By MELISSA REINERT
The Kentucky Enquirer
Tiffany Wigginton Carnal is in the fight of her life to save her daughter.
Lyndi Carnal, 17, has Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Lyndi was diagnosed when she was 14. Since that time, she and her mother have spent three Christmases, three New Year’s Days and countless other days at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
The medications Lyndi has taken to control the Crohn’s and subsequent pain have negatively impacted her heart, kidneys and liver. Lyndi has also had her colon and rectum removed. The medications to control the pain keep Lyndi sedated and unable to function. One of her medications, Dilaudid, is a strong opiate that can be addictive.
“These medications are making children drug addicts. Lyndi has gone through withdrawals,” Tiffany Carnal said. “Lyndi was once a cheerleader and a beauty pageant winner, she won all over the state. Now she is bed-ridden and not able to function. As a parent, I have to ask, ‘How can I help my child?’ ”
The answer, according to Carnal, is illegal.
“I started doing my own research and learned that medical marijuana can help children who have Crohn’s Disease,” she said. “However, this is illegal in our state.”
The Carnals reside in Williamstown, Kentucky, where the use of marijuana, even for medical purposes is against the law. In 2016, Sen. Perry Clark introduced Senate Bill 13, a bill that would end marijuana prohibition for adults in the Commonwealth and create a regulated and taxed system. The legislature adjourned, however, without taking action on the bill. The bill — Cannabis Freedom Act — to legalize medical marijuana use in the state, will be presented to the legislature in 2017.
Carnal has been busy writing and calling her state representatives to encourage passage of the bill.
“I’m not at all for recreational use of marijuana, but there are facts that marijuana oil helps children with epilepsy, Crohn’s and cancer,” Carnal said.
According to the Mayo Clinic, medical marijuana is marijuana used to treat disease or relieve symptoms. Marijuana is made from the dried leaves and buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It can be smoked, inhaled or ingested in food or tea. Medical marijuana is also available as a pill or an oil.
Also according to the Mayo Clinic, studies report that marijuana has possible benefits for several conditions. Crohn’s is on that list.
“It’s so frustrating that I can’t give my child a natural oil that could help her and not cause her other organs to fail or for her to be on a constant high,” Carnal said. “I can’t do that, but I can give her drugs that are killing her. There’s got to be a better way. There is. Things… the law… just have to change.”
This last bout with complications from Crohn’s almost took Lyndi’s life. She has been at Children’s for two months and was recently taken off life support. She’s on the mend, but the road ahead will be tough. She’s looking at two more months at Children’s.
“She has survived,” Carnal said. “She’s still here and for a reason. And that reason is not to spend her life in the hospital. Me? I’m going to fight to make sure she can get a natural treatment that will help her and not bring harm to her. That is my job as a parent.”