Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana is a perfect example of what’s wrong in D.C.

Unknown-1Representative John Fleming of the fourth district in Louisiana is extremely opposed to medical cannabis. While he does see a place for pharmaceutical versions such as GW Pharma’s Epidiolex, marijuana scare tactics appear to be a major part of his agenda and he has no interest in helping desperate parents save their seizing kids. He has no problem with dying children waiting while researchers fight through the tangle of red tape that is marijuana research and the lengthy process that is FDA clinical trials. Oh, those trials have been fast tracked and we can get into studies (sound familiar, Rep. Sharon Cooper?). Never mind that most of us can’t get into those studies. Connor doesn’t qualify with TSC, and even parents who have children with the requisite syndromes are unable to find openings. FDA fast tracking just means they shave some years off the years it will still take to approve it (Connor’s most effective med, vigabatrin, had its first clinical trials in 1979. It was approved in the States in 2009, years after other countries made it available).

Rep. Fleming is very, very worried about recreational use. Our children are nothing but Trojan Horses (his words) used by those who want full legalization for recreational purposes. He is so worried about recreational use and the fear that someone might find a way to use medical cannabis for fun, that he is willing to sacrifice the lives of sick and dying children. He is not interested in hearing our stories of our children that need it or those that are already benefitting from high CBD strains and THCA in legal states. He voted against the recent Rohrbacher amendment to prevent funding the DOJ for raiding state medical marijuana programs. In fact, if you try to tell him about your child on his Facebook page, he will delete it. He can’t have the public know who he’s hurting with his over-the-top antics.

IMG_0964It’s his Facebook page that brought him to my attention, as well as to the attention of some other parents dealing with seizure disorders. He had posted about a speech he gave on the dangers of marijuana so several of us posted on the thread. Many of our comments got deleted. Several of us are blocked from commenting further. I will say, in the interest of full disclosure, that perhaps I implied I had doubts about his abilities as a medical doctor since I came across an article about how he blocked doctors from being able to discuss the medical marijuana option with veterans because he didn’t want them exposed to an addictive, harmful substance. Yet you never see him express any concerns about the highly addictive, dangerous nature of many pharmaceuticals. Prescription pain pills are some of the most highly abused drugs, but that doesn’t concern him. But I don’t think I got deleted and banned because I might have come off as insulting (there was no swearing or name calling). I think I got deleted because I talked about my kid and about how dangerous one of his prescriptions is. (And to be clear, I am not part of the anti-pharmaceutical movement, nor do I believe that marijuana is a cure for everything or that it will work for everyone. I think pharmaceuticals have their place alongside options like cannabis. I just ask that my zip code not determine my access).

I’m not the only one. Several people who talked about their kids got deleted. Interestingly, he started debating with one of the parents–also a doctor –and did not delete or block him. However, he DID delete a link to a YouTube video that this father had made about his daughter and medical cannabis to educate the public. Interesting. Rep. Fleming is so passionate about Facebook page maintenance that he even stayed up until midnight on a Friday to edit, delete, and condescend. Yes, condescend. You may wonder why I find this particular representative so interesting when he is obviously not the only one who opposes helping our kids. Well, though I was blocked, I still found myself quite fascinated poring through his page. It became clear that his page serves no purpose but to rile people up and be divisive. It’s not even about whether I agree with his views or not; it’s that he clearly uses it as a tool of stirring discontent. Don’t get me wrong. I pretty much expect to see Obama-slamming on most GOP pages, just as there is some over-the-top Obama adoration on the pages of many democrats. But I looked over a few other pages from other parties and none gave me the same disturbing hateful feel that I got from his. I expect these pages to have opinions and criticisms. But what I found from the other ones I looked at is that I could also find positive comments about something they were involved with, or that I didn’t have to scroll far to get an idea of legislation they were involved with. Fleming, on the other hand, just seems to bitch and moan. I know his opinions, but very little of what he’s doing about it. Those posts are good and buried. I’m in no way saying he is the only one who behaves like this, but there are just too many people in Congress for me to look at all the pages. I looked at four other Republicans and four Democrats just to see if this is the norm, but saw nothing like this. All the pages are going to have rude comments from the public…the difference is that most of these other pages don’t seem as heavily moderated in that area. So when you make a point to delete and moderate heavily, you are implicitly showing support for what you leave in view.

