Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


I was on the phone with Cindy. “Apparently marijuana prevents seizures. Maybe you should think about it.”
Yes, I would love to get off my anti-seizure meds, Lamictal. I’d much rather find an alternative that’s not as toxic to my body and brain.
In general, I don’t find the argument that natural substances are healthier or safer than synthetic meds too compelling—Cyanide is natural. But in this particular case, if it was a matter of a choice between Lamictal and marijuana, ignoring obvious side-effects, I would pick marijuana every time. But there are side-effects, to both of them.
There was a point in my life when I would have been happy to consume marijuana, be it through smoking or brownies. Now, I’m not even tempted, though not necessarily because it’s illegal in Pennsylvania, where I live.
Those of us with severe brain injuries tend to be more sensitive to neurological stimulants than we used to be prior to the injury. Physical exertion outdoors when the weather is hot and humid can now bring on heat exhaustion far too easily. Even minimal exposure to bug sprays causes numbness in my extremities and difficulty breathing.
I grew up in Israel, where at the time, there was no minimum drinking age. On Fridays, we often had a sherry as an aperitif and wine with dinner. I wasn’t a soda drinker. To me, a light beverage meant water, juice, or beer. As a result, I was very much aware of my limitations, and I’ve only got really drunk a handful of times, when someone tampered with my drinks. I never understood the attraction to drunkenness and subsequent hangovers. But I did enjoy the occasional buzz. I drank socially, a couple of beers, a glass of wine or two.
But now, I daren’t drink more than the tiniest sip, to taste. It’s just not worth it as far as I’m concerned.
Brain injury survivors are extremely sensitive to alcohol. Drinking can aggravate cognitive deficits and amplify injury related depression. In addition, drinking can reduce brain injury recovery, which is an ongoing process. It can also impair judgment and increase the chances of suffering another brain injury.
I assume that any mind altering substance would have similar effects.
As I have said in the past, and will continue to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. My mind has been altered enough.”