In this episode, our guest Jennifer Woods shares her personal journey of finding pain relief through cannabis while maintaining a healthy marriage to her husband who works as a professional drug and alcohol counselor. Join us as Jennifer opens up about her battle with chronic pain and depression, her decision to explore alternative options, and how her experience with cannabis has transformed her life for the better.
Table of Contents
- Release Date: Monday, August 28, 2023
- Episode Number: Season 1, Episode 44
- Special Guest: Jennifer Woods
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Episode 44: How a Cannabis Consumer and Drug & Alcohol Counselor Make Their Marriage Work with Jennifer Woods
Why You Will Love This Episode
This week, we are joined by Jennifer Woods for a fascinating conversation about how she, a cannabis consumer, and her husband, a drug and alcohol counselor, make their marriage work amidst her health challenges.
Jennifer’s story is one of resilience and determination. For years, she battled with chronic back pain, initially dismissed as simply needing to stretch more.
However, she knew deep down that her pain was more than just a lack of flexibility. After finally getting an MRI, Jennifer received the diagnosis of arthritis and multiple herniated discs.
In her quest for pain relief, Jennifer made a conscious decision to explore alternative options rather than relying on potentially addictive pain pills. Having witnessed the devastating effects of pain pill addiction with her late brother, she was determined not to follow the same path.
With the support of a family member, Jennifer found a safe space to try cannabis as a means of managing her pain. The results were nothing short of amazing, even awakening an unknown creativity and talent for painting.
Through this episode, Jennifer provides insights into her experience as a cannabis consumer, wife, and mother. Her story highlights the importance of seeking alternative solutions, finding support from loved ones, and making informed choices when it comes to managing pain.
Jennifer: But I have to tell you, in the past three years, I’m not saying that the herniated disc disappeared and the arthritis went away. I’ll never say that. But what I will say is that overall, I feel so much better.
Announcer: Welcome to the Well With Cannabis Podcast, a show dedicated to telling the life-changing stories of those who live well with cannabis all while teaching you how to do the same. Meet your host, Emily Kyle, a registered dietitian nutritionist turned certified holistic cannabis practitioner. Emily changed her life for the better with the help of the cannabis plant, and now she’s committed to helping others do the same.
Tune in each week to hear heartwarming stories and gain the knowledge you need to feel connected, inspired, and supported on your own cannabis journey. Whether you’re a new cannabis consumer or a lifetime lover, you’ll benefit from these uplifting tales of real-life journeys that will show you how you, too, can live your best life well with cannabis.
Disclaimer: Hi there. Before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to share a note on potentially sensitive content. The episodes on the Well With Cannabis Podcast are created for adult audiences only. We will, at times, cover sensitive topics, including but not limited to suicide, abuse, mental illness, sex, drugs, alcohol, psychedelics, and the obvious use of plant medicine. Explicit language may be used occasionally. Please refrain from watching or listening to the show if you’re likely to be offended or adversely impacted by any of these topics.
The information on this show is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. If any of the content on this podcast has brought up anything for you, please reach out or speak to a professional or someone you trust.
Emily: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of the Well With Cannabis Podcast. I am here with our special guest, Jennifer Woods, and we are talking about all things pain, arthritis, cannabis, and moving forward. Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us here today.
Jennifer: Thank you for this opportunity.
Emily: Absolutely. I’m excited to get to know you a little bit more and know your journey with cannabis and how you ended up where you are today. I’m going to give you the floor.
Jennifer: Okay, I do suffer from depression, but the biggest issue over the past, say, 15 years has been the fact that I’ve always had a really bad back. I’ve done multiple physical jobs most of my life, so it’s caught up with me and broken down my back.
Jennifer: I was diagnosed with arthritis in my back, as a lot of people are. That’s a very common thing. The pain was so bad. My husband was always telling me that I needed to stretch. Just stretch. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t just stretching every day.
Jennifer: I had an MRI done because I just knew something was not right in there. It just couldn’t be from not stretching. I did find out that I had some herniated discs in my back. That just added to the list of pain because I’ve got some other injury-related pain from breaking a few bones, and then I’ve got just some nerve damage that went along with that.
Jennifer: I do suffer from depression, which is another reason that I turned to cannabis. I live in Arkansas now, but I was born and raised in New Orleans, and I got placed here by Hurricane Katrina. She decided that we were going to get stuck here, so I no longer lived in my hometown of New Orleans. I was on all these pills, and it was very depressing. I refuse to take pills for pain unless it’s something like ibuprofen. Tylenol is just a waste of time for me. So I decided to turn back to cannabis. I was a teenager the last time I had used cannabis, back in the 80s when things were a bit different.
Jennifer: I’d like to point out that I started on my cannabis journey because I knew that I wouldn’t go down the pill road. My brother was a pill addict.
Emily: I’m sorry.
