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My story continues related to the difficulties, pain and hopes of people who have decided to include cannabis in their therapeutic plan, despite the obstacles in using it “legally” in Europe. The hope is that such direct evidence can help clarify a controversial issue. In this new episode of “The faces of hemp” I chose to give voice to the stories of Andrea and Alberico.
Mr. Andrea Trisciuglio
39 YEARS – FOGGIA (Italy)
The diagnosis of “multiple sclerosis” reaches Andrea on February 20, 2006, the same day of Luca Coscioni’s death, while on television he is watching Marco Pannella in tears for that loss.
Two bad news at the same time, the emotions overlap, mix.
But life goes on, “what does not kill fortifies”, repeats itself and that diagnosis becomes, from that moment, something to know, welcome and face.
Start taking interferon like all multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy, immunosuppressant and immunomodulatory patients.
But Andrea is a convinced radical, he does not stop, he is not content to remain in a wheelchair, stuffed with drugs and survive.
Traditional drugs weaken him, returning few benefits to his psychophysical state and so all that remains is to look further: are there alternatives to this treatment? Are there studies or cases that can be followed even outside the Italian border?
This is how he discovers cannabis as a possible therapy and when even a doctor advises him to try it, he is convinced. He wins the initial fears and from that moment he walks again, becomes an activist and general councilor of the Luca Coscioni Association, together with Lucia Spiri he establishes the non-profit association LaPiantiamo to inform citizens and defend the right of patients to access treatment with cannabinoids .
“The sick do not have time to wait” is the cry that I have associated for years with Andrea’s face; he was the first person I contacted for my trip, the first “face” to welcome me, inform me and open the way. It is no longer just an image of this book, it is the friendly face with which to continue walking in a battle that has also become mine.
Today Andrea continues to take 10 grams of cannabis per day, smoking or steaming it, making biscuits or herbal teas. He has a regular medical prescription that allows him to receive the prescribed quantity every three months from the hospital in Foggia.
But he knows that this is not the case for many Italian patients yet, so he continues, with his crutch as a sword, to travel around Italy to bear his testimony.
38 YEARS – TARANTO (Italy)
The first thing that left me in Alberico’s mind, when I met him in Foggia, was the serenity of his face and elegance. Alberico moves in a wheelchair that must be pushed by someone, because he does not have normal hand and arm mobility, yet every time I meet him I have the impression that you dance with that chair. And his gentle smile confirms it.
Alberico is 37 years old and is quadriplegic from the age of 15, from the day when a serious traffic accident caused him to fracture his third, fourth and fifth cervical vertebra with spinal cord injury.
The year following the accident, after many hospitalizations in different Italian cities and treatments with both muscle relaxants and very strong opioid drugs to relieve pain and spasms, he went to a clinic in Heidelberg in Germany, one of the best in Europe for rehabilitation and reintegration into society of patients with this type of disability. It is in the park of that clinic that one day he tries, for the first time, to smoke cannabis with other patients.
Skeptical and afraid of losing consciousness, he is initially reluctant to try it, but is convinced when those boys, who suffer from physical damage similar to his, explain that they have been using it for a long time in place of the “Lioresal”, the same one that also takes him, four 25 mg tablets per day.
Further deepening his knowledge of the cannabis plant and the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids, Alberico decides to try and, finding benefits on his psychophysical state, begins to scale the doses of muscle relaxants and replace them with cannabis that is obtained at a high price on the black market. , often from Holland.
Stays in Germany for ten months. Back in Italy he found it difficult to find cannabis and after only two weeks he had to resort to “Lioresal” again. With this drug, all those side effects that Alberico knows well are back: kidney, bladder, stomach and mucous membrane problems and a continuous state of sleepiness.
Unable to endure all this again, he relies on Italian black market cannabis.
For nineteen years he buys it on the street or from friends or when he can, he grows his seedling, until in 2015 he obtains free access to the cannabis thanks to the Apulian regional law.
Since then the hospital pharmacy of Taranto has provided him cannabis with the with a regular medical prescription. He takes 5 grams a day by steaming or smoking it and this mainly helps him to reduce spasticity and the pains that follow, helps him in posture and therefore in the quality of his life.
“The secret is not to run after the butterflies, but to take care of your garden so that they come to you”, is one of my favorite phrases (by Mario Quintana); one day, scrolling through Alberico’s Instagram photos, I read it and a smile fills my face. Alberico is the living proof of this aphorism, it is the proof that by healing ourselves we can learn to feel better, with ourselves and with others. Despite the fact that life has put him through hard tests, he does not give up and continues to live an exciting life with the people who love him.