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the graduate

Kyla Killackey is Executive Assistant to Alison Gordon and supports the team at 48North. Having graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts from Queen’s University, Kyla considers this to be her first job in the real world. She was drawn to work in the cannabis industry because of her experiences as a medical cannabis user, and her belief in the benefits this plant can have on women’s health.

Quick Facts

Kyla Killackey

Executive Assistant and Writer

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@kylakillackey

I was 16 when my medical issues started. At first, my doctors didn’t have any answers about what was wrong with me. They thought it was IBS, or Celiac disease, or that I was lactose intolerant. The summer before university I had a really bad flare up, and I couldn’t find any relief. When I started classes in the fall, it was a stressful time. I’m from Calgary, so at Queen’s I was far away from my family, and my first few months of university were extremely demanding; it took a toll on me, mentally and physically.

My health issues compounded all the usual first year challenges. I was on my own, trying to navigate a new school and a new social circle, and was suddenly experiencing really terrifying symptoms that I didn’t know how to handle. One night, in the middle of a party, the pain got so bad that I finally decided I needed to take myself to the hospital. Soon after that I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and told I’d be on medication for the rest of my life.

From there, it was a harsh, seemingly never-ending cycle of painful flare-ups, which fed into my stress and anxiety, which in turn led to more flare-ups. Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to my disease and not something that is easy to manage in first year university. I developed insomnia. I lost my appetite. The medications I was taking weren’t doing their job. Nothing was working.


Now, because of cannabis, I can live a normal life, have a career, and be successful.

I spent the following summer with my mom at our cottage. I remember her saying to me, ‘I don’t know what to do. It’s so heartbreaking to see you like this. You go to work but have no energy to do anything. You can’t sleep, or eat.’ I was barely human. That’s when my brother’s girlfriend recommended a female doctor in Calgary who had a practice called Natural Health Services. She heard that medical cannabis could be really helpful with insomnia, and with the other symptoms I was experiencing regularly. My mom jumped at the chance to find anything that would improve my quality of life. We made an appointment and within a few weeks I was prescribed 2 grams per day, a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC.

I’ve never needed to take very much cannabis, and I’m good self-dosing to find the amount that feels right. It’s really comforting to know that I have more control over the way I feel and the way I live.  When I found cannabis it was a huge relief. There is already a space for it in our bodies, an internal system where it naturally fits and I don’t have to worry about the damage it might be causing one part of my body just so it can heal another.

There was a time when I felt like my disease defined me, that it had taken over who I am. Now, because of cannabis, I can live a normal life, have a career, and be successful. There are so many similar stories out there, and so many women who might benefit from cannabis the way I have. I think the work we’re doing at 48North to spread that message is important, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Some words of wisdom to women looking to enter the cannabis space:

 

Find women, connect with women and support women. We may be outnumbered in the professional world but we give ourselves an advantage by working together and fighting for each other.

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Cannabis is a very personal medication, everyone’s body responds to it differently, and I have spent a lot of time learning about the different strains, ratios and producers that are available to find what works best for me.
1

1:1 oil is my go-to supplement when I’m having a flare up to manage my inflammation and pain. I don’t use it all the time but whenever I’m in a rough patch I take a few drops each day to help get my body back on track. It treats my pain and is an anti-inflammatory (Ulcerative Colitis is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease), so it works on multiple levels for my body. 1:1 drops provide an equal amount of CBD to THC, so the psychoactive effects of the THC are offset by the CBD, meaning I can function as a normal human being at work without the high while still getting all of the therapeutic effects.

2

Indica oil for sleep: I didn’t realize how important sleep was until I wasn’t getting it. Along with my Colitis I developed really severe insomnia and learnt that nothing in our bodies can work properly without a sufficient amount of sleep. I spent a long time begging my doctors to give me a real solution to my insomnia because drinking tea and reading a book before bed wasn’t working. The doctor at Natural Health Services taught me about indica, a strain of cannabis that has sedative qualities. The more I’ve learned about my diseases, the better I understand my body, so I’ve gotten good at feeling when I’m about to have a bad night and medicating with a my indica oil. I put a few drops under my tongue, let it rest for about 30 seconds and then drink a big glass of water. It has taken away the anxiety of my nights.

3

CBD for stress: CBD has by far become the most important part of my health routine. Stress and anxiety are the most detrimental to my disease and, for me, they are the hardest to manage. With Ulcerative Colitis there is a direct correlation between my mental health and my physical health and CBD has helped me find balance in my life. CBD has none of the psychoactive affects that cannabis is known for. Its effect is subtle but substantial, every morning I take a few drops of CBD oil or a few inhales of a CBD vape, it settles the mind, keeps any stress or anxiety at bay and doesn’t affect my capacity to do my job.