Jennifer: No, it’s okay. It’s okay. It really is. I witnessed what he went through as a pill addict. People on the outside looking in might say that he would steal from his own mother. Well, he did because when you’re addicted, you need those pills and money to buy your pills off the street.
Jennifer: The pills were destroying him physically. They were breaking everything down in his body. If he couldn’t get them from the doctor, then he would have to get more off the street. I’m not saying that my brother’s issues weren’t real because they were. He had broken his back. He had real issues, but his addiction to pills was a problem, and he did do a few bad things to get money for more.
Jennifer: I always feel guilty when I talk about it because it does remind me that I’m not the only person who deals with issues like pain and depression. There are a lot of people out there that feel the same way.
Jennifer: I didn’t want to go down the route that my brother did. It was heartbreaking to see what he went through before he died, and I decided that wasn’t going to happen to me.
Jennifer: Now, here’s the curveball in my story. Coming back to cannabis as a grown woman with two kids and three grandkids was a challenge because my husband is a certified drug counselor in a jail. His usual stance on anything that is considered drugs is “hell, no,” but it’s been three years since I got my medical card here in Arkansas, and we’ve come a long way.
Jennifer: We’ve had to do a lot of talking, but my husband did whatever he could to try to support me. He made some funny faces for a while, and we had some arguments, which was difficult.
Emily: I can’t even imagine approaching the subject with him. Do you remember what that first conversation was like?
Jennifer: I do. I think I was just really stressed then, and I probably would have cried if a feather flew before me. I was going through a tough time because of the pain. Sometimes I’d go to work and cry because the pain and knowing what was wrong with me was depressing. I’ll stop there because I have a habit of talking too much.
Emily: That’s brave to say that you were going to try cannabis, though, with your husband and with all of your life experiences. Was there one thing that made you want to try cannabis? What was it that brought you back to the plant?
Jennifer: My oldest daughter.
Emily: Oh, my gosh. Really? Did she tell you to try it?
Jennifer: I knew that she had been smoking for years already. My daughter’s a full-grown adult. She doesn’t even live at home anymore. Neither of my kids does. I want to make that clear. I think she listened to my whining about how I’m sick and tired of hearing about how I have to stretch every day, which I knew wasn’t the issue. She asked if I had considered giving it a try. I was scared because it had been so long.
Emily: Do you remember what that first try was like when you decided to come back to it?
Jennifer: Yes. I went to the dispensary with my new card and bought my own stuff because I didn’t want to touch their stuff. I didn’t know where they even got their cannabis from. To me, that experience was personal. I showed my daughter my container from the dispensary, and we oohed and ahhed over it. My daughter needs to get her medical marijuana card. She qualifies because she has glaucoma.
Jennifer: My daughter wanted me to be with her in case I experienced too much anxiety or other side effects. She wanted to be there to explain what was happening in case I didn’t remember from my teen years; not like we ever talked about that kind of thing back then.
Jennifer: So, she had her own stuff, and I brought my fully labeled container with my name on it. She gets a giggle out of me because of that, but it’s okay. It’s not a big deal. And I did get anxious, I did get scared, and I did think I was going to die. As a matter of fact, I got so high I thought that I had walked out of my body, and I didn’t know where I had gone.
Jennifer: And she talked me through it. She told me that I needed some ice water. I remember thinking that that was okay, but I didn’t know how I was going to swallow it since I wasn’t sure if I had a throat because I couldn’t feel it. She handed me the water, and I swallowed it somehow, and she asked, “Now, isn’t that refreshing?”
Jennifer: It was then that I realized that no matter how paranoid you get, you can enjoy things much more. Chocolate is more enjoyable than it’s ever been in your life, and a simple sip of water was as refreshing as she intended it to be. Things felt different. I was able to enjoy the things I wanted to enjoy, and, of course, the anxiety calmed down later. You must learn your tolerance, and I still mess that up.
Emily: We all do; it’s always an experiment.
Jennifer: Sometimes you’ll think that you’ll just have an extra hit or two, and it won’t be a big deal, but it will get me too high.
Emily: Do you remember feeling pain relief at that time?
Jennifer: The first night’s kind of a blur. I should probably tell you what I did the first night I drank the refreshing water she gave me. I was so out of my body. I didn’t feel anything. Once the anxiety started to subside, I started getting a little confident because I couldn’t feel anything. I felt no pain. I had such a wonderful feeling wash over me that’s difficult to describe.
Jennifer: I was trying to figure out how that feeling works, so I started dancing right there in the middle of the floor like I was still 22. My daughter reminded me that I was going to regret it the next day. I won’t do that again. I’ll probably end up breaking more bones, and I’ve broken enough.
Emily: That sounds like such a fun reintroduction to cannabis with your daughter. A lot of people are reintroduced to cannabis through their children again, so I’m glad that you shared that because maybe now more people will be receptive when their kids suggest they give cannabis a try.
