the risk, even though it’s illegal in Sweden.

My friends came over and brought some cannabis with them. The first time I smoked for medical reasons, after several years of total abstinence from all drugs (except those on the prescription), I started to cry. The feeling is indescribable. All my symptoms disappeared, as if by magic. It took only 2-3 puffs of a joint, and my symptoms disappeared almost immediately. I had no pain ANYWHERE in my body! And no nausea! And not much later I even had an appetite to eat without nauseating! A feeling I had not experienced in a very, very long time.

The feeling was so incredible, I had forgotten what a pain-free state feels like, I was so used to the pain. Cannabis replaces all prescription medicines for me, except, of course, treatments such as antibiotics and fungal treatments for the skin, when my impaired immune systems makes me more susceptible to opportunistic infections. Cancer risk is virtually “guaranteed” when the immune system isn’t strong enough to fight any eventual cancer cells.

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But since cannabis is proven in a numbers of international researches, to be, among other things; antibacterial, immune-regulating/enhancing, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, neuron-repairing, anticonvulsant, and possibly even cancer-killing. And with no proven, adverse side effects, and no risk of overdose, the opposite to all prescription drugs I’ve received, where the risk of death from overdose are very high. So the decision was easy.

I would quit with all my prescription medications, and switch completely over to cannabis. Let the consequences be what they are. This is MY body! MY illness! MY suffering!

If you had seen my little son’s suffering before, when he tried to comfort his ailing mother, who spent 80-90% of the time in bed, in a half-conscious state, your hearts would burst. I was often too tired to even smile at my son. I had to whisper in his ear, “I smile in my heart, but can’t manage to show it now …” My son has suffered an incredible amount due to my battles with various infections such as the cerebrospinal meningitis, which almost became fatal, and extreme, chronical pain and fatigue. And it’s just the two of us, always has been. My family lives in Finland. I raised my son all by myself, without any support from his father, for 10 years. He’s the most tragic victim of this disease drama.

Today he’s a happy guy, because he has an energetic and healthier mom. Who can do more, sleep well and doesn’t vomit every day. Who has energy to play and joke with him, and ca be an engaged parent, all thanks to cannabis. Even the social services (CPS) has sorted out our living conditions, and noted in black and white, in an already completed investigation, that my health has improved considerably, and that my son is cheerful and happy. They have no objection to my medical use, and they wish that I could find a legal way to use this.

My illness is so severe, that it also requires hospital treatment, like extremely high doses of antibiotics, causing nausea, and possibly even biological drugs, which in itself can cause cancer. So I can’t live solely on cannabis as a treatment. But it will help me deal with all symptoms caused by the strong treatments as well. And I know that millions of people worldwide get relief from this amazing, wonderful, medical PLANT. Children with severe epilepsy become asymptomatic, patients with cancer are cured. How can you consider this as something “dangerous” and “harmful” that you need to protect the public from it? And HOW can you treat me like an addict and criminal, just because I choose the absolute healthiest and most effective medicine for my severe illness?

Last spring, there stood two civilian police officers down at the stairwell. Without doing any checks on the spot, as to illuminate the pupils etc., they decided that I was “under influence of drugs”. I laughed and thought it was absurd! I had not smoked cannabis in two days, and any eventual ”high” would last approx 2 hours anyway. But, I had to go to the police station for questioning and urine samples. There were 4 police vehicles that parked outside our apartment building. I am very well liked by neighbors, and this had totally shocked them all, which I later found out. I looked after their children and was (and still am) well liked by everyone. The police had entered my apartment, searched it for 3 hours. Running up and down with dogs between the basement and my apartment. All this, without even once notify me that they would even do a house search. Which, moreover, is not legal based solely on suspicion of personal use.

“The big raid in my apartment, which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of Swedish kronas in lost resources, resulted in 4 dried cannabis leaves, altogether weighing 3.3 g.”

I had a very sore back, and had to sit for long periods on very hard and uncomfortable benches. I was humiliated and forced to undress myself naked before two female police officers. Then I had to urinate supervised and hand over my piss to a cop. Then after a while of waiting, on uncomfortable benches, I was interrogated by the police for 2 hours. I told him that I am sick, and I am self-medicating. The big raid in my apartment, which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of Swedish kronas in lost resources, resulted in 4 dried cannabis leaves, altogether weighing 3.3 g. Which also was of industrial hemp and contained no THC levels high enough to be classified as a narcotics in Sweden. They were pressed in a painting as decoration. But the technical lab had neglected to test the THC content. So I received a fine of nearly 7000 SEK, as a sick, single mother. And of course two entries in the police register, “personal use” and “possession of drugs”.

