I needed extensive hospital treatment
Within the first few weeks in Southampton General Hospital, I had two major surgeries, the first to realign my spine and insert rods to support and hold my back in a stable and fixed position. Whilst recovering from this surgery, I became aware of the severity of my injuries. I used to stare at my feet telling them to move, trying to wiggle my toes and nothing would happen. I had completely lost the ability to move and feel anything from the waist down, I was unable to get out of bed, unable to sit up, and unable to use my arms to do simple tasks like eating and drinking. Thankfully, as time passed and my body began to recover from the trauma of injury my condition slightly improved, allowing me to feed myself and use my arms. However, these developments made me realise that the vast majority of my injuries were permanent and would affect me for the rest of my life.
Passing the time
The nurses and doctors soon became aware of my love of sports when I asked them to help me build a basketball hoop out of a sick bowl and my drip stand. For me, this was just an enjoyable way to pass the time after regaining the strength to lift my arms. For my doctors, it was confirmation that I would need to undergo another surgery. The surgeon explained to my parents that if I wanted to play sport and be active in the future my current metalwork from the first surgery would not be strong enough. He also explained that further surgery to address this problem could be life threatening. My parents had a choice, risk my life in surgery to enable me to live an active life, or opt out of the surgery and face a life where my movement and lifestyle would be even more restricted by my injury. My parents made the decision that I should have the second surgery, the best decision they have ever made. For the second surgery, I was put on life support, my diaphragm and both my lungs were collapsed, one rib was removed and a metal cage was inserted around my spine for extra stability.
“In my life since winning MasterChef in 2016 I have met and worked with some truly amazing people and I have to say Lauren Jones is at the very top of that list. She is an inspiration not only to those with disabilities but to anyone who is facing life’s hurdles. I am very proud to know her.” Jane Devonshire
The switch to Stoke Mandeville
I spent four weeks in Southampton General Hospital recovering from both surgeries before moving to Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the Children’s Spinal Unit to begin rehabilitation and start my life all over again. Whilst in Stoke Mandeville I learnt how to sit up unaided, get dressed, transfer in and out of bed, and began to learn wheelchair skills. I was given my first wheelchair and threw myself into learning how to wheelie, go up and down curbs and ramps, anything to help prepare me to be independent when I was discharged from hospital. I picked up the wheelchair skills quickly and had a reputation for racing down the corridors, leaving skid marks on the floor, constantly falling out of my chair and pushing the limits of my injury wherever possible.