Newlywed woman reveals what it REALLY feels like to be in a coma after a lorry ran her over and ‘crushed’ her entire body

A WOMAN has revealed what it is really like being semi-conscious in a coma – saying she felt as though she was "locked in a nightmare" as her body "felt like it was on fire".

Colleen Kelly Alexander was left fighting for her life after her body was "ripped apart" when she was run over by a truck in New Haven, Connecticut, US.

But the trauma was just the start for the then 38-year-old, who officially died twice as medics battled to save her life after the crash.

The woman was placed in a coma for five weeks, and now seven years and 29 surgeries later, has recounted her experiences in a book, Gratitude in Motion.

In the book, the 42-year-old described being unable to focus on anything, but retained the ability to hear sounds and feel sensations, leaving her feeling so hot she "felt like my body was on fire".

In an excerpt from her book seen by the New York Post, she recounted her experience:

"Now, if you’ve never been in a coma, I’m going to guess that you think they look like the ones on television: The person is just totally 'out', no signs of awareness. That happens in the rarest of cases.

"Usually, comas are more like twilight states — hazy, dreamlike things where you don’t have fully formed thoughts or experiences, but you still feel pain and form memories that your brain invents to try to make sense of what’s happening to you.

"After going into shock and flatlining in the ER, my next memories began once I was in the Surgical Intensive Unit. I remember being fully awake but unable to focus on anything; I could feel hands touching my head and comforting me, but I couldn’t move.

"I heard beeping, dinging, and ticking; I could feel my lungs expand and contract, but had no control over what was happening.

"As they would do wound changes, they would increase my medications intravenously, which would sedate me further and help manage my pain.

"My body thought I was being raped and tortured; what was really happening was that the wounds from my anal and vaginal areas, stomach, hips and leg were being unpacked, cleaned and then repacked. My brain couldn’t understand that they were really helping me.

"Certain voices were soothing. When my husband would be in the room, I could hear him, but I couldn’t understand his words.

"Throughout the five-plus weeks, they would bring me in over a dozen times to do various surgeries; when this happened, they would need to wean me off certain medications and make other dosing stronger so I could be completely sedated and paralysed for surgery.

"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 on 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.

"When the nightmares became dark, I would think I was being brutally assaulted over and over as I cried for mercy.

"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 depersonalise and question the present. I gaze upon my hands and wonder if they are really moving and I am truly alive.

"When I was finally weaned off the anaesthesia, able to breathe on my own and brought back to consciousness, Sean had to tell me I’d been in a coma for a month and a half.

"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 be physically intimate with my husband again.

"After months of this, I hit a point where I wasn’t sure I wanted to live anymore. What began to pull me through was a speech I’d heard by Nobel Prize laureate Jody Williams. In it, she said, 'Emotion without action is irrelevant.'

"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.

"The direction I found was gratitude. I thought about all those people who had saved my life on the day of my trauma: the bystanders who leapt 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.

"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.

"I felt a responsibility to do something positive to honour these many, everyday heroes who’d saved me. My first project, from my rehab bed, was to organise 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 in rehab to get well enough to begin training again. Ten months post-trauma, I did the Superhero Half Marathon using a walker and toting a colostomy bag, in a Wonder Woman costume.

"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.

"I gave my medal to my chief surgeon, one of my most important heroes. I’ve now completed dozens of half-marathons, triathlons and two marathons, and recently had the honour of becoming a guide for another challenged athlete.

"I will never be able to compete in the sense that I once did, but that’s not the point anymore: I’m out there in this world doing the things I love, challenging myself and showing my gratitude every chance I get. We can’t control life’s unexpected twists, only our reactions to them.

"Finding gratitude in the midst of even the toughest times is a gift from the heart, both for the sender and receiver.

"Sometimes a small shift in perspective can change the course of your life."

Adapted from “Gratitude in Motion: A True Story of Hope, Determination, and the Everyday Heroes Around Us” by Colleen Kelly Alexander. Copyright © 2018 by Colleen Kelly Alexander. Used with permission from Center Street. All rights reserved.” target=”_blank” title=”Click to share on Twitter

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