What CBD Did and Didn’t Do for Me: A Personal Diary

Image Credit: By Tyler Olson

Editor’s Note: God’sGreenery.com contributor Darlene Franklin is a senior resident living in a nursing home in Oklahoma. She is also a prolific writer, with more than 100 novels and novellas to her name. Darlene suffers from sleep issues, chronic pain, skin conditions, and other ailments. With her doctor’s consent, she tried CBD oil and topicals recently for the time and kept a detailed diary. In this three-part series, we get a peek inside her personal experience.

CBD Diary Part One

Before Day 1:

The more I learn about CBD oil, the more I want to try it for myself. Since I live in a nursing home, I had to jump through extra hoops before I could get started. I obtained permission from one Director of Nursing (DON). Then she left, and my order was confiscated when I received it. Still, I persisted. Here is my story.

Friday, September 28

I have the money to order CBD products! From my past research, I know what quality product I want and where to get it.

Bummer. When I tried to order my CBD, I discovered the website doesn’t accept Paypal. They take credit cards only, and I don’t have a credit card. After some negotiation with the company, I am placing my order for peppermint-flavored CBD oil and paying by check.

Monday, September 30

After I worked out the payment for the oil, I decided to add two topical CBD-infused creams as well to my order, revitalizing and relieving creams.

Tuesday, October 1

The oil was delivered today, but the staff member who delivers the mail refused to leave it with me. She said she would have to check with the Director.

Thursday, October 3

It’s been two days, and I still don’t have the oil. I decided to take the initiative to speak with the Director of Nursing (DON) when I didn’t hear back. She said it has to be approved by the doctor. When she called him, my doctor gave her permission for me to start immediately. Yay! Of course, since I’m in a nursing home, it will be dosed and administered by the nursing staff.

Friday, October 4

Today, I began the CBD oil treatment. My doctor ordered 20 drops under the tongue, about half a dropper, taken twice a day at  8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Here goes!

My first dose: Half a dropper is quite a shot in the mouth. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s not pleasant either. I’d describe it like a thick mouthwash, without the sting. It’s soothing on my lips and tongue and the bottom of my mouth.

CBD is not marijuana, because it is hemp-derived and does not have the euphoria-producing chemical THC. But it is in the cannabis family, so I wonder if it could be categorized as “medical marijuana,” so to speak, so that the state will pay for it going forward? I’ll have to check into that. Somehow I doubt it.

I’m disappointed that I have no control over when I get to take my CBD oil. It is recommended that CBD oil be taken separately from other medicines. I hoped to take it at different times to see what, if any, additional difference CBD makes. I will pay close attention to how I feel today compared to other recent days.

The medical aide who is giving me the oil just asked why I am taking it. The aide wants to know what results I hope to get.

What are my goals? I’m hopeful that I will improve in three areas, especially when I also get the topicals:

  • Reduced pain from arthritis
  • Help with insomnia
  • Reduced anxiety that leads to me picking at my skin

Friday, October 4

After my shower, I did my arm weight exercises. I could raise my left arm a great deal higher than normal, without any pain. I told the restorative aide that I had not expected CBD oil to mend my arthritic joints and bones, only help with the pain. The additional movement came as a complete surprise.

After lunch, my stomach felt uneasy (it often does) and my arms are aching, reminding me it’s time for my next pain pill. Once again, I wonder if it would be better for me to take CBD at the time of my choosing. That way, I could address my discomfort in the hours in between.

One hour later, my back is hurting again. Even so, my day so far has been much better.

At bedtime: I realize I have spent the day fighting sleepiness. More than usual? I’m not certain. I only hope I can sleep better tonight, when I actually get into bed.

I took my second dose at 8:15 p.m. At 9:15, my legs are kicking as much as usual from Restless Leg Syndrome, but I’m not hurting all that badly. However, I’m not very sleepy either.

Saturday, October 5

About midnight, I get up, but not for my usual reason of pain. However, my muscles throb as I climb in and out of bed. I slept deeply for a few hours before and after midnight. At 4 a.m., I found myself awake. My whole system is wired to sleep at the wrong hours. Still, although my restless legs are kicking away as  usual, I’m in no pain to speak of.

After only two doses of the CBD oil, I’m in much less pain and I have slept better. Overall, I don’t sleep very well. Here’s hoping that between the new CBD oil and my upcoming sleep study I can get my sleep regulated and work on staying asleep once the CBD helps me get there.

About five hours after my third dose (my 8 a.m. dose), I am shocked by how little pain I’m feeling. Usually by now, I’m in a huge amount of pain, ready for the next pain pill. Instead, I feel a twinge here and there. But the overall pain? Negligible.

Sunday, October 6

Last night, I slept soundly for several hours but woke up before four and couldn’t go back to sleep. This morning, I was so comfortable that I didn’t get out of bed until almost 7. I am feeling mildly nauseated, but I’ve been experiencing that more lately even before starting CBD.

