'Please God, give me back my life'
A Kerry woman who is suffering from a number of severe and debilitating medical conditions has appealed to the government to allow her access to medical cannabis.
Kirsten Rigney (31), who is originally from Dingle but is now living in Kielduff, Tralee, suffers from severe depression and chronic pain which has left her almost fully bed-bound since Christmas.
Kirsten is affected by a number of medical conditions, including depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and hyper mobility joint pain - all of which have left her in constant pain. On her best days, when she can leave the bed, she is sometimes forced to use a wheelchair.
"I am currently prescribed to take over 22 tablets a day and I want off them all. Recent blood tests have shown that my liver and kidneys are suffering because of all the pharmaceutical drugs I'm on; the opioid meds leave me like a zombie and sometimes I am left unable to hold a conversation," Kirsten told The Kerryman.
"I am so afraid to take the tablets, but the agony is so bad sometimes, you would do anything to make it go away; the pain is sometimes so bad that I don't want to live anymore.
She says she is no longer well enough to take care of her son, something that 'eats away' at her and she has had to give up her dreams of a new business.
"I was about to open my own business when my problems started, so I had to abandon my dream. I lose grip in my hands and, as an artist and a piano player, I am no longer able to do this - I have been left an empty shell."
Kirsten believes that the current government restrictions on medicinal cannabis is discriminating against countless people with various conditions that can be improved with the use of medicinal cannabis.
The government's stance on medicinal cannabis is that there is insufficient information on its safety in long-term usage for the treatment of chronic medical conditions.
"According to the Irish constitution, I am entitled to the right of 'bodily integrity' which means that I have a right not to have my body or my person interfered with and that the State may not do anything to harm my life or my health.
"By denying me access to something that I know will help maintain my bodily integrity, I believe that I am being denied my rights when they refuse me a medicinal plant that is likely to result in better health.
"I don't drink or smoke, I don't want to get high, I don't want to smoke marijuana - I just want to get medicine safely from doctors.
"I don't want to be a criminal or break the law and I don't want to be seen as a drug-user; I want people to see me as someone who is on medicine and not drugs.
"Please God, give me back my life. I've become a prisoner in my own body," she finished.