Diabetes Warrior and Ohio Cannabis Industry Ambassador Shares Reminder Upon Impending Legalization
Jamie Dodd’s journey as a diabetes warrior and medical cannabis patient brought her to a career in the industry where she’s able to counsel patients with her condition. In the wake of impending legalization in Ohio on Nov 7th, Jamie shares a story that reminds her–and all medical marijuana advocates–why we started fighting for plant medicine in the first place.
The Moments that Define Us
It’s the profound moments in life that define us, I truly do believe. The moments where your soul is touched and instead of looking at the narrow scope of what is right in front of us, you can see the whole broader picture. These kinds of moments define us, shape us, and remind us of our purpose in this life, whatever that may be. Just a few weeks ago, I had one of these moments. And it still shakes me to the core…
Diabetes is a Lonely Disease: My Organs on the Outside
I wear one of my organs on the outside of my body. Yes, you read that correctly. On the back of one arm sits a continuous glucose monitor, and on the other sits a small pod of insulin. These two medical devices communicate back and forth with each other 24/7 functioning as makeshift working “pancreas”, as the one inside of my body no longer lives.
Technology and healthcare have come so far in the eighteen years that I have lived with Juvenile diabetes. And for that I will always be the most grateful because when I was first diagnosed at the ripe age of 14 years old this disease was chronically difficult to manage in the most exhausting and terrifying kind of way. And while wearing this organ on the outside of my body has brought upon a bevy of questions from people who do not know what they are, the upside of it outweighs the vulnerability of having to answer those questions.
Diabetes is a very lonely disease, especially being a type one. T1 in the minority of the different types of this disease as it is not passed down to us generationally or induced by lifestyle choices. My disease prevailed within my body when a childhood flu or illness targeted one of the 3.2 “letters” in my genetic makeup, mutating and altering it and ultimately changing my life forever. There are only 9 million of us worldwide. Up until this past year I only needed one hand to count the number of other T1’s that I could relate to, that felt the deepest parts of what I experienced on a daily basis. So, the upside of wearing this device is that now we can spot each other. I can pick my fellow warriors out of the crowd.
Meeting Fellow T1 Diabetics–A 5 Year Old and his Father
Two weeks ago, behind the bar of the restaurant I work as a second job, I spotted TWO of the same Dexcom G6’s glucose monitors I use, and a singular Omnipod pump. In that moment, I dropped everything and started towards them. One was worn by a young middle-aged man and the other worn by the small boy sitting right next to him.
Bending down next to the young boy, I gently poked the pump he was wearing on the back of his arm and said, “You know, only the real bad asses take insulin.” And with wide eyes, he (and the rest of his family) looked up at me as I showed them the same medical devices on my own body.
The five-year-old boy AND his father had both been diagnosed as diabetic. For the next hour, his parents, sister, and grandparents talked endlessly about the adversities that diabetics endure. As we were saying goodbye, the boy hugged me tightly. He said besides his dad, he had never met another diabetic. A gave the family my business card and sent them on their way with well wishes. I hoped and prayed that I would hear from them. And I did.
Introducing a New Diabetic to MMJ
In the weeks since meeting them, I assisted the father in gaining his medical marijuana card and walked him through the venture of his first store visits and purchases. I helped his wife to get her card too– she had become mentally and physically exhausted in the caretaking of these two people she loved so very much.
This experience has felt like an awakening inside me since. My reason for doing the kind of work that I do has always been fueled by the passion I have to help others who suffer in the same and different ways that I do and without ever realizing it I had started to become burnt out by the ins and outs of the business that is the cannabis industry.
In the moment with this man and his son, I saw the whole picture. Whatever that moment meant to them, it meant just as much, if not more, to me.
How Do We Retain These Patients?
The cannabis industry in Ohio is still so new, and is truly on the cusp of a renaissance as we approach the possibility of legalized cannabis for all adults. But, we have to recognize that we suffered a loss in this state. The number of active patients is just a small fraction of what it was when the program started. “Why?”, you may ask? Because in the theme of corruption and greed, big corporations have come knocking down walls in the medical programs in the legal states and have planted the seed of my personal definition of “evil”, flooding these dispensary shelves with products that can hardly be called “medicinal” at a cost that the that the patients can just not afford.
Tie that in with the cost that we must pay to obtain our medical cards in the first place, the fees to pay to keep it active every year, and a lack of education on the plant medicine and its products– and you have the very recipe of what got us here with our fractional number of active patients.
To see the young diabetic boy and his father was to see a reflection of myself and a reminder of why I came to this program in the first place. I was desperate for a better quality of life and seeking a kind of solace that the pharmaceutical industry couldn’t give me. The bigger picture clicked right there in that moment.
Two Choices Moving Forward
In the wake of this renaissance, we have two choices moving forward: We can either allow this corporate greed and complete and total abandonment of moral integrity for the patients, OR we can plant the seed to right all of these “wrongs” that we have allowed to happen. And not just for us right now, but for the future generations of desperate patients looking for their own refuge in the years to come.
It is our obligation to ensure that the systems that we pass to our children and their children are not broken. And while all the “systems” that are broken within this world that we live in cannot be fixed or remedied now or maybe even ever, THIS system MUST be better. This plant has given all of us so much that should be held in the highest of esteem and given the respect of beauty that it exists as it does. To look back as a society in the years to come and see that this beautiful thing has been absolutely destroyed by the evil natures of the world and humanity would be the most devastating heartbreak I could possibly imagine. We MUST remember our purpose as an industry and why we are here. The patients are the catalyst and root of everything we strive to achieve because without them there would be no program or plant medicine at all.
Remembering Your Roots: What It First Felt Like When You Became an Advocate
We are all defined by profound moments in our lifetimes. I am so thankful and humbled by that small moment that I had just a few short weeks ago. The fire in my heart and soul to create a better industry, and world, to leave to my children and their generation has been reignited in a way that I cannot and will not ignore.
I ask all of you reading this, patients, and industry workers alike, to remember what first sparked that fire within you to come to this program in the first place. We must prepare to brave the storm to do better, at all costs. Because this is OUR moment to be profound. This is our chance to make this world a better place to exist in. Together, we can all make this our moment to be the change, and I know that we can and WILL do so.