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A mother’s plea: Gov. Otter, do the right thing for epilepsy patients

A mother’s plea: Gov. Otter, do the right thing for epilepsy patients

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
November 28, 2016

By Jeanette Phillips, Salmon, Idaho

Gov. Butch Otter, it’s time to do the right thing for my son, Josh. It’s time for Idaho to legalize CBD oil, which would likely ease his epileptic seizures.

Josh has suffered from epilepsy since the age of four. We have tried nearly every solution to relieve his suffering: he’s been on 13 different medications, had a nerve stimulator implanted in his upper chest, and he has endured brain surgery in Seattle. Nothing has stopped his seizures.

I hurt for Josh. He wrestled in high school and probably would have been state champion in his weight class were it not for the seizures. He nearly died on one wrestling trip. Josh collapsed in the middle of the gym when he was introduced on his senior night. He’s a good kid afflicted with a terrible disorder, and he’s doing the best he can to live a normal life.

The above are hardly the worst of Josh’s story. His first nerve stimulator was implanted incorrectly and nearly electrocuted him to death – from the inside. If that’s not bad enough, he was allergic to one of his medications and that nearly killed him, too.

The surgeons in Seattle severed two-thirds of his brain as a final solution. Stop for a moment. Consider how terrifying this was for Josh, for me and for all those who love my son.

The surgery mitigated his seizures, but failed to stop them completely. His condition limits his activities, so Josh cannot take part drive or do other things considered normal for people his age.

No young person should have to endure the things Josh has overcome in his life.

Yet, it’s only government that stands between Josh and the possibility of relief.

In 2015, you, Gov. Otter, had the chance to grant Josh and others the chance at a better future. Republicans and Democrats passed a bill to decriminalize CBD oil. Josh and I had hope for the first time in a long while.

Then you vetoed the legislation. CBD was my son’s chance at a normal life. I cannot understand why you refused to sign the legislation.

There are many myths floating around about CBD, an extract from the marijuana plant that can ease Josh’s seizures, but cannot produce a psychoactive high. Even if it could, I can attest, Josh isn’t interested in getting high.

He’s interested in driving the beautiful, classic Mustang his brother, Otto, refurbished for him after the brain surgery. Otto, who loves his brother dearly, paid for the refinish in hopes Josh would return from Seattle to drive it.  Now, the car sits mostly unused.

Josh would like to go to college, find a career and start a family. He wants to find ways to help others who suffer with epilepsy. He knows his suffering can be worth more if only he can use it to lift others.

Yet, we can’t send Josh to college. Who will cradle his wracked body on his dorm room floor after a grand-mal seizure has tormented him?

Some have suggested our family pick up and move to a neighboring state  where Josh can buy and consume CBD oil. We’ve considered it, but our family has deep roots in this community. We love Salmon and we love Idaho and we’re staying put.

Plus, how compassionate are we as a culture if we ask epilepsy patients to leave our wonderful state to find relief? I know we’re better than that.

Gov. Otter, my son is not a criminal. I just want for my son what any parent hopes: that he lives a full life filled with joy, love and little suffering.

I appreciate your thoughts and your sympathy. But your sympathy doesn’t stop my son’s seizures.

Idaho Freedom Foundation
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