by Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com Staff
For nearly three years, Michael Brooks of Northwestern Tennessee has been fighting for his children and for his life. Faced with terminal Hepatitis C, he finally found a treatment that saved his life and brought him into remission.
However, Child Protective Services of Tennessee is using the very thing that brought him from the brink of death – cannabis oil – as orounds to take his children and place them into foster care. He has been forced to choose between staying in Tennessee and accelerate towards his death or leaving to continue treatment in Colorado and risk being accused of abandoning his children.
In the summer of 2015, Michael, Jamie, and their young son Damon were recovering from lead poisoning that they had acquired from living in an old house. Jamie was still pregnant with their second son, Elijah.
The couple was horrified to learn that Damon’s blood had high levels of lead, and the poisoning had affected more than 30 percent of his cognitive abilities. Damon’s parents had noticed subtle behavioral changes like less eye contact, less social interaction, loss of affection, and the baby banging his head on the wall. They suspected that the baby had autism, but they never expected lead poisoning to be the culprit.
Damon started receiving some therapy, but Michael felt that it wasn’t enough and that he needed more help. He decided to contact the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to voice his concerns about his son not receiving sufficient help. He told Health Impact News that he had been under the impression that, when you need help with your family, you call DCS and they will help. In the beginning, it appeared that he might have been correct. DCS sent a therapist to their home.
However, once they were in the home, social workers from Child Protective Services (CPS) got involved and ultimately took Damon. Michael said that DCS “reverse-engineered” the couple’s past domestic conflicts, which stemmed from the stress of dealing with terminal illness, and they took the baby. Then, mandatory drug screenings ensued, showing Michael testing positive for THC, a psychoactive chemical in cannabis that alters brain function. Michael said that CPS began to “run through my life with a fine-tooth comb.”
Traditional Medicine Had No Cure as Michael was Dying
Michael has advanced Hepatitis C that he acquired from a shared tattoo kit that he and his friends used to tattoo crosses on their arms in high school. He is the only survivor of that group. He had lived half of his life without knowing that he had the disease. According to Michael:
They call it the silent killer, and for years it went undetected. When it affects your internal organs is when you know you have it.
Michael had overlooked signs until he was in excruciating pain. By the time he sought treatment, he was in the advanced stages. He said:
I was prescribed life-destroying, addictive substances, over 20 different medicines, like oxycodone, morphine, and benzodiazepines.
He said that the medications were not only “harmful to the body and alters your personality,” but also “cost taxpayers a million dollars” in the past decade. Additionally, he said that they offered little relief with regard to the pain, and they significantly decreased his quality of life. He did not like the way the pain medications kept him from being present, in the moment, for his children.
As the disease progressed, Michael arrived at the point where traditional medicine could no longer help him. His pancreas was so badly damaged that he had to go on diabetes medication, and he was developing cirrhosis of the liver. He developed acquired hemophilia, and his blood platelet count was so low, that he was no longer eligible for traditional Hepatitis C treatment. Michael is 6’2”, and at his lowest point weighed 123 lbs. He was bleeding out of his eye sockets and pores of his skin. He said:
I crawled in my deathbed. It was hell. It scared me so much. I just knew I was going to die. I prayed for death. It was the most intense suffering. I didn’t think a human being could endure what I did. Now, I know what to be afraid of.
Medical Cannabis Proves to be “Miracle” Cure
When he had his health, Michael was well-known for his talent for restoring antiques and building custom furniture. He made a name for himself doing custom work for the stars, people like Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock. Michael is bright and has an impeccable eye for detail.
So, when faced with the challenge of beating Hepatitis C, he took to the internet, researching alternative treatments for his condition.
When you’re desperate, you leave no stone unturned.
He was somewhat surprised when his research led him to medical cannabis. He learned that it slowed down the progression of Hepatitis C. For the first time since his diagnosis, he had hope. The possibility that he might have more time to be a father to one-year-old Damon was exhilarating. Being a good father to his son motivated him more than anything to seek to heal.
Michael contacted Phoenix Tears in Littleton, Colorado, where he learned that he could benefit greatly from cannabis oil.
I had not heard of medical cannabis. I didn’t know about its medicinal properties. But, I prayed about it and took it on good faith. I thought, it could buy me some time.
He later discovered that “a guardian angel” had offered to pay for his treatment including travel and accommodations. Ideally, he and his family would have moved to Colorado. But, with an income of $800 a month for disability, it was not financially feasible. Michael said:
We’re not wealthy enough to relocate. It’s expensive to relocate to Colorado.
In time, cannabis oil proved to be a miracle medication that exceeded all of Michael’s expectations. In seven months, the disease was completely eradicated from his body, and all of his internal organs were healing. His blood platelet count was up, and he gained 50 lbs. He was off all of his other medications.
