Registered nurse, Jessie Gill has had a lifetime love affair with health and wellness. Having worked as a hospice nurse, helping others is one of Jessie's biggest joys. But one day, tragedy struck. Jessie suffered a work-related injury that altered her life drastically. Having lost her independence and her career, Jessie could hardly recognize herself. Taking up to 15 pills a day, the prescriptions ravaged her body and mind. While Jessie's mom and a friend urged her to try medical marijuana, she was resistant. A mother and a nurse, Jessie didn't want to be a "pothead". She didn't believe that cannabis could actually help her. But as the months went by, her desperation increased. Jessie prayed for a miracle, anything that could help her. Then, Jessie tried cannabis. For the first time since her injury, Jessie felt like she had her life back. Marijuana had helped her more than anything else. She was amazed. In just a single day of using cannabis, Jessie was able to significantly reduce her prescription pill intake. Soon, she was off the pills completely. Dedicated to sharing her life-changing experience with others, Jessie is now a blogger and freelance writer. A passionate medical marijuana advocate, her work has been featured in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and Redbook. Determined to find purpose through tragedy, Jessie hopes to share the natural miracle of cannabis with others.
In the beginning, what motivated you to first get involved with cannabis?
It was my injury that made me look at cannabis in a new light. To be honest, I was very resistant to trying cannabis. My background is in nursing. I was actually working as a hospice nurse when I was injured. I suffered a spinal injury, which took me out of bedside nursing permanently. I went through a multi-level spinal fusion. It was horrific and involved so much physical therapy. I cannot tell you how many different treatments I went through. And you know, I tried every medication.
At the time I was taking up to 15 pills a day. I felt like it was killing me. The side effects of opiates devastated my body. Not to mention they really didn't even relieve the pain or the muscle spasms I was suffering form. I seriously tried everything I could. While some things helped a little but, nothing was really taking my pain away. And it was actually a friend of mine who had a similar injury that urged me to try medical marijuana. He told me that I had to try it because it had helped him so much. I didn't believe it at the time. I thought that if I was on all these high doses of opiates and taking valium around the clock, there’s no way "pot" could help me. I didn't want to be a "pothead", I thought the idea was silly.
I was a nurse, a mom – that's not what I was "supposed" to be. But my mom kept pushing me to try marijuana. She told me that I had tried everything, so I needed to try cannabis. Here in New Jersey, medical marijuana is insanely expensive. It's very difficult to get and you have to be suffering from something very serious to qualify. Well, I did end up qualifying. Finally, at that point, I decided to go through with it. I was so desperate to find something that would actually work.
When I finally was able to get marijuana, I was shocked. Actually, amazed, it was totally instantaneous. The day that I first tried medical marijuana I was able to stop the valium and opiates completely. Cannabis has helped me beyond belief, like nothing else. Whereas I had even taken morphine and it didn't touch the nerve pain I suffered from. A few hits of a marijuana vaporizer just wiped the pain out. I was just – I was shocked. I couldn't believe it!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I've always enjoyed health and wellness, especially natural health. Even before I started using marijuana that has been my biggest passion. So for me, being able to go off of high doses of medications and get on something natural, that's huge. I really love teaching people about cannabis because it has changed my life so much. Cannabis is my natural miracle.
Are there any habits or mindsets that have helped make you successful?
Taking challenges and giving them a meaning is the only way to really overcome them. You know, something like a spinal injury is terrible. I suffer from a lot of pain and have many disabilities now because of it. Anyone who has suffered from chronic pain, disease, or injury – it's depressing at times. But, I think we all face challenges in our lives. Whether it's a financial challenge or a family challenge, it kind of knocks us down for a bit. It's important though to find meaning in those challenges. A greater message to share with the world. I think that is that the only way to really climb out it – to overcome it.
What does a day in the life of Jessie consist of today?
Well, my son is home for the summer which I love. But usually, my day starts pretty early because of the pain in my neck and the back of my head. I usually wake up around 5, sometimes 6. I try to go outside on the patio when it is nice out. I'll meditate and vaporize to start the day. Then, I do breakfast. After that, I'm back to writing, which is really kind of an all day thing for me. I go back and forth on the computer or carry around the iPad until I go to bed. It's kind of nonstop but it's just part of my life.
How has cannabis changed your life?
You know, I had used marijuana recreationally. I tried it in the past and honestly didn't like it. I had actually sworn marijuana off. I felt like it gave me anxiety. Not to mention the legal aspects of it. Being a mom, and a divorced mom, I knew that people had lost their kids for using marijuana. So I was kind of like at this point where I didn't want anything to do with it.
I didn't understand the drive behind legalization. But after I tried medical marijuana, my whole outlook changed. I knew I had to share this message, what the possibilities of medical marijuana could do for people. Cannabis drastically altered my life. Getting off of prescription pills and using something natural like marijuana has helped my pain and muscle spasms so much. This year, I’ve gone to the beach three or four times with my family and last year we only went once the whole year. It was so hard to do anything physically before, even something like getting in and out of the car. Now that I am using medical marijuana, we are able to do things as a family again.
What would you say to women who may be interested in trying cannabis but are hesitant?
I'd say to women considering using marijuana medically or recreationally, try it. As long as it is done legally. Obviously, what you'd get on the street isn't the same thing as what is sold in dispensaries. While there's still fear for some people when it comes to marijuana, a lot of that fear is misguided. It's misinformation that we've been fed for decades. Once you really give marijuana a chance and truly experience it, it's kind of amazing. You realize just how much this plant has been misrepresented.