This site is under maintenance, but will be back up before you can say tetrahydrocannabinol.

Utah in the Weeds Episode #101 – Vanessa Kyrobie, Medical Cannabis Patient

What to Expect in This Episode

Episode 101 of Utah in the Weeds features Vanessa Kyrobie, who uses cannabis to treat the painful symptoms of a mysterious and debilitating disease.

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:
Welcome everybody out to episode 101, that is three digits, 101 to Utah in the Weeds. My name is Tim Pickett and today’s episode is an interview and really a deep understanding of how cannabis can change a person’s life. Vanessa Kyrobie is a patient here in Utah. She has a deep Mormon background, and this story will touch your heart. I rarely get a chance to hear stories that are like Vanessa’s and the impact that her change in attitude, I guess, or just understanding of the cannabis plant can have an outcome in a human life. And by extension the life of those around you, your family, your kids. If you know somebody who is hesitant about using cannabis, this is a good story to listen to. For those of you who are not subscribed, you can subscribe and you can be sure that we are headed towards another 100 episodes of Utah In The Weeds.

Tim Pickett:
Stay tuned for next week when we release an episode interview with Connor Boyack, who was integral in the writing of prop two, the passage, the negotiation that took place, he brings up some fans and some detractors, of course, with his involvement in what happened and the development of the Utah Medical Cannabis Program. For those of you, like I say, subscribe to Utah In The Weeds on any podcast player that you have access to. My name is Tim Pickett. We are found on discover marijuana on YouTube as well.

Tim Pickett:
You can subscribe there and download all of our episodes and see a lot of educational resource videos there that we do with Zion medicinal and Blake Smith. For those of you who are on our newsletter at utahmarijuana.org, that’s Utah marijuana.org, stay up to date with our webinar series. We do those I think monthly on Wednesday nights, you can also find those on YouTube at discover marijuana, lots of information, lots of resources, and have some fun out there this summer folks. Enjoy this episode with Vanessa Kyrobie. So take us all the way back, Vanessa, to when you first got introduced to cannabis.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
That’s a cool story. So in order to understand why I got introduced to cannabis, you got to understand how I became very sick. For 34 years, I was a perfectly healthy young woman, very ambitious. I was a senior engineer working for the LDS Church and I was living a wonderful life. In under 20 days in January 2018, my fingers and my feet, and my face started to go numb. And we thought that was some strange symptoms. And 20 days later, I had an MRI and that would be the last day I would walk for about 18 months. And the next two months after that, February, March 2018, I saw 14 doctors had over $150,000 worth of test. My body began to shut down. So the neuropathy spread across my entire body. My body felt like it was on fire. I could no longer stand.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I could no longer control the left side of my body. They thought that I was having strokes. They thought I was having seizures. They tested me for MS. I was having lumbar punctures, MRIs. It looked like Guillain-Barré. This condition where your autonomic central nervous system shuts down very aggressively. I had all the symptoms of Guillain-Barré, but none of the proteins that you would expect your body to create when that was happening. And so all they could understand was that something was shutting my body down. Something was shutting down my central nervous system, but we couldn’t tell what. And so the pain that I experienced from this was indescribable. My entire body felt like it was on fire, pins and needles filling above that. And the pain was driving me mad. So the doctor started prescribing me so many types of opioids, Gabapentin, heavy-hitters, not so heavy-hitters.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, it’s insane. You talk about this like it’s just a story now. Right. But what you’re describing and Guillain-Barré is not common. It’s rare.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
It’s very rare.

Tim Pickett:
It’s very rare. And in the ER and in emergency medicine, we’re trained that it typically starts at the feet and works its way up, not typically in the hands, but it’s like people are wearing numb socks and then they get weakness and it goes up to the knees and it’s both legs. And then all of a sudden they can’t walk. And at that point, you start to really worry that as it creeps up, they won’t be able to breathe.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
Like, and it’s coming and it’s devastating. Yeah.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And it was scary. And that’s the same thing because as the neuropathy spread across my chest, my heart rate was too high and then too low blood pressure, too high, too low. I started passing out.

Tim Pickett:
And this happens with people with spinal cord injuries where you can’t regulate your nervous system. And that’s what regulates your blood pressure. So there’re these chills people get and the blood pressure and the heart rate starts to go… I mean, it’s trying to regulate, but it’s not communicating with the whole half of your body.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Exactly.

