Happy Weedsday! I hope today finds all of you doing fine. If you’re not, keep your chin up and change perspective…you may find your outlook clearer!
Today I want to tell you of my young hero. Her name is Alexis Bortell.
Alexis was born in Rowlett, Texas in 2005 to her parents Dean and Analiza Bortell, who are both disabled veterans. She also has a beautiful younger sister named Avery.
In July of 2013, Alexis had her first epileptic seizure. Alexis was diagnosed with life-threatening epileptic seizures, which is a disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain of unknown origins. This is generalized epilepsy.
To treat the epilepsy, the doctors gave her a regimen of the drug Carbatrol extended release 200mg tablets to be given twice a day. In Dean’s own words, “It was like throwing gasoline on a fire.”
With the introduction of this drug, Alexis’s seizures increased in frequency. Obviously, there needed to be a change of some sort with the medication. At the request of the parents, the medication was evaluated. After evaluation the doctors then decided to increase the dosage for the Carbatrol. This caused some catastrophic results. With the increase of the medication, Alexis began having even more seizures. Additionally, she was having more than one type of seizure. Although the symptoms of the epilepsy were worse and the seizures were worse, they were advised to stay the course and let the medication do its work.
After about a month of “letting the medication” work into her system, Dean and Analiza took Alexis to their primary care provider for a second opinion. The primary care provider immediately recommends a new neurologist whose first action was to put Alexis back in the hospital for monitoring. After this evaluation, the doctors then put Alexis on 250mg of Depakote twice a day and returned her back to the original dose of Carbatrol, 200mg twice a day.
With these medication changes, this is what her family had to say: “We have also seen drastic changes in Alexis’s personality. Every day at about the time of each medicating, she goes through periods of euphoria or depression. It is as if we have traded the problems of epilepsy for the problems of the drugs given to combat it. Either way, this quality of life is not satisfactory or sustainable.”
Now, I don’t know about a lot of things, but I do know that Depakote is not recommended for children under the age of 18. Have you ever looked at the side effects of Depakote? Some of these include (but are certainly not limited to) hepatic failure, birth defects, pancreatitis hyperammonemic encephalopathy, suicidal behavior and ideation, bleeding and other hematopoietic disorders, hypothermia, drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), multiorgan hypersensitivity reactions and many, many other side effects.
As a parent, I can understand the desperation of wanting your child to not have to go through so much of this. I would try anything to make things better!
So, one night Dean and his wife found Dr. Sanjay Gupta on a CNN special about medical marijuana. Learning how cannabis might help their daughter, they took her to a neurologist in Colorado where the plant is legal. There, they were told that it was the best medication for their daughter. Alexis obtained her “red card” in Colorado and now is a legal cannabis patient. But that is in Colorado. In Texas, where she lives, cannabis is still illegal. This is how Alexis and her family became medical refugees. Alexis and her family had to literally move their entire life to another state so that Alexis could get the medical treatment she deserves.
No child or family should have to pack up everything they know — their whole life — because there is a plant that heals people that is not legal in one area or another. Since Alexis and her family moved to Colorado from Texas, Alexis has actually been seizure-free for a good amount of time now. She has adjusted to Colorado life. I am sure however, I know she would love to see her grandparents who are too elderly to travel. How can she, though? If she comes to Texas, her medicine is not legal here. Child Protective Services or officers of the law would surely take her. It’s a real shame and heartbreaker when there is this forced divide between families. It’s one that should never happen.
It personally makes me angry that there is this plant out here that does so much good, but laws are in place to benefit the ones that make money off sicknesses.
In February 2018, Alexis sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the constitutionality of her right to medicate with cannabis. In this particular interaction with the federal courts, a federal judge admitted that cannabis has medicinal properties. This is historic in every way.
Make sure to tune in to Alexis as she has a new date with the courts in her Cannabis fight (Washington v. Sessions) on October 29, 2018. It will be at 40 Foley Square (2nd Circuit) Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, in New York City.
Thank you, Alexis Bortell. You are my hero.