You can read the entire article by clicking here but I will also paste it below incase the link ever stops working. Many thanks to Courtney Crowder of the Des Moines Register for taking such a great amount of time learning Abe's story and researching every bit of it to make sure you got your facts right! You are amazing! Also, big thanks to Zach Boyden-Holmes for the wonderful photos. Abe really loved showing off for you guys at Therapy.
The article reads as this:
"When Erin Miller dreamed of motherhood, she never imagined her life would be organized around therapy appointments and medical research consultations.She didn’t think it would mean racking up debt traveling from specialist to specialist or memorizing her 4-year-old son Abram’s list of medical conditions, including a rare disorder called UBE2A Deficiency Syndrome, which can cause seizures, intellectual disability, motor delays, and defects in the brain, heart or kidneys.
And Miller, who is one of The Des Moines Register's People to Watch in 2017, certainly never imagined she would have to lobby legislators, doctors and hospitals for the medicine she says has kept her son seizure-free for more than 500 days and given him some semblance of normalcy: medical cannabis.
“Cannabis brought my son back to me,” said Miller, who spent years struggling to figure out what exactly was wrong with Abram. “Just two years ago, he was having seizures and all the motor skills he had gained disappeared. Now, after being on cannabis for a year and a half, he’s walking, running, giving high-fives and hugs, and being a little boy."
For the past few years, Iowa legislators have tangled over what to do about medical cannabis. With the current medical marijuana law set to expire this summer, Miller and other advocates plan to advocate for a more comprehensive bill.
Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, and Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, have said they plan to file medical marijuana bills when the legislative session begins in January. Baudler has said he wants to limit products to low-THC oil made from the marijuana plant, commonly called cannabidoil or CBD, while Bolkcom wants patients with a wide variety of afflictions to have access to the entire cannabis plant and a fuller range of products.
The current bill, passed in 2014, allows only patients with intractable epilepsy to possess CBD with less than 3 percent THC, the chemical associated with marijuana’s psychoactive properties. That legislation gave Abram access to the medicine he uses, but a separate statute deems manufacturing or distributing marijuana illegal in Iowa, and federal regulations prohibit transporting the plant across state lines. Effectively, Miller is breaking the law every time she goes to Colorado to acquire her son’s medicine.
Miller says she found pharmaceuticals failing her son, with nowhere left to turn. She is not a criminal, she says, just a parent who wants her son to be able to access a stronger dose of CBD or a different part of the plant if he needs it. And she wants her friends with cancer, ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and chronic pain to be able to obtain the type of product they need, whether that be oil with a higher THC content or other forms of marijuana.
“I’ve met so many people totally out of medical options that deserve this, too,” she said.
While nationally the medical community disagrees over what to do about medical marijuana, 78 percent of Iowans support allowing people to use cannabis as medicine, more than ever before, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll conducted in February 2016. With high-profile leaders, including Bob Vander Plaats, president of evangelical Christian organization The Family Leader, and a cadre of business executives in support of legislative action, Miller is hopeful lawmakers will get a bill passed.
If they don’t, it might mean moving her family to Colorado to ensure Abram can legally access medical marijuana.
“Abram is a prime example that legislators did good when they put that bill into effect in 2014,” Miller said. “Now, they have a chance to help others in the same way.”
Miller had a totally normal pregnancy, she said. But that’s where “normal” stopped.
Abram got stuck during birth and Miller had an emergency cesarean section. Doctors then discovered she lacked amniotic fluid. Amid Abram’s stay at the neonatal intensive care unit, his nail beds and lips turned purple and his nasal passages had to be suctioned. He hadn’t been receiving the correct amount of oxygen for a few days.
When Abram finally went home, he never stopped screaming and crying, and he never slept, Miller said.
“It was almost like he was ... in pain, writhing in pain and screaming,” she added.
Miller knew something was very wrong, she said, but no one would listen.
“Even my closest friends were like, ‘You are just not happy at home with your baby,’ or, ‘Maybe you have postpartum depression,'" she said.
Miller scheduled an appointment with a neurologist and discovered that Abram had been having almost non-stop seizures due to brain abnormalities.
Abram's doctors decided to start him on an anti-epileptic drug and, for the first month, everything seemed OK, Miller said.
But then worse seizures came. Her son’s doctors prescribed more of the anti-epileptic drug, she said. Abram had just begun to walk at 2 and a half years old, but he started collapsing and not being able to take steps or crawl straight. He regressed. Miller said the doctors’ only response was more anti-epileptic drugs.
Unsure what to do, Abram’s neurologist told the family they needed to contact a specialist, Miller said, and added that they should think about trying cannabis.
Miller acquired a bottle of CBD oil in June 2015 and almost immediately noticed a change in her boy.
“He was able to make eye contact and smile,” she said. “His fine motor skills began to catch up. … he went from literally not using his fingers to being able to do puzzles.”
Nationally, 28 states, Guam and D.C. have legalized comprehensive medical marijuana, while another 16 states allow for some form of CBD or low-THC products.
But even as more states choose legalization, the medical community lacks consensus on medical marijuana. A recent poll in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 76 percent of experts backed medical marijuana use and the American Nurses Association “has supported providing safe access to therapeutic marijuana and related cannabinoids for over 20 years.”
On the other hand, the American Medical Association will not take a position on the use of medical marijuana until more research is completed. And the Federal Drug Administration has not approved marijuana for any use.
One of the biggest arguments Miller hears against expanding medical marijuana access in Iowa is it’s a slippery slope to allowing recreational marijuana. But Miller stressed that she’s only advocating for “safe and organically grown and lab-tested” medical cannabis.
Over the years, Miller has tried to let go of the anger toward those who she felt weren’t listening to her. Even though being ignored was “traumatizing,” she said, it turned out Abram had an extremely rare condition and she now realizes they just didn’t know the best course of treatment.
Miller is the mama bear she never knew she could be, fighting for her cub and the medicine she believes he needs.
And she claims a little victory every time she sees that bright yellow note in Abram's medical file that says, "Listen to mom."