By Sonali Roy 

Illustration by Vero Romero

A multiple autoimmune disease survivor, Sandra  Hinchliffe, has unfortunately suffered from the common medications prescribed by several doctors over the years. Like many, she has received temporary relief, and not a permanent solution. She puts, “Modern medicine can address the underlying disease only to the point of temporary remission. But, even that does not cure the disease or relieve all of the chronic pain that comes with it.” During the time-frame of 2010 to 2011, multiple autoimmune diseases troubled her; she had allergic reactions to certain foods like eggs and yeast. She now carries EpiPens for anaphylaxis. Hinchliffe reminiscences, “As a teenager I was never able to use the beauty and hygiene products my teenage friends were using and back then (late 70s early 80s) there wasn’t much in the way of cosmetics that didn’t send me into severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.” She vividly recalls how she used to receive steroid infusions and other medications and the several nights she spent in the hospital. Doctors at Stanford Cancer Center and Menlo Clinic diagnosed her with Orbital Pseudotumor, which came out for her problem of Sarcoidosis. She was also diagnosed with Hashimoto disease. “Before I was finally diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I saw dozens of doctors over the years who treated my chronic pain in wildly different and unpredictable ways. From judgments and insults to doctors who over-medicated me on opiates. There were doctors who refused to give me opiates but over-medicated me on anti-inflammatories and anti-depressants. I saw doctors who told me to lose weight and exercise, doctors who tried to sell me MLM products they had in their office, it was just all over the place. None of these doctors had discovered the real underlying illness (which was later discovered and treated properly at Stanford Hospital).” Hinchliffe applied for a medical cannabis card, she received it, and started self-medicating at her  home in California. She says, “The doctors who wrote my cards over the years were willing to listen, to believe, and to trust me as an adult woman of sound mind to manage and self-medicate my own chronic pain at home with cannabis and other home remedies.

By incorporating two other herbs, turmeric and boswellia, she has used cannabis soley for managing pain.  This inspired  Hinchliffe to start creating her own cannabis spa products. She uses whole aromatic plant infusion, instead of essential oils for her products. Fragrant plants like pelargoniums, mints, lemon and rose thyme, heirloom carnations and rose bushes, which she grows in her own garden. 

“If you are already taking opioids for chronic pain, and you find yourself in the ER for unbearable acute pain,–there’s a really good chance that you will be treated like a drug seeker! I’ve been in this situation. It’s not fun and what you will go through is a kind of hell on earth. But, I don’t play by their rules anymore. I self-medicate, and self-manage my chronic pain in the privacy of my home with cannabis on my terms–and furthermore, it’s none of their business. That’s my activism.” 


A freelance writer & photojournalist, Sonali Roy, is a passionate traveler and loves framing nature. Roy enjoys painting & cooking and is devoted to a vegan diet. Sonali also composes music and

practices yoga & meditation regularly. She spends time with her two canine friends Fuchoo and Funtoosh.

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