Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Card Carrying....

Some of you (my FB peeps) may remember me ranting pretty savagely a few weeks ago about medical marijuana and how hard it was to get for kids who really needed it.

My FB rant

Turns out I was right.

And, I was wrong.

After taking the advice of a couple of people who commented, as well as a relative who privately messaged me, I called Integr8 Health in Falmouth and, feeling like someone was going to call DHHS on me at any minute for even posing the question, shakily asked the very kind lady who answered the phone if kids under the age of eighteen could legally qualify for medical marijuana. Kind Lady asked me why I was pursuing it for my daughter. I told her about all of Tess's disabilities and most importantly, about her struggle with uncontrolled epilepsy and how it was escalating and we had maxed out all of her current drugs and were now having to look at adding even more, and how I just couldn't NOT check into this instead. I also told her I was scared for Tess. Kind Lady got even kinder and told me that with kids, the doctor needed to see them in person, whereas with adults, other people could do it (nurse practitioners, etc) but he was only in that office once a month and tended to book quite a ways out but that she thought he'd want to make Tess a priority so she actually put Tess into the doctor's schedule even though he was "booked" while mumbling about moving that patient out a little bit and then, when I apologetically told her that still would be tough due to the ferry schedule, she moved yet another child to a different time and slid Tess into that one so we could make it a day trip. And the icing on the cake was that Tess would be seeing him in three days. THREE DAYS!

Honestly, it felt like angels were guiding things to make it all work out so smoothly.

I still had a couple of hurdles to jump though. I wanted her primary care doc, Dr. Stephenson, to be aware of what we were up to. I mean, can you imagine if Tess had a bad reaction to the marijuana and we had to take her to the hospital and fess up to her doc that we had been giving it to her without him even knowing? Um, no thank you. I was so nervous about telling him that I literally dreamt about it the night before and in my dream he was pissed! Not a good omen. But, I gathered my courage and called him the next day and he was totally fine. He had a few concerns and definitely wanted to be sure Tess's epilepsy doc in Boston knew about it and was on board, but he supported us and our reasoning for going this route. He also thought it was quite funny that I had dreamt that he was mad at me. "It takes quite a bit to get me mad.", he told me. "Yeah, well it takes a lot to get Charlie really mad too but you know it when he is!", I responded. He just cracked up at that.

I didn't bother calling the Boston doc because, as fate would have it, Tess had an appointment with her about ten days after her Integr8 one.

I have to say, it was rather bizarre to roll my little girl into a marijuana clinic. And we got a few strange looks as well but that could have been because we had the dog with us. Or just because Tess gets stared at. A lot. So who really knows why we got the looks. I was feeling judged only because of my hang ups about it, I'm sure.

But I digress.

We met with the doctor and his nurse for about an hour. I was so impressed by the doctor! He really knew his stuff (literally and figuratively *wink*wink*). He addressed all of our concerns about trying marijuana as well as our hopes for it and even talked about benefits to Tess we hadn't even thought of. It's hard to explain all of it (there was a lot!) but it was so interesting! My biggest concern would be that Tess would be "stoned". The doctor, and Charlie, both looked at me and Charlie said, "She already is.", as the doctor concurred with him. Like the doctor pointed out, many, if not all of the meds that Tess currently takes alter mind chemically and his opinion was that marijuana would barely affect her in that way. He was also hopeful that we could eventually wean her off of other meds IF the medical marijuana proves successful.  He discussed how he wanted her to take it, (an oil that would drop under her tongue) as well as using a rescue med version for when she is actually seizing. I didn't even know we could do that! He mapped it all out for us right down to the way he wants the tincture made up. We will give it to her three times a day and start with the tiniest amount and go from there. If one type of marijuana fails, there a two more he would try, all at varying dosages. Much like we would do if starting any new seizure drug. He was very realistic with us and told us that some kids are not helped at all by marijuana but that he was very hopeful. So are we.

The part where this gets a little tough is the getting it part. For kids especially, the doctor only recommended one clinic in Maine that makes what he wants Tess to have and then, once we get it, he wants us to have an independent lab test it to make sure it's EXACTLY what he is "prescribing" her. I think it's awesome he's so cautious but it means a lot of extra logistical maneuvering for us. Because the Federal Government refuses to legalize medical marijuana, even though States like Maine have, we can't have it mailed. I'm not sure about UPS or FedEx but my guess would be no. I'm going to look into though. It takes about two days for the lab to test it so we need to figure out how to drop it off and still be able to pick it up without having the added expense of having to stay on the mainland and/or making two day trips which means Charlie taking even more time off from work. And bonus? Insurance won't cover the cost. It's all out of pocket. But, we'll figure it all out. We always do.

At any rate, we went to Boston and got the green light from her doc there to try this instead of going to the next pharmaceutical drug she would prescribe. Of course, we will be keeping her in the loop as we go. In my mind, Doc B is the Head Coach with Doc S at Integr8, and myself, as the assistant coaches. I'll always follow Doc B's lead and insist everyone else does as well. It really helps that she is very open minded and understands that as parents, we feel like we NEED to try this. I even posed the question to her if she thought it would be hurting Tess to not go to the next pharmaceutical drug but she said to try the medical marijuana and if that didn't work, we'd go from there. She simply requested that we admit defeat if/when we knew for sure it wasn't working because it's been her experience that parents want so badly for it to work, they hesitate to admit when it's not. I get it but I assured her I was not that kind of parent. I'm a realist. For good or bad, I'm pretty quick to call things as I see them.

The last hurdle was to get the State of Maine to sign off on a medical marijuana card for Tess. Apparently, because she is a minor, she had to get approval thru DHHS. I can happily report that Integr8 took care of getting that done and Tess was approved.

We haven't had a chance to go buy her the "stuff" yet. We will soon.

Meanwhile, my baby is a card carrying stoner girl and I couldn't be happier about it.

And not for nothin', many thanks to my awesome friends who jumped in during my rant a few weeks ago to comment with their support and outrage, and especially their helpful advice that led us to Integr8.

Fingers crossed!