Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Simple Epilepsy Drug

Beth Wilkinson of Kansas: Epilepsy
Beth is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That’s where she grew up. She got her degree from the University of Northern Iowa. She has a degree in Art Education.
Currently Beth lives in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s turned out to be a really nice place for her and her family to live.
In 1986, Beth was riding horses with a friend. Her horse fell on her and she suffered a TBI, (traumatic brain injury), which landed her in a coma for over a week.
When she came out of the coma, she had to learn everything all over again. Her son was two years old then. “ …so, we basically grew up together.”
She didn’t have any further complications from her injury for years. She finished up her degree and she later moved to Minnesota. But it was there that she began experiencing seizures and black outs.
So she had to start seeing a Neurologist. She was put on Dilantin and stayed on it for years.
After moving back to Cedar Rapids, she started having the seizures once, maybe twice a year. Following her move to Kansas in ’98, she started having them two or three times a month. Those seizures were called Grand Mal’s, or, their current term, Tonic-Clonic seizures.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Endocannabinoid System Primer

Cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body, are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.

Cannabinoid receptors are of a class of cell membrane receptors in the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily. As is typical of G protein-coupled receptors, the cannabinoid receptors contain seven transmembrane spanning domains. Cannabinoid receptors are activated by three major groups of ligands: endocannabinoids, produced by the mammillary body; plant cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol, produced by the cannabis plant); and synthetic cannabinoids (such as HU-210). All of the endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids (plant based cannabinoids) are lipophilic, such as fat soluble compounds.

There are currently two known subtypes of cannabinoid receptors, termed CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain (central nervous system or "CNS"), but also in the lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB2 receptor is expressed mainly in the immune system and in hematopoietic cells. Mounting evidence suggests that there are novel cannabinoid receptors that is, non-CB1 and non-CB2, which are expressed in endothelial cells and in the CNS. In 2007, the binding of several cannabinoids to the G protein-coupled receptor GPR55 in the brain was described.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Heather DeMian of Columbia, Missouri: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Heather is thirty-six years old and confined to a wheelchair. Heather was born with a rare genetic condition called Vascular Type Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
It’s a defect in her type three collagen that weakens the walls of her blood vessels, organs, and esophagus. “Everything is very weak.”
It makes her joints dislocate very easily. “When you see a new doctor and they see that you have Ehlers-Danlos, they immediately ask ‘what tricks can you do?’ ” A cynical smile comes over Heather’s face.
But condition is no laughing matter. It causes her a lot of pain and gastro-intestinal problems, which are further aggravated by the pain meds that are prescribed to her.
Heather takes Zofran, an anti-nausea medication. “Zofran suppresses the gag reflex maybe half the time.” Her Medicaid pays roughly $1200 per month for her to have this drug.
She also takes Marinol, a pharmaceutical synthetic of the cannabinoid THC that is found in cannabis. Heather’s Marinol costs Medicaid roughly $1500 per month.
Together, these prescriptions total $2700 per month or $32400 per year, just to try to suppress Heather’s urge to vomit. Unfortunately, they rarely do. She has to carry a plastic container everywhere she goes for when the urge to vomit comes upon her. Obviously, she doesn’t get to go out very much.
Heather describes her cannabis use as, “an instant soothing that you can’t get from any drug.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Stopping The Progression of MS

Jack Chavez of Colorado: Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
I consider Jack a friend of mine. Jack’s a pretty remarkable guy. Jack has Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve interviewed a number of people with MS, but none quite as remarkable as Jack.
The first time I met Jack was in 2006 while traveling across the country with Journey for Justice 7. My good friend and Denver Caregiver Diana McKindley agreed to introduce me to some of her patients. Jack was number one on the list.
At the time of my interview, Jack was still having difficulty talking. So for the interview, Diana agreed to read a short speech to me that Jack had prepared.
We take for granted the choreography of muscles required to sustain speech. Jack has to concentrate and apply great effort to do what comes naturally for us, even when all he is trying to do is say a few words.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Neuropathy Medicine

Buddy Talley of North Carolina: Neuropathy of the Feet
Buddy is 86 years old. He started in the tobacco business when he was 17. He didn’t retire until he was 73. A buyer for Kent, Newport and Old Gold, the fast paced, highly competitive world of a tobacco broker was the driving force for most of his life.
Buddy has outlived his wife by eighteen years. Now it’s just him and his son Tom. Tom is Buddy’s caregiver, now. Tom is also chronically ill.
Buddy has been suffering with Neuropathy of the feet for twenty years. He said that it feels like nails piercing the bottom of his feet. ” I jus’ never had anything in my life to hurt like this.”
Neuropathy encompasses more than 100 diseases and conditions affecting the peripheral nerves-the motor, sensory and autonomic nerves that connect the spinal cord to muscles, skin and internal organs. It usually affects the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, tingling and pain.
Buddy is a veteran. He served four years during World War II. He was told that it was probably the long walks packing heavy equipment that lead to his feet problems.
Two recent scientific studies (Headline from 2007) have confirmed what Buddy has found (that conventional narcotics don’t work for his condition) and what he has been told (that Cannabis is effective for Neuropathic foot pain).

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Chemo Blows, Cannabis Sooths

Catherine Adaberry of Missouri: Breast Cancer
Catherine developed breast cancer in 2002. She was in her 40’s. No one in her family had ever dealt with the disease. It was a difficult time for her and her loved ones. She underwent surgery and considerable chemotherapy and radiation treatments. “Physically, it took quite a toll on me…I was very sick.”
“I was sick the whole time, and I used marijuana. It helped.”
She had heard that cannabis could help with those battling cancer. A member of her extended family had dealt with brain cancer. He used cannabis and attributed his prolonged life to his use of cannabis.
With the chemo, Catherine didn’t want to eat. She just didn’t have an appetite. She was a nervous wreck. “I would smoke and I could eat. I would smoke and I could sleep. With the radiation, it was the same thing.”
“There’s just so much stress with having cancer. I mean, your hair falls out. You don’t feel good. I had grand babies during that time and I couldn’t hold them. I was an emotional wreck. It helped. So many pills…you don’t want to take another pill. It was so much better just to smoke – and to eat – and to smoke – and to sleep.”

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Spinal Injury Pain Relief

Todd Walk of Missouri: Spinal Injury, Neurological Pain

Todd has a spinal cord injury at T3, that’s complete paralysis from about the mid-chest down. Because of the traumatic nature of his injury, he suffers from neurological pain.
It’s tough for Todd to describe the experience. “…strangest type of pain you can describe. You can’t understand what it’s like unless you have it.”
There can be different degrees. Todd’s is moderate to severe. “It’s like being burned or stabbed, or, anything like that…twenty-four hours a day.”
For Todd, it’s worse at night. “It’s not as bad during the day as long as I take my pharmaceutical medication.”
The pain is particularly bad when storms are coming in and when he forgets to take his medicine.
“Nothing really seems to help.” Todd is prescribed a number of anti-seizure medications. “Some, I take for the baseline pain, but they don’t help with the flare-ups.” Opiates are reserved for the flare-ups. “That doesn’t seem to do much either.”