“Look at me. I’m a regular mom. Average looking,” Jessie Gill wrote in an essay for Redbook. “You’d never think anything was wrong with me. But the truth is every single day, I battle with excruciating pain. And because of my disability, my family suffers. To manage that pain — and that suffering — I use medical marijuana.” 

In January 2014, Giill suffered multiple herniated discs with nerve impingement while working as a hospice nurse. “Each doctor offered a new diagnosis and treatment but nothing helped,” Gill wrote. “After nine months of constant suffering, I finally agreed to a spinal fusion, desperate for relief. Sadly, the surgery didn’t help. My pillbox ruled my life and caused so much confusion I could barely help with second-grade homework.” 

That’s when Gill’s mother made the life-changing suggestion that she try medical marijuana. The cost for vaporized weed: $600 per month — and Gill says it’s worth every penny.  “Within four months of using vaporized marijuana throughout the day, I went from a regime of 10-15 pills daily (opiates, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, and medications for neuropathy) to only one pill a day for neuropathy,” she raved to Redbook. “Mind blown.” 

Now a health blogger, Gill tells Us Weekly: “I can get out of bed now! Everything after that is a bonus. I’m half as stoned and twice as cheerful than when I was on opiates.” And she’s safer. The mom of Hayley, 19, and son JD, 8, notes that a death from a marijuana overdose has never been documented, yet according to the CDC, in the U.S. about 18 women die every day of a prescription painkiller overdose. 

Gill tells Us she debated hiding the pot from her children, but decided that ultimately, that would be doing them a disservice. “Marijuana is still so taboo,” she explains. “Our traditional drug education says marijuana users are losers and likely to become drug addicts. That’s not me … I don’t want my kids worrying about that. And I realized that by hiding my medication from them, I was reinforcing that stereotype. I have nothing to be be ashamed of — I’m way more effective on marijuana then I am on Valium!”

She also believes a “hit or two every few hours” has made her a better mother. “Before I was just existing … I felt hopeless, being in constant pain sucks,” Gill says. “It was hard for my family to watch me suffer. Things like sitting through my son’s hockey game were major challenges. Marijuana … allows me to focus on actually living again.”