What I found especially interesting is the way he chooses to interact as an elected official. I’m sorry, but our representatives should set an example of decorum. You are going to have rude comments on social media, and there is a line people can cross where you are well within your rights to delete. But he’s deleting to twist the story and those that get to stay, but disagree with him, get a condescending attitude the likes of which I’ve never seen.

Here are some screen shots from the medical cannabis discussion with parent of sick children. He keeps talking about legalization, though many commenters are focused on rescheduling. He’s also completely in the dark it would seem about how damaging the schedule 1 status of marijuana is on research. But he won’t be told otherwise!

This flat out lie:

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And excerpts from last weekend’s marijuana discussion in which it was necessary to talk down to and insult parents desperate to save their kids. I’d tell you to check out his page to get the full conversation, but alas he is forever editing and deleting. Who know what’s missing and edited by now.

Excerpts with one dad.

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Excerpts with another dad.

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Please keep up with developments? Really? By the way this dad is the doctor I mentioned earlier. The other dad’s response to Fleming’s endless egocentrism.

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Once again, Dr. Fleming, learn the difference between rescheduling and legalization.

And the one I take very personally because this mom has a child battling the same disorder. (Update: Since I first posted this, Rep. Fleming has removed all the comments by this mother, yet left his own responses).

IMG_1133 IMG_1134 IMG_1135 IMG_1136 IMG_1137 IMG_1138 IMG_1139 IMG_1140 IMG_1141 IMG_1142I simply must interject here…They will just GIVE US the medication if our kid is going to die? Just like that. Anybody remember Josh Hardy who made the news last March? He is seven. The pharmaceutical company denied him compassionate use. They didn’t reverse their stance until the public pressure became too overwhelming. Rep. Fleming truly lives in his own world–a world where pharmaceutical companies give people drugs when we say “pretty please with sugar on top.”
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Not one ounce of compassion in that entire thread.

For the love of God, why can this man not make the distinction between legalization and rescheduling?

Yeah, pretty sure we explained that (in now deleted comments) that this wasn’t an option for everybody and some kids will be dead before Epidiolex goes to market. Not to mention, Epidiolex is one particular formulation. It’s not necessarily the same as what some of the kids are responding to. It may work for some, but others will need whole plant medicine.

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Like I said, he loves to delete.

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So some of the parents got to stay and debate with him. I guess those of us that were deleted didn’t have anything constructive to say. So in the interest of helping others, I’m going to share some screenshots I took from other threads on different topics so that you will know what Rep. Fleming considers positive contributions to the discussion should you wish to engage without being banned. And please know that in an older thread, he has stated that cursing and name calling won’t be tolerated. But I guess that’s only if it’s about him.

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Though some who don’t know me may assume I’m targeting him because of his party, that is absolutely not the case. If he had come to my attention as a Democrat behaving in this manner–I’d say the same (I float somewhere in the middle annoyed by extremes on both ends). He’s a perfect example of what we don’t need in D.C. making decisions for people. Someone who makes it very clear that he can’t and won’t work with his colleagues unless they tow his line and won’t listen to the other side of the story. He’s there to represent his own interests. I actually found in Georgia that the bipartisan support for our kids was amazing.

But perhaps I’m being unfair. He does get his information from reputable sources.

john_fleming_screengrabPlus, Rep. Fleming has but this one request.

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Of course, don’t expect HIM to abide by it.

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He really can do it all. He gives grammar lessons.

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He’s a Biblical scholar.

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A civics professor.

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Hmmm…be a statesman…good point.
IMG_1081His response:

IMG_1082Historian.
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Economics professor.IMG_1078

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I just wish he cared as much about the kids that have been born as he does the ones that are in utero.

Maybe it’s time Dr. Fleming goes home to Lousiana and focuses on his 36 Subway sandwich shops in North Louisiana.

