Debbie Wilson: Saved by Cannabis After 25 Years of Pharmaceuticals
MMJ Patient: Debbie Wilson, Portland, OR
She is a brain injury survivor of 25 years and has been suffering from one of the most severe cases of epilepsy that her doctors had ever seen. She was prescribed every drug there was and was sent to clinics across the nation to be evaluated. Her doctors had no answers and so she took matters into her own hands and discovered medical cannabis. This is the story of a woman who was so desperate to save her life that she was forced to pick up herself and her son’s family and move across the country from Illinois to Oregon just so she could have access to this life saving treatment. This is the story of Debbie Wilson, a patient advocate for medical cannabis.
What medical condition have you been struggling with?
I’ve been a traumatic brain injury survivor for about 25 years and for the past 23 years I have struggled with epilepsy, which was never able to be controlled by any pharmaceutical. I have have recently also been diagnosed with suspected CTE and the early stages of dementia, which is expected for a traumatic brain injury victim.
How long have you been experiencing your medical condition?
I was hit by a pickup truck as a pedestrian 25 years ago. When I was hospitalized, I apparently began having seizures in my sleep but I wasn’t told this information until those seizures started manifesting in my conscious state two years later. At the beginning, I wasn’t able to tolerate the medicine and kept having reactions and so I was further evaluated for brain seizure surgery, but I was not found eligible because I had several seizure origination points and they could only operate on one. They weren’t convinced that the surgery would do me more good than harm. Then, 18 years ago I suffered a fall that worsened my already severe case of epilepsy and then even considered me for a frontal lobotomy, which is essentially signing up a brain trauma patient for more brain trauma; that is how bad of a case I had. I was a patient that really could not be treated by western medicine. I learned to walk and talk again three different times, but I never saw any improvement in my condition. It was an endless cycle, until, of course, I was introduced to cannabis!
It was an endless cycle, until, of course, I was introduced to cannabis!
What do you believe caused this medical condition?
My brain trauma from the car accident caused my epilepsy and since it couldn’t be controlled until about four and a half years ago, I suffered countless more brain trauma incidents and concussions from the seizures themselves for 19 years. This repeated trauma then caused the CTE and brought on the early stages of dementia. I wasn’t even told to wear a helmet until 10 years ago, so I had a lot of years before that that I was suffering from frequent head hits during my seizures. My son said he stopped counting after I surpassed 25 concussions when he was growing up. The amount of seizures I had over those past 25 years were uncountable; I was literally having thousands a month.
CTE is brought on by multiple concussions or hits to the head. It’s what many football players and other athletes are thought to have and this is why I am donating my brain to the University of Oregon to they can study it and understand more about my disease. My doctors told me that I was showing signs for CTE, but I already knew before they told me that. I had studied my symptomatology and it was much more representative of CTE than dementia. It’s something that happens very quickly. It’s as if I lost the memory of how to make coffee overnight.
I’ve been a brain injury survivor for quite some time and have come to recognize when my memory is bettering or worsening. I’ve done my research and have become a specialist on my brain. I play different memory games to help my condition, many of which have been recognized by the Ontario Memory Clinic for being exemplary for patients like myself. I have been published in many different journals for patient care.
What medications have you been taking that were prescribed to you by your doctor?
I will just say that I tried and failed on 19 different pharmaceutical drugs. I’ve been a brain injury survivor for 25 years; I’ve tried everything there is. My doctors gave me megadoses of seizure medications. A medication that was normally prescribed to take 900mg… I was prescribed to take 4800mg a day. It’s not like like my doctors were trying to kill me, they just didn’t have the answers. They thought perhaps a higher dosage would control my condition better, but in fact it just ended up causing more damage.
I don’t blame any of my doctors; they were simply uninformed. I had to take this alternative treatment trial with cannabis independently. My doctors weren’t able or educated enough to tell me to do it. That’s what I think is sad; our medical professionals just don’t know or aren’t legally allowed to tell their patients about medical cannabis.
What side effects did you experience from the prescribed medication by your doctor?
Many of the prescriptions I was on almost killed me; whether it was because of immediate reactions like throat-closing lymph node swelling side effects that caused me to stop breathing or more deeper consequences that were unseen by the naked eye. Over those numerous years, the medications I was being prescribed to supposedly treat my condition did a lot of damage to my body. The pharmaceuticals I was taking caused me to lose my teeth, my gallbladder, and my large intestine. When they investigated my colon, they told me that it was literally frozen open with undigested megadoses of medicine. Those prescriptions were the culprit to many of the damages on my body.
