Originally published in RX360
Chase Rief is a 16 year old teenager. A typical teenager who, like many teen boys, loves racing. However, unlike most teenage boys, Chase is actually pursuing a career in the world of racing. Wait, you say, that isn’t unusual, many teenage boys (and girls) pursue racing in one form or another. Some of those pursuits might be in BMX, karting, dirt bikes, drag racing, flat track racing, or road racing (and by road racing we don’t mean finding a street in your local town and challenging the guy with the pieced together Honda on a back road or revving your engine at a stop light hoping that the guy next to you will get the hint). Nope, not the type of racing. We, of course, are referring to legal racing, which is what Rief is tenaciously pursuing.
So, what makes Rief different from other teens around the world who desire a career in racing? Rief suffers from epilepsy. Pursuing a career in racing can be difficult enough for a healthy person. Getting into racing with an ongoing illness or condition can sometimes be impossible. The journey for the Rief family began back in 2012 when teachers from his former school would tell his parents that he wasn’t paying attention and was doing a lot of daydreaming. His parents, Ken and Tammy Rief, took him in to get evaluated by professionals who then diagnosed Chase with Attention Deficit Disorder. Doctors put him on a well-known medication for ADHD. That’s when everything began going downhill.
Chase began hallucinating, getting nose bleeds, and encountering heart rhythm problems. He was in and out of the emergency room a couple times per week. Chase’s health continued to decline. But what was really affecting him, but not yet diagnosed, were “absence seizures” similar to petit mal seizures wherein a person basically blanks out for seconds at a time. “The brain stops processing and just freezes up similar to a slow computer,” explained Chase’s father, Ken Rief, “and he was dealing with it all the time. It was happening morning, noon and night, along with nose bleeds. We have a dog named Martini and for about a year and a half he kept detecting something and knew something was going on with Chase. Every time Chase had what we called an ‘episode’, because the doctors were still refusing to diagnose him with epilepsy, the dog would key in on him before an episode began. We got kind of annoyed with the dog because the he wouldn’t leave Chase’s side. Every time Chase had a nose bleed Martini would be right there.”
Chase’s health continued to decline. He began suffering from a long list of approximately twenty other issues such as high blood pressure, headaches, loss of appetite, over excitement, chest pain, involuntary quivering, joint pain, stomach pain, and throwing up. For every issue Chase suffered from doctors prescribed more pills. Ultimately Chase ended up in a wheelchair for three months. To add insult to injury, his parents were told by professionals that Chase was basically going crazy and most of his issues were all in his head. They recommended he be admitted into a state mental hospital for a 72 hour evaluation. That’s when Chase’s parents, who still suspected epilepsy, demanded specific tests be performed to pinpoint an accurate diagnosis.
Then in January 2015, while waiting for one of those tests to be performed, Chase collapsed in the family kitchen and was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, CO. He was unable to feel his legs, and his vitals were erratic. He ended up having two grand mal seizures in front of the attending nurse. He was immediately admitted and stayed for five days in the neurological unit. The doctors there determined that Chase was suffering toxicity brought on by the ADHD medication he had been taking. After leaving the hospital, they immediately scheduled an appointment with his neurologist and were able to finally have more specific tests performed. A week later, they received the confirmation of what they had suspected all along, Chase had epilepsy, not ADHD.
Now they knew what they were dealing with. Their intuition had been right all along. The challenge and nightmare of getting a correct diagnosis seemed to be over. But little did they realize they were about to embark on a whole different set of challenges in helping their son deal with a lifelong condition and helping him fulfill his dream of racing.
After his correct diagnosis, the doctors wanted to put Chase on medication for epilepsy. But after his past life-threatening experiences, Chase refused to take more prescribed medication. That’s when his neurologist recommended CBD oil (Cannabidiol oil). After doing some research, his parents had found that CBD oil may be able to help their son. The medication is not psychoactive and does not make a person high. His neurologist was on board and willing to be the first signature on his medical marijuana license. In the state of Colorado a minor needs two medical doctors to sign the license. “We do micro dosing with Chase,” said Ken Rief. “When we first started this process there was really no open info about kids using CBD oil. It was really frowned upon and we had child protective services trying to step in and charge us. We were able to educate them and after observing Chase they backed off. My wife and I had been online watching these underground Facebook pages of parents trying to figure out how to give their kids the right dosage illegally.
There are so many different kinds and levels of epilepsy. It literally comes down to the fact that one dose does not fit all.”
The availability and use of cannabis oil have given Chase Rief the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat and steer the direction in which his future will go.
Chase, 16, said his dream of driving and racing in hill climbs was nearly shattered after going through two years of medical issues that at one point left him wheelchair bound.
He was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 14, two years after being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Doctors treated the alleged ADD with a high dose of medication, which then required more medication to counteract the side effects of the ADD medication. Chase began having audio and visual hallucinations, “blank outs,” and severe nosebleeds and migraine headaches.
Chase felt like he was having a heart attack, sending him to the hospital a couple of times a week.
“I couldn’t breathe, my chest was absolutely killing me, my resting heart rate was 140 — that was from me just sitting there watching TV,” he said.
Chase’s parents, Ken and Tammy Rief, said all of this was caused by pharmaceuticals.
“Every doctor knows it — but we still argue with doctors who want him to be back on that stuff and off the CBD oil because they’re not making money off it,” Ken said.
A Denver-area hospital said Chase’s “episodes” were psychological, despite him being confined to a wheelchair and unable to care for himself. A neurologist finally ordered further tests that diagnosed him with generalized epilepsy.
“The day I was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Denver, the whole team that was taking care of me told me I would never walk again and I would have to start occupational therapy to learn to live in my wheelchair,” he said. “I was heartbroken. I always wanted to do racing, I always wanted to drive — my biggest dream was to be able to get my license.”