I wasn’t hurting at 2 p.m., when it was time for my pain pill. Now, after my evening meal, my lower right side is painful and stiff. Also, I’m so sleepy. I can’t keep my eyes open. I’m a little frightened to try to get into bed by myself.

I can’t help but wonder if the CBD seems to be working for me because it’s new. If I use it as long as I have pain pills, will it still be as helpful? I also can’t help but wonder why the doctor put me on 20 drops, instead of the three to five drops recommended by the other users I’ve spoken with. Is it possible to have a bad reaction to CBD oil? The doctor’s immediate approval and dosage suggest she is familiar with the plant and its properties. I choose to trust her, but I’m still a little worried.

Also, I am now going through my small bottle at such a high rate that it may not last for the two-week trial period I want to have for this diary.

I checked on the question of whether Medicaid will pay for CBD oil. The answer appears to be no. It’s not FDA approved yet. No protocols have been written for its use. Sigh.

After my evening pain pill and CBD oil, I’m largely without pain. However, I am having some abdominal discomfort. I check online for possible side effects from too much CBD oil. Low blood pressure and nausea. I do feel nauseated. I should check my heart rate. My blood pressure is 119/79, which is pretty great. A little higher than usual, but nothing to worry about. But my pulse rate is 145, which is really high. I check online again. Raised heart rate is another indicator of too much CBD. The nurse gave me Zofran to help my nausea and is watching to see if my pulse rate comes down.

At 7:50p.m., just like that, the medical staff decides to discontinue the CBD oil.  To be continued.

CBD Diary, Part Two

October 6, continued

Today, my doctor discontinued my trial of CBD oil after only five doses. The nurse said my pulse rate was dangerously high because of it, and I would have to see a cardiologist. I already have a heart ultrasound scheduled, so this sounds like a scare tactic to me. However, they said they couldn’t play around with it, Sigh, I guess I have to agree.

I asked, “What about adjusting the intake? Because 20 drops is more than my advisers suggested.”

I  feel like I was set up to fail until I learn that, no matter what my friends recommended, the bottle actually does call for 20 drops.

Monday, October

No CBD oil today.

Tuesday, October 8

I saw the doctor today. She sounds positive. She says the problems I experienced wouldn’t be caused by the CBD oil itself, but possibly by the additives. She takes the bottle with her to check what I am taking. The implication seems to be that even if she rules this brand out, a different brand might be okay. I am hopeful I can start again.

The doctor asked what I was taking it for. I repeated my three reasons. She nodded in agreement with all three goals. She seemed very supportive of the goals and of the means. Just maybe not this particular product I was using.

After our meeting, the doctor said I could start again. I took a dose of CBD oil this evening, and I immediately felt nauseated. However, the staff is monitoring my heart rate and blood pressure before administering the oil. If it causes a problem with my heart, we’ll know for certain. I’m sitting up straight to see if that helps the nausea. I hope I don’t have to take Zofran for nausea every time I take CBD oil.

Wednesday, October 9
I didn’t get my pain pill until well after 9 this morning. I’m supposed to have it by 9 a.m. at the very latest. Often, I take my medications before 8 a.m. I feel sore, but not as sore as usual, as in no ready-to- scream-out-loud pain. And sure enough, I can still raise both arms high in the air. When it comes to pain relief, CBD does seem to be magical.

Also with this morning’s dosage, I didn’t feel nearly as nauseated. I had just had breakfast. Maybe that’s part of the trick? Taking it when I’m full?

On my way back to my room after my shower, I stopped by the DON’s office to ask her whether I should get my blood pressure checked after I’ve taken the CBD oil, as well as before. It took her a few minutes to remember our previous discussion, but then she said she’d have to check with the doctor. If they check it after, how long after?

Thursday, October 10

I slept better than usual last night. I didn’t really sleep longer stretches, only two hours at a time, but I slept three separate times. The accomplishment is in falling back asleep. I’m hopeful that tonight’s sleep study will provide the information the doctor needs to help get my sleep cycle regulated.

I’ve now had several people ask me how the CBD “experiment” is going. People like my book editor and staff at the nursing home. The DON was very receptive, as was the doctor. There are skeptics, however. The nighttime charge nurse is one of them. When I said I hoped the CBD oil, along with the results of the sleep study, would help me sleep better, she said, “You’re not going to find any answers in that bottle. I have big doubts. Never heard of anyone who had good luck with it.”

I don’t know who she’s been listening to. I have personal friends who use it and find great benefit. Plus I’ve read many anecdotal references online and from marketers. I’m not at all worried by her negative reaction. That’s her mindset on a lot of things. It can make nighttime medications problematic at times, however.

