Medical Marijuana and COPD/Asthma
August 20, 2017 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Should I tell my doctor that I've been vaping?

I will start out by saying that I know I've acted stupidly. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here is what has happened: I have COPD and asthma. I also have chronic pain for which I've a medical marijuana card, recently received. When I got the marijuana card I was told that vaping was safe for my lungs. This seemed too good to be true, [which it was...] but I tried that route anyway.

Within a month I started having pain in my back upon breathing. I've thrown out the marijuana and am no longer vaping or using. If I use in the future it will be edibles. I've only stopped vaping for a week. The pain in my back persists. It has kept me from physical activities due to the pain.

I see a pulmonologist and I have an upcoming visit to see her. I will have a pulmonary function test at that time. Is it important for her to know that I have been smoking marijuana? Is it important for her to know I've been smoking anything? I'd rather not tell her anything. Thank you for your input.
posted by furtheryet to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. It is important that the physician evaluating you has ALL the information before offering treatment. I'm sure that you'll present it in a suitably mea culpa way, but you must present all the facts.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:50 AM on August 20, 2017 [11 favorites]

Yeah I mean you have a card and it's perfectly legal, why on earth would you want to withhold innocuous but potentially useful information from your healthcare provider?

If they give you the stink eye about it, feel free to ditch them for a better doctor. But then tell the new doctor the full truth too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:24 AM on August 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

Definitely tell them! Do you have access to edible cannabis or cbd tinctures for pain?
posted by elke_wood at 9:44 AM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hiding information from your doctor that you even vaguely suspect might be relevant is vanishingly unlikely to be the correct plan ever.
posted by flabdablet at 10:15 AM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes, you should definitely tell your doctor. I don't know your doctor, but I've been pleasantly surprised by how understanding they have been when I've done something stupid. I think this is for a few reasons. First, nothing you tell them will surprise them. They've seen it all before. Second, shaming people doesn't get the job done. Good doctors prefer to help heal people than apply punitive measures. Third, they take your privacy very seriously, and the reason is so that they can create a framework of trust. Without trust, people die in their apartments because they'd be too embarrassed or scared to tell one of the few people who can help them. And fourth, you really didn't do anything wrong, you just want an adjustment to your regimen, as it's not working for you.

That being said, I've received some rather frank advice from doctors at times, which I've received well. But go in with openness about it and just nod your head knowingly. Like was mentioned above, if you front-end it with, "This may have not been the smartest thing I have ever done, but I'm hoping you can help me find an alternative," I've found that it's the path to empathy. There was some study done showing that if you are in a vulnerable position when it comes to a minor power dynamic, asking that person with more power to help you find a solution brings things down to a more equitable and empathetic level, as people like to be appreciated for how they are able to help. Good luck, and don't be scared!
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:55 AM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's also a very good data point for the doctor that your chronic pain is real and you've sought treatment for it. Maybe they can jump on that wagon.

Seconding edibles or tinctures.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:18 AM on August 20, 2017

I recall a story recently about a young man who was denied a lung transplant due to his pot smoking. It is probably best to be upfront with your doctor, but if a lung transplant is within the realm of possibility, then it might be worth looking into what the conditions are in the area you would be expecting to get the transplant done (if I recall correctly, the man was accepted by a different hospital, but passed away prior to receiving a transplant).
posted by TheCavorter at 2:51 PM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't reveal that you vaped mj . you know it's not good for your condition and you stopped (and won't do it again I'm assuming). What damage is done is done and will hopefully be found with whatever testing you are going to go through. I wouldn't want a drug use diagnosis hanging out on my medical record in case I had to purchase insurance on the open market in the future or medical records get court ordered for something (like if you are a woman in an anti-choice state). I know this is a bit of paranoia, but for me i don't think the treatment would change beneficially enough to overcome the paranoia of disclosing the drug use.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:35 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

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