I was numb. The anti-depressants that they put me on prevented me from really feeling any sort of feeling. I didn’t feel conscious or mentally there. I could see that people around me were feeling things I wasn’t feeling and that’s what medicines will do to you.
Debbie Wilson Gains Self Through Use of Cannabis
What type of alternative medicine have you tried aside from your doctor’s recommendation?
I tried everything my doctors told me to do. I tried every sort of drug, considered every kind of surgery, I was desperate! My doctors had no answers for me. And one day when I was on my way back from Chicago on a train, it was as if God whispered to me, “It’s not my law. It’s man’s law.” It was then that I realized I had another option and that was medical cannabis. I knew that I needed CBD, but in Illinois, 4 years ago, that was near impossible to get. But when I was in Chicago, I was able to get a CBD tincture sample from Michigan and so I decided to go through a trial with it. I started taking it and it was my son and caregiver that actually realized the difference it had made. I went 2 weeks without having a single seizure, when I had never gone even 3 days without having one over the past 20 some years.
I went 2 weeks without having a single seizure, when I had never gone even 3 days without having one over the past 20 some years.
It was then that we realized that we’d have to move because I needed access to this life saving tincture. I began doing targeted cannabinoid treatment. I’ve moved from taking CBD to taking THCA and THCV, which is what most epileptic patients have seen the most success in taking. Since I have several different types of seizures, I use multiple types of alternative treatment. I vape a 1313 throughout the day and that, as a whole, is considered to be targeted cannabinoid protocol. It’s only for the most severe of cases; most patients have a simpler alternative treatment.
How long have you been using the alternative medicine?
I’ve been using cannabis as alternative medicine for 4-1/2 years! I use a CBD-rich strain of cannabis and it’s a 50:50 ratio. I’m taking THCA, THCV, and THA. I vape an indica-dominant strain for sleep at night and a 50:50 ratio of a 13:13 cannabis strain during the day for energy.
How have you felt since you started using the alternative medicine? Compared to your prescribed medications?
I’ve been able to come out of diapers. I’ve been able to come out of the seizure helmet. I’ve been able to leave my home and go visit people and go on vacation. All of these are things I haven’t been able to do for 20 some years. I’ve been kept in a bubble for my safety. I feel like I am walking back out into the world again after two decades of being inside and trapped inside my own body. I have no words to explain how amazing I feel since I began taking cannabis. I never had even entertained some of the recoveries I’ve been able to make.
The only peace I have found as a brain injury survivor has been through medical cannabis. I now have a feeling of well-being and safety. I am getting better every day. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to feel anything and now I am even having teary-eyed moments. I am getting dopamine and serotonin back into my brain, which is something that hasn’t been there for years and years due to the numbing pharmaceuticals. As a brain injury patient, we are told all the time that our brain can’t heal from that trauma, but that’s just not true! Targeted cannabinoid treatment is healing my brain.
I’m going to tell you something that will even further blow your mind. I’ve had total and complete nerve loss in both my hands for 25 years since the accident; I couldn’t feel anything; I could burn myself or cut myself and never had any sensation whatsoever. Well, in the last 14 months, I have gotten ALL sensation back into my hands. Can you believe that? I can’t even stand to prick my finger for my blood sugar because it hurts! [Laughing] I burned myself with a plate 3 months ago and I was astonished because I could actually FEEL it!
I’ve been on targeted cannabinoid treatment for 14 months. My MRI and my EEG both came back normal and my neuropsychological is the most improved I’ve ever had in the last 18 years. I have tests to document everything; I am the first medically documented case every step of the way that I know of.
Do you think you will continue with using alternative medicine?
Absolutely! I’m not eligible for anything else. I cannot be prescribed any other medicine BESIDES cannabis. Period. And that will be how it is from now on. This is medical news that every spinal cord patient needs to hear. This is a breakthrough. How could anyone deny that cannabis isn’t medicine? Look at the evidence! Look at how much I’ve healed! I never would have thought something like this would be possible, but it is… and it is because of treatment with cannabis! I am just so excited to be a part of this exciting time in research for giving hope back to patients across the world.