Tim Pickett:
Which at times will expand the blood vessels so then your blood pressure just drops. So your heart rate got to jack up and people shake and shiver. I was a CNA. My very first job in medicine was a CNA working with spinal cord injury patients. And we would see this nervous system, just the response was crazy. But the pain you describe is the burning.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah. And we actually figured out what the burning was later. So I was keeping a medical journal and noticed I had four MRIs with contrast in under nine weeks and strangely enough my symptoms became considerably worse within 12 to 24 hours after each MRI. And the MRI comes with a contrast and the contrast is a gadolinium based, rare earth heavy metal that they claim is safe for your body and that your body will push it out in under three days. Well, we found out that my body composition does not push that gadolinium contrast out after an MRI. So what we had found out was that I’m going through all these symptoms and then I had gotten a manmade disease above this from my MRIs called gadolinium deposition disease. And that’s what made me lose my balance, lose my ability to walk, also aided in shutting down my central nervous system, because I essentially had heavy metal radiation poisoning from my MRIs that made my symptoms so much worse.

Tim Pickett:
Was this something that was underlying they thought or something that was caused by… What was happening to you? You weren’t excreting it, the body wasn’t getting rid of it. Is that something that you always have had do you know?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
So we found out later, so because I was healthy, these are things I’d never explored. So we later learned through genetics tests that I have a mutation, it’s called the MTFR mutation. So my body has lost about 80% of its natural detoxing abilities. So some of these medications that they put in my body I wasn’t able to detox the bad. We also learned that because of this genetic mutation and another one called ultra rapid metabolizer, that some of these opioids that they were giving me, my body was metabolizing them so fast that they became toxic to me. They were almost acting as neurotoxins rather than helping me with my pain and making things considerably worse for me. So it was a crazy combination. The neuropathy came first and then all these other symptoms showed up after the MRI. And it was just this perfect storm of being perfectly healthy.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And under 20 days watching my entire body collapse both from whatever my mystery disease was that caused the neuropathy and we have some theories. We actually now have evidence from later MRIs that I had encephalitis, a very rare form of encephalitis called mycoplasma pneumonia, autoimmune encephalitis. And they think that this bacteria got into my brain, collapsed my CNS and the neuropathy feeling. I lost two thirds of my nerve density. And under about six months, we proved that with biopsies because when it’s your small nerve fibers being destroyed, they have to do a biopsy. They can do an EMG to look at your large nerves. My large nerves were fine. So they ruled out any delete disease of my large nerves, but realized that my small nerves, which is my autonomic central nervous systems’ communication pathways were disappearing. And that was what was leading to a lot of the autonomic dysfunction that we saw then, and that I still deal with today. I have POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. So my heart rate and blood pressure still can’t regulate. It’s been four years.

Tim Pickett:
And this is because the loss of the nerve tissue.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
So there is some regrowing of nerves, but not in the way that you’re talking about or the way that you lost.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Very slow.

Tim Pickett:
You grow like a centimeter, an inch of one nerve. I mean, we’re never giving you back all of the nerves, unfortunately.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct. Correct.

Tim Pickett:
So 20 days, less than three weeks time, what’s happening for you? Oh my God. Just the emotional part of this.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Terrifying. I had two small children at the time. They were only four and six at the time. And so one thing that was really scary was my husband. I didn’t realize a few times was pulled out into the hallway and they said to him, your wife’s not going to make it. She’s most likely going to have a heart attack or her blood pressure will drop too low. She’ll go into levels of losing oxygen to her brain and she might just shut down in the middle of the night. They sent home a heart monitor at one point and said, you know what, this will beep if her heart goes too low, at least it might be able to wake you up and see what you can do. But they told him I was most likely going to die in my sleep. What was very frustrating was they could see my body shutting down.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I was starving. I wasn’t absorbing nutrients. They would see me have these seizures. I was in the ICU in and out. But as soon as none of their tests came back positive with any meaningful reason or clear indication of what was shutting down my body, each time they said, well, your tests are normal. You look fine to us on paper. We can see you are not fine, but because there’re no diagnoses to keep you here, they kicked me out of the hospital every single time. I was sent home with nothing, I was even surprised I was losing so much weight and they wouldn’t even keep me to give me TPN or any other methods of nutrition. Again, simply because they couldn’t find a diagnosis that would explain my symptoms. Some of them said I had conversion disorder that this was all made up in my head and it felt real to me.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And I’m like, no, I know me. I know my stress. My stress is what made me one of the most successful women in my career, I was one of the first females to graduate from UVU in a bachelor’s in computer science. I loved my stress. I loved my ability to use my stress to be an overachiever and a very productive young woman. By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was enjoying very, very rich blessings from my talents. Right? And so for doctors to look at me and say, okay, you’ve lost the ability to walk, talk, eat, even swallow, my autonomic dysfunction for me to be able to swallow food even shut down. So I could get food to the back of my throat and my muscles couldn’t even contract to push food down.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
So I was choking on everything I was trying to eat. The other strange symptom as I started to spin in a clockwise circle. And that happened right after my MRIs. And we later found out that the MRI contrast embedded into my cerebellum, given me a form of cerebellar ataxia. I still can’t walk with balance. I had to learn how to walk visually. I did nine months of neuro rehab to walk visually because I had to walk with a cane or a wheelchair, because I couldn’t walk straight.

