Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy

I really found this NBC report on the use of Medical Marijuana for the treatment of Epilepsy very interesting.

The Fight for Medical Marijuana for Epileptic Children

It also brings back memories of incidents with my own daughter, who has Epilepsy.  There is mention of the young girl in the story having “rages”.     I had never heard anyone talk about this before.  I have always thought that all my daughter’s behavior was due to medication reactions, or seizures, or just feeling awful, or because she was frustrated and unable to communicate what she wanted or needed.

One particularly awful weekend comes to mind…

I was a single parent with two girls, Sarah (who is now married, a nurse, and they are expecting their first child), and Rachael.  Rachael contracted spinal meningitis at two weeks of age, spent 7 weeks in Peds-ICU.  As a result of that illness, she has Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, and Cognitive Impairment (she will always be a little girl age 3 in a woman’s body).  This particular year was tough,  Rachael was in her early teen years and things were not going well for her.  Her seizures had increased, and we had been trying to tweak/change medications, and none were working very well.  Rachael drooled constantly (side effect?) and we were always changing her shirt and bandannas that we used like bibs (so she wasn’t actually wearing a “baby” bib and we could match them to her outfits). This made it difficult to find childcare.  no one wanted a “drooly kid” in their house.  I had to hire people to work in my home instead.  One of the things that we tried to curb the drooling was Scopolamine.  It came in a patch, and was usually used for motion sickness, but it also tended to dry up secretions.  We were trying it to see if it would work.

I had been dating “Mike” for only about a year or so.  We decided we would take our kids out to eat together at Steak-N-Shake.  His two, and my two.  We met at the restaurant and were all seated at a big table.  Rachael immediately started misbehaving.  She wanted food, and now.  She started banging her fist on the table, yelling, “I want eat!!”

I scolded her and said, Rachael, you can’t behave like that and we have to wait our turn.  It only got worse, and she got louder.  I was afraid she was going to hurt her hand.  I held onto it to keep her from pounding the able and hurting her hand.  She jerked her hand out of my grasp and hit me.  I told her if she didn’t behave and be quiet we would leave.  She started screaming, “NOOOOO!!!”  The other kids were mortified and shrinking in their seats.  I looked at Mike and said, “I need to take her home, can you feed the kids and bring Sarah back home, after?”  He agreed.  As I tried to pick Rachael up to take her to the car, she started screaming, flailing her arms and legs.  Mike had to help me take her to the car. I had to engage the child lock on the car door because she kept opening the door.  I don’t remember how I got the seat-belt on her.  I do remember all the way home, her screaming “GO BACK!!  I WANT EAT!!” while she was hitting the car window and hitting me in the back of the head while I was driving.  I managed to get her home and in the house and the behavior stopped.  I made the two of us lunch at home.  Mike and the other kids came back after they ate.  Sarah was so embarrassed.  Neither of us knew why she was acting this way.

I figured, well so much for Mike.  I couldn’t imagine he’d stick around after witnessing that (he did!).

The next morning, I heard Rachael get up and open the refrigerator.  Her bedroom was downstairs (she fell on the stairs too much) and my room was upstairs.  By the time I got into the kitchen she had the glass jar of Mayonnaise open and was smearing it all over herself.  When I tried to grab the jar, the wrestling match was on, and she started screaming.  I just couldn’t believe the past couple days.  This was absolutely heartbreaking.  I had to sit on her as she flailed and hit me, and slammed the jar on the floor.  I was afraid she would break it and then we’d both get cut up with the glass.  I called for Sarah to come down and help me.  She called my friend Helen to come help us when I decided I needed to take her to the emergency room.  This was not normal.  As I wracked my brain for what was different recently I remembered the Scopolamine patch we had put on her (per the Dr.s recommendation).  I peeled it off thinking maybe that was the problem.  Helen arrived, helped me clean Rachael up, held onto her while I showered and changed to go to the E.R.  She also helped me get her in the car and I headed to the E.R.

By the time we got there, she was normal.  The E.R. Doc looked at me like I was crazy when I had described what had happened.  She was sent home.  I dug up info on Scopolamine and found that one of its reclusive side effects was “Hallucinations”.  But this wasn’t the last, there were more instances of these types of behaviors, but none were quite as bad.

I had never grown up around anyone that experimented with “drugs”.  No one ever offered me marijuana or anything else for that matter in school.  Everyone knew my stance.  I was involved in sports, and Youth group.  I was a “goody two-shoes”.  They all knew I wouldn’t partake.  As I interviewed for my first Law Enforcement job, I was asked what I would do if a friend or family member was involved with drugs, including marijuana.  My response, “First of all If anyone I know is involved in that, they certainly are not going to tell me because they know my stance, and if someone does I would have to tell them I can’t be around that/them due to my profession.”  Apparently that was a good answer.  I was hired.  Later when I interviewed at another department, I was asked if I had ever tried marijuana or any other illicit drug growing up or as an adult.  When I answered, “NO, never.”  They did not believe me.  I was not hired, even though that was 100% honest.

So, now that you know my stance…I have never purported to know or understand those who have cancer, other conditions or chronic pain, feel.  I just don’t know.  I am sympathetic and empathetic and try not to be judgmental towards those who seem to need it.  I am not without my own pain, but I have always avoided using anything illegal, because I toe the line.

I never thought I would ever think seriously about marijuana use.  BUT, as a parent, having gone through some crazy stuff with my epileptic kid…had I known this was an option that could have real benefits to my daughter’s daily life functioning and comfort and it would reduce the amount of seizures she would have, I’d be willing to move mountains for her.  Not for me, but for her.

I understand how people who are working, driving etc should not be impaired.  But Rachael will NEVER hold a job, drive, get married, have children, be cured (although I hope).  I do not advocate any substance ABUSE.  But it does make me wonder why things are illegal and how we got there and why were particular laws put on the books…?  Why do some laws seem to affect certain populations and those in lower socio-economic levels?  Some laws ARE designed that way.  Look at the difference between the penalties for “crack” cocaine (poor man’s drug) and powder cocaine (the white mans drug). Look at our nations history and how it relates to colonialism.  Again, that’s a whole other conversation about privilege, and who has it.

It sure makes one question your own perspective, and what it would take to change it.

For more information about the similarities and differences between Crack and powder cocaine and sentencing differences…go here-> Cocaine and Crack Facts.

I am by no means endorsing the use or abuse of any illegal substance nor am I interested in going down that path, this is not an endorsement of anything like that, just my thoughts about PERSPECTIVE on a hot and difficult topic.