I am a severe head injury survivor

“I’m not the ‘me’ I used to know.”

That sentence sums up for me how I’ve felt since I woke up from a coma in June 1988.

The quote is from another traumatic brain injury survivor. I have since lost that little scrap of paper I carried around in my wallet for many years.

In one moment my world was turned upside down.

We were hit head-on by a drunk driver. I was driving and the most seriously injured. I was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center and was in a coma for eleven days.

Something happens when you have been to the edge of death and have been given a second chance at life.

Phillip and I had been married just seven short months and we lived in Tampa, Florida. The crash happened on Friday night, Memorial Day weekend at about 11:30 pm on our way home from Clearwater to Tampa. I was driving. Phillip was in the passenger seat. An old friend and my roommate before we got married was in the backseat. We had actually driven over to Clearwater to feed her boss’s dogs. I volunteered to drive as they were both tired from a long week of work.

We never made it home.


I have always known that if I had not been wearing a seat belt, I would have died that night. (Airbags or automatic seat belts did not become mandatory in passenger vehicles until the next year.)

Phillip was the only one who was able to get out of the car and get help. The drunk driver had crossed the center line and I took the brunt of the impact. A two lane highway with water on the right side. No one could have driven out of it. It took me many years to really understand that.

My friend was trapped in the backseat with a crushed hip. I had grand mal seizures and I stopped breathing on the helicopter. I was put on a ventilator at the hospital and the next night, my heart stopped beating.

Believe me when I say it is a miracle that I am typing this today. That I can walk and talk is nothing I take for granted.

I’ve lost count of the life lessons I’ve learned from this experience.

Maybe, in the coming weeks, I’ll start by sharing the things I did in the hospital when I woke up. Let’s just say I was very, very busy…

It will be 20 years on May 27, 2008.

It is a date we will never forget.

It is an anniversary we do not celebrate.

It is our life and the people we love that we treasure…


One year ago..

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


  1. 1
    shawn says:

    Hi Sherra,
    I just read your story of your TBI. My daughter was hit head on by a drunk driver on May 16th, 2004. She had just moved back home from her first year at Moorhead State University. She was in very critical cond. for 5 weeks. In ICCU in Meritcare hosp. in Fargo ND. Amber is my miracle girl…She survived….by the grace of God. After 3 months of hospitalization….and many months of rehab, Amber had to relearn to walk,talk, feed herself, dress herself…etc…….Amber eventually went back to MSUM and graduated with honors in December of 2007. She is a licened Social worker…..We thank God everyday for letting us keep our precious baby girl here on earth with us. Thanks for sharing your story. Shawn…(Amber’s mom. 🙂

    • 1.1
      Sherra says:

      Shawn–Thanks so much for sharing the story of your own miracle – your daughter & her recovery! Coincidentally (or not) my mom wanted to name me Amber Dawn. 🙂

  2. 2
    Katherine McCauley says:

    Hi Sherra – I am so happy to find your blog. I never knew this story from your past, and I am in awe of what you have been through that I did not know about. Wow. How grateful I am that you survived and thrived! Miss seeing you, and will be happy to follow what you’re doing 🙂


  1. […] #1: The car crash, coma and learning to live with a head injury. May […]

  2. […] I can honestly say Sherra is the funniest friend I have (and I have some pretty funny friends), she makes me laugh – a lot!  Sherra is an amazing lady – she has had a lot of different experiences in her life – some good, some bad but all have made her stronger, wiser and funnier!  (Even the severe head injury!) […]

  3. […] is our only child born in the Midwest. Upon learning I was pregnant just seven months after the car crash in Florida, we moved to Illinois so I could be close to my […]

  4. […] differently. My experience is just mine. Yours may be totally different. I tend to believe that my head injury plays a part in my inability to tolerate anti-depressants and they just don’t work for […]

  5. […] getting back “the me I used to know” which is not necessarily “the me before the head injury” but rather; it is “the me who is in a much better […]

  6. […] a non-drinker and a head injury survivor makes me extra slow to accept this logic. That and the little law we have about it being […]

  7. […] I’m sentimental like that. I’d blame it on the coma but I actually made photo albums long before the […]

  8. […] is the friend who brought PhilBillPaul to the hospital after the car crash. She and I were roommates before I got married. She has been there through the best of times and the […]

  9. […] I am a mother and a wife and a head injury survivor, the girlfriend and I are just never going to peacefully […]

  10. […] my blood and I was labeled “High Risk” since all those factors coupled with that pesky head injury and coma of ‘87 seemed to be in my permanent […]

  11. […] I know I take this all a little personally. Must be the coma and head injury. […]