When you’re in a coma, your body becomes the hell that you are trapped in.
Colleen Kelly Alexander was a newlywed bride, riding her bicycle when a truck crashed into her. The horrific incident profoundly changed her life. She recounts her recovery in an article by meaww.com.
If you have ever been under the misapprehension that someone in a coma is unaware of what’s going on around them, Colleen’s story will change your mind.
“I remember being wheeled down hallways multiple times and seeing a bright runway of lights above me.
“I recall feeling the temperature changing in the halls and operating room with the temperature of my skin and even feeling the little hairs on my cheek move.
“Sometimes I would fall into a dream/sleep and think I was in a tropical climate; I would long for any sort of water to drink, and felt hot. I recall various places that I ‘went’ through those weeks. Some were filled with family and friends who have died and were as clear as if I was walking with them in the present. I could feel the grass, the sunshine, and their hugs,” Colleen told meaww.com.
“When the nightmares became dark, I would think I was being brutally assaulted over and over as I cried for mercy.”
Whatever was going on, she wasn’t simply in a deep sleep as it might have looked like to those around her.
Her experiences during the time she was in a coma affected Colleen deeply. In fact, she says for her it was worse than the actual accident.
“Most of my PTSD from the trauma was not from the actual act of getting run over and remembering every vivid detail; it was from being locked in my body day in and day out, not knowing what was real and what was a dream.
“To this day, I often depersonalize and question the present. I gaze at my hands and wonder if they are really moving and I am truly alive,” Colleen told meaww.com.
The accident destroyed her body
“Most of my lower body was shredded in ways that could never be properly put back together. There were stitches and tubes everywhere; I had withered to skin and bones and every minuscule movement was agony. It was likely I’d never been physically intimate with my husband again,” Colleen said.
After months in agony and recovery, Colleen says she hit a very low point, but a speech by Nobel Prize laureate Jody Williams helped her to pull through.
The crux of her speech: Emotion without action is irrelevant.
A turning point
“All this emotion wasted feeling miserable and sorry for myself needed a direction. I could sit there wallowing in the pain or I could do something to improve my mental health, even while there was nothing I could do about the physical side of things,” she told meaww.com.
The direction she found was gratitude.
“I thought about all those people who had saved my life on the day of my trauma: the bystanders who leaped to action on the road, the EMTs, the medical team — and the ones who had plotted to save my life before it was even in peril: the blood donors and Red Cross volunteers.”
This is such an awesome insight: “In the end, I had needed 78 units of blood and plasma from more than 150 donors. Modal Trigger Alexander at a superhero half marathon in 2012 It suddenly felt very real to me that I had the lifeblood of countless people running through my veins.
“People of all races, religions, genders, ages. People who liked rap music and country music. People whose lives looked nothing like mine, and who had rolled up their sleeves and donated this gift to a person they’d never met.”
What a wonderful way to think about such a harrowing experience.
So what did this remarkable woman do next?
You won’t believe it. Ten months after the crash, she pulled herself together sufficiently to do the Superhero Half Marathon, using a walker and toting a colostomy bag, in a Wonder Woman costume!!
Colleen explained: “I felt a responsibility to do something positive to honor these many, everyday heroes who’d saved me. My first project, from my rehab bed, was to organize a cycling tour to raise money for more adaptive bikes for disabled athletes.
“We ended up raising more than $10,000. I’d always defined myself as an athlete and couldn’t picture my life not being one, so I pushed myself into rehab to get well enough to begin training again.
“I cried happy tears at the finish line because I had no idea I’d make it that far. I’d barely been able to walk across the room a couple months earlier.”
Colleen gave her medal to her chief surgeon, whom she describes as “one of my most important heroes.”