That dream went out the window until he learned about a paraplegic who raced up Pikes Peak, so he started to have hope again. He was just about to put hand controls in his car right before he started learning to walk again — after he was given the cannabis oil drops.
His parents discussed with Chase the possibility of replacing all his medication with cannabis lotion and oil. Two doctors signed off on the idea, and they began giving him small doses of CBD oil, mixed in with mints and in his drinks.
Tammy said Chase isn’t going to the doctor as often as he used to, and health insurance no longer is paying for prescription medications.
“This should be a first choice, rather than a last option,” Ken said. “And it shouldn’t be so expensive.”
The family paid $250 for his medical marijuana card, which costs $250 to renew annually.
Ken said the oil won’t cause anyone to get high unless it’s heated.
“But the way it’s processed, they keep it cold to keep the THC out,” he said.
Chase started taking the oil three times a day, but now takes it once every two to three weeks and as needed for pain.
“I haven’t had a seizure in almost three years now because of that stuff,” he said. “The very first day I took that, I felt the cloudiness go out of my head — I didn’t have any more fog in my brain.”
Tammy said he went from a D and F student to an A and B student. Because he can think more clearly, Chase is graduating a year early, and he has a full ride scholarship to a trade school. He plans to become a mechanic.
He was given the green light to get his driver’s license, and he started to sit in as a co-driver in hill climbs. In September, he drove in his first race and brought home the second place trophy. The medicinal cannabis facility, Freedom Farms, sponsors Chase’s hill climb race truck, which helps cover the cost of his oils.
The phrase, “Saved in Colorado,” is displayed on his truck for all to see.
“I came up with that because I am trying to make my own logo for epilepsy awareness,” he said. “If I wasn’t in Colorado, I would be on pharmaceuticals, still in a wheelchair, or a vegetable from all the medications.”
The Rief family’s hope is that by sharing Chase’s story, the stigma associated with the use of cannabis oil will be diminished. They also hope to encourage other parents not to give up when their children’s health is in question.
“The state of Colorado gives us permission to give our kids the medicine, but says good luck, you are on your own,” Ken said. “We basically had to become doctors, and that’s really not fair, but we did what we had to do. Luckily, we had so many people that knew a lot about medical marijuana who were willing to help us, otherwise, I don’t know where we’d be right now.”
Chase and his family eventually would like to set up a foundation to help youth in similar situations.
“They told me I shouldn’t be able to race because of what was going on with me, but (hill climber) Ray Robinson helped me break that barrier,” Chase said. “He helped me make it happen, so now I want to make it happen for all the other kids who felt the same way that I did.”
Carie Canterbury: 719-276-7643, email@example.com
They offer tinctures, or concentrated herbal extracts, topicals, edibles, concentrates, pet products and more. Chases’ Choice also is an exclusive distributor for Maggie’s Candy Kitchen, offering top-end chocolate with hemp hearts.
It was Chase Rief’s choice to stop using pharmaceuticals after prescribed medications left him wheelchair bound as a teenager.
Since he started using CBD oils seven years ago, Rief, now 21, not only has been living a full, active life, he hasn’t had a single seizure.
He had brain surgery in June 2020, but he solely relied on CBD oils to aid in his recovery.
Now his parents want other individuals and families to have the same opportunity, but with less of the hassle. Rief was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 14, two years after being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Doctors treated the alleged ADD with a high dose of medication, which then required more medication to counteract the side effects of the ADD medication. He began having audio and visual hallucinations, “blank outs,” and severe nosebleeds and migraine headaches, all conditions brought on by the prescriptions, his parents, Ken and Tammy Rief, said. On their own, they came up with a concoction of CBD oils to restore their son back to health.
Now it’s their mission to help others in similar situations.
“It’s all about helping people,” said Tammy Rief. “We want to help other parents and individuals in general with whatever is bothering them. It’s all-around wellness.”
The couple opened their store, Chase’s Choice, located at 200 Water St. in early November.
Ken Rief works to develop products alongside biochemists at Resinosa LLC, a CBD company located in Silver Cliff. Resinosa has been in business in the CBD industry for over six years and owns a commercial clean-room facility that is registered with the Food and Drug Administration, is certified under stringent current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) standards and has been outfitted specifically for processing hemp and manufacturing health and wellness products such as food, dietary supplements and topical products. The company recently was acquired by CBD Global Sciences, Inc.
“We get to see what most of our clients are dealing with and we develop products that will work for other things,” he said.
They developed special gummies to help his 12-year-old grandson who has autism and DiGeorge syndrome.
“It got to the point where it would fluctuate on how much he needed, it would make him tired,” Ken Rief said. “We came out with a full-spectrum gummy, 25 milligrams of CBD with a very small amount of THC in it and they’re working amazing for him.”
The Riefs oftentimes consult with doctors and neurologists as they develop and dose their products.
“This is all medical, medicinal stuff for us,” Ken Rief said. “We are not in this to make a million dollars or anything like that – we want products – just like when we had to search for products for Chase – there were no products out there. It was trial and error.”
He said they’ve been the ones on the “trial and error” end of conditions for a long time, and now they’re confident that what they have will help people.
“It’s really expanded to the point where we can be more consistent with our products,” Ken Rief said. “A lot of people were making this stuff for their kids in their kitchen, just like us, but now every dose is the exact same dose. There is no inconsistency.”
Chase’s Choice had a soft opening in early November, but a grand opening is planned for the springtime.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
For more information, visit Chase’s Choice on Facebook or https://chaseschoice.org/. The business phone number is 719-275-4201.
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