I had begun to feel so much better after I had stopped taking the prescription medications and just been self-medicated with cannabis, so I had even contacted the University of Gothenburg to check how much I had left of to my examination to become a history teacher for high school, that I had fought very hard for. I was eager to further my education, and because my mom is a teacher and dad physician (both are for the legalization of cannabis) I felt that a history and social studies teacher would suit me perfectly. Nearly got just straight A’s in all subjects at upper secondary school grades from the adult education, and was immediately admitted to the University of Gothenburg.

But because of my illness, I was forced to interrupt the studies about 4 years ago. I had just 1.5 years left, and had intended to finish studying now that I had become so much better. Thanks to cannabis. But since I have now become branded as a “drug addict” and it has been noted on the crime register, I can no longer educate myself in the teaching profession. All schools require excerpt from the criminal records. There is no internship, which is mandatory for an exam, that would accept someone who had received a penalty for a “narcotics crime”.

The police destroyed all my dreams and plans for the future. They smashed all the possibilities for me to educate myself to a teacher, and be able to work in that profession. And I’m too old to wait for it “disappear”, this was my chance. Have already wasted four years of my life when I was under the influence of drugs prescribed by the Swedish healthcare.

Do you think this is a reasonable way to treat chronically ill people, who already have it incredibly difficult and tough? Because I sat at home, late at night, peacefully and quietly, when my son was sleeping far away in his room, and self-medicated my extremely troublesome symptom, I should be branded and regarded as “criminal” and “addict”? I wonder how you sleep at night?

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I haven’t had money for a long time, and haven’t recently been able to afford to buy cannabis as often as I would have needed. Which might in itself also have contributed to the fact that I acutely became so much worse. But today I finally got the money. Before I wrote this, I was out on the balcony, smoking a fat joint. For the first time in 10 days, I again had no symptoms from my illness. I burst into tears again. The recent times have been very tough. And that feeling just when all of your symptoms and aches and nausea just disappear, is almost religious.

Now I’ve been sitting and writing this for a while. Unfortunately the effect of a joint does not stay for more than about 2 hours, then I have to smoke another one. I would actually need much stronger TCH/CBD, which you get from the cannabis oil. But, since this wonderful, medical plant, is classified as “narcotics”, in the same group with devastating and killing opiates, I have to settle with these brief moments of remission, which in itself has virtually saved my life and given my son his mother back.

Now it’s the time to fix a new joint, to medicate my symptoms. But if it’s cold outside, then I’ll use a vaporizer for cannabis at home, instead of smoking. You breathe in steam and get the medical effect in a healthy way, and there’s absolutely no smell. I have to also receive hospital treatments, but until I get admitted in a few weeks, cannabis will hold me in a reasonably healthy state and we’ll soon have movie night with my son. Go on ahead. Call the Gothenburg police and send them over here again. Spend a lot of resources that you could put on solving real crimes, and chase innocent cannabis users instead.

Or maybe, go home to the men and women who are being abused at home? Like when my ex was violent towards me, and abused me for 2 years. I often called the cops then, and often had to hear “All patrols are busy right now. I’ll see if I can send someone there in a few hours.” Yes a few hours is all very well, when your drunken ex stands with a knife outside the bathroom door, where you locked yourself in with your child, to call the police… Which often didn’t come… I wonder what lone, chronically sick mother’s apartment they were busy house raiding then, when my ex tried to kill me…?!

The address can be found if you’re Googling my name. It’s my profile, and stands openly for what I do. It’s MY body! It’s MY disease! It’s MY suffering. As I said, the police made sure that I no longer have anything to lose. You have already destroyed all that you could destroy for me. Soon, even the Swedish Transport Administration will suspend my driver’s license, because I have “drug abuse” and they “do not trust my ability to drive a vehicle.”

As if a 2 hour slight intoxicated/soothing feeling in the evening, before going to bed, would affect my driving when I use the car perhaps around the afternoon the next day. The car is like my wheelchair. Without it, I can’t go anywhere. I have never been found driving under influence. Never been in an accident. Never driven under the influence. Just like many of the prescription drugs that I had, which require your own judgment about the ability to drive, one can undoubtedly also estimate the degree of impairment for driving, after having used cannabis. A medical dosage gives barely any psychoactive effect anyway, it’s mostly the bodily symptom relief I feel. For just as with all medications, the side effects disappear after a while.

But just because the police branded me as a “criminal” and “addict”, I will now also lose the freedom to move freely. I have difficulties walking long distances. So no more activities with my son either, cause we can’t go anywhere, without tiring me out and possibly trigger new flare-ups.

My whole life is ruined because I self-medicate with cannabis. Is this reasonable in any way? And again; How do you sleep at night!?

Submitted by: Jenni Sutinen, Biskåpsgården, Göteborg

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