No More Normal Life

Josh LaCroix lived a normal, active life. He worked hard in landscaping, was planning to start his own business, and coached multiple sports for youth. He has a wife and two children.

In 2012, Josh’s lungs filled with huge amounts of carbon dioxide, and he nearly died. He was later diagnosed with alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, a lung and liver disease caused by genetic mutation. “Being sick really messes with your head” he said. “I wasn’t sleeping well, and I had mood swings and depression.”

Life on the Transplant List

After moving from his home in Maui to Palm Desert (near San Diego), Josh was placed on a double lung transplant list through U.C. San Diego Health. His lung capacity hovered around 24 percent, getting as low as 16 percent at one point. Bound to a wheelchair, living off of an oxygen machine 24 hours a day, and suffering, LaCroix survived off of Social Security and disability payments, relying on his wife Mea as his full-time caregiver. “For a time, I was in a homeless shelter with the kids. That was hard, of course,” he recalled. “I went from a normal, functioning guy, working two jobs plus coaching youth sports to nothing. I was living on a couch having to learn how to write again. It was horrible.”

In addition to the physical pain and discomfort that he was experiencing, Josh was also feeling the financial strain of his condition. “The appointments were getting more and more expensive,” he remembered. “I was paying $650 per month just for appointments. I ended up going through all of my life savings. The quality of my life was just awful. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own, and I mumbled when I talked. I was just in a really bad place.” 

Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances Josh was facing, Josh focused on a reason to press on. “My kids were the motivation I had to keep going,” he said. “I wanted to go back to work and stop asking people for things! I was ready to live in a house again and not an apartment. I wanted to have a truck again to tow my son’s dirt bike.”

Full Spectrum Oil 

As he endured the long, difficult wait on the transplant list, Josh self-medicated with Cream of the Crop’s FSO (full spectrum oil) — a highly refined cannabis oil created from 99.9% pure ethanol solvent, state of the art equipment, and proprietary purification processes. He connected with Cream of the Crop in October of 2017 via instagram; Josh heard that the company had helped a friend of friend who had brain cancer. “The day after we gave Josh the FSO, he told us that he had a better night’s sleep,” said Scott Raquiza, Co-Founder of Cream of the Crop. 

Josh remembers back when he used cannabis recreationally only. “I always thought medicinal use was a joke,” he remembered. “Obviously, I was wrong.”

Life-Saving Surgery

In February 2018, Josh finally had his life-saving double lung transplant. But about two months afterward, Josh ran out of FSO and felt his health start to decline. “After my lung transplant, the doctors just kept adding medications,” he said. “But my body wasn’t responding. None of the medications the doctors gave me leveled me out like cannabis did.”

Soon after his surgery, Josh decided to try Cream of the Crop's FSO again after being off of it for about three weeks; he was noticing that his blood pressure and blood sugar numbers were starting to rise. “They kept getting steadily higher and higher. It was so scary,” he recalled. “The only thing we knew to do was to call Cream of the Crop and get back on FSO, because that was the medication that had saved me while I was on the transplant list.” Incredibly, 24 hours after a blood pressure reading of 152 over 104, Josh’s blood pressure was back to the normal level of 120 over 80. 

Of course, we cannot definitively say that FSO alone caused this regulation of blood pressure, given that Josh had just had a serious transplant operation and was on prescription medications. Nonetheless, we are inclined to believe Josh’s intuition that FSO had a notable effect on his body. “I’ve been back on the FSO for a good month and half now and the results are amazing. I am on three prescription medications, but I think the FSO has really made a difference,” he remarked. “I know other transplant patients that are on many more medications and that are not doing nearly as well as I am.” 

Josh reports that his lung capacity, once as low as 16, has been as high as 104, which is unheard of among transplant patients. He also says that FSO helped to elevate his mood, along with his kidney and liver functions. He also sleeps better and avoids getting colds. “The doctors say I am an A++ transplant patient,” he beamed. “I’m doing better than any transplant patient they’ve ever had. I tell these doctors that if I really am doing so much better than other patients, and I’m the only one using FSO, they should take notice!” 

Talking with Doctors about Cannabis 

Josh is proud to be the first legal cannabis-using patient in U.C. San Diego Health’s lung transplantation program. He has been transparent about his cannabis use with his doctors, but he knows there are risks involved with this. “I’ve come to know friends who died when they got kicked off the lung transplant list, just because they were cannabis users,” Josh lamented. “I quit to get on the list, and they wanted me to use prescription painkillers while I was waiting. But the painkillers weren’t allowing my system to function well. So, instead I started using cannabis again. When I told them this, one doctor told me that at least it’s better than valium. Each doctor has a different opinion.”

A New Life

Since his surgery and combining his prescription medications with FSO, Josh’s life has changed dramatically. “Now my wife is keeping up with me, instead of the other way around,” he grinned. “I used to be confined to a wheelchair, unable even to bathe myself. Now, I am able to do an all-day field trip to the zoo. I go fishing; I’m outside very often. I love being able to spend quality time with my kids again.”

Giving Back

After being forced to rely on others for so long, Josh is now poised to help others who are in a similar situation to the one he used to be in. “This whole experience has inspired me to help other people,” Josh said. “I’m educating young people on cannabis and about being responsible. Dosage and cannabis quality matter — you gotta be smart about this stuff!”

Josh is now an active participant in a support group that has patients helping other patients learn about cannabis and get legal access to it. He also suggests the following organizations and social media groups:

“The support group is great because you can say what you want without judgment,” Josh explained. “There are a lot of military veterans in our group who need access to medicinal cannabis as much as just about anybody. I just don’t want people to suffer needlessly like my family and I did.”

If you would like to hear more of Josh's story in his own words, go ahead and watch our interview with him.

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