Jennifer: Even with all this said, I do still struggle sometimes. Even though I’m outgoing, I still struggle with my self-esteem. I could be out there smiling and talking to five people at a party, but I’m still struggling. The stigma of cannabis affects my self-esteem.
Jennifer: I think there’s an extra punch in there with my husband working as a drug counselor and the fact that he’s in law enforcement. I feel like I have a right to use cannabis, but sometimes I’ll get caught up in my feelings and start questioning that. The stigma has been embedded in us for so many years.
Jennifer: Early on, my husband would challenge me by asking why cannabis is better than just taking ibuprofen. Ibuprofen doesn’t work the wonders that cannabis does, especially once you learn your body and how terpenes and different strains work for you. Some terpenes work better with certain people and some with others, so you really go by how you feel. Keep trying different strains and look up which terpenes are in them because you want to know what is making you feel wonderful.
Emily: Absolutely. So you can replicate it and have more of that.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Yeah. But he would challenge me.
Emily: How does that look today? Does he see how much it’s helped you?
Jennifer: I can give you an actual example of something that happened last week. I don’t remember which day, but I accidentally got a bit too high. I still do that every now and again. I’ll take an extra puff or two and not realize how high I am and I decided to be honest about that with him. We have to go through it all together, even though he’s on the other side of it.
Jennifer: We were sitting next to each other watching TV, and I let him know that I accidentally got a little bit too high, but I was okay. I let him know that I had a little anxiety and asked him to check on me every few minutes and ask if I was okay.
Jennifer: We are today because he took that opportunity to tell every joke in the book. He likes to make me laugh until I’m red in the face and begging him to stop. He becomes a full-on stage comedian.
Emily: Oh my gosh, really?
Jennifer: As I’ve been learning, he’s been learning too because he’s been watching me. Over these past three years, he’s seen me go through a lot of different strains and paid attention to how I look, act, or talk and how each one is affecting me. He has learned that if he has any opportunity to make me laugh, he’s going to kill me with laughter. I believe that he’s still a little uncomfortable about it, and I think that’s why the stigma still gets to me every now and again. He’s come a long way, though, and I’ve got to give him a shout-out for that because it’s amazing.
Emily: I’m so glad that you shared that because hopefully somebody who’s listening, who maybe doesn’t have a spouse who’s as supportive, can see this and realize if he can come around, anybody can come around. And that’s a really beautiful thing for a relationship.
Jennifer: You are absolutely right about that. There’s always hope.
Emily: Yes, that’s beautiful. He’s been trained to think that this is a very dangerous drug, and he came around in just three years and now can enjoy making you laugh. That’s amazing. I’m super happy for you to hear that.
Jennifer: I’m really happy about it, too. It’s obviously a positive in both of our lives. Before I got my card, my daughter told my husband to give me a chance and that I’d probably be easier to live with.
Emily: Oh my gosh, it’s so weird. Sweet and so true.
Jennifer: I feel like it’s easier to live with myself now.
Emily: Absolutely. I always say my husband should be so glad that I use cannabis. He does not, but I’m a much better wife. I nag less, I’m happier. There are so many other benefits outside of coming to cannabis for just pain, so many other ways that it can improve your quality of life, all the way down to your relationships. Your husband doesn’t even use cannabis, and it benefits him.
Jennifer: He never will. I know my husband, and he won’t ever use cannabis. He deals with a lot of other harsher things with his job, like meth. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it. I’ve never done meth or anything like that, but he does deal with that, which has to be hard. Cannabis may be pretty low on the list, but it’s on the list regardless.
Emily: It’s on the list.
Jennifer: Yes. My husband knows that it’s not the worst thing out there, but just it being on the list and what he does for a living does make it difficult for him, but we have come so far.
Emily: It’s so beautiful. I’m so happy for your whole family.
Jennifer: And I appreciate you more than you know because this is the way that we start to break the stigma, just being able to talk about it and get it out there that this really is just a natural plant that can help you. I know that for some people, it’s not right, and that’s okay. It’s okay either way, but it is there to help you if it can.
Emily: And I should thank you for coming here and for being so brave to talk about this. It’s not easy to talk about our struggles. It’s not easy to talk about your mother or your husband, but in doing so, hopefully, we reach other people, and they hear that cannabis is another option. If it can help your pain, if it can help all of these other amazing kinds of aftershocks that come out of it, it’s worth it.
Jennifer: A hundred percent. I’m grateful for it.
Emily: Now, I always ask my guests the same four questions at the end. I’m going to ask them out of order though, because this one makes more sense. What would your life look like without cannabis?
