A mum today revealed how a boy racer has ruined her life after a horror smash left her in such excruciating pain she can’t even cuddle her children.
Michelle Fletcher, 29, of Ashton, Preston, says her life was the best it had ever been until everything changed in a split second after a teenage driver crashed into her at speed.
Since the accident four years ago, Michelle has suffered constant crippling pain and says the lasting effects of the accident have destroyed her life and robbed her of being a proper mum.
Michelle, mum to a nine-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, said: “When the accident happened, I was 24 and had a really happy life.
“My daughter was five and my little boy had turned one and I had just returned to work.
“I had started a new job as a marketing and business development assistant at a construction company and my husband and I had two really good wages and owned a house. Things were pretty much perfect.
“But since the accident, I have been in horrendous pain on my right side and have been in agony.
“The pain is like being constantly scalded by boiling water.
“Sometimes it like being stabbed with hundreds of knives.”
Michelle’s turmoil began while driving to work one rainy morning.
As she was driving along Haighton Green Lane near Preston, Michelle was terrified to suddenly see a car hurtling towards her at speed on the same side of the road.
Michelle said: “The road was so narrow, there was nowhere for me to go. I just closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable.
“I do not remember anything else apart from the sound of screaming sirens.
“I really believed I had died and remember thinking: ‘Who will look after the children’.”
Michelle was taken to hospital on a spinal board and underwent tests and x-rays. She was kept in for a day and then discharged after being told she soft tissue damage to her right shoulder and spine.
After returning home, Michelle went to bed, but woke in the early hours of the morning in excruciating pain. She went back to the doctors and an ultrasound showed damage to her tendons and ligaments.
As well suffering intense pain in her shoulder, Michelle also went through the mental torture of flashbacks of the accident.
She said: “I was too scared to leave the house and was locking myself and my little boy indoors. Every time I left the house, I thought I was going to be in danger.
“I could not drive. Some days, I could not even go near a road because the sound of traffic would set me off.
“The biggest thing for me was the embarrassment. I did not want to tell people I was struggling because I thought it was a sign of weakness.
“I turned down invitations to nights out and pushed my friends and family away.
“I kept having flashbacks and had trouble sleeping.”
Michelle was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had acupuncture and physiotherapy for the pain as well as counselling, desensitisation therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.
However, her shoulder and back continued to cause her continual pain and painkillers failed to have an impact.
Michelle had surgery 18 months after the accident to repair the ligament, but her debilitating pain continued.
She said: “The pain is so consuming, it takes over my life. I have not picked up my little boy since he was 12 months old and I can’t even cuddle my children properly because it hurts so much.
“I wasn’t allowed to drive and I couldn’t work. We used to live in Higher Bartle, but had to sell our home and buy a cheaper home in Ashton to free up some money to survive.
“My mum and dad have moved in with us so they can help look after the children and drive me to all my appointments.”
After three years of constant pain, Michelle was referred to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London and has been going there for treatment once a month and attended a shoulder rehabilitation programme.
Doctors at the specialist hospital realised Michelle had a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome caused be her nerves going haywire as a result of the trauma of the accident.
The condition is incurable and could lead to paralysis on Michelle’s right side.
Michelle said: “Getting the diagnosis was bittersweet. At least I now know what is wrong with me and I am trying to re-build my life around the pain.
“I wear a constant shoulder strap to keep my shoulder in place and wear a back brace to correct my posture and take 14 painkillers a day.
“I cannot remember my life before the accident or what it feels like to be free of pain.”
Michelle says one of the hardest things to deal with is that the young driver who tore her world apart is not even aware of the damage he caused or suffered any repercussions.
She said: “It was an 18-year-old new driver who crashed into me and he was doing between 60 and 80 in a 30 zone.
“Police called it a temporary blip and he was not prosecuted.
“He has destroyed my life and does not even know it.
“It has robbed my of my life and robbed me of being a proper mum to my children.”
Michelle is now doing a counselling degree and wants to specialise in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She is also writing a book about her life since the accident and is hoping to get it published in the next year.
She said: “I want people to know it is all right to suffer mentally and is nothing to be ashamed of.
“I also want people to think about the speed they are driving at and consider what damage they can cause even if it doesn’t actually kill someone.
“One little moment ruined my life and I don’