Disclosure :: Red Stick Moms Blog seeks to honor the voices of all moms living in Louisiana. We understand and respect that this is controversial topic, but we ask that you read Katie’s journey to seek understanding and – should you desire to weigh in – that you engage respectfully.
I’m an unlikely medical marijuana supporter.
I’m a wife to a law enforcement officer. I’m a mom to three beautiful boys. I’m a teacher. I’m a devout Catholic. I’m all the things you wouldn’t expect of person advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana here in this very conservative state of Louisiana.
I am advocating for medical marijuana for my nine year old son.
My son Connor is a joyful child with the biggest brown eyes you’ve ever seen. He has the funniest toothless grin and loves to show it off. His infectious laugh will put an instant smile on your face. Connor is an amazing little boy, but is plagued with uncontrollable seizures.
At 6 weeks old, my delicate, precious newborn was given numerous diagnoses due to a rare brain malformation. Doctors informed my husband and I that our sweet baby would be developmentally delayed and would most certainly experience seizures. We had no clue what our life would entail that chilly January day when we finally took him home.
The seizures began at 6 months old. By two years old, Connor was experiencing up to 100 seizures a day and required a helmet because my miracle boy had learned how to sit up unassisted. As my child learned new skills and hit major milestones, my heart would swell with pride, but then a seizure would come and knock him down … literally. One step forward, two steps back. That was his life due to uncontrollable seizures.
The seizures progressively got worse. The medications grew in number and strength and the side effects from them made their presence known quickly. My angel boy was sleeping most of the day due to the sedating side effects. His teeth were decalcified. His gums were swelling causing him pain when he ate. He ended up losing his appetite all together due to another medication and a feeding tube was placed in his tiny little belly.
Over the past nine years, Connor has tried more medications than I can count – even one with a side effect of vision loss (YES, it could cause blindness). He’s tried diets. He’s had surgeries. He’s done IVIG and steroid infusions. He’s done it all. He’s officially run out of options here in Louisiana. Without seizure control and without putting an end to the horrific FDA approved medications, my child’s life is in danger.
I live in fear of the next big seizure that could take him from my arms. I live in fear that my child’s liver will shut down because of the medication that I force down his feeding tube twice a day. I live in fear that I am not trying hard enough to give him the best quality of life possible.
So here I am … a desperate mom fighting for access to medical marijuana oil.
Connor and I can be found walking the halls of Louisiana’s state capital on any given day lobbying for the passage of Senate Bill 271. I plead our case to legislators, explaining how it could be a game changer and a life saver for my son and thousands others. I am actively fighting to break the stigma that medical marijuana is for druggies looking for their next high. Instead my son who is already as high as a kite on barbiturates needs this marijuana oil to actually come back down to Earth.
I have been interviewed by news and radio stations trying earnestly to educate the public on what exactly this bill does and who it will help. I have become the face of a medical marijuana movement for my son and with this comes backlash from the public.
“What an idiot!” “I bet you are a liberal pothead looking for more weed.” “Why would you want to drug your child?” “How about you try medicating him instead of giving him pot?”
These are just a few of the angry outbursts that have flooded my inbox in the past few weeks. We all feel the need to voice our opinions these days and hiding behind a bright, glassy screen makes us feel brave to say words that we would never say in person.
The individuals who felt the desire to give me their input do not walk in my shoes. These people do not hold their child every night consoling them as yet another seizure takes hostage of their brain. They don’t watch their child waste away before their eyes. They live a different life from me and they don’t understand.
When your child is sick you take care of them. Then when your child doesn’t recover from that illness you keep looking for answers to get them well, right? That is precisely what I’m doing. It’s our job as parents to take care of our children. We protect the life that we brought into this world with every ounce of our being.
I refuse to sit back and be okay with the constant electrical storm in Connor’s brain. I refuse to be forced to move to another state to get him the help and treatment that could potentially change his life. I refuse to be silenced in a state where marijuana is a four letter word. I refuse to give up on my child.
While you may not fit into my shoes, I hope that you would try if only for a moment to imagine slipping them on before judging me. Imagine if my dirty blonde haired boy riding in his bright blue wheelchair was yours, what would you do in order to save his life?
Katie is a 31 year old self proclaimed Louisiana Southern Belle! She and her “daddy trooper” husband Coye live just outside of Baton Rouge in Tangipahoa Parish. Katie has three sons-Aaron, Connor, and Cooper, and enjoys living a life with boys! Katie attended Southeastern Louisiana University where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. Little did Katie know how her love of children with special needs would grow shortly after she graduated college. Connor was born with a rare brain disorder called Schizencephaly – he is wheelchair bound, nonverbal, blind, battles retractable epilepsy, and is fed through a feeding tube. Katie and Connor endure the many trials they are put through with a smile and joy in their heart. She loves seeking out families who are in need to offer hope, love, and remind them of God’s faithfulness. Katie is an active member in her church, St. Helena Catholic Church and teaches Special Education Inclusion at her hometown public school. She enjoys being crafty, making wreaths, cooking, and grocery shopping with her pearls on! While her husband shakes his head, she has a need to stay busy all the time! Katie’s newest venture is writing a children’s book series affectionately titled, “The Adventures of Connor Man.”