Tim Pickett:
So what happened? How did you get through it? Like did somebody decide, you know what, let’s do this one more test.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
So that’s exactly what happened. So we’re now at the end of March, I’ve seen, like I said, about 15 doctors and was in the out of the hospital about nine times. And one of my doctors finally said to me, here’s your choice-

Tim Pickett:
You’re in a wheelchair at this point?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I’m in a wheelchair at this point. I can no longer walk. I can no longer eat. I couldn’t even make words come out clear. Even my speech was slurred. My tongue stuck out to the left. I had a really hard time being able to communicate. And that was a lot of speech therapy as well. But what was going through my mind was a lot of praying because my husband lost his mother to cancer when he was five years old and the last thing I wanted to do was have my husband go through the same thing, having children almost the same age that he was when he lost his mother. And now to have to experience through the side of being a widow with two kids.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, and you were telling us about the test, the final test.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah. The final test. So I had prayed that I would find the right doctor to figure this out and sure enough, within 24 hours, three different people reached out to me and said, hey, he doesn’t take insurance, but there’s a doctor. His name is Dr. Andrew Peterson. He’s with a company called Forum Health here in Utah. And they said, look, he says that he’s a functional integrative medicine doctor, but he’s also a doctor who’s a diagnostic expert. He can figure things out when nobody else can. And so I called their office and obviously he’s a wait to get in. And they’re just like, oh yeah, he could probably see you in two or three months. And I’m like, here’s the deal, one of my doctors said that I have less than two to three weeks to live. Here’s the state that I’m in.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And my options were to die at home, die at Mayo Clinic. And maybe they might figure something out or choose a hospice. And they said, hold on, came back onto the phone five minutes later and said, he can see you tomorrow. He’s booked out three hours. So I sat down with this doctor for two hours and he went over every single test, every single result, every doctor’s note over the last three months, looked over a brief medical history and said, okay, there’s a lot that hasn’t been tested yet. Hold on. He wrote me a blood lab, it was 46 files of blood that I had to be drawn in three different locations, Lab Corp quest in the hospital. And it was a $22,000 blood test. This blood test results came back three days later and that’s how they found the mycoplasma pneumonia antibodies high enough for them to say, all right, we’re pretty sure that from this, you are dealing with a form of encephalitis and this bacteria is so small.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Mycoplasm lever later learned is a recognized bacteria in the medical community. But because it’s so small, it doesn’t have a cell wall and antibiotics don’t work against it. So most of my traditional doctors don’t think of testing for mycoplasma infections and there are sometimes considered co-infections of Lyme disease and other things. I was negative for Lyme disease, but my antibodies were 6,000 times higher than the threshold for mycoplasma pneumonia. So the best guess was that this infection got into my brain and then further my body became autoimmune to the presence of this bacteria. So my body started attacking my own central nervous system, as well as this bacteria festering in my brain. And we have MRIs that indicate with the lesions and holes and tumors that it’s left behind that this kind of damage would only be seen if there was an infection in the brain, but it took us to almost three years to figure that out from beginning to end for that damage to actually show because you can’t fight this type of infection with antibiotics, I began doing IVs.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And so the IVs that he chose to do, they’re natural high dose vitamin C ozone, and he did throw antibiotics in there just for good measure and slowly but surely doing these IVs over the next three months, improved some symptoms. But what we didn’t know was the heavy metal poisoning from the MRIs was causing the rest of the symptoms as we sat there. He’s like, okay, these central nervous system issues that you’re having and some of these neurological issues you’re having, we can track that back to this bacterial infection possibly, we can track that back to autoimmune possibly, but your skin being on fire, you spinning like a drunk, some of these things don’t make sense. And about the same time Chuck Norris, the Chuck Norris came forward and said to the world, hey, my wife was almost killed after having seven MRIs.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And they had done this huge interview and his wife had gotten on the news and she said, after my MRIs, one of the first symptoms was, I felt like I was on fire. And that was a huge light bulb in my head. I was just like, wait, Gina Norris just said she felt like she was on fire and that’s one symptom that none of my doctors could understand was me saying, literally I feel like I’m on fire. And so we started researching it and sure enough, very rare populations can’t expel MRI contrast so the rest of my symptoms happened to be heavy metal poisoning from a manmade injection from my MRI scans. And that took me about $60,000 and 18 months of chelation therapy that I had to go through with the PICC line and the chemo port in order to remove that heavy metal that the MRIs had left in my body.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Six months after my MRIs, we had measured it for the first time and my gadolinium and uranium levels, because gadolinium is actually mined with uranium was 600 times normal than a human body should have. And to equate this, it’s the exact same treatment I would have to do. If I decided to go to Chernobyl and dance in reactor four naked, it’s the same treatment you would do for radiation poisoning. So those combined, you can imagine I was in a lot of pain and none of the opioids were working. That’s how I got introduced to cannabis.

