A firefighter and mother-of-two has been left paralysed from the waist down after she snapped her back in two while weightlifting at the gym.
Victoria Griffiths, 31, from Warrington, was lifting over 20 stone, double her body weight, when she wobbled and fell forwards, causing her body to jackknife.
She suffered a break in two of the bones in her back and seriously damaged her spinal cord.
Her injuries mean she is unable to move from the belly button down and doctors doubt she will ever walk again.
She said: ‘I know that the worst case is that I might be in a wheelchair and I’m not going to walk, but I have to come to terms with it as best I can.’
Victoria was at the gym for her daily spin class but, after her warm up, decided to work out in the main gym instead.
She said: ‘I got there a bit early and started doing a leg routine. As it got to about 9.25am, when the class was about to begin, I decided I was into the routine and I would just stick with it.’
‘I was doing step-ups on an aerobic step and I had a bar on the back of my neck, carrying 130kg, which is about 20 stone.
‘I stepped up with my right leg and left leg and got straight back down, but I wobbled and because of the weight of the bar, I fell forwards rather than backwards.
‘It basically folded me in half. It’s like leaning down and touching your toes and someone coming and shoving you that extra little bit further.’
The bar rolled down Victoria’s neck and over her head, flinging her onto the floor, screaming in pain.
She said: ‘The next thing I remember is another gym goer next to me telling me to stay still. I kept trying to get up and they were telling me to stay where I was.
‘It felt like I’d been laid on cold concrete for so long my body was numb. I didn’t understand what I had done.
‘The paramedics came and said they needed to move my legs and when they did, I thought my feet were still on the floor, but they had moved me. I knew something was very wrong.
‘The only thing I could think of was that I wouldn’t be able to go to a training weekend at fire college. I was really looking forward to it. It sounds ridiculous right now but I didn’t even think I was never going to walk again.’
Victoria was rushed to Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool, where she underwent a four-hour operation, with doctors placing titanium rods in her back.
She said: ‘The surgeon told my family that it was really bad. They said they needed to get me into surgery straight away.’
Victoria remained in intensive care for 11 days, before being moved to a spinal ward.
Last week, she was moved to Southport spinal injuries rehabilitation unit to continue her recovery.
She said: ‘Things could change. Your body is still in shock for the first eight weeks. I will be tested again after the eight weeks and there is a slim chance that with intense physio and a lot of work, I may be able to walk.
‘These things happen and I’m the sort of person who thinks that you just have to get on with it and find another path to get where you need to be.
‘I’m not sure what will happen with work as my job is very physical but they have been so supportive and have told me to focus on my recovery.’
Victoria and her partner Dave, 35, are in the process of buying their first home together, which requires many adjustments to accommodate Victoria’s condition.
She said: ‘I am renting at the minute and we are going to make minor adjustments there. But we need to be able to make more long-term adjustments at the new house, to make it more wheelchair-friendly, to help me get around.’
A spokesperson from LiveWire, who run the gym where Victoria sustained her injuries, said: ‘We wish Victoria all the best in her recovery.’
Victoria is fundraising for her home adaptations. Donate here.