Summation: I’ve been taking CBD oil for a week now, aside from the two-day stretch when the medical staff made me go without. Here are my observations so far:

  1. I found immediate relief from bone-grinding pain, allowing for increased movement and longer periods of sleep.
  2. I get nauseated almost every time I take the oil.
  3. I had one episode of elevated heart rate, but it was at least five hours after I took the oil. I don’t think they were necessarily related.
  4. I fall asleep more easily and stay asleep more easily. If this was only at night, that would be perfect. But I find myself very sleepy during the day, to the point where I’ve been able to get very little done. I hope that if I can get the right equipment for my sleep apnea as well, I’ll be able to get a solid 8-plus hours a night. Part of me fears I’ll be playing catch up for all the nights I couldn’t sleep, and it might be awhile before I can have a good work day.
  5. I still pick far more than I should. Having said that, it is not itching nearly as badly. The temptation is lessening.

CBD Diary, Part 3

Friday, October 11

I do find a few negatives to taking the CBD oil. I’m having more problems than ever with sleeping in the daytime. My sleep pattern is messed up, but this week I haven’t been able to stay awake for much more than 15 to 30 minutes. My awake times pass in a mind-fog. I fall asleep mid-exercise, mid-meal, mid-sentence, mid-game, mid-almost anything.

I hope that with proper management I’ll be able to channel all that sleepiness into sleeping through the night. I was able to complete the sleep study last night. With the CBD to help me get to sleep, and a bi-pap to help me stay asleep (and breathing), that should help. But at the moment, my sleep cycle is a mess.

The nausea has continued. Eating something helps. Again, in other circumstances, I could plan on taking the oil at mealtime. Here, I have no control over when I get it, any more than control over how much I take. I still wish I was taking less of it, but the doctor restarted the CBD at the same dosage level.

Also, sigh, I’ve had a fair amount of breakthrough pain today. I should note I’ve had a lot more physical activity this week, having to walk much longer distances than usual. The weather is also getting colder, which is also a factor in my pain. Still, it’s a bummer. Perhaps the better question is, if not for the CBD oil, how bad would it be?

Monday, October 14

The night I had the sleep study, I ended up in the emergency room for a short time. I was feeling tight-chested and short of breath. I hadn’t had oxygen since I arrived. In spite of that little upset, I got started on the sleep study about 10:30 p.m., got up once, woke up at 5:30 a.m. with all the covers kicked on the floor. The attendant couldn’t understand why I wanted to get up. I told him I am usually awake at this time of the morning.

I’m the most awake early in the morning and then again after dinner. I am back to having a huge amount of pain today, as though I’m no longer getting the same effect from the CBD oil. I believe my topicals were delivered this weekend. I need to see if I can use than on the painful areas. What’s helping the most is layers. Slacks instead of skirts. Double the blankets. Legs wrapped like I used to.

I’ve also developed a cold. It’s progressing as all colds do, without any seeming effect from the CBD oil. On the bright side, I’m not as nauseated as I used to be.

I am suffering with a bad headache off and on, but I suspect the headache and some extra sleepiness may be connected to caffeine withdrawal. I ran out of Coke a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, October 15

This morning, my medical aide asked me if I was still relatively pain-free. “Far from it,” I told her. My back is still causing me a lot of pain, but I hope the addition of the topical cream will help.

Wednesday, October 16

I was awake for a couple of periods last night, but I didn’t wake up to start the day until they came in and woke me up at 6 a.m. Success! And I’m in less pain today, and praising God for that. I’m still a bit sleepy during the day but not falling asleep mid-activity, which is a victory in itself too.

Thursday, October 16

I had a really strange experience this afternoon. If I didn’t know I was taking THC-free CBD oil, I might wonder if I had somehow gotten “high.” I woke up in my wheelchair at 1:45 P.M. to total silence. An agency nurse came in, not one of our regulars, and said all the other staff were at a potluck lunch. Bright afternoon sunlight poured in through the glass doors at either end of our long hall. But where were the residents? The rooms I could see were empty. Perhaps they were all asleep.

I felt like either Jesus had come back and I had been left behind or I died but somehow was still in a nursing home. The one nurse who was here told me she couldn’t tell me anything about the other residents, and only said that the staff were “out to lunch.” My fiction author’s mind started imagining all kinds of stories, wondering where everyone went. Half an hour later, the place came back to life. Noise and life returned to the hall. But that 30 minutes of quiet was really weird.

Saturday, October 19

I’ve had the CBD for two weeks now. My consensus is this: If I can continue taking it, I will. It is a huge help with the pain. It’s a lesser help with sleep, but I think it does make a difference. Plus, just yesterday I was able to leave my skin alone for 24 hours. It may actually be helping me with what has felt like a losing battle.

Side effects? That one incident of high pulse rate has not repeated, although the staff continues to check it. That’s fine with me. I don’t want to endanger my heart either. The nausea went away after about a week on the oil. About the time I figured out food helped, it stopped bothering me.

While I would handle the timing of the doses differently if I were managing it on my own, I am glad it’s regulated and there’s someone watching out for me as I take it. As wonderful as it has been, it’s good to know medical professionals are supervising me.

Bottom line: I’m thankful to God for this wonderful discovery and hope I can afford to continue using it.

Darlene Franklin
Darlene Franklin
Darlene Franklin
Darlene Franklin lives near her family in Oklahoma. She has published more than 100 books and thousands of articles.

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