Medical marijuana helps Illinois 5 year old recover from in utero stroke

5 year old Aria

5 year old Aria

The posts I enjoy writing the most these days are those that chronicle cannabis success stories for children. Today’s post is about a 5 year old named Aria who has had unbelievable challenges in life since before birth. Her Mom, Lauren Ford, is my hero…and I say that as the Mother of a child with special needs. My husband and I have been through challenges with our son, but nothing like this.

When Aria wasn’t meeting her milestones at 3 months, Lauren decided it was time to check her out. Initially, Aria was diagnosed with Torticollis because she only looked to the left. Strangely, my son also had this same disorder and with PT, his resolved itself. Sadly, with Aria, it was not the cause of her delays. An MRI, administered when she was 6 months old, determined that Aria had experienced a stroke in utero when she was 23 weeks old which left her with Traumatic Brain Injury. She had her first seizure at 8 months, was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms, and she had hundreds of them on a daily basis. Sadly, medical cannabis still remains the last resort instead of the first treatment option.

As typically happens, Aria was subjected to dozens of medications, most of which did not help her. They saw 4 or 5 neurologists; Lauren has lost count. When the neurologist at the University of Chicago highly recommended removing part of Aria’s brain, Lauren knew it was time to look at medical cannabis oil. And if that suggestion wasn’t heinous enough, the hospital administrators demanded that they remove Aria’s service dog, a sweet Black Lab named Asha, from the hospital. I know….what a #$%^@#$%!

Aria and Asha

Aria and Asha

Thankfully, the doctors at Central DuPage Hospital are strong advocates for medical cannabis oil. Lauren was able to find doctors willing to sign Aria’s application for a medical cannabis card. Theirs was amongst the first batch of cards granted to Illinois patients. They first tried Charlotte’s Web which can be purchased without a medical cannabis card due to its low THC content. It worked enormously well and greatly reduced Aria’s seizures. Lauren suspected that adding another cannabis product with small amounts of THC would be even more effective….and she was right. And no, Aria is NOT stoned on the THC. In fact, Lauren describes her as less “clouded” and definitely more willing to try things. When she was on all the meds, she would just sit slouched over.

When the dispensaries opened last November, there was only cannabis flower available. No one under age 18 is allowed to purchase it. So, they had to wait for the edibles and tinctures to become available. That was a very frustrating time for the family. There were other problems since only 1 caregiver per child was allowed when the program started. The entire family had to go to the dispensary; one parent had to sit with Aria while the other purchased the cannabis. The dispensaries did not have a continuous supply of the product they needed and there were very few dispensaries open, so their choices were very limited.

The law will soon change where a child is allowed to have 2 caregivers which will help, although purchasing product is still a family affair. They have been able to find a closer dispensary and the product is more readily available. In addition to the daily dosage of Charlotte’s Web, Aria takes one Gold Leaf Gummie divided into 2, every morning and evening.

Aria and Asha

Aria and Asha

Lauren was excited to tell me that Aria went 21 days without a seizure…a long way from the hundreds she would experience on her worst days. She is non-verbal, but they are seeing progress in her development with the cannabis oil treatment. She was most recently in a school with a blended classroom that was not meeting her needs, so Lauren is currently looking for a different school. Her beloved Asha provides a huge amount of emotional support for Aria. She sticks to her like glue when she is having a seizure. Asha has been Aria’s constant companion since October, 2014, thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation. They also have 3 cats. Don’t you just love these pictures?

Here’s to Aria’s continued success, thanks to medical cannabis. If you know others with similar challenges who might benefit from medical cannabis use, I hope you will share this post. We need to overcome the stigma of cannabis. Lauren told me that her child has been called a “pot head.” This could not be further from the truth. Cannabis is medicine.

Okiedokee, thanks for reading, commenting and sharing!

I’ve written a series of posts about medical marijuana. If you want to read more you can click on the “Medical Marijuana” tag at the top of my page.

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