A woman who had a serious accident, which left her paralysed from the waist down, says she won’t let it ruin her life.
Francesca Antoniazzi of Anglesey, Wales, sustained a fractured skull, bleeding of the brain and a broken back in April 2016.
The 27-year-old can’t remember how it all happened either.
She told Cosmopolitan the first nine days in hospital were a blur, even though she knew from the beginning she was paralysed.
But the most frustrating thing was losing her independence.
“I couldn’t stand the fact that everyone had to do things for me. It was one of the things I’d get most upset about, I just wanted to be independent and not to have everyone waiting on me hand and foot,” Ms Antoniazzi said.
“Hospital soon got tedious, and when I found out they estimated I’d be there for 6 months, I made a promise to myself that I’d get out sooner.”
Ms Antoniazzi left the hospital after three months, but at home reality became clearer.
She said she had to bathe near the sink because nothing at her parent’s home was kitted out for her disability and she never felt “100 per cent clean”.
“I went swimming, and as I sat in the shower afterwards I burst into tears,” she said.
“They were happy tears, but I just felt overwhelmed about the fact I was finally having a proper shower.”
Unable to go back to work, she decided to overcome her fear of going to the gym in a wheelchair. She began weightlifting and last month competed in the British Championships.
She also met a man who works for Disability Sport Wales, and joined a basketball team.
Ms Antoniazzi said her friends have been amazing since her accident, but confessed she still feels alone.
“I wasn’t in a relationship at the time of my fall and I’ve not dated anyone since,” she said.
“It’s one of the things I worry most about now that I’m disabled; I‘m scared of being alone for the rest of my life.”
Ms Antoniazzi said she has been contacted by TV show The Undateables three times – a show which sets up people with disabilities and learning difficulties on dates.
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“I’ve never watched it but It feels like they’re saying that I’m absolutely undateable because I’m in a wheelchair, and I don’t want to define myself like that,” she said.
“So I won’t do it. It makes me feel a bit rubbish about myself, like maybe that I am undateable?”
Ms Antoniazzi said she had applied for TV show First Dates, and is now focusing on making life as normal as possible in her job as a claims officer.
“I’ve just tried hard not to let myself dwell on what’s happened, because there’s always someone else in the same position out there,” she said.
“I'm still the same person with the same personality - just without the use of my legs.”