Jennifer: I think that my depression would have been a lot worse because I would have had to find something else for pain relief, and I already knew that could be a dangerous road to travel. I think that because of my back issues, I would have continued to be depressed about it. I’m not going to say that the herniated disc disappeared, and the arthritis went away over the last three years. I’ll never say that. But overall, I feel so much better. I have less painful episodes where I can’t stand. I can use cannabis once or twice a day now; my whole life is different. I’m so much less depressed because it’s all so much easier to bear.
Emily: Everybody deserves that. As you said, it’s not like it goes away, but to find a little bit of relief, even just a little bit, makes it so worth it. I’m so glad that you went and got your card and have that relief, and now you have a better quality of life. And it’s a beautiful thing. Next question. Are you ready?
Emily: What are you most proud of in your life to date?
Jennifer: I know this is going to sound cheesy, but I really found my creative side after I started smoking cannabis. I’m 51 years old now, and when I was about 48 years old, I found out I could paint. I didn’t know that I could paint, but now I buy these big 11 by whatever canvases, and my husband’s getting me all these acrylic paints and everything. I don’t want to come across as any kind of a brag, but sometimes I look at a picture and wonder how it took me my entire life to figure out that I could create something like that.
Jennifer: I especially enjoy painting after having some cannabis and especially with certain strains, because you can really get up into it and notice every detail; you’re listening to your music, and you’re just really focused. It’s really focused. That has been mental therapy in itself, but I am proud of it because it’s pretty cool to find out that you know how to paint and you really didn’t know before in your whole life.
Emily: So cool. A new hobby and, again, another random benefit of cannabis that you don’t intentionally set out to find.
Jennifer: That was the part I thought might sound cheesy, just because it’s like, “Oh, of course, it had to do with cannabis.”
Emily: You would be so surprised how many people have found this new unleashed creativity in so many different ways. You remind me of my mom so much because she recently discovered that she is really good at pencil drawings. She’s very artistic, and she does these amazing portraits. No one has ever talked about it, but now we have more and more people saying that they are so creative, artistic, and talented, whether it be music or in any medium. It’s so exciting to hear so many people saying that they’ve found creativity, freedom of expression, and enjoyment in it. I’m so excited for you. If you could go back 10, 20, or 30 years ago and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be?
Jennifer: Try to be less scared. They didn’t lie when they said that you only have one life to live. It’s short. Take a few more chances and hope for the best. It’s not always going to work out, and that’s okay. Try again. Just keep trying.
Emily: Alright, last question. Are you ready? If you could be remembered for just one thing in the cannabis space, what would it be?
Jennifer: If I could be remembered?
Emily: Someone’s going to listen to this, and you’re going to impact someone. If you could leave them with something, what would it be?
Jennifer: Ride it. Just ride it. If you get scared, embrace it and ride it. Ride that feeling. Don’t worry about being afraid if you just accidentally took an extra puff or two that you shouldn’t have. Ride it. Accept it. Embrace it. Tell yourself it’s okay to be afraid, but you will be happy. You will thank yourself in the end for just giving it a try, and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out for you. I have friends who have tried cannabis, and it’s not for them. But if you are a person that cannabis can help, I’m telling you it’s a miracle. It doesn’t make you melt into your couch and never get up.
Emily: Unless you want it to.
Jennifer: One of the things about cannabis that is so unbelievably wonderful to me is that it can be used for so many things; it’s so versatile. You can smoke a strain that will give you such a body high that you really do want to enjoy just sitting and watching something. But some strains get you up and cleaning the house, too.
Emily: That’s a beautiful thing about it. You can use it really however you’re in the mood for it and tailor it to your lifestyle and make it work for you in a way that is natural and organic.
Jennifer: And step outside, speaking of natural and organic, step outside. If you’ve had a little bit of cannabis, step outside and see how much more beautiful things look. Look at the tree in your yard or the tree wherever you are. Just to look at anything in nature, everything seems so much more beautiful because your mind just seems to really grasp every detail, and you just appreciate it even more.
Emily: It’s so special. I couldn’t agree more. I feel like we live in this amazing world, and I’m so much more grateful and thankful. And like you said, you notice it more like. In regular life, you’re so busy and fast-paced you don’t stop to smell the roses. But with cannabis, you remember to stop and smell those roses; they smell good!
Jennifer: And look at that beautiful color it has!
Emily: Yup! And then look at all the leaves! And then look at the dirt! And then you’re like, “Oh my god! It’s all beautiful!”
Jennifer: It really is.
Emily: I’m so glad that anybody who uses cannabis can share that and connect with that. And I’m so glad that you came here and shared your experience with us with cannabis. I can’t thank you enough for joining us today.
Jennifer: Thank you so much. I can’t thank you enough for giving me the opportunity. I was really excited to do this. Thank you!
Emily: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Announcer: Congratulations, you’ve finished another episode of the Well With Cannabis Podcast and are one step closer to discovering how you, too, can live well with cannabis.
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