Moms Day Out at the Medical Marijuana Clinic
She has a disease called hereditary angiodema. It’s a rare genetic condition that can make parts of her body swell uncontrollably. That includes her hands, feet, intestines, or airways. When her intestines swell, which has been happening quite a bit lately, it results in uncontrollable vomiting and excruciating abdominal pain. When her airways swell, which has happened, she has trouble breathing. If she were to have a more severe attack in her airways, she could stop breathing.
It’s a horrible disease, only 1 in 50,000 to 100,000 people have it, and it can knock her out for days. But she can’t be down for days. She has a business and two small children. The medicine she needs, she can’t get because her insurance company won’t approve it. She’s in a clinical study at UCLA, but she can’t get the drugs there unless she’s having an attack when the clinic is open a couple of days a week a few hours a day.
So, she has tried everything; a vegan, gluten-free diet, acupuncture, stress reduction. And it hasn’t worked. She’s been given steroids and other drugs, but the side effects are awful.
It had gotten to the point where she needed to do something, anything.
She asked around and eventually found a recommendation on Yelp for a doctor in Marina Del Rey. I asked if I could go with her to the appointment for both moral support and curiosity. I thought it would be very clandestine. We’d walk through a back alley and into a dark office where security guards would pat us down. After questioning we’d be taken back to a room where everyone was smoking pot.
And of course it was nothing like that. We went to see Dr. Allen Frankel in an office park in Marina Del Rey. No security guards, just a really nice young man sitting behind a desk.
We didn’t get to see Dr. Frankel, but we did see his partner who was a little trippy, but very informative. After my friend explained her symptoms he wrote her a recommendation and we were on our way.
We headed to the Farmacy to figure out what kind of medical marijuana would ease my friend’s pain and stop the uncontrollable vomiting.
Now, we were really nervous. The next stop couldn’t possibly be as delightful as Dr. Frankel’s office, where the receptionist let my friend pay whatever she “felt comfortable with.”
But, once again, not clandestine. The Farmacy in Venice is on Abbott Kinney and if I had just glanced at the shop I would have thought they sold homemade soap. It was about as dangerous as going into Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I even bought a sports drink powder for my marathon training.
My friend, however, did not buy a sports drink. After being issued a medical marijuana card and talking to the salesperson for quite some time (I wasn’t allowed to listen because I don’t have a medical marijuana card), she bought a few items. She is hoping they will help get her through her next HAE attack.
And I really hope they work, too. Being a mom is already exhausting, all encompassing, joyful, and heart breaking. I can’t imagine going through all of that and being sick at the same time. If a little cannabis helps her get through the day, and possibly saves her life, then I hope it’s always available to her.
And I hope it’s always legal