Mary Nichols: Our Founding Patient

In 2008, Mary Nichols was working to change her life. Through diet and exercise, she lost nearly 70 pounds and was fit enough to walk 3 miles every day.

The problem was that Mary was also in severe pain. She spent most nights awake in the recliner playing games online as a distraction from the severe nerve pain that made it impossible to lie down and sleep.

Mary went through all of the protocols for conservative treatment for low back pain.

An MRI showed nothing that really explained the severe, searing pain Mary experienced on a daily basis. Just a few bulging disks. Nothing to worry about. But the pain didn’t go away.

Eventually, doctors at a local pain clinic in Charleston, WV convinced Mary that a spinal cord neuro-stimulator was the only option that was left. 

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An MRI showed nothing that really explained the severe, searing pain Mary experienced on a daily basis. Just a few bulging disks. Nothing to worry about. But the pain didn’t go away.

Failed Spine Surgery Syndrome

When the neuro-stimulator also failed to help with the pain, Mary sought another opinion at the University of Virginia. It was there she learned that her sciatic nerve was crushed at the nerve root by calcified disk material. 

In 2014, Mary underwent a spinal fusion at the Cleveland Clinic from L3-L5 in her lumbar spine.

All told, Mary was prescribed opiate pain medications for 2,555 days. These medications never helped with the burning and electric pain sensations she experienced continuously.  When Mary told the pain management doctors that the medications did not help, she was either given more medication or treated like a drug-seeker. 

Now, Mary has been diagnosed with Failed Spine Surgery Syndrome as well as severe length-dependent peripheral neuropathy. Conventional Western medicine has nothing to offer to alleviate Mary’s symptoms. If medical cannabis were legal in West Virginia, perhaps Mary would be able to control her pain so that she could sleep at night and have some quality of life during the day.

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“Putting on a brave face for the world means trying hard to look nice and cover up the dark circles from another sleepless night,” Mary says.