If you’ve come to our house lately you may have noticed some changes. There are signs all over food in our kitchen saying “JACK ONLY” and there’s a lingering smell in the air.
We had someone working on the alarm system last month and he asked me what kind of tea I was making. When I told him it wasn’t tea he said with a big smile on his face, “I didn’t really think so.”
I reacted by doing what I’ve done for the last six months, I politely smiled and changed the subject. I haven’t wanted to discuss it, feeling like people might judge, but at the airport last week I was forced to disclose our family’s little secret.
Wheeling through the airport in Miami, we were stopped at security and asked for our boarding passes and IDs. I handed over our boarding passes and Dan and I each presented our driver’s licenses. The guard looked up and said, “What about the kids?”
Unless traveling abroad we’ve never had to present any ID for the children and no one had asked us on the way to Florida. “They’re kids.” I said, but as the words came out of my mouth I suddenly realized Jack isn’t a kid anymore – he’s 18. Crap.
“I’m sorry I can’t let him through security without a photo ID.”
“Sir, we don’t have one. I didn’t know he needed one. They didn’t ask us for it in NJ.”
“NJ should have asked. I really can’t let him through.”
Dan, Anna and Jack were all looking at me. The people behind us in line were glaring at me. I felt myself beginning to sweat (although that may have just been a hot flash). I started wondering which one of us would stay back with Jack and how long it would take to mail the passport, when I realized we did have something. I opened my wallet and pulled out the one photo ID I have for Jack.
“Will this work?”
The man took the card and held it under his fancy light. He then looked up at me as he called his supervisor over. They both looked down at the card mumbling to each other (and giggling) then looked up, “Okay, Jack. Have a great trip.” They each gave Jack a high-five as we wheeled him away.
Apparently medical marijuana cards are an excepted form of ID by the the TSA.
Over the last few years I’ve read stories of people with ALD and similar diseases having success with medical marijuana (cannabis). I discovered that cannabis has many, very beneficial medical benefits — anti-nausea, suppresses seizure activity, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, combats neurodegenerative disorders. All this, with limited risks and certain varieties do not even cause a high.
We’ve tried countless things to help Jack. Remember, there is no “Guide to Treating People Post-Transplant with ALD”. We’ve tried everything from Parkinson’s drugs to speech therapy on a horse (called hippotherapy and Jack loved it, but it got rather expensive). Jack isn’t working any heavy machinery or driving and we’re not worried about marijuana being a “gateway drug” – after all Jack can’t open the fridge by himself and he has already used Codeine and Oxycodone and Vicodin (and on and on) without issue.
So, I made an appointment with Jack’s doctor to discuss introducing marijuana to our list of medications. Jack’s neurologist agreed and we started the process. Two more doctors (including a psychiatrist), $200, and six months later we were mailed our medical marijuana cards and a list of dispensaries in NJ.
Jack and I found ourselves on a suburban street in a neighboring town going into an unmarked building to purchase our first batch of an experiment. We were greeted with warm smiles and an unexpected education. As rigorous as it is to get a medical marijuana card in NJ, once you get it there is very little hand-holding by your doctors or by the State. It’s up to you to figure out what type of cannabis to buy, how much to give and how to administer it. For the last five months I have been trying different varieties of marijuana, making oils and butters and baking treats for Jack. A suburban housewife, using the same oven that I’ve used to cook Thanksgiving dinners, to make my 18-year-old son pot brownies and cookies.
Never in a million years did I imagine myself at 47 making pot brownies for my son. I’ve never been much of a a baker or a “baker”.
I’d be lying if I said that I never experimented with marijuana — I’d also be lying if I said I never inhaled. Pot was around much of my high school and college years and has even popped up at an occasional dinner party on our suburban streets in Maplewood, but I have always preferred the buzz of a little too much vino, to the buzz of a joint being passed around a circle. And, as wild as my social life was as a young person, I’ve always been uncomfortable with breaking the rules. As mainstream as pot was and has become, it’s always been illegal, but that’s changing.
It’s about time!
Medical marijuana has helped Jack. Maybe not the miracle that the websites promised, but Jack is calmer, walking better and is sleeping so well that I can’t help but be a little jealous of this new addition to Jack’s routine.
So there it is. I am sharing our secret because it should not be a secret. We are legally using a natural herb to help our son AND it helped us get home from Florida.
YES — Anna knows.
NO — We did not travel with any cannabis because that it’s illegal to leave the state of NJ with the “drug”. Absurd.