A woman who was hit by a car while crossing the road is thanking her bendy spine for saving her life.
Laura Wellington, 24, from Colchester, Essex, has hypermobility syndrome – a condition where the joints are more flexible than usual.
She was left with a broken back after she was hit by a drunk and uninsured driver two years ago.
The impact was so severe that doctors said she would have been left paralysed if it wasn’t for her condition, as miraculously her body was able to bend rather than snap.
Doctors were still unsure whether Laura would ever be able to walk by herself again however 11 days after the accident, she took her first steps.
Following intense physiotherapy, she is finally making a recovery.
Laura said: “After the accident I was devastated when doctors told me they didn’t know if I would walk by myself again, but it was a miracle that I wasn’t paralysed.”
She explained that growing up, she noticed there was something different about her body.
“It was only when I hit puberty that I started to notice a few problems with my joints, I had pain in my knees and I grew really tall very quickly,” she said.
“That’s when I was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome, I’d never heard of it before but I managed to cope with it by staying strong and active.
“My joints have a lot of elasticity in them and I am also double jointed, I can touch my toes without even thinking about it and I can bend my thumb back to touch my wrist.
“But I never thought being hyper mobile would save me from paralysis.”
She continued: “After the crash the neurosurgeon told me it was a miracle that I wasn’t paralysed as my back was in a complete mess.
“He told me that being hypermobile prevented me from paralysis, instead of my body snapping my joints and ligaments stretched instead.
“My future was still unsure but I was always determined to get back on my feet, and 11 days after the incident I took my first steps which felt amazing.”
In February 2015, Laura was crossing the road when she was hit by a drunk and uninsured driver.
She added: “It was a really cold day and it was snowing, some friends and I had been for dinner and we then got the bus back to the high street.
“I was half way across the road when I looked up and saw headlights coming towards me.
“The lights were the last thing I saw and then I remember lying on the ground and the pain was overwhelming.
“I was screaming and everyone around came rushing towards me, they were telling me to stay still but all I wanted to do was make sure I could move my legs.
“I was rushed to hospital where doctors told me I had broken my t-11 vertebra, fractured my skull and injured my shoulder, it was a miracle I wasn’t paralysed.
“I had to make the decision whether to have surgery or whether to heal naturally with a brace, because I hadn’t been paralysed surgery wasn’t necessary so that’s why I was able to choose.
“I think that was the first time I cried, I realised how terrified I had been.
“For the first three days I couldn’t move, I had to lie completely still until they knew the extent of the damage.
“Then after nine days [of] lying on my back I was put into a brace and took my first steps.”
She added that the next three months were the “hardest of her life”.
“My parents made a temporary bedroom for me downstairs and my mum bought a baby monitor in case I needed to call her for anything in the night,” she recalled.
“I could hardly leave the house and I didn’t shower for three months, I tried to stay positive but I did have days where I broke down.
“But I knew how lucky I was to have survived.”
Laura has since been through intense physiotherapy and continues to do yoga and pilates to strengthen her joints.
She said: “After the accident I had really bad anxiety about going back to London, I have since been diagnosed with PTSD but I am now focusing on overcoming my fears.
“Earlier this year I went back to the scene where the accident happened and I eventually managed to cross the road, it took a lot for me to do that but I really feel like I have achieved something.
“I did a 10k run the morning of the accident and my goal was to do the London 2016 marathon, but that has been put on hold.
“I am now looking to do my pilates teacher training and help others with their recovery.”