Tim Pickett:
Wow.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Little blown away. A crazy story.

Tim Pickett:
That’s crazy. I mean, I’m sorry. I’m chuckling, this is just crazy.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I know crazy. I have to too, because you look back, I mean, in the moment this was terrifying. Right?

Tim Pickett:
Oh, unbelievable. But you’re on somewhat on the other side of a lot of this right. Where you don’t fear death tomorrow.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
Right. I mean just that alone is just such a huge success. Okay. So wow. I mean, I got to take a breath for heaven’s sakes. That is awesome. Just an awesome case. Right? Okay. So now, opioids aren’t working and I mean, nothing would work.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah. Right.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, I can’t think of a drug that I would prescribe to you right now that would really help.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
You’d have to take so much Gabapentin, you’re taking Ambien to sleep. You’re taking opioids to take your pain out, but then your digestive system isn’t working, especially if you’ve got autonomic dysfunction, your GI system isn’t working anyway as well.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. There’s not a lot of really great… Well, there’s no good prescription medication out there for you.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
No. And that’s what was insane.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. So who says, hey, I know what you should do?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah. So that happened to be, I have two uncles that are physicians in California. One of them is an OB, the other one’s a family practitioner and does both functional medicine and traditional medicine. So my doctors/uncles are very well aware of what I’m going through. So May 2018, they reach out and they say, hey, with all these symptoms that you’re having, you need to try cannabis. Now you got to understand, I grew up LDS. I’m working for the LDS church. My very first thought was, you remember going back to fourth grade saying no to drugs I took.

Tim Pickett:
Yes.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
At the time I was so naive, I wouldn’t have known the difference between heroin and cannabis. Right?

Tim Pickett:
I mean, that’s what we were taught in the school.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
It’s what we were taught. Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
They were side by side.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah. All these drug classifications are all bulked into one, all horrible for your body. They’re all entryway drugs to something worse. And so my first thought was absolutely no way.

Tim Pickett:
Well, and plus you were working for the church.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Exactly. And it’s illegal in Utah.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, I grew up Mormon and I understand and it’s one thing to be active LDS in Utah. And it is kind of another level to be active LDS in Utah and work for the church full time. Right?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
It was my career. Yeah. And we reached a point where at that point there was, there was two things that shifted in my healing journey. The first thing was a realization that I couldn’t control what was happening to my body, but I could control how I was going to react to it. So even though I was dying, I said, I am going to let people see my positivity, see my hope, see my smile, see my strength. I wasn’t going to let what was happening to my body, determine my outcome. Now at the same time, I wasn’t going to roll over and die. As I said, I was a high achiever, an overachiever, one of the first in the field as a female and I just turned all of that into learning about the body, learning about natural medications. And so I had researched cannabis and I started learning about the endocannabinoid system.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And that was the first thing that made me realize, wait, if God gave us an endocannabinoid system that has the ability to help with your pain, reduce inflammation, stop disease, and this can only be activated by a natural plant that has the compounds that react go into these receptors. I’m like, okay, God gave us an endocannabinoid system for a reason and he has given us plants that nothing else can fit the receptors for that. There’s got to be more to the story here. So after doing a little bit of research, I called my uncles back and said, okay, I want to try this, but I absolutely have to be able to do this in a way that I’m not breaking any laws. And so they said, well, come down, come live with us and let’s try it in California where it’s legal.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And I said, all right, let’s do it. So I went to California and stayed with my uncle and started using medical cannabis and just simple things like tinctures and gummies. And it was incredible. And under three days of being on cannabis, I was able to walk without a cane. My spinning in my head reduced significantly. I wasn’t spinning as a drunk as much. I was amazed at how much it helped me be able to keep food down. I wasn’t throwing up all of my meals. The autonomic dysfunction didn’t go away, but it lessened. I mean, and that was only within three days. By the end of my two week stay, I wouldn’t say I was healed. I mean, obviously this isn’t a magical cure, but I was functional. That was the biggest thing that I realized was I could actually appear functional as long as I had this medication in my system.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And it almost seemed opposite when I don’t have cannabis in my system. My speech is lured. I still spin like a drunk. I fall over easy. That’s when somebody would look at me and be like, you look a little impaired or something’s not right in your head. When I’m on cannabis, especially the sativa side, sativa hybrids, I can speak clearly. I can think, I can respond. I can drive safely. I can walk without falling over. I can manage my pain, all of these things.