We all have our beliefs and biases, and hey, I don’t necessarily like all the people being referenced here either, but if this is how you think a United States representative should conduct himself, you need to reassess.

 

Please check out this YouTube response some parents put together for him.

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Connor is a fish.

We just got back from a week in Venice, Florida at Chris’s parents’ house. Since Connor has weekly aquatic therapy, I was hopeful he would enjoy the pool this year, but I honestly expected he’d maybe get in a couple times and be done after 20-30 minutes. Not so. He was in every day with us the whole time. In fact, he quickly learned that once the safety fence was down and at least one adult was in the pool, that was his cue to crawl over, turn around backward about two feet from the edge and back into the water until he hit the step. Aquatic therapy has given him great confidence in the water. Too much actually. He constantly wanted to break free from us and his flotation devices to do his own thing.

It was a great week sandwiched by two crappy seizure days. He did great after we upped his vigabatrin a couple weeks ago, then he had another awful day in which he only had two or three clearly identifiable seizures, but was just off the rest of the day, weak and had a hard time moving. Bad seizure days always wipe out his arm strength, so even if he gets motivated to move, he ends up with bruises lining his forehead. Sometimes his chin takes a hit, too. And once he’s motivated, it’s hard to stop him. We try to keep him on the carpeted areas, but he always gravitates to the hardwood.

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We upped his vigabatrin on Sunday morning and the next several days were great. Then Thursday night he woke us up crying, which is very rare. For the second time ever, he had what I guess would be classified as a partial seizure? One arm was extremely stiff and unmovable. He cried until it stopped. I stayed in the room and slept with him and he had 2-3 more of those that would wake him from sleep and make him cry. He also had three tonic clonics throughout the night. I always thought a partial seizure would be a better type to have because it’s just a body part and you are aware, but instead those seem the worst for him–but I don’t know if he cries because it hurts or because it scares him. So Friday he was rather off and not as energetic as usual, though he did perk up the second Daddy got in the pool and commenced his backward scoot. I slept with him again Friday night, our last night in Florida. He didn’t have any seizures until we woke up to leave, but as soon as he awoke he had a short tonic clonic. I thought he was done, but then I noticed his eyes flitting back and forth in a weird way and his eyelids twitching. I waited it for it to stop. And waited. Chris came in behind me. It kept going. Nobody spoke out loud, but a basic summary of our thoughts is as follows:

Oh my God. This is it. His first status seizure,

We’re not going home; we’re going to the hospital.

I don’t want to have to move to Colorado. Are we going to have to move to Colorado after all?

And just as I think we were both struggling to make the call that it was time to head to the ER it stopped. Not a status seizure, but one of the longest he’s ever had. And if we hadn’t been leaving and turned on the lights, I don’t know if I would have known it was happening. We don’t have a prescription for Diastat (an emergency med), but I think it’s time to talk to his neuro about it. Just in case. We have Klonopin on hand in case of clusters, but he can’t swallow it in a situation like this.

Florida, I’m begging you to get your MMJ program up and going. You’ve passed the oil, and I hope you will pass Amendment 2 this fall. And it goes without saying that if Georgia does it too…

Last night his motivation was present, but not his arm strength so it was a battle to keep him in carpeted areas. I’m happy to report this morning is much better!

Good morning, everybodeeeee!
Good morning, everybodeeeee!

I will leave you with pics from our awesome week in Florida:

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Dirty Banana at Sharky's.
Dirty Banana at Sharky’s.
We borrowed Chris's parents' "fun" car for date night.
We borrowed Chris’s parents’ “fun” car for date night.
Getting hot dog's at Anita's sandcastle.
Getting hot dog’s at Anita’s Sandcastle.

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Checking out the manatee at Mote Marine.
Checking out the manatee at Mote Marine.

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Headed home.
Headed home.

 

 

 

 

Happy 4th Anniversary to my husband!

Chris, four years I’ve been cluttering up our house with my non-OCD attention to detail and my mini-menagerie. You said goodbye to your perfect angles and fur-free couches and allowed me to descend with my “vintage suitcases as furniture” and stacks of books I’ll probably never read again but can’t bear to part with.

