Five-year-old Tripp Oliver of Commerce takes 16 different medications each day to control his seizures.
His family, desperate for a better treatment regiment, is planning a move to Colorado to seek medical marijuana for their son.
When Tripp was taken for his six-month vaccinations, he had his first seizure. It lasted 45 minutes. The doctors told his parents, Chip and Laura, that the seizure was probably febrile. Tripp would continue to have frequent seizures lasting at least 20 minutes.
Nine weeks later, his parents found Tripp in his crib with half of his body paralyzed. The paralysis wore off within a couple hours but his seizures grew in frequency and length.
“The seizures got so much longer,” said Tripp’s mother, Laura Oliver. “We couldn’t figure out what was going on.”
Tripp was Life Flighted after having a three-and-a-half hour seizure. After this prolonged seizure, he began having blinking seizures every two to 10 seconds.
“He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk,” said Oliver. “He was just seizing all day long.”
The family sought a second opinion. Tripp’s neurologist completed genetic testing and confirmed that he had Dravet Syndrome.
This rare and dangerous form of epilepsy can lead to problems in development, sleep, growth and speech. It is also incurable.
The family switched Tripp over to a ketogenic diet, hoping to control his seizures. The diet mildly remedied his prolonged seizures but his eye seizures remained.
Now, the prolonged seizures have returned and Tripp seizes throughout the night.
“Everything we do, every medication we try, is just an attempt to control,” said Oliver. “Nothing ever stops the seizures.”
The family has been through nearly 15 different types of medication and is constantly searching for the next best thing to help their son. This search led them to consider alternative medicine.
Oliver admits she was hesitant when she first learned of medical marijuana.
“It took me a while to grasp the concept of medical marijuana,” said Oliver. “It’s not at all what you’d think it is. There’s no smoking, no high.”
Instead, the cannibidiol (CBD) oil is placed on the tongue and only contains a small amount of the psychoactive component in marijuana. Recent research has found CBD may contribute to overall improvements and seizure control in patients with Dravet Syndrome.
“You hear of kids coming off meds, having cognitive and speech improvements,” said Oliver. “Some are having an 80-percent reduction in seizures.”
Medical marijuana is legal in 20 states, but strands that qualify as medical marijuana are hard to find. Because of this, the family hopes to move to Colorado to obtain the medication for their son.
Oliver says the family will use the medication solely as a seizure remedy for Tripp.
“We are not for or against recreational marijuana,” said Oliver. “This is a completely separate issue.”
The family plans to move to Colorado within the month.
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