06 Feb Florida woman wakes up from coma after her family was told to plan her funeral
Deep in the south, where the Atlantic meets the Gulf, and turquoise water gives way to sandy white beaches, lives a village of islands commonly referred to as the Florida Keys.
For most, the Keys are considered to be paradise, but for 58-year-old Karol Harrelson, the paradise she has come to know and love, looks much different these days.
For this Key Largo resident, life in the Keys has always been an adventure.
“Fishing is a way of life down here,” she explains. “My father instilled the love of fishing in my brother and me growing up.”
Over the years, Karol, along with her husband, Terry, of 24 years, loved to go back country fishing, and even enjoyed offshore fishing when given the chance
But on the morning of July 6, 2015, life as she knew it came to an abrupt stop.
“I remember running late and kissing my husband goodbye,” she said. “I was training to be an ICU nurse at the time and had one week to go before graduation. I got up early to make the ICU Academy in Miami. I always took the opportunity to pray on my way there.”
As her 2009 Kia Sorento approached an intersection in front of a Tradewinds shopping plaza, a box truck ran a red light and T-boned her car, leaving it wrapped around a signal pole in its wake.
“I don’t even remember seeing the truck that hit me,” she says.
The accident left her with devastating, life-altering injuries. While being airlifted to the hospital, her heart stopped twice. She was also left with a broken right leg and arm, a head and brain injury, and doctors had to remove her spleen.
The trauma to her brain left her comatose for 3 long months. During that time, her family was told that she would never walk again, even with the help of a walker.
As time passed by, they were eventually told that she would never wake up again. They needed to prepare for her funeral.
But then the miraculous happened…
“All I remember is waking up 3 months later from a coma, seeing my sister-in-law Lisa, and asking her how her mom with Alzheimer’s was doing.”
One of the things Karol loved most about being a nurse was taking care of people. Now it seemed, the tables had turned.
Karol’s recovery has been ongoing and difficult. After being released from the hospital almost 6 months later on Christmas Eve, this mother of 3 and grandmother to 6, had to relearn how to walk and talk again as a result of her brain injury.
When asked about her faith in God, she says that her faith in Him continues to grow stronger every day. “I believe He had His angels surround me that day; they protected me on His command. He has been with me daily; and through Bible study and prayer, my faith grows. I don’t know how anyone gets along without faith in Him.”
She misses her independence the most but the overwhelming support from her family and friends makes her feel like the luckiest girl in the world. “My husband came to the hospital every day. He is devoted and strong, and loves me tremendously…I am blessed!”
Although the odds were stacked against her, Karol never lost hope.
With a combined 15 years experience working as a nurse at Homestead Hospital and Mariners Hospital in Florida, her future is brighter than ever. Her plan to obtain her Master of Science in Nursing and become an online instructor is top priority.
And yes, she even hopes to walk at her daughter’s graduation ceremony this May, whether it be with a cane or nothing at all!
Karol wants to encourage those who may be going through a similar struggle. No matter what life throws at you, “never lose hope and faith!”