Four years ago today in St. Lucia:

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Just a little island rain...
Just a little island rain in the middle of the ceremony…cleared up in a few minutes.

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I love you! And our expanded menagerie…

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I got soaked at the Hose the House fundraiser for Journey of Hope.

This last week did not get off to a great start. I’ve mentioned we’ve had some issues with an increasing number of seizures breaking through in spite of the modified Atkins diet. We finally bit the bullet and raised his vigabatrin dose Tuesday night when not only were we seeing him have 2-3 a day of his typical seizures, but then he also appeared to be having some sort of activity with no clear stop and start — he just wasn’t right. His eyes would look unfocused and he was physically weak. Sometimes after a rough seizure he has trouble moving around and his arms can’t support him when he crawls, but that’s not always the case and it usually goes away in 30 minutes. But he was like this for three days. I had hoped the diet would be successful enough to allow him to wean meds, but it appears he needs the combination of a therapeutic dose of vigabatrin with the diet. He had gained five pounds since the last time we adjusted his meds, so clearly vigabatrin is just far too essential to his well being. We have now gone four days without seeing any seizure activity since the upped dose and he’s back to his normal active self — a great relief as the idea of possibly having to relocate to Colorado had started rear it’s ugly head again. We are trying to hold on with traditional medicine until the option of medical cannabis is available closer to home.

After all that, it seemed like an appropriate way to end the week by taking part in the fundraiser for Journey of Hope, a charity started by Rep. Allen Peake (who sponsored HB 885 this past session in an unsuccessful attempt to legalize CBD oil here in Georgia) to help families, who have exhausted traditional medical approaches to treating their children’s seizure disorders, relocate to Colorado to get the medicine they need. It all started several weeks back when Kim Clark challenged Corey Lowe to the cold water challenge, a method of raising money for charity via the Internet that has gone viral recently. Kim (a mom from Georgia treating her son Caden in Colorado) challenged her on behalf of Realm of Caring, the nonprofit that has become famous for providing the strain Charlotte’s Web to sick children at a reasonable cost. Corey (a mom from Georgia who will soon take her daughter Victoria to Colorado) chose to challenge more people on behalf of Journey of Hope which started the chain of events that led to me floundering my way into an inflatable pool ring in an Olympic sized pool Saturday morning in the Hose the House for Hope event.

Several representatives, senators and Georgia law enforcement officers accepted the challenge to raise money and participate, jumping into the pool to swim out to the moms from families that were involved in fighting for HB 885. You could also pay $50 to douse a participant of your choice in ice cold water. Oh, and some of the dads dressed up…but I’ll let the photos do the talking on that.

I am happy to say that this much money has been raised so far:

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If you are interested in making a donation, please check out the web site for more information — Journey of Hope.

Most of the photos are mine, but a few are borrowed from Facebook…please let me know if you want credit for a photo. I didn’t pay attention when I snagged them 🙂

I'm impressed my pasty white legs didn't blind anyone.
I’m impressed my pasty white legs didn’t blind anyone.

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Oh, and those dads I mentioned…

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This year we celebrate 40 years of TS Alliance’s existence.

Second Annual “Blogging for TSC Awareness Month” Day 32

by guest blogger Susan McBrine  (Oregon)

photo 1Tuberous Sclerosis.
Words a parent never wants to hear… Or expects to hear. Yet every day, all over the world, parents are still getting this diagnosis for their child, who may be experiencing seizures, developmental delay, autism, kidney and brain tumors and more .

I got this diagnosis  for my daughter over 40 years ago and I must say it changed my life forever. I  became an informed, determined, assertive researcher, educator and advocate for making sure that I knew and found all there was  to know and do to help her achieve  her potential. In the process I helped found Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance and tried to help many other famiilies find hope for better treatments and a better life for their children with this disease .