Tim Pickett:
This is still even true today?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
It is still true today. Since it’s become legal, every single day I have a form of cannabis, either through a patch, a tincture under my tongue, mince that I take. I vape very occasionally only if I need it to hit a little bit faster for, I have flares. Obviously, a lot of my diseases have left me with flares. But what I found was the magic combination for myself was very high dose CBD. So my CBD intake is between 50 to a hundred milligrams a day. And my THC is between 2.5 to five milligrams about once or twice a day. And that’s about it. And the high dose CBD is actually what helped me when I returned to Utah because obviously I said, you know what? I’m going to keep the laws, but I’m going to advocate for medical marijuana.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And I was really excited when I came back to Utah, started researching our laws to find that liver toss and the Utah patients of cannabis and natural choices had announced, hey, we’re going to propose a bill that people would be able to vote on for legalizing cannabis for medical use. And I was all in, I was passing out signs. I was at the governor’s office when they were discussing some of the proposals. I was at the press conferences. I was running booths. I was sharing with people my story about how medical cannabis was helping me with my own disease and including people that said no, I’m not voting for this. This is a drug it’s going to end up on the street. And I expressed to them, look, this saved my life. This helps me. And a lot of these people said, wow, well, you’re an amazing person. I’ve always been inspired by you and you’re telling me this medication helps you and you’re asking for the right to use a natural medication. How can I say no to that?

Tim Pickett:
Right.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And so a lot of people that said no to voting originally would talk to me and say, you know what, for you I will vote yes. And that was a really big deal. The night that it passed, I did a quick news interview with KUTV and stood there and said, I am so happy. Thank you. Thank you for giving me the right and it’s sad that we had to vote on this. But thank you for giving me the right to choose to use a natural plant for my own healing.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, absolutely.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
That was a big day. That was absolutely a big day for me. And I got my letter the next day. So I was definitely one of the first people to be able to have access to this medication. Use it legally, as well as having the opportunity because I worked for the LDS church to speak to higher up members to express to them, hey, this medication helps me and could someday be the key for me to return to work. Unfortunately, some of my conditions were not reversible and I was ruled permanently disabled in the beginning of 2020. So as soon as that happened, I was trying so hard to return back to work and get my career back. And I was crushed by that ruling. I wasn’t expecting it, but the brain damage is too extensive. The neuropathy has still not stopped. So I still struggle there. I have chronic migraines, chronic nausea, autonomic dysfunction continues. So I am now adjusting to a life that’s different from what I expected, but making the best I can of what this life’s given me. So that’s really where I am today.

Tim Pickett:
So talk about the event that made you choose cannabis. We had talked about this before we started recording.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
So I actually reached a point where I had determined I wasn’t going to break the word of wisdom or the rules of my church and I wasn’t going to take cannabis. And I reached a point where the opioids I was on were making me go crazy. All I could think about was self-harm. And that me dying would be the only way to get a release from this pain. So I actually did a lot of research to take the right pills and I set a date and a time where my kids would be at school and my husband would be at work and I’d be home alone to take these pills and end my life. And I did so, and whatever happened next is nearly unexplainable, but I found myself in a beautiful garden. And so I thought at first, all right, I did it. This must be heaven or some transitional phase into heaven, and I’m looking around and I see a man walking towards me in white robes and immediately realized this is Jesus Christ walking towards me.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And for a quick second, I had this sense of panic, sadness, depression dread, oh my gosh, I just took my life and here’s the moment that I have to face him. And just hoping that he’ll understand why I did it, that he would understand that I did this because I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I couldn’t handle this disease and had lost hope. And what’s also strange is this opioid that I was on does have a side effect that makes you have disassociative suicidal tendencies. And a lot of people have lost their lives using some of these particular drugs. But I felt like when I took my life that I was watching myself in third person, I really didn’t want to do it. But I watched myself doing it with the other half of me saying, no, I don’t want to, but not feeling like I was in control, but coming back to the garden, he was approaching me.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And the first thing I noticed is that he was holding a plant in his hand and he comes up to me and I remember looking at his eyes so much love and understanding and compassion. And he simply looks at me and says just these things, Vanessa, I created this plant for the use of man, why are you rejecting my gift? And that’s all he said, that’s all he said. The next moment I was awake. I was laying on my bed. My phone was ringing off the hook. And as I had understood, it was my mother. She had called three times and she had picked up my kids from school. As I had planned, she was driving them home and she lives about five minutes from my home. And as I said, my kids were just four and six at the time. And all of a sudden, all three of them heard the words of someone say, pray for Vanessa.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Pray for Vanessa right now. And my mother immediately pulled over. Even my little four year old daughter says TT, who’s the name of her grandmother, TT, TT, we need to pray for mommy right now. And so they all started to pray for me. And my husband had the same inspiration as well. And when I woke up, she had gotten home and she called me and she said, we had this feeling to pray for you. What happened? And she’s just like are you okay? Are you okay? And I’m like, no, I don’t know. I tried to take my life, but I don’t think it worked. And I’m still trying to remember what happened after, but in the end there was no evidence that I had taken any medications whatsoever in my body. Nothing was found in my body. And from that point over, I realized that it was okay to use medical cannabis because this was indeed a gift man to help us with our diseases and our pain. And that’s what really made me choose to try medical cannabis.

