07 Jan Broken Wing
EDITOR’S NOTE: James Sutherland is a medicinal cannabis user whose story is both extraordinary and inspirational. It first appeared in The Daily Mail on 10th September 2012 and while it reached a wide audience, it was sensationalist and riddled with inaccuracies. A fortnight later, James published his story in his own words, written exclusively for CLEAR. Now he has written another piece which tells of the time he came close to suicide before he discovered how cannabis could control his symptoms and transform his life.Imagine you are out walking along the coastline in the middle of nowhere, it is almost eight in the evening and the light is fading fast. You stumble upon a bird which has a broken wing and its baby is right next to it chirping. Next to them is a tree and the obvious conclusion is both have somehow fallen out of the tree and onto the ground. You know that the rescue centres are closed and you are miles from any hope for the big bird.
I was sixteen when I came across this situation while running in Cromer one evening and I had a choice to make. The debate starts in one’s mind on what would be the correct thing to do. Some people would walk away, some would pick up both birds and do everything they can to save them. These however were not my choices. The bird had been there for some time and as I looked into the adult bird’s eye I could see that it had given up all hope, its head was turned towards its child and I could swear it was waiting to draw its terminal breath. I picked it up with no fight from the bird whatsoever, the bird knew its fate and obviously knew a predator would soon be along and get a free meal. I grabbed it by the head and the body and gave it one quick twist, the bird was lifeless in my hands but I felt it was the kindest thing to do. I picked up the baby which was full of fight and energy and wrapped it in the jumper that was tied around my waist. Being out for a run anyway I ran as fast as I could down into town and was lucky enough to find a firm of vets about to close. They took the bird in and had the decency to take it to a RSPCA centre for me.
The story is not that important on its own until you come to consider my situation. Before the weed I was the parent bird laying and hoping that my child would be OK. I would lay in bed for days with the pain and very little hope left in life. My closest guarantee of a normal life was to disconnect the nerves of my lower body and maybe lose feeling of everything below chest height.
After the first year of being disabled, knowing my son had just passed his first birthday, life was hell for me. As the days, months and years went by I would lie in my bed and lose just a little bit of hope each day. The fantastic doctors of the NHS tried their hardest to create a cure out of what they have available and are allowed to offer legally but that glimmer of hope was getting more and more distant. I knew there was little hope of me working again and extremely little hope of me being a father to my son as he would not even enter my room when I was in pain it scared him that much.
The only way to describe the pain in my side is to imagine a hunting knife slowly twisting away day after day. Follow that up with the burning feeling of napalm being chucked over you and some idiot chucking water on top of that and only then do you get close to the pain I felt.
After the first time I saw my son squirm back into my grandmother at my door it broke my heart into pieces. I was not able to hold the stress any further and I wanted him to have a normal life. I didn’t want him seeing and being scared of his father crying out in pain in his bed. That night I laid in my bed looking at all the photos of my son and me. I have a smile in each and every one but that smile and being very young I started to think about the bird in the field. I knew that my family would be my runner and get my son the right love and care he needs but what I needed was the runner to do the ‘twist’. For years they have been helping me with him and as someone who believes in the right thing to do it was very hard for me to contemplate such an idea.
Being liberal I could not ask anyone to do it and I could not leave an image of a lifeless body for my family to see. At first you think about the normal ways that people do it but I always find that a very selfish act to leave one’s body to be discovered by an innocent or even worse to put yourself under someone’s car or train to leave another life traumatised just because yours is. I thought back to all my years in Great Ormond Street and all the pain from then on in my life and decided that it would need to be a semi-tranquil ‘twist’.
I was prepared to drive down to Southend-On-Sea with two large weights tied to my feet. I am a strong swimmer and hoped to get far enough out that when I could swim no more it would be deep enough to hold me down and not be discovered where the tide does not fully go out. You may call me crazy but when your son is your glimmer of hope in your life and you see what I saw in his eyes when I was in pain I wanted him to just be able to look back at the pictures of his father and see the happy times. Me and his mother are not together and I hoped he would find a new father that could provide better for him. I never felt so low in all my life, I had spent eighteen years in and out of Great Ormond Street followed by more and more traumatising experiences but nothing had prepared me for the way I felt then.
Lady Luck seemed to favour me as I soon after found that weed cures my problem completely and I am able to have the happy times with my son without fear of scaring him. I still however have a massive problem as I am neither cured nor sick as the medicine allows me to live a normal life but yet no one would touch me with a ten foot bargepole because of the weed. I will not stop taking the weed and head back where I was before but on the other hand I still can’t truly provide for my son just yet as I am a criminal in the eyes of the law. I am trying to setup my own business to allow myself to work and provide but with little to no help from the government. It seems that I am yet again left out in the cold by my own country.
How can my government allow this state of affairs? I hear Mr Cameron would have a smoke and a chat about it but apparently he is having guests over for dinner as usual. As always the government would rather send a young man to die then get off their overpaid arses and make a change that can help people like me. They put people like Theresa May in charge of equality when the woman only believes anyone on her level or above is equal (or thinks the same way). Because of my government holding back information and not allowing me access to different types of medicines I almost died and my story would have never been truly known.
Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg this is what I think of your government and I would like to say thank you to weed for saving my life and making me stop seeing the broken wing in the mirror.