“To be honest I look like a hippie. But there’s a reason I have long hair.”
“It started around the 4th of July, 2015. My son Scout was 6 years old.”
“We had done everything we could. He’d had a couple brain surgeries. He had multiple ‘black box’ medications, which meant in order to take them you have to sign a paper acknowledging it could kill you. Horrible stuff.”
“But his seizures were getting worse and worse.”
“My wife Holli and I met with his neurosurgeons and they did what’s called an intracranial grid, which can show where seizures are coming from. Then they made the recommendation to take out his right temporal lobe: the amygdala and hippocampus. About 20% of his brain. Those surgeries gave Scout two question mark-shaped scars that come down around his ear.”
“The brain surgeons said it should work. They said he might have a minor side effect of peripheral blindness, but given how young he was he wouldn’t notice.”
“But things just got worse. Six months after the surgery was done, he started having seizures again.”
“We thought we had exhausted every option: Modern medicine. Prayer. Everything.”
“I was searching through medical journals online because that’s where we live as a family with a medically fragile child, searching through the national archives on adolescent medicine. And we stumbled across cannabis. Then we came across [the CBD oil product] Charlotte’s Web.”
“Being devout Mormons, we were not ready to do that. We’d be breaking the law. That’s something Democrats do, we thought.”
“But I’ve read C.S. Lewis most of my life and in the Screwtape Letters he says, ‘Why take someone 180 degrees off course when 2 degrees will do?’ In today’s world I take that to mean, ‘Why make them a heroin addict when simply being addicted to one [political] side or the other will do the job?’ It doesn’t matter which side we’re on. As long as we’re fighting each other we’re losing.”
“That’s what we saw in Boise. A small group of parents and patients took a legalization bill to the capitol with no professional lobbying experience and no lobbyists. We spent our life savings to do it.”
“My wife and I had Scout with us there in Boise and we prayed about it. We talked about it. We thought about it. And we said we just can’t keep going this way.”
“Soon after we shared our story, somebody we trusted offered to get us some medicine from Ontario, Oregon. I drove it back with my 75-year-old parents in a red Buick Lucerne. We had two syringes full of CBD oil wrapped in lunch meat in a cooler bag, driving 500 miles from Boise to Bear Lake.”
“I was scared to death I was going to get pulled over.”
“But it worked. It was the first night Scout hadn’t seized in forever.”
“My wife gave recorded testimony in Boise telling that story. We took a bill that was dead and got it revived, got it to the floor, got it passed and it sat on the governor’s desk for 13 days and 12 hours. It would have gone into law after 14 days. But he vetoed it on the last day, after his office of drug policy spent millions of dollars fighting it.”
“Fighting a bunch of podunk nobodies without any lobbying experience.”
“Funny enough, some ultra-conservative people told our family to leave Idaho if we didn’t like it. But none of them are generational. My great-great-grandfather settled the valley our farm is in. It’s like, ‘No, you moved here and don’t know what Idaho is. You’re trying to make the rest of us into who you are.’”
“I voted for Reagan twice. I voted for Bush four times. But it’s not about who I voted for, it’s about plowing my neighbor’s driveway if they need help. It’s about all of us – regardless of our party or beliefs or habits – helping our neighbor with cancer put up his hay. That’s what we do in our communities.”
“Idaho is not about alienating each other. And I’m much broader in my views than cannabis legalization or CBD. I’m about freedom. Let a guy make his choice. As long as his choice doesn’t affect anyone else.”
“We have laws for things that infringe on somebody’s rights. We don’t need more.”
“So back to the hair.”
“Scout is diagnosed with autism because of the manifestations of his brain trauma in his behavior. And people would treat him poorly as a result. Once, a woman at a restaurant slammed him down in his high chair and yelled at us to teach him how to be still.”
“We shaved his head so people would see the scars and know that he was different.”
“How emblematic is that of our society? Unless somebody has scars on the outside we don’t cut them a break. Without those scars being visible people forget, even now.”
“One day, Scout told us didn’t like that people could see his scars. He said, ‘I’m not going to cut my hair until I’m 52.’ He could tell that people were treating him differently.
“So I’m not cutting my hair either, because I’m the one who signed the paper telling the surgeon to cut. It does make me feel a little out of place in my community and my church.”
“But it’s the right thing to do for my son.”
Bryce Bunderson
Bear Lake, Idaho
P.S. If you’d like to show your support for the Bunderson family, they ask that you make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho in Scout’s name: http://bit.ly/bunderson