Medical Cannabis & Intractable Pain: Kaylie's Story

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When Kaylie of Woodbury, Minnesota was 15 she struggled with passing a kidney stone and underwent surgery. Six months post-surgery, Kaylie started to experience excruciating pain again similar to when she was passing her kidney stone. After going to some of the best doctors at Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, she was told her nerves connected to her kidney had been damaged and that she would live with the pain forever.

In the years after the life-altering news, Kaylie was diagnosed with a number of other conditions including endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraines and interstitial cystitis (IC).

From 2012 to 2018, Kaylie was under the care of a number of different doctors with moving from Minnesota, to Michigan and back to Minnesota again. For a period of time she saw a doctor in Grand Rapids who prescribed her several different opioids; that doctor is now being prosecuted by the government for over-prescribing opioids to Medicaid patients.

Every day, Kaylie lived in excruciating, crippling pain. In June 2018, Kaylie was at her worst; she was bedridden 22 hours per day and was on 23 daily medications, including opioids every three to four hours. On top of all the medications, she would visit a pain clinic once per week for spinal injections.

“I thought her life was over,” her mother, Shannon shares, “All she wanted to do was eat, lay in her bed and cry.” Kaylie gained nearly 100 pounds from 2012 to 2018.

“There were times where I would wake up and I would feel my mom standing above me and putting her hand on me just to see if I was breathing,” Kaylie remembers.

Kaylie lost any will or ability to participate in her own life. “She wouldn’t go 20 minutes past her time to take her pills,” her mom says, “She had all these containers, all these pills. She’d sort them out, it was like a job. It was all she could think about and she carried them around everywhere.”

Desperate to find relief for Kaylie, her mother sent her to Oregon, where medical cannabis is legal, while they waited for her certification to go through for the medical cannabis program in Minnesota. Kaylie’s grandmother lives in Oregon, ultimately to save her life.

Kaylie was in Oregon for approximately one month, and in that time she was able to begin weaning off her prescriptions. Since she left in June 2018 and came back to Minnesota, she has only taken two pills to relieve her pain.

While her stay in Oregon was the catalyst for change in Kaylie’s health and wellbeing, Kaylie is now a patient at LeafLine Labs and continues to heal and reach important milestones. Other than medical cannabis, she is now down to three medications for things like depression and acne. She has weaned off of all prescription painkillers and no longer sees a pain specialist.

She has lost 40lbs and counting since January and is finally starting to feel herself again, physically and mentally. “She’s coming back to life,” her mom shares, “She’s a totally new person...her entire chemistry changed. She physically couldn’t even form sentences before [when she was on all of her prescriptions.]”

Although Kaylie has not yet returned to work, she plans to. This May, she is starting school again; she’s excited to get back to the classroom and learn, meet new people and to figure out what career path she’d like to pursue. At the moment, she’s interested in business and veterinary school.

“All the side effects are so much less. I can go to the bathroom on my own. I can enjoy time with my family, which I’ve noticed in the past almost year now that just laughing with them and enjoying time is what’s important,” Kaylie reflects, “I didn’t get that, I was always in my room. I don’t have many memories [from before medical cannabis]…it’s nice to just be able to giggle and have fun and enjoy life.”

Kaylie will always live with pain and other symptoms that come with her many diagnoses, but medical cannabis has become a life-changing tool for Kaylie in finding relief, naturally. Her quality of life has improved ten-fold. The difference from before medical cannabis and now for Kaylie is night and day, the same goes for her family.

Rather than counting pills and spending the overwhelming majority of her time in bed, wracked with pain, she has the desire and ability to live her life again. She has rediscovered her passion for cooking and spends time every day grocery shopping and preparing food for her loved ones. She is able to spend quality time with her sister and grow their relationship, something that wasn’t possible when she constantly in a fog from opioids and her other medications.

Kaylie is strong, resilient and determined to get the most out of her life. Her experiences have made her appreciate the smaller things in life and take nothing for granted; she is thankful each day for the hope, healing and stability that medical cannabis has brought her. Her family is ecstatic to have her back, and she is excited to move forward and see what she can create and accomplish.