At age 68, Bette Richards (she requested that her real name not be used), has lived most of her life with chronic pain — the consequence of a heart condition and a more recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia and glaucoma.

Even with a cabinet of medications ranging from anti-inflammatories to steroids, Richards was in agony. Every pill had an undesirable side effect. Being “out of it” was neither practical nor desirable to Richards who still has responsibilities helping an adult son manage his own chronic health issues.

When Richards’ physician asks her what her pain level is using a scale of 1 to 10, Richards routinely responds with “11.”

“I was in so much pain one year that there were days I couldn’t function at all. Simple everyday functions were impossible,” Richards explains. She uses the past-tense because for the last year she’s been taking cannabis oil.

She opted for cannabis oil, taken orally, versus the legally available Cannabidiol or CBD at the advice of several friends who say the former is less processed, making it more therapeutically valuable. She also finds taking it in capsule form more palatable.

It was Richards’ son’s coach who suggested she might find value in the pain-relieving properties of the cannabis plant. Coach Lance Parvin remarked that some of his other training clients used medical marijuana to treat the discomfort of old injuries and there were others with autoimmune diseases who found the plant helpful in the long-term management of its unpredictable symptoms.

As Richards sees it, “When you have tried every possible medication prescribed by doctors and have received unsatisfactory results, and you are not being cured and keep on getting sicker and sicker with more side effects, think about it, what do you have to lose by trying a God-given plant that’s been in existence for centuries and has been documented for healing?”

In four short weeks, taking cannabis daily has given Richards a life worth living instead of being crippled by fibromyalgia’s widespread muscle pain or glaucoma’s stinging blur. She also sleeps better than she has in years. Richards’ primary care doctor encourages Richards’ continued use of the oil for the pain-relieving properties, though she continues to manage Richards’ glaucoma and heart condition with traditional prescription medications.

Richards says she never expected to be taking what was once only the purview of stoners, but she has become a champion for letting people know about her results and for good reason. “The government doesn’t want any of us to be healthy, they want a nation of sick people because sickness is money.”