As California strides toward more progressive marijuana legislation, the stories regarding cannabis seem to be flying in from all angles of subject matter. The myriad of faces who inhabit the realm of cannabis stretch infinitely across the spectrum of differences and similarities within one another. How these different cases benefit from cannabis vary, but it is cases like the one I came across at the fourth annual Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland Resort on November 3 that truly left an impact.
Olivia Wingard and her mother, Lorena, were happily enjoying each other’s company as they were sharing their story with passersby that were immediately captivated by the impassable energy that Olivia radiated. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with the two of them to learn their story.
From birth, doctors were sure Olivia’s lack of cerebral cortex and severe underdevelopment in her brain would yield an abbreviated life. After four years of testing and endless doctor’s visits, Olivia was diagnosed with pyruvic dehydrogenase deficiency, a genetic neurodegenerative disease that prevents cells from fully metabolizing glucose, affecting energy production and increasing the buildup of toxic lactic acid in the blood and brain. The brain damage suffered as a young child created a dynamic string of health issues that Olivia has been affected by to this day, including epilepsy, scoliosis, loss of motor skills and learning disabilities. With every bit of scientific basis behind the notion that Olivia wouldn’t make it, she and her family maintained their persistence toward disproving the painful truths behind her conditions.
Lorena found out about CBD in November 2014, after opting out of her doctor’s recommendation to place Olivia on Lactimal, which is used to treat epilepsy. She continued to seek CBD options that could help benefit her daughter after noticing an immediate change in Olivia’s sleep cycles.
In June 2015, Olivia began to take a CBD oil tincture by Elysium Wellness, and has undergone a series of life improvements ever since. Olivia’s right eye no longer needs correction, and her left eye is on its way to near-perfect vision as well. After her last EEG testing, she is now experiences REM sleep, a critical component to bodily homeostasis and repair. The most notable area of Olivia’s improvement is in her mental cognition and communication, her mom said, making quantifiable strides with her schooling, and using her memory as a foundation for new knowledge like never before.
The passion and love for life behind Olivia’s eyes is what left me changed after meeting her. Not only is the cannabis community held together by that sort of love, but humankind altogether is indebted to the fighters that live amongst us. Olivia’s story further solidifies the inevitable structure of benefiting the properties of cannabis. The light that she possesses is something that illuminates the world around her, and that alone is something that we can all appreciate. On a human level, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing life triumph, and Olivia is nothing short of iconic.
Also published on Medium.