There are fewer than 50 pediatric Cannabis patients in Maryland and four-year-old Autumn Wittmyer is one of them. She was born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare condition and chronic disorder that affects the skin, joints, and blood vessels. Shortly after she was born, Autumn’s parents realized there would be complications with her health.
When Autumn was almost two-years-old, she had to have a craniectomy performed on her to remove a tumor found in her skull. Her surgery was successful and recovery was easy, but Autumn was often in pain with many sleepless nights. Autumn would constantly be lethargic due to only getting about two hours of sleep a night and would constantly have a running fever.
Her parents began to look for answers to help Autumn feel more comfortable, but they were met with an unpleasant solution when her doctors recommended that she begin oxycodone at the age of four. Her mother, Ashley Wittmyer, knew that she had to find an alternative solution, and she immediately turned to medical Cannabis.
Autumn’s doctor approved of her CBD and Cannabis use in conjunction with her physical therapy. Ashley began making tinctures and gummies at home for Autumn to ease her pain, help her sleep, and enhance her mood.
When the medical program began, she was one of the first pediatric patients to be certified. Being certified meant more access to Cannabis products than those that are readily available.
Her progress and medication are all being documented in a journal for her and her parents to refer to whenever needed.
Luckily, this family has never received any pushback from family or friends for using Cannabis in Autumn’s daily life.
Pediatric use of Cannabis is a controversial topic, but as Ashley said, “Our family saw that Autumn was a bright, bubbly child again and they could tell it was working. It was impossible to be upset about her use.”
Ashley quickly saw results in Autumn’s daily life and continued to press on with creating more tinctures and edibles for her.
Autumn began her Cannabis use at the age of three and has been consuming it daily for about a year-and-a-half.
She only consumes Cannabis in the form of edibles, and will occasionally wear a transdermal patch. She rarely doses during the day, and at night she’ll typically have 2:1 troches from Verano to keep her pain regulated and help her sleep.
They’ve concluded that Autumn does best with items that have a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio. Autumn now averages five hours of sleep each night, a huge improvement from her two-hour average before using Cannabis.
She hasn’t made the connection that she’s using Cannabis, and sees it as any other medication that she must take.
Asked how she feels about her medicine, Autumn said, “It helps my pain, silly.”
Since she will soon have to go to school, her parents have recently opened the discussion about her medical relationship with Cannabis.
Cannabis is federally illegal, so it cannot be brought into her classroom. In order to stay medicated during the day, she will have to be driven off campus and then return to school after her dose is administered.
We often discuss defeating the stigma in Cannabis – usually referring to the fact that people from all different walks of life partake in the use of it.
However, the discussion about pediatric use is often excluded from the conversation and forgotten. Autumn’s journey is a testament to medical Cannabis and how it can change lives for anyone, regardless of age. Autumn will always be able to feel the benefits from Cannabis and in her world, there is no stigma.
Story by Ariana Foote @indicawife for Maryland Leaf
photos by Wyatt Early @errlywyatt
“Our family saw Autumn was a bright, bubbly child again and they could tell it was working. It was impossible to be upset about her use,” Ashley said.
Parents Ashley & Jeff Wittmyer with Autumn