Hello my name is Zach Leighter and I am 25 years old. I have been living with Crohn's disease since I was 12 years old. These past 12 years have been full of constant stomach pain, inflamed colon, fatigue and loss of appetite to name a few. Recently my colon became very inflamed resulting in a colostomy surgery.
I have tried multiple biologic drugs administered by IV with no success. I am running out of prescribed "man made" medicines to try. The majority of these biologic drugs have terrible side effects, such as cancer or brain disease, and are extremely hard on your body.
Medical cannabis can help with my damaging inflammation, pain, and loss of appetite without delivering the terrible side effects biologics have. Other Crohn's patients are benefiting tremendously from medical cannabis in their states, I hope our state will follow soon. Having access to medical cannabis will not only change my quality of life, it can help thousands of others in our state.
Our friend would like to remain Nameless and Faceless. With Iowa's current bill only covering those with intractable epilepsy, it leaves out so many of Iowa's sick and suffering. We get messages every day from people who need help and are scared to come forward, due to fear of arrest for doing what is best for their medically complex health condition.
My story begins six years ago, when I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. My gastroenterologist told me then and has said since that mine is the most severe case he's ever seen. Nothing seems to be able to help very much, only prevent this progressive disease from getting much worse. I am considered disabled because of it, and spend a lot of time in the restroom despite being on steroids (prednisone), an infusion biologic therapy (entyvio), and immune system-suppressants (azathioprine).
I have tried changing my diet, even meeting with a registered dietitian for an extended period of time, to no avail. I have been hospitalized for Crohn's complications more times than I can count, with ER visits and urgent care visits becoming more and more frequent. I have learned that hospitalization does not even improve my condition but can only treat the symptoms such as dehydration and vitamin deficiencies, as even in the hospital my symptoms are severe and the doctors seem to be at their wit's end.
I get extremely painful abscesses and fistulas as well, and the doctors do not even try to fix these with surgery any more since they seem to just come back eventually, and I am told with Crohn's Disease they won't heal correctly with surgery either.
I have read a great deal of the research and anecdotal evidence of successfully treating Crohn's Disease with a plant, success beyond the reach of current pharmaceutical interventions such as immunosuppressants and steroids. I know that Crohn's Disease is currently incurable and can only be managed, but it is very frustrating to me that I must suffer and continue to get progressively worse because a plant is illegal that can help cause healing from this inflammatory condition.
I read with great hope, for myself and others, the success stories of others in other states who have been lucky enough to receive treatment currently deemed illegal in Iowa. I believe it is unethical to withhold this potentially life-changing treatment from myself, fellow Crohn's sufferers, and other Iowans who are suffering and not able to live up to their full potentials.
Thank you for reading my story.
I have had Crohn's disease for 36 years. Crohn's disease is an auto immune disease that causes severe inflammation of the digestive tract, making it hard to eat without massive pain. Because food is the enemy and we don't digest properly, Crohn's patients tent to be dangerously malnourished. Medical cannabis actually makes it possible to eat. The severe nausea associated with Crohn's can be curbed with medical cannabis allowing us to eat and keep food down. Crohn's disease is ranked as a top ten most painful disease. Medical cannabis actually helps reduce the pain to bearable level. Without medical cannabis I would have died long ago.
Over the last 36 years, I've taken many awful, dangerous drugs. These include high doses of steroids. Over time steroids damage bones and soft tissue growth is inhibited. Other drugs are biologics like humira and remicade. These drugs are extremely expensive. Humira is administered twice a month by injection, each dose costs around $3,000. Remicade is another biologic. It is administered by IV every 4-8 weeks, at a cost that varies between $15,000-$24,000 per dose. I get my dose every 6 weeks. Side effects are lowered immune system, hair loss, allergic reaction and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Patient & Caregiver Stories
These stories represent real Iowans suffering from complex medical conditions that need access to medical cannabis right here at home.