Val Rowinski joined the fire service in Lancashire in 1986 as a control operator. After moving to Buckinghamshire in 1989 she was soon promoted through the ranks to senior control operator.
Unfortunately in 1991, Val injured her back on duty falling over a box of heavy lifting equipment; “I went over it backwards but landed in a V-shape on the bottom of my spine. I had compounded my spine and damaged my discs. I stayed on duty as I had just been given a promotion but in the end it put me out of the service.”
In 1997, Val was involved in a life-threatening road traffic accident; “I had moved Thomas, my ten month old son, into the back of my car literally only days before as he had outgrown his first car seat. Thankfully I had. We had gone out for the afternoon and I was nearing the 30mph zone into our village. I was within the speed limit. The next thing I remember is waking up having gone over a ditch and head on into a very large tree. My car was pre-air bag. I then lost consciousness again when my colleagues started to cut me out. Thomas had severe bruising and concussion and I took the impact.”
“There are not enough words to describe how I feel about the Charity. It is off the scale and I am in awe of the help I have been given.”
“Following my accident I was taken to the local A&E but they couldn’t deal with the severity of my injuries. They stabilised me then transferred me to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, for eleven hours of trauma surgery. At that point they didn’t know if I’d get full use of my legs back and walk. The only thing that had survived the accident was my arms and spinal column. To this day they still don’t know how my arms and wrists survived the impact. It was pretty horrendous.”
Val continues; “I have had eighteen years of surgery and I have been using crutches since the accident. With each set of major surgery I would be in plaster for a minimum of three months and non-weight bearing for the same period of time. I was permanently in plaster and boot for the entire duration of my last round of surgery from December 2010 to March 2014. The outcome of my left leg is that it has now partly united but it has left me with severe chronic pain and a leg I cannot put much weight through. My consultant agreed no more can be achieved with this ankle and foot. I still have continuing major surgery ahead of me on the right ankle and foot, with the possibility of surgery on my hips in the future. My shoulders, elbows and hands have taken the brunt of getting around on crutches. I have recently had steroid injections into both of my shoulders, hands and hips, these are only temporary, but this hasn’t really helped with the pain.
“Originally, when I came home, the NHS did give me a wheelchair but it was so heavy that I couldn’t go out anywhere. I thought life would continue up and up and up and I would get back on my feet but it didn’t work like that.
“My consultant said recently that ‘we can’t do any more surgery on your shoulders, until you get off your crutches and that is unlikely.’ They said; ‘you really need to go into an electric or battery powered chair to take the pressure off your shoulders and it may help with your symptoms and pain.’ So I decided to contact the Charity to see what options would be available.
“When they called me to tell me that they could help fund the wheelchair I was shaking. I couldn’t speak, I was lost for words. My application was helped by an anonymous sizeable donation from a friend. I have been so amazingly lucky. I am overwhelmed and can’t thank everyone enough. It’s going to make such a difference. It’s going to be light, so my husband can lift it and it will take all the pressure out of my shoulders.
Val enthuses; “Without the wheelchair, I would hate to imagine what the future would be. The staff who I have had contact with have been fantastic. The service is amazing. I am indebted. Nobody will ever know the difference that this will make to me and to my family.”Share your story