Once a personal trainer, a man from California lost his way through alcohol addiction. However, hitting rock bottom lent him a new perspective. Today he’s been three years sober and is an inspiration to his family and many others.
“I shouldn’t be standing here right now,” Jerold Maghoney marveled, according to the San Joaquin Valley College Blog. “No one is promised tomorrow.”
Jerold first tried a sip of beer at the age of 12 on a fishing trip with his father. Growing up around addiction, Jerold continued drinking as a teen, and alcohol wound up becoming a daily coping mechanism.
“Drinking made me feel good about myself,” said Jerold, whose friends called him “Jerry” at the time. “I was battling obesity, and everyone was picking on me.”
Drinking subdued Jerold’s perpetual hangovers, and by the age of 26, he knew he was beholden to the bottle, drinking over a fifth of vodka per day.
“I couldn’t sleep more than about five hours without starting to go through withdrawals,” he admitted. “I’d wake up shaking, drenched, and do three or four shots to relax enough to go back to sleep.”
Weighing 260 pounds (approx. 118 kg), with diabetes and pancreatitis, Jerold was deserted by his friends. Ashamed for the state he was in, he hid his drinking habit and resorted to calling suicide hotlines for support.
On Aug. 18, 2017, Jerold knew his body couldn’t take a moment more. Barely conscious, he drove himself to an emergency room. Physicians placed him in a medically induced coma, on a ventilator, in hopes of saving his life.
Jerold was in a coma for the next 13 days.
Watched over by his parents, sister, and aunt, he swam through vivid dreams, believing he had died. “I thought I was dead and in hell,” he remembers of those days.
Over the course of the next month, he had part of his pancreas removed and was eventually sent home, 100 pounds (approx. 45 kg) lighter and, miraculously, sober.
Dropping the “Jerry” of his drinking days, the reformed alcoholic decided to go by “Jerold” as he rebuilt his life.
Helping people runs in his family; thus, for Jerold, pursuing a career in the medical field was the next step. Living near San Joaquin Valley College Modesto, he stopped by and enrolled in a Medical Assisting program.
He soon found that the campus was a perfect place to thrive.
“I don’t learn from just putting a book in front of me; I want to do it myself,” he explained. “I like moving, talking to people. I’m not scared of anything … I’m very happy to be alive!”
Jerold was placed on the Dean’s List for academic accomplishment after just three months of having perfect attendance in classes. Dean of Student Services, Tina Husman, asked him to become a peer mentor as he’s “relatable,” she said.
“[Others] see how far he has come, and he is always willing to share and listen to others,” Husman explained. “He is extremely committed in his pursuit of an education and betterment of his life.”
Jerold’s mom, Nikki, and stepfather supported him through his academic venture. Another source of support and inspiration came from the love of his life.
“It’s like I’ve known her all my life,” Jerold marveled of his fiancée, Elle Lewis, having shared his journey to sobriety a few weeks into their relationship. “I can’t believe that she stuck around. She chose me because of my heart and she knows how much I love her.”
On Aug. 18, Jerold celebrated three years sober with a post on Facebook. “It’s hard to believe where I am today considering where I came from,” he wrote. “I look back and realize just how close I came to death, and wake up forever thankful God gave me a second chance to right all the wrongs in my life.”
Jerold, who is writing a book about his experience, hopes that his story reaches people in need and empowers others to choose a better life for themselves.
Meanwhile, Jerold told The Epoch Times via social media that he was recovering from his third surgery on his stomach.
On Dec. 12, Jerold had another emergency surgery to remove his appendix and is recovering well from that too.
“It’s all a part of God’s plan for me,” he said. “He’s still fixing me so I can do good on this earth. I have unfinished business.”
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