This year we celebrate 40 years of TS Alliance’s existence. The organization has acomplished so much by advocating for and funding research, supporting families and much more. We celebrate, but I am  also saddened that many other young moms are also still going through what I did to get treatment and diagnosis. I am saddened that tuberous sclerosis exists. Yet, as a mom who has raised a child to adulthood and lost her  child to this disease, I am grateful for what tuberous sclerosis taught me about life, love and even her death.

Being a parent of a special needs child is life changing in so many ways, but in my case it changed my career and my perspective on life in general. It made me appreciate little things and focus on what is really important in life.

It also taught me valuable lessons on letting go of a child as she grew.  I learned to finally let go and let my disabled daughter have more of life of her own, despite her disabilities. It is very hard, when you miss those developmental milestones that non disabled kids have — when your child  goes to kindergarten,  off to college, work, marriage — to know when and how much to let go and encourage independence in a child who is basically totally or semi- dependent on you. The need to protect our vulnerable child is great and the tendency to overprotect always exists.

It was hard to step back and stop doing for her and let her do for herself. Dressing herself, going on the bus alone, spending the night away from me at a camp, having a boyfriend, and finally living in a group home with friends. All things other kids may do as they grow up, but for moms like us, whose child needs supervison and support in so many ways, it is  hard to let go even a little.

Letting go and teaching independence is important so that we don’t actually encourage dependence without realizing it.

Teaching age appropriate behavior to a 20-year old who would just as soon wear Mickey Mouse t-shirts and play with toys, that she is a young adult and must dress and be treated as a young adult is hard. I learned how, with help from many in her life, and from her.

I also was pleasantly surprised by how well she adapted to life in a group home at age 27. I thought she’d miss me so much I’d have to bring her home in a week. Nope! She flourished with her newfound independence and social life with her housemates — something I couldn’t give her at home with just the two of us. I also couldn’t continue to give her 24-hour care while I had to work and sleep. She got fresh caretakers every eight hours who weren’t tired, cranky or had other things to do.

What is hard for parents to admit as we get older (and we will) — the 24-hour care taking can be too hard without help. And the time will come when we can’t do it any more  due to our age or illness.

We have to really be realistic about helping our child find a place in the world as an adult without us while we are still around to help them transition. It’s harder if we die and they experience the grief of missing us and have to transition to a new home. That is the letting go and the transition we all worry about the most. We worry no one else will care for her or him as we do.

As a special education teacher of young adults 16 -22, I often heard parents say, “She can’t or won’t do that at home. How did you get her to do that?”  Some photo 2of my students had very low ability, but were able to work with some support and could learn to do things like cook, load dishwashers and do laundry for themselves. Things their parents didn’t let them do because they thought they couldn’t. It’s always amazing what they can do when we let go. I learned that my very  delayed and disabled daughter could do so much more than I ever thought or would have allowed her to do until I learned to let go some!

Every child is different and every state and family has different resources available, but it is something to think about for every parent.

Teaching independence and letting go is something to do gradually. After all, we all want all of our children to be happy, have a social life of some kind, to experience love and friendship, and to be able to support themselves in some way. They can’t do that if we dont teach independence  and responsibility to all our children.

Stacia taught me much in life. Tolerance, patience, unconditional love, selflessness and how to see the world through her eyes. Her life was a gift to me in so many ways, although battling her disease was also hell in so many ways.

I am grateful for the support the TS Alliance gives parents today, and for the hope that all our children with disabilities will have better lives to live and increased opportunities to do so in today’s world. We can all help them by increasing awareness of  not only TSC, but of all those with disabilities and their need for acceptance, employment, education and a place in society.

Please see Susan’s contribution from last year’s blogging event about the founding of the TS Alliance.

From Becky (Mixed Up Mommy): Thank you so much to everyone who contributed this year! It has been a pleasure to share your stories and read your personal or your child’s triumphs. I leave you with some artistic contributions from TSC warriors.

Chloe, age 5, Georgia
Chloe, age 5.
Bladen, 7.
Bladen, age 7.
Bladen, 7.
Bladen, 7.
Zander, age 7.
Zander, age 7.
Erica, age 19.
Erica, age 19.
Erica, age 19.
Erica, age 19.
Fiona, age 6.
Fiona, age 6.