Many of you have heard me speak about kratom and how much of a blessing it has been to me in my life in helping me handle the pain associated with pinched nerves in my back and the accompanying, non-diabetic, peripheral neuropathy. I would like to tell you my story about how I was introduced to kratom and exactly how it has impacted my life.
I have always been blessed with natural strength, I inherited it through both my father and my mother. My dad was the strongest man I ever knew. He was just naturally strong. He never really lifted weights or anything like that, he was just strong and tough. He had a handshake that would crush a log. I saw my dad, on 2 different occasions, about 4 years apart, rip a phone book in half ... easily 2 inches.
As I grew older, I began to notice that I was generally stronger than my friends. I could lift more than the other guys and generally was tougher. I could hit harder and take a hit. I boxed, played football, played basketball, chopped wood, and dominated the playground game "king-of-the-mountain" and "mercy".
My son, also inherited that natural strength ... he amazes me at the things he can lift and move with relative ease.
I write the above, not to seem braggadocios, just to explain the mindset I had as a youngster. There was nothing I felt I could not lift, move, or demolish. While everyone else was busing looking for a handtruck or dolly, I was busy picking up the washing machine and loading it on the truck. While the other guys were using the ramp to get the propane floor buffer of of the truck, I was just pick it up and loading or unloading the thing.
Looking back, I now know that I was actually hurting my back and I didn't realize it. Over the course of time I ended up blowing out my back and crushing a couple of discs which would then cause some nerves to be pinched or permantly damaged. (T11-T12, and T12-L1).
Over time, you learn to live with the pain and also what activities cause the pain to flair up and so you limit yourself accordingly. However, as I neared my forties, I began to notice that I was losing feeling in my feet and toes. I figured it was my shoes and so I changed brands of shoes, I changed socks, I changed my sleeping position, my pillows, my diet and nothing would alleviate the numbness I had in my toes and feet.
Whenever my wife or anyone else would ask me to describe the feeling, they would often be confused because my feet were both numb and also hypersensative.
I always tried to explain it like this ... you remember when you were a kid and it would snow and you would go outside and play for hours and you would come back in and your hands or feet would be so cold that you couldn't feel them but they also would hurt. You'd think that they are just cold so you want to stick them in some warm water ... except that when you do, it hurts, bad. Well, that is sort of how my feet feel all the time ... x10
The doctors could prick my feet with a needle and I could not feel it, but if I stepped on a grain of rice win my bare feet it would nearly bring me to my knees. My feet felt as if they were on fire, all the time, but I was afraid to walk down a flight of stairs because I could not feel the steps beneath my feet.
Eventually, I ended up seeing a neurologist, who ran all manner of tests from EKG, to MRI, to NCS (nerve conduction study) only to find that the neuropathy was the result of a couple of crushed discs. The neurologist did not feel that surgery was warranted at that particular time and recommended I try a series of "drugs" (gabapentin and Lyrica). For roughly 18 months I took either or both of these drugs with little relief. Finally, the neurologist suggested that I be sent to "pain management" where I would be placed under physicians care and be given a variety of "pain" medications including Tramadol and oxycodone ... opioids.
Well, being a pastor of more than twenty years I had done my share of counseling with men who had been prescribed opioids only to watch their personality change drastically, one to the point of near suicide and another to the brink of divorce. Another friend essentially became a functioning vegetable, able to function but always distant.
It was around this time that I had asked some folks to help me pray to be healed and it not healed then to be able to bear the burden. I had already decided I was not going to be placed on oxy or tramadol. Soon, I was approached by some members of the church I was pastoring and they asked me if I had ever heard of "kratom" ... I told them "no". To be honest, I assumed it was just "snake oil" because over they years various people had approached me about any number of "healing" oils, herbs, and juices that just turned out to be a multi-level marketing scheme, so I didn't pay much attention to "kratom'.
However, one of the men, pressed me and told me his story of crushed nerves and not being able to walk and how kratom had helped him, so he convinced me to agree that I would try taking some.
He gave me a bag of 16 gel caps (I later learned that each gel cap had roughly 500 milligrams of kratom) that he had filled himself and told me that that was "one serving" and to take them all at once. (Again, at the time, I had no idea that 16 caplets of 500 milligrams each equaled roughly 8 grams). When I got home, I put the bag into the medicine cabinet and forgot about it.
A couple of months pass and I am having a very difficult day and am at my wits end. At this point I was willing to try anything. I finally reached for the bag of home-made gel caplets ... I could not talk myself into taking 16 caplets at once so I took 4-5 of them ... and nothing happened. So, at least I had tried them and if nothing else I could tell people that kratom didn't work for me.
Except, for some reason, it kept gnawing on me ... so I decided to go and search the internet for natural pain relief ... I came across story after story from kratom users singing its praises. These stories intrigued me because of the "non"-experience I had just had with kratom. This led me to research about the right dosage for a man my size. I soon realized that I had not dosed properly and therefore did not feel any pain relieving benefits. I decided that I would conduct some tests on myself, in the privacy of my own home using my own supply of kratom. This kept me from having to ask other people for theirs and it let me figure out what dosage worked best for me.
I ordered 500 grams of "Red Bali" powder. The reason I ordered "Red Bali" was simply because "pain relief" was listed as its main benefit from people who had used it.
When it arrived, I weighed out 6 grams and mixed it with water and drank it down ... 45 minutes later, to my shock and amazement, I barely felt any pain at all and I began to cry tears of joy. At the time, I knew nothing about red vein, green vein, Malay, Bali, or Maeng-Da ... all I knew was that I had no pain for the first time in years and it was the result of a tree that grew somewhere in Asia.
This set me on my journey to learn everything I could about kratom. I wanted to know about the colors and places of origin. Why it worked. Was there long term negative effects from its use? Did it create dependency? Would I become addicted to it like with prescription opioids?
All of these things I will discuss in the next blog post ... part 2