PORTAGE, Mich. — A teen from Portage who disappeared and was found the following day, nearly frozen in the woods on Dec. 13, has a long road to recovery.
The injuries she sustained after spending the night in the elements have been tough to overcome.
“My eyes were open, but I just couldn’t see. It all felt like I was still dreaming,” said Marissa Barry.
She remembers little from that cold night.
She says her thinking may have been affected from the hypothermia that had set in, robbing her of her motor skills and the ability to move.
“It feels very numbing,” said Marissa. ” When I tried walking, I couldn’t feel my foot because my foot was damaged by frost bite.”
She had witnessed an argument with a friend at school and she left school early.
Marissa said she was upset and drove home, then went for a walk in the early afternoon to clear her head.
It was something she did often because she loved nature and it made her happy if she was feeling down.
Now she struggles with understanding how she got lost, perhaps from that cold exposure.
“It felt like I was wearing this heavy boot that was just cutting off my circulation. I just couldn’t really feel walking in it,” said Marissa. “Then my whole body was cold and shivering, but at the same time I felt warm because hypothermia does that to you. It makes you feel warm. So, I felt really warm at the same time, but I also felt cold. So, it felt like I was having a fever.”
She vaguely remembers stumbling and somehow shedding one boot and gloves because she felt like she was burning up.
“I remember waking up and seeing my gloves on the ground next to me, and I was wondering why they were there, so, I think I did shed my gloves off without, consciously knowing it,” said Marissa.
She could have died if workers didn’t spot her the following afternoon.
“I’m very thankful for them finding me and I really wish I could shake their hand because I wasn’t able,” said Marissa.
She is now doing her school work from home while recovering, practicing sign language and doing sometimes painful physical therapy to get the strength back in her hands.
“I have to squeeze and then I have to try turning it in my hand to get my thumb working,” said Marissa.
Her fingers were once so curled under, she couldn’t open a door.
Now they are slowly stretching out.
She is preparing for surgery to take her foot, which is currently wrapped in gauze and cannot be saved.
It was the foot that was missing a boot when she was found.
However, she and her parents say what’s more important is that her life was spared.
“It’s just a foot, it’s replaceable,” said Marissa.
“Just makes you think about what’s important. She’s important,” said Carie Barry.
And friends have come together, creating a fundraising page to help the family to buy a prosthetic foot for Marissa.
The “Go Fund Me” site has generated a lot of support from those who are trying to help Marissa in her recovery.
“I just learned that there’s a lot of good people,” said Chuck, Marissa’s stepfather.
The wisdom that will come from the experience is life-changing as she moves forward from this point, she has much advice to share.
“Life may be rough. You may not know that you have a purpose in life. But, in reality, you do have purpose in life and there’s a reason why you’re here and you may not know it yet. But you’re still living to find out why you’re here, and it may take years, but you’re going to be alive for a reason,” said Marissa.
She feels she has a second chance to fulfill that purpose.
“I’m here for a reason and I’m here to find out,” said Marissa.
Link to Marissa’s fundraising page: