Erin can feel her first. It’s a new freedom from pressure, both in terms of her physical condition and the fear that was always present.
After suffering a significant traumatic brain injury, Erin was diagnosed with Multiple Mechanism Glaucoma, a type of optic nerve damage with several difficult factors that make it hard to treat. With the help of her glaucoma specialist, she explored every avenue for managing her condition’s symptoms, but one downside became apparent.
Her treatment included a long list of medications, which grew considerably over the years. At one point Erin thought to herself, “I’m too young to be on so many pills.”
And the problem was, the pills and conventional treatments weren’t as effective as Erin’s care team had hoped. She was still experiencing pressure attacks, which occur when pressure on the optic nerve increases rapidly and dramatically, often leading to headaches and nausea. Her care team concluded that the same brain injury which provoked the condition was overriding the treatments.
Some glaucoma patients can tell if a pressure attack is about to happen and take medications to manage potential side effects. In addition to the pain and nausea, there’s also fear and anxiety. “One attack is all it takes to completely cut off circulation to the optic nerve,” Erin explained. The result would be blindness, and in fact glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, affecting more than 60 million people
A significant pressure attack brought Erin to her glaucoma specialist for a conversation about a new treatment plan that included medical cannabis.
Once cleared by the State of Minnesota, Erin made an appointment at LeafLine Labs. Walking through the doors for the first time, Erin remembers, “The facility itself felt like a dignified, serious clinical setting. I learned that my phenomenal pharmacist used to work with the neurologist who treated my aneurysm. His knowledge of the protocols in place and the context let me know he was ‘on it,’ which was a huge relief.”
Erin also toured the production facilities where the medical cannabis plants are grown, oils extracted and medicine crafted. Learning of the credentials and backgrounds of the lab team, Erin remarked, “I was both blown away and not at all surprised to see all of the protocols and care that go into the extraction process. They are committed to producing a product of consistently high quality.”
After considering her options, Erin decided to try Leafline Labs’ “Heather” vaporizer oil cartridges. “Heather” is a medication with a 1:1 ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD).
“I wanted to start light, a decision my pharmacist respected,” said Erin. “Initially I was concerned about mood alterations and possible side effects; I’ve got a 7-year-old to keep up with!”
Within a few minutes of taking Heather, Erin can feel the pressure easing. She has even measured a 7-point drop in her optic nerve pressure at her doctor’s office. Erin has been able to keep her optic pressure readings low enough on Heather to qualify for additional surgical procedures to treat her glaucoma.
Erin notes that Heather is not a cure nor a replacement, but rather a key component in her integrated care plan that has helped her reduce the number of her prescribed medications by 50 percent. “For treating the secondary symptoms of my pressure attacks, I now vape for nearly instant relief. Before I would have taken pills that would take time to go into effect and still leave me with stomachaches and ulcers. More conventional medications are expensive already, but add in the side effects and over time you question their true value to your quality of life.”
While her glaucoma will continue to progress, Erin is happy with her newfound relief. “I didn’t know what to expect in terms of outcomes, but I am surprised by what a difference it makes,” said Erin. “It’s an investment, but at the same time when I add up what I was paying for all my meds (even with copays), Heather winds up being cheaper. It’s less harmful to my body and definitely has improved my quality of life.”