Over the next 4 years, Travis would go on to have 2 more back surgeries for the same injury. I took on as much work as I could to continue operating our household and raising our four children. Between surgeries and recoveries, he continued to become more and more dependent upon his prescribed opioid painkillers. He became less and less able to function as a member of our household. He slept long hours, took naps, snapped at me and the kids, gained 70 pounds, and eventually, hated everything, including himself.
Although we were active members of our local church, the pills convinced Travis that he was not worthy of his life as he knew it. He was consumed with minutes – how many minutes until he could take the next pill or put on another patch. Over the course of 2016, he tried several times to self-wean off his Roxycodones and Fentanyl patches. His goal was to wean down to a “manageable” dosage. Each attempt ended unsuccessfully. I knew he was in pain. That’s one thing I never doubted about Travis. He had a high pain threshold, and to see him suffering was heartbreaking. What many people don’t know, however, is that opioids reduce your threshold for pain. This means each time you take one, it actually takes less stimulus to create the sensation of pain. So the more you take, the more pain you actually feel.
By the time the “opioid epidemic” became such a sensational headline, we were right in the middle of our own opioid epidemic. I clearly remember Travis voicing his frustrations with the legislatures and law enforcement for “tying the hands” of all the pain management doctors and making it so difficult for them to prescribe their “patients in dire need” a sufficient quantity of pain pills. He was blaming his suffering from the inability to feed the addiction to a medication given to him by an educated, “trusted” physician, on the government and its regulations. That’s when I realized that he would never, ever quit taking these poisonous, life-draining pills.
He took a job at Tinker Air Force Base as an Aerospace Engineer in late 2015. He wasn’t excited about working for someone, as he had always owned his own companies. He had always been the boss. But, he fully believed he would always be handicapped, addicted to prescription pain pills, and unable to function as a healthy 40-something man should. So our plan was to get in as much time as possible with the government so he would eventually qualify for federal disability. Yes, this was our retirement plan…
Things did NOT improve with his new job. He was more stressed. He had to get up earlier. He couldn’t lie around the house all day. He was having to take more pills just to get through the work day. And, he was making the rest of us more miserable than ever. Then, in early December, 2016, a couple of months after his final surgery to remove some hardware, I began praying daily for God to help me and Travis. I had no idea what that help would look like, but I prayed. I needed God to tell me everything would be okay. I needed Him to show me a solution. I needed Him to show me how to save my husband. However, things continued to only get worse. So, I made the very tough decision to leave Travis, the man whom I loved with all my heart and soul. The man to whom I had promised “’til death do us part.” I could no longer live the lonely life of misery and continue to subject our kids to the hell we were living in. I would be “kind,” though, and wait until after the holidays…
Remember how I said I prayed and prayed and prayed? Well, I something happened right before Christmas. We were watching the news again one night and they were talking about the opioid epidemic, yet again. And, again, Travis started yelling at the TV. Only this time, he started yelling about the pharmaceutical companies and the doctors and pharmacists! He was furious that Big Pharma had CREATED this epidemic! I was absolutely astonished that his mindset had transitioned from blaming the regulators for regulating, to blaming the companies who actually created this poisonous product. It was the glimmer of hope I needed.
Then, on Saturday, January 7, 2017, God performed one of His miracles. Travis and I were in the lobby at the bank (we never go into the lobby, and definitely not on Saturdays). We had some errands to run, so we were actually at a branch we rarely visit. Travis was using a cane at that time just to walk. At the window next to us was a man, about 10 years younger than us, who worked for Travis right out of high school. This man, Ryan Early, invited him to his “lab” in Oklahoma City to try something called CBD. We had actually heard of CBD prior to that, but because of Travis’ government job and his pain management agreement, he was fearful of failing a drug test. Ryan reassured him that this product had zero THC in it, and thus, he would in fact PASS a drug test if one were administered. Travis told him he would think about it. We went about our errands and then home. A few hours later, Travis decided to take Ryan up on his offer to visit the lab, and within an hour, he was in Oklahoma City, standing in a facility, trying a smokable CBD product. He called me immediately and told me his back pain was nearly gone after just one dose of CBD, and that on Monday, we were starting a business. Of course, I thought he was crazy. But by the time Monday rolled around, he was still serious, and even had a name for the company: Cann-Help.
As we worked to get our new CBD company off the ground, Travis prepared to finally quit taking pain pills. Although I was still leery of his ability to succeed after so many failed attempts, this time really did seem different. On 3/4/2017, at 11:54pm, a week after he removed his last Fentanyl patch, he took his last pain pill. Seriously, the last one he’s had since that moment. Withdrawals were awful, even with the small bit of symptom relief the CBD products provided. And they seemed to last forever. But, he didn’t give up. He continued taking CBD products. He and I prayed continuously. And by mid-summer, I had my husband back! It was like we were dating again, and like he was rediscovering HIMSELF! It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed, and I will never forget the feeling of rediscovering my husband.
So, in closing, Cann-Help was established on 1/9/2017, simply so Travis and I could have a platform to share our story of hope and this amazing, all-natural, plant-derived compound. Everyone deserves the hope of finding the bridge back to life.