From “Sickest Person in the Hospital” to Healthy Mom in Recovery

By
Marissa Angerer
Marissa Angerer seated with her daughter

Growing up, I was a straight A student, a National Honor Society member. I played the flute and several sports and graduated in the top 10% of my high school class. I was shy, but I found confidence through alcohol with friends at parties when I was 16.

I loved drinking so much that I did it over the next decade socially until it led to my drinking every day, anytime I was awake. My drinking was so heavy, I was in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning somewhere between 25 to 40 times over a few years, with blood alcohol levels getting as high as .63 at times.

Hiding my drinking was nearly impossible and I was becoming completely out of control until one day a freak accident led me to my being prescribed hydrocodone for a broken ankle. This replaced alcohol for me, and I was able to use it without people knowing for longer periods of time, until I healed. That's when desperation took over my rational thought and I took matters into my own hands.

I jumped off the roof of my house so I could obtain more pills. I broke my leg requiring surgery, which led to a few years of eventually buying pills off of the street until I was nearly broke. I became pregnant which helped me to stay clean for a couple years, until I started again. By then, everyone in my life had had enough. My husband filed for divorce, plus he filed temporary restraining order against me, which kept me from my home, my child, and the only life I had ever known. I was now homeless and unable to deal with my new situation, so I quickly turned to shooting heroin and eventually anything else. I did this for the next year and a half until I became ill in January 2016, ignoring a fever for a month.

I learned I had endocarditis, a heart infection, requiring my heart valve to be replaced. I vowed to never use again and remained in the hospital for six weeks. My vow wore off quickly. I went back to using the day I left the hospital and within two months I was sick again, found naked, overdosed on heroin, blood pressure 60/30, septic again, dying.

My family was notified I was in a coma about to die, advised they should come say goodbye, which they did. I woke up 10 days later with gangrene hands and feet, my heart valve was re-infected, given only a few months to live. I was given the dubious honor of being labeled "the sickest person in the hospital." I was in the hospital for over a month, and went through a grueling physical recovery period before realizing—I needed help to recover from my substance use disorder, too.

Marissa Angerer smiling with her daughter

I entered a 30-day treatment program in Dallas, Texas, and moved on to a faith-based program for seven months after that. I have been in recovery since September 2016. For as bad as it got, it has gotten exponentially that much better. I am 35 now, and so thankful for everything that happened. I am so much better because of it. As long as you are alive, there is always hope, no matter how bad it seems. Every situation can always be turned around. Everything is temporary, and can change good or bad in an instant. Staying positive and grateful can go a very long way.

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