To say I’m your standard Conservative Suburban Mom is probably an understatement.
I’ve voted with the GOP hardline in the last three elections (which is probably enough to get me burned at the stake with most of you reading this.) I wear sweater sets with pearls. We go to church every Sunday.
And I score drugs for my 12-year-old son.
Why yes, that is my SUV (with the “Romney 2012” bumper sticker) outside Milo’s cheesy college apartment, picking up this month’s supply. I always guiltily hit up 2 different ATMs to get the money, not wanting the nice girl at my bank branch to wonder why I’m always getting cash. I dose my son with a nice home-baked chocolate chunk cookie. (Important: keep those cookies in a separate jar.)
As a baby, my Matthew developed in a perfectly normal fashion. He hit every milestone right on time, like walking at 12 months, complete sentences at 18 months (“Mom, that was a fart.”) And at 22 months, my son disappeared. Autism is a cruel disorder; 4 out of 5 children are born neurotypical and then regress into the silence of those beautiful, mysterious brains.
As the final F-U, one in four kids with autism develop seizure disorders. Matthew was one of them. His first seizure was at Target when we were shopping for a new bike for his 9th birthday. He gave out a loud bird-like screech and fell to the floor, shaking and moaning. To see my child frothing at the mouth and shrieking makes me understand a little better why so many cultures thought seizures were actually demonic possession. The kindly EMTs nodded knowingly when I gasped that Matthew had autism.
“Sorry to hear it, but we see this a lot with the autistic kids,” the paramedic said, injecting my baby with Versed to stop the seizure.
Our pediatric neurologist put Matthew on a potent cocktail of three different anti-convulsant medications. They didn’t stop the seizures from increasing in frequency or severity. But Matthew endured endless rashes, nausea and sleeplessness. One of the other autism moms was the first to suggest marijuana.
“How is getting my son stoned going to be any help!” I hissed.
She rolled her eyes. “There are several different types of cannabis. You want one with a lower THC -- that’s what gets you high -- and containing a higher CBD level.”
I held on to the slip of paper she gave me for three weeks, watching Matty continue to suffer. His neurologist shifted his meds around, lowering some doses, increasing others. And the seizures kept hitting my little man. Spending two sleepless nights online, I researched everything I could find about CBD enhanced marijuana treatments for autism and epilepsy. I finally called Milo, my lone "stoner connection," asking what he might have for a kid with seizures.
“Autistic?” he said knowingly. “Whatcha got him on, Lamotrigine? Probably Trazodone or Tryliptal?”
Turns out my stoner connection is a chemist major who has been growing different strains of cannabis for a couple of years. He’d narrowed down a few with a generous composition of CBD. I handed over my money and took the bag home, wiping my sweaty palms on my khaki skirt. I was a lawbreaker. I was giving an illegal drug to my 10-year-old son.
Matthew’s seizures became shorter, the days between them started stretching further and further apart. He started gaining weight again and one day I heard something utterly alien in the family room. Matty was laughing at “Spongebob Squarepants.” I hadn’t heard my boy laugh in four years.
As his mother, I consider marijuana a miracle. The CBD extract Matthew takes has almost completely stopped his seizures, and there’s a growing body of evidence that these marijuana strains may be healing neurons damaged from repeated seizures.
In my ultra conservative state, I could be sentenced for drug possession: up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. I could lose custody of my son. But he is living, laughing proof that thousands of children suffering with these challenges could be helped by marijuana. And it’s still illegal in 27 states. If this keeps up, I’m going to have to vote <shudder> the Democratic ticket.
Here’s my recipe for “Matthew’s Chocolate-Chunk Cookies.” They’re delicious, “enhanced” or plain.
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 1 3/4 chocolate chunks (I use half white chocolate, half dark)
• 1 cup chopped nuts
PREHEAT oven to 375º F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chunks and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
*Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.