My viral load was undetectable. My doctor cried! I had no idea what it was like to be healthy. I was doing cartwheels at 47 years old!
Michael’s Health Declines after Ceasing Cannabis to Satisfy CPS Demands
If Michael chooses to stay in Tennessee and cease cannabis treatment in Colorado, he will have a clean drug screening. If he chooses to leave the state for cannabis treatment in Colorado, CPS will view this as abandoning his children. With the heart of a loving, nurturing father, Michael has chosen not to leave Tennessee.
My health is going downhill pretty fast. I was the picture of health before they took my children.
Since he has been forced into mandatory drug testing by Tennessee CPS, he has relapsed back into the disease. He understands the repercussions of his decision. He said:
I’m literally dying. I’m cooperating with this because I love my children. I don’t count my life as worthy as their lives. I choose to stay here and be run through the gauntlet.
The Children Suffer in DCS Care
Recently, Michael was told that Damon was having night terrors after visitation with him. He said that DCS is saying that it is a result of the child seeing his father. But, Michael disagrees. He believes that it is because of the trauma of the child being separated from the people who love him. When their visits are over, Michael reports the heartbreak:
I have to pull my son off of my leg.
Michael fears that they will start putting his son on psychiatric drugs. He longs to be more of a part of his children’s lives. A while back, when he learned that his son had to have some testing done at Vanderbilt Hospital, Michael begged to be with him. He said:
I wanted to be there, to love and comfort my son while he goes through such an atrocious event. I wanted to crawl up in the bed with my son, comfort him where everybody is stabbing him under florescent lights.
Michael was devastated when his request was denied.
Michael said that his kids are being neglected while in DCS custody. He spoke of a recently supervised visitation at a facility where the kids were playing with toys that had corrosive battery panels.
It was to the point that they were leaking acid—the bin was soaking wet. I poured the bin out with battery acid.
He said that this was while a caseworker was on her phone “Facebooking” the whole time. That day Michael had an employee sign a document stating that he witnessed the incident.
Supportive Case Workers Removed from Case
Michael said that there have been many caseworkers, about a dozen since his family’s involvement with CPS, who were supportive of him. However, they have all been removed. He said that two caseworkers quit their job because of his family’s situation. In fact, he said that the first social worker quit three days into his case.
Note: This is very common in most of the Medical Kidnap stories that Health Impact News has reported. At least 75% of the parents who have shared their stories with us have told us that at least one social worker quit or was fired specifically because of their case.
Michael’s Biggest Regret – Calling DCS
Although it was done out of the desire to advocate for his son, the biggest regret of Michael’s life is that fateful phone call to DCS. He says that at the time he thought, “these are the people we need in our lives.” Of all of the resources in their area, he felt that DCS could offer the most help. Laden with guilt, he now continually apologizes to his family:
I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you through … I was so honest with them [DCS]. Honest to a fault.
Despite having one of his doctors offer to testify as an expert witness to the benefit and necessity of cannabis, Judge Mark Johnson has not changed his stance on the issue.
Michael said that, in the beginning, the children were being kept in custody on the basis of his use of “an illicit substance” despite being “warned about the dangers of cannabis around children and disregarding it.” Now that he has stopped cannabis treatment, their reasons have changed.
They’re saying I’m too sick to take care of my children.
It should be noted that DCS suggested that he and Jamie separate, and they did in the hope that it would get their children back.
A Dying Father’s Message for His Children
Michael told Health Impact News:
I will continue to decline in health, and will die unless I take my health into my own hands. I can’t take Hepatitis C medication—it will wipe me out. There’s nothing that they could do.
Michael said that his local doctor is a Christian who prays with him and wants him to go back to Colorado for treatment. The doctor told him:
You need to go do what you gotta do. You’ve got a lot of organ damage. You were well on your way to recovery [before ceasing cannabis use].
The heart of the matter, however, is that Michael does not want to do anything that could be viewed as abandoning his children. He wants his boys to know that he would never abandon them and that he is fighting for them—even at the expense of his own life. He loves his children more than anything, and he just wants to hold them and love on them, like a good father would.
On April 7, Judge Clayburn Peeples is scheduled to terminate Michael’s parental rights, which will make way for the boys’ foster parents to finalize the adoption.
See other stories where someone thought that Child Protective Services could help in a difficult situation, but ended up making the situation far worse:
How You Can Help:
Representative Curtis Halford of House District 79 may be reached at 615-741-7478 or contacted here .
Senator John Stevens of Senate District 24 may be reached at 615-741-4576 or contacted here .
Michael’s GoFundMe called Saving the Brooks Brothers is here .
Gibson County Department of Children’s Services may be reached at 731-855-7864.
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