Tim Pickett:
How’s your family adjusted to this new situation? The blessed part of this that they have you now?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
Right. Has there been other things because of your involvement in the cannabis advocacy world that have changed for you long-term? I mean just the news, the podcast, the advocacy, do you seem like you talk about this all the time now?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Anyone I can share my story with, I share it with them. And I wouldn’t even say a little tension. At the time I was a youth leader in my ward. And obviously when my news story came out the day after it was legalized, hey, this is Vanessa Kyrobie. She’s LDS. She waited until it was legal. Here’s her story. Right? And I just thought, okay, this is just a simple little news story. It got rewritten in a few other languages. And my family from Mexico even called me to say, you were on the news in Mexico. I’m like, are you serious? It made it all the way down there. And they’re like, yeah. And obviously, I’m one of those people that I respect other people’s choices. And this medication had so much bad rap behind it, that there were members of my ward that came forward and said we think you’re a bad influence on the youth.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
We don’t want you in any leadership positions. You shouldn’t be talking about this in our ward or to our kids. And that was a little bit hard for me at first. Now it’s more open because now that the church has rewritten the word of wisdom to say, hey, this is a medication that we actually approve of as long as it’s being used correctly. And that’s typically what I respond with when people say, okay, you’re using medical marijuana. You’re just this pothead and what if you abuse it? Well, what if I abuse it? People abuse sugar, people abuse caffeine, people abuse their own prescriptions of Xanax and Adderall.

Tim Pickett:
And we’re on prescriptions to feel better, right? To raise our mood to be a little bit more happy.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Exactly. So I’m just like any of these things can be abused. I mean, yes. Can cannabis be abused? Can it be used for a recreational? It can. Sure. But so can your Xanax, so can your Adderall, so can your Coca-Cola you drink 19 times a day. I mean, it’s really perspective. I’m using it for the right reason. I don’t overuse it, I don’t share my medication. This is simply what helps me be able to live a fulfilling life to be able to be a mother to my children, to teach them and to be there for them. A lot of activities that I used to love are limited. That makes me sad. I used to be an avid hiker. We’d hike miles. I was a pro snowboarder back in my teens. I haven’t tried snowboarding in four years because I still can’t maintain my balance.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
When we do go on hikes, my kids recognize that mommy needs to sit down and take a lot of breaks. If I’m walking and my blood pressure gets too high or too low and I can feel it coming on, I just have to sit and kneel and my kids will sit there and just comfort me and people walk by. They’ll be like, it’s okay, mommy’s just a little sick. Don’t worry. You know? So especially my daughter, she’s now lived half her life knowing me as her “sick mother.” And even today, I’m not out of the woods. So from my chemo port, I got sepsis last year, spent 10 days over Christmas in the COVID overflow floor. That was awful. Right? So this last Christmas, since I got to be with my kids, when they wrote their letters to Santa, they didn’t ask for toys, they asked Santa please help mommy be home for Christmas. That’s all they wanted. It was for me to actually physically be there for Christmas, because they had missed me for 10 days.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
So it’s been fascinating. My kids have become amazing at understanding my condition. A lot of people try to hide that from their kids. I’m actually open with my children. They’re now almost eight and 10. And I say to them, this is mommy’s medication and it keeps locked up, but they understand that my medicine is a plant that comes from God. And they also understand that because of my diseases, there are days that I can’t fulfill a promise or go for a walk or play as long in the park. And they understand that because I’m open with them to help them understand what my condition does to my body. And instead of making it a hindrance, we’ve turned it into a family team project. You know, we help each other. We understand what I’m going through and they aren’t hard on me when there’re days that I can, there’re days that I can’t. And I appreciate that.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
It’s really hard to have a chronic disease if your family doesn’t support you, but my family has been nothing but supportive. Every single member, including my great grandparents that are like, no, marijuana’s bad it destroyed her son. No. Now they actually sit back and go. I’m so happy. I’m so happy that you found something that worked and it’s natural and it’s not going to hurt you. And I’ve not had any other family members be negative towards me about it.

