CU Boulder student uses marijuana as an alternative to narcotics after “freak accident”

Izzi Berman, a current material science student at University of Colorado Boulder, suffered a horrible accident at the end of this past summer.

“I was basically bleeding out on the inside,” Berman said.

As Berman was starting her ride on her bicycle from her last lab back to her home, she collided into a cement pole just outside Folsom Field, sending the handlebar of her bicycle into her stomach. This caused her liver to be lacerate in two.

After two surgeries to repair her split liver, Berman was given Oxycotin to help manage her pain. However, she had horrible side effects after taking the medicine, including nausea, dizziness, and a lack of appetite.

Berman decided that she would rather manage her pain with the help of medicinal marijuana instead of this narcotic.

“To compare the two — the Oxycotin made me throw up; the weed helped me eat,” Berman said.

Many people in Colorado have started to use marijuana instead of medications for epilepsy, chronic pain, nausea, anxiety, Parkinson’s Disease, PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), even Lupus. Some say that the drugs prescribed to them have side-effects that potentially out-weight the symptoms, and some claim that the medicines can be addictive.

“Marijuana can sometimes help…natural chemicals work better,” says Laura Borgelt, PharmD, of the University of Colorado. “Your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that affect pain, inflammation and many other processes.”

Berman was enrolled in classes when she had her accident and is taking on an incredibly heavy load this semester to make up for her lost time. She credits a lot of her ability to do so to smoking marijuana.

“At night, I smoke as a way to help me calm down and de-stress,” Berman says. “It’s like my way of telling my body, ‘We’re home. It’s time to relax.’”

Even Berman’s roommates are able to recognize a change in her demeanor. They also smoke marijuana; but for anxiety and sleeplessness, as well as for recreational purposes.

“It makes things slow down, but not in a scary way,” said Veronica Smith, one of Berman’s roommates. “When you have anxiety, your mind goes a million miles a minute, and your body doesn’t tell you to slow down.”

Sitting on the floor of her living room, Berman was able to reap the pleasures of her medicine of choice. Taking off her load from the day, she sat in a tank-top and held her bowl. She said that her incision was particularly irritated by wearing underwire bras, and that one of the best parts of her day was getting to finally unwind and take care of her pain.

Berman’s incision stretches from the base of her sternum past the top of her jeans. Risen and red, it tells the story of an accident that almost cost Berman her life. She refers to the incident as a “freak accident” and has since stopped biking entirely. She’s been able to do some hiking and a little bit of running as well, but has to be really mindful and aware of her limits, careful not to bite off more than she can chew in this stage of recovery.

Over six weeks out from the accident, Berman’s life is somewhat back to normal. Incredibly driven and brilliant, Berman has no intention to slow down and let her condition affect her academic plans. She even talked about her plans to participate in the Nearly Naked Mile.

“It’s only one mile so I think I can do it,” she said with a grin.

This bubbly twenty-something is an example of how this drug can be the difference between carrying on with life as planned, and putting everything on hold.

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