Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Heather Graffam, I am a 39 year old disabled mother of two beautiful children, who are my world. I live in Bradenton, Florida and am currently enrolled in the Applied Psychology program in Naples, FL. My goal is to become a substance abuse counselor upon graduation. You can say I am an average woman, with above average problems.
In 2008 I was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease after a relatively small vehicle accident. That shocking diagnosis was the last thing I expected! Perhaps a fractured or herniated disk, but not that! I was told I had to endure a spinal fusion if walking without aide was part of my future. I fell into the belief that without this surgery I was to be doomed; never imagining the hell that would follow after completing it. For three years in a row I spent a week in the hospital, undergoing each stay hours upon hours of implanting hardware and repairing the damage from the first botched surgery. The pain was unimaginable, both physically and mentally. You see I am also a sufferer of bipolar disorder with severe anxiety. Having to quit my nursing career and become a couch potato was a far cry from what I had planned for my life. The loss of my new career, as I had only been out of school and in my job for about a year, was devastating. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and spent lots of time and money on my education. I was floored! The depression along with the stress of this situation spun me into a deadly cycle of addiction. The doctor was allotting me 40 hydrocodone per week, and 90 2mg Xanax bars per month along with countless muscle relaxers, antidepressants and other various pharmaceuticals. This may sound like overkill but I assure you my body believed I needed more. My weekly script ran out merely days after being filled. I lived my life like this for almost a decade. Constantly worrying what would happen if I were to be forced to live a few days without my crutch. The fear of withdrawal symptoms, the anxiety of thinking about coming off them was debilitating in itself. My doctors assured me that stopping the Xanax would be detrimental to my health. They never informed me of the awful side effects that could occur when you suddenly stop taking the meds. Seizures were the main factor which scared me to death. The longest stretch that I was off any medications was probably two days, and the entire time I was a wreck. The vomiting, the pain I felt in every nerve, the inability to even get out of bed and get dressed. I knew in my heart something had to change before I ended up dead.
Approximately a year ago I was working a construction job under the table, trying to do anything possible as a then single mom. I was stuck hours from home and without any pain killers. A co-worker had a bag of kratom which he gladly shared with me. I was like most of you, unsure about its effects but I was desperate and would have tried anything to make it through the week. One teaspoon in a half full bottle of orange juice would soon become a life changer. Immediately I felt the effects. A calmness came over me, and the pain in my back and legs had subsided drastically. I was flabbergasted that something LEGAL could actually aide me in such a dramatic way. Throughout the next few months I used kratom periodically, as a replacement only when I ran out of my scripts. Ending my affair with my meds was not on the table for me yet. I did notice though that when I ran out of pills and substituted kratom powder I had little to no withdrawal symptoms. No nausea, no panic attacks, I had a new found energy to make it through the day and honestly, I felt better than had I taken a handful of narcotics. I began diligently researching this powder, not sure if it was a friend or foe. Most sites stated a wide array of side effects, with little to no help besides opinions. I knew it was used to treat the withdrawal symptoms of opiates and that sparked a fire inside. In June of 2016 I decided to wean myself off all medications, and free myself from a life of bondage. I cannot say it was simplistic, however without the use of kratom I never would have succeeded. For once in over a decade I am clean and sober! No pain meds, no anxiety meds or antidepressants needed to fulfill my life. I am a new creature and am blessed beyond measure to have separated myself from the path of destruction.
I am a huge advocate for the benefits of Mitragyna speciosa. I am not only free from addiction, but the pain is nothing like before. I am able to live a normal life without the fear of death or jail. My mind is fresh and crisp, not fogged up and stagnant any longer. I have been able to use my mind again and go back to school, eager to create a better future for myself and children. As with anything good, there comes a few roadblocks. Now a new battle is taking place, one with the FDA and DEA. They believe it should be made illegal, and some states already followed suit. For those of us who use kratom regularly as a supplement, this is a devastating blow. We have all suffered enough with chronic pain, addiction, and red tape. To think we could possibly lose the one thing which truly helps is a terrifying truth we all solemnly face. To have something so beneficial be taken away will reverse any progress we have made in bettering our lives. Many of us will continue to buy from the black market, risking legal ramifications. Others will give up and go straight back to the doctors for their concoction of pharmaceutical prison. As for me, I am confident the DEA will overturn its decision and continue keeping kratom legal. The public outcry has been more than they expected. We are a strong and diverse group of people coming from all walks of life and social circles. We are not druggies, we are not losers or failures in life. We all want something that should not be governed, freedom! Freedom from the ailments which led us to kratom to begin with. The freedom to choose for ourselves how to manage our pain and symptoms naturally with a plant that was given to us for such a purpose by a divine creator. That is what we strive to achieve!
Heather Graffam is a 39 year old disabled mother of two beautiful children, who are her world. She lives in Bradenton, Florida and is currently enrolled in the Applied Psychology program in Naples, FL. Her goal is to become a substance abuse counselor upon graduation. Heather recently got married at the end of February 2017. Congratulations!