Tim Pickett:
You’re bringing tears to my eyes, Vanessa. Just such a great story. For you regardless of the cannabis, really the cannabis in your story is really just a tool that you found to help. It just happens to be a big topic of discussion. I can read the words in your book that will certainly as you write all of this down and you write the book of your story and the 20 days of misery and of just hell coming at you.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
And then being able to find one solution after the other, that’ll be a fun story to read.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I agree. Thank you. Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
I’m so glad too that the system in Utah has such strong advocates for legitimate use of Medical Cannabis. Because I have said on this podcast many, many times that I’m an avid supporter of legal medical programs well before we even consider moving to adult-use or recreational programs because it’s stories like yours that legitimize it as medicine and we have to legitimize it to de-stigmatize it. And one day maybe we’ll get to the point where everybody understands it like you do.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
And understands that it’s just another medication in the medicine cabinet, the ibuprofen for the inflammation, the Tylenol for the fever, the 20:1 tincture for the neuropathy and the pain. Right?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
And the inhaled stuff for the flares.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Because it does work. It does.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
It really does.

Tim Pickett:
It takes the edge off. Right. It puts your pain over there on the couch.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct. And that’s why I tell people it doesn’t take the pain away and some days it does, it just kind of makes you a little disassociative from it. It’s just like, yeah, the pain’s there, but I can manage, it’s just put in the back burner. And I appreciate that a lot. Because imagine living your life where you’re trying to concentrate, you’re trying to work, even do a load of laundry and to feel the millions of pins and needles in every inch of your body. And I envy other people, they’re just like, oh yeah, I have my neuropathy in my hands and feet. And I look at them and I’m like, I wish I only had it in my hands and feet. It’s on every single inch of my body that I can physically feel. The neuropathy went up and over into my cheeks, up over my eyes.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I feel like they’re going into my eyes. I’m slowly losing my vision because now the neuropathy’s degrading the optic nerves back into my brain. And then the only places I don’t feel it are just maybe a couple of parts of my back. So over the last three years, neuropathy has continued to stay aggressive. And I mean, aggressive enough that a judge, regardless of my age, young age, looked at it and said, this is some severe damage. You’re absolutely disabled because of this and the person who is the one who determines if there’re any jobs that I can do, because first they determine whether I can do my own job or not sit at a desk and work on a computer. And that was determined no. And then this representative goes out and figures out if there’s any job I can do, can I even just sit in a wheelchair and greet people at a Walmart, right?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And this individual came back and said that there’re no jobs at all that would accommodate my disabilities. And once that was said, the judge said all right, you’re ruled disabled. And if people were to look me on the streets, they would not see someone sickly unless I’m walking with my cane. Then they kind of question, that’s a pretty young woman to be walking with a cane on a flare day. But for the most part, I’ve worked very, very, very hard to not look sick. And that’s hard. When people say, well, you don’t look sick. A lot of people could be offended by that. And I smile and say thank you. I worked very hard. I worked very, very hard to be able to look at you, speak clearly, stand without falling over so that you don’t feel uncomfortable seeing my symptoms.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
But at the same time, I love having my friends and family where I don’t have to hold that up. It does take a lot of energy to hold that image up. So they see me sitting down, throwing up, kneeling down, whatever and they understand and I can be myself around them and I can show my struggles around them. And that needs to happen just as much mentally to cope. Another thing that I’ve done is ketamine psychotherapy. I’ve done 16 sessions and ketamine is also my secondary pain medication that has helped as well. So a little combination of both, but especially CBD has been fantastic. I’ve given it to so many people who are wary about THC.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
At least I teach them about CBD. I have a really good friend. He owns, it’s called Dr. Monroe’s CBD Emporium. And he has created some of the yummiest tinctures I’ve ever had really high doses that he even created some custom high doses for my needs. And he also creates a chocolate version that I gave to my grandparents and it helped them with their neuropathy. And I have friends that are teachers and I gave it to them for anxiety. So they can cope with teaching a fourth-grade class and I’ve got some friends that just have some-

Tim Pickett:
You get CBD and you get CBD.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I go into the store and he’s fantastic. Thomas Cross Whites the president. I call him my CBD dad because every product that I can get from him, I’m handing them out to friends with autistic children even. And they’d call me two weeks later and say, you know what? I rolled my eyes when you gave me this, but I have a whole new child because of you. My child’s actually doing homework. I’m not having these outbursts anymore. My child actually listened to me and had a conversation with me and those make it feel like my purpose is fulfilled. And that was the second thing, it’s finding a purpose. When you become chronically sick, the first thing to adjust is your own attitude and I said, okay, I’m going to be positive. I’m going to be joyful. I’m going to show hope.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
The second thing to keep you going is you have to find a purpose. And my new purpose was to share my story, share the medications that helped me, share my experiences on different ways to find your healing journey and trying to help others to find their own healing journey with whatever feels right for their own body. And that’s been huge for me. I run a lot of groups as well on MRI poisoning and it’s very rare.

