'It hurt as much as LABOR': Cannabis gives woman uncontrollable pain and vomiting - but insists it is still the best treatment for her anxiety and pain

  • Chalfonte LeNee Queen, has cannabinoid hypermesis syndrome
  • The rare condition causes vomiting and pain in chronic cannabis users
  • She says the pain has at times been as bad as giving birth
  • Random triggers, like eating IHOP corn cakes can bring on bouts of retching
  • Despite her condition, Queen says marijuana is still better than prescriptions?

Chalfonte LeNee Queen thought she was dying as she retched for the thousandth time and collapsed in pain.

For almost 20 years, Queen made periodic trips to the emergency room, but none of the doctors that she saw could find a cause for her agony.?

Queen suffers from cannabinoid hypermesis syndrome, a condition that affects a small subset of long-term cannabis users.

But even with the paralyzing pain and relentless vomiting, cannabis is the best option for her to treat her pain and anxiety while holding down a job and caring for the youngest of her four children, who suffers from cerebral palsy. ?

Queen (second from left) says that her CHS cost her time with her children, including (from left to right) Nicole, Jas and Donald. The family is pictured here at Donald's wedding in 2016

Queen (second from left) says that her CHS cost her time with her children, including (from left to right) Nicole, Jas and Donald. The family is pictured here at Donald's wedding in 2016

'I've had four kids and I would rank it with labor; it's extremely severe.?I've screamed out in pain, I've not been myself and calling for dead people who aren't here any more,' she says.

Queen recalls trying to drive herself to the hospital on multiple occasions while her vision was blurred so badly from pain that she 'couldn't even read the street signs.'?

The relentless bouts of vomiting caused her to lose weight. 'Being thin does mean more fashion show bookings,' says the former model, 'it's not worth it though.'

'I lost jobs, relationships, money and time with my children,' she says.?

Finally, after 17 years of suffering, a San Diego doctor told Queen that she had CHS.??

The condition causes intense nausea and abdominal pain, just like Queen experienced, and seems to be best treated with a hot shower.?

Cannabinoid hypermesis syndrome (CHS)?has only been documented and recognized as a medical condition in recent years as cannabis has become more widely legal and studied, in places like California, where Queen lives.

The first time Queen went to the emergency room, she woke up in a panic. A former nurse, she was horrified to find herself in a familiar place.?

'I woke up on the oncology floor! I'm like, what? Why am I in oncology?'

Queen says that after cancer was ruled out, the doctors tried to match a series of other conditions to her symptoms, including acute prophyria, a rare genetic disorder.

Queen, now 48, is able to manage her CHS and lead a normal life by cutting back on her marijuana intake and taking medication for the periodic pain and nausea

Queen, now 48, is able to manage her CHS and lead a normal life by cutting back on her marijuana intake and taking medication for the periodic pain and nausea

She was in the hospital for three days, spending every waking moment retching. Finally, she asked if she could take a shower.?

When she got out, Queen felt far better. In fact, her symptoms were so relieved by the apparent curative properties of hot water that she went home later that day.

This is one of the bizarre, distinguishing features of CHS. A German study of the syndrome and a similar one, called cyclical vomiting syndrome, found that about half of those suffering from either 'exhibited compulsive showering.'

'That hot water, it's like it scrambles the message from the brain that's causing the pain in the stomach,' Queen says. ?

The curious symptoms of CHS were only first documented in an Australian study in 2011.

Little is understood about CHS, which appears to only affect chronic cannabis users, but not necessarily every time or immediately after they use the herbal derivative.?

Queen says often she feels fine after smoking marijuana - her preferred way of ingesting - but then will wake up in pain in the middle of the night or start feeling sick one or more days later.?

Though explicitly linked to cannabis-users, Queen says that CHS rears its head when she drinks alcohol, gets her period, is stressed, or, it seems, eats certain foods.

'For those past 17 years, it pretty much destroyed my life,' she says.?

Queen kept smoking cannabis, and kept making periodic trips to the emergency room.?

Chalfonte LeNee Queen (right) suffers from cannabinoid hypermesis syndrome, which means that her long term cannabis use sometimes causes her vomiting and pain. But marijuana still disrupts her ability to work and care for her disabled 24-year-old daughter, Jas (left) less than any prescription drug she has tried

Chalfonte LeNee Queen (right) suffers from cannabinoid hypermesis syndrome, which means that her long term cannabis use sometimes causes her vomiting and pain. But marijuana still disrupts her ability to work and care for her disabled 24-year-old daughter, Jas (left) less than any prescription drug she has tried

'I went to the ER three times after eating corn cakes at IHOP,' she says. 'My kids were looking at me like "why do we keep eating here?"'??

But for the most part, 'there's just no rhyme or reason to when you get an episode,' she says.?

'When you see it's a recurring trend, and it happens so haphazardly, you worry maybe you have something so rare, and you don't know what it is.'??

Now that she knows what's happening, 'I don't get in that type of panic mode any more. I'm just stuck here in the shower until someone can get me to the ER or call 911.'?

After being loyal to marijuana for most of her adult life, she gave it up for more than six months.?

'That made a huge difference, my last major episode was October 3 of last year,' she says.?

Queen lost weight because of her CHS. She was 109 lbs here, at Christmas last year

Queen lost weight because of her CHS. She was 109 lbs here, at Christmas last year

But solving one problem just brought back an old one that marijuana helped her with.?

'I've always had anxiety and was diagnosed bipolar many years ago. If I feel like if my head is going to explode, a couple of puffs [help], at least in the short term,' she says.?

Queen also has sciatica and a herniated disk. She says that doctors have prescribed her various psychiatric and pain medications.?

She is a full-time caretaker to her 24-year-old daughter, Jas, who suffers from cerebral palsy, as well as a brand ambassador, and says that other pain and psychiatric medications put her out of commission.

'I took so much Tylenol one time, my stomach started bleeding,' she says.

And for her anxiety and bipolar disorder, 'you're more like a guinea pig...the stuff they prescribe, I feel horrible on it. Once, I couldn't sleep for three days, and I have an adult in a diaper to care for. [On them,] if I wasn't anxious enough, I'm a nutcase now.'?

So weed is the lesser evil, and Queen still supports the movement toward widespread legalization.

Now she smokes less, and has prescription medications that help to alleviate her CHS symptoms.?

'I don’t have a choice to completely abstain, I have to get through this day, and the next one, and the next...and I have to put a roof over my and my daughter's heads,' she says.?

She hopes eventually to find another remedy, so relief doesn't come along with CHS.?

'I'm trying to find some natural remedies so I don't have to worry about the nut-pills or the weed,' she says. 'Before we had these pharmaceuticals, people dealt with things from the earth, even though marijuana is from the earth, it doesn’t work so well for me, I just need to find another way.'?

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