Tim Pickett:
Really, really rare. I’ve never ran really into anybody in the years that I’ve been in medicine, certainly haven’t run into anybody with that diagnosis.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Correct. Rare enough gadolinium deposition disease or gadolinium toxicities, what it’s called. And again, most people that are healthy can spit it out. But in my case it was just a perfect storm. Or I could have just already been broken from the encephalitis that by the time I got the injections from the MRI, my body was just like, nope, I’m done this isn’t this isn’t helping. So yeah, it’s a fascinating healing journey, but I’m still on it and I’m not going to give up. And even though I’ve been real disabled, I’m still aiming to be able to return to work someday if possible, if my healing can be made enough that I can cope being with the sitting down at a computer and working again, I miss my job. I really do miss being productive. But at the same time, this has been a great opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. And I’ll take that too.

Tim Pickett:
What’s your favorite product? Do you have a favorite product here in Utah?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah, definitely. So the CBD product is Dr. Monroe’s CBD Emporium. It’s here in Orem and their CBD tinctures gummies. And they’re probably the yummiest tinctures I’ve had. The second dispensaries that I go to is Pure Utah and I go to Desert Wellness in Provo. And the first year that our dispensaries opened, I was a little disappointed in some of the products, but I am very impressed now. I recently found the bujaBoojum pills and some mints that are two and a half milligrams, the exact dosage that I need to just get that pain and edge off are now sold in simple capsules for a price that actually feels reasonable. So it’s been really cool to watch our dispensaries grow in inventory.

Tim Pickett:
Not a lot of low-dose products out there for patients who want a standardized dosing. There seems to be a growing number of high dose products. You can buy a hundred milligram metabolic and you just have to cut that thing up too much to make it useful.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
When I went to San Diego last year and I bought a package of gummies and I didn’t pay attention to it, for some reason I saw a couple of zeros. I’m like, okay, it must be a hundred milligram. You see them as 10 milligrams. No, I had bought a package of a thousand milligram, 10 gummies. They’re a hundred milligrams each and they’re peach rings. And I had failed to notice that when I took a peach ring thinking it was 10 and that was quite the experience. I probably laid on the beach for 12 hours just going, wow, the world is lovely. I’m actually so fascinated. If my dose of THC is too high, it actually makes me hyper-aware of my pain. So strangely enough, I actually have to stay low dose on the THC.

Tim Pickett:
I’m not surprised actually.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Yeah. I become a little hyper-sensitive to the way that I feel and that’s not the greatest feeling.

Tim Pickett:
No, I’m sure it’s not.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
That was my only mistake because yes, double-check your dosage. Don’t pop a hundred-milligram peach ring.

Tim Pickett:
Yes. Truth in advertising, right? And making sure you read the label. Is there something about the Utah program that you’d like to see changed?

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I have only felt a little bit sad towards my friends who wanted to grow their own cannabis, even though we’re not quite the climate for it. I do know that there’s hemp growers that are successful here. And if there was a change, it would be to allow people to be able to grow this medication. The cost of flowerI think is absolutely ridiculous. When you’re looking at 300 to $400 for an ounce of flower, I mean, come on, you’re growing a plant and up-charging that right way too much. I would like to see flower to either be more accessible or to allow people to grow their own flower. If I do use flower, it’s very rarely I have my own vaporizer for it because my lungs have struggled a lot. I grew up next to Geneva Steel. Strangely enough, I breathed in all of those black particles from Geneva Steel.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
And even though I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, I’m on watch for cancer because I have all these black spots in my lungs. They call it miner’s lung, typically miners get it for mining coal. I got it simply because I grew up next to Geneva Steel breathing in all of that stuff. So to smoke or vape, anything into my lungs hurts really bad. So I watch for that. But I have other friends that are patients that’s the only way that their body can tolerate it the best is using flower. So I would hope that the program would eventually make flower a more decent price. Or let us grow our own.

Tim Pickett:
Sure. Well, Vanessa, this has been one of the most fascinating conversations that I’ve had on this podcast. I am so glad you reached out and we got connected.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
I appreciate it.

Tim Pickett:
Or we reached out to you and got connected with you and your story. Just phenomenal that you are where you are today.

Vanessa Kyrobie:
Thank you. I worked really hard to get here. But yeah, like I said, I love sharing my story. So thank you for having me on this.

Tim Pickett:
Yep. Keep it up. For those of you that are not subscribed to the podcast, Utah In The Weeds, subscribe on any podcast player that you have access to. And Vanessa Kyrobie, thanks again. Everybody stay safe out there.

 

By UtahMarijuana.org
Published May 27, 2022
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Add a Little Green to Your Inbox

(801) 851-5554hello@utthc.com
Address:
740 E 3900 S
Suite 108
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
press@utthc.com
Utah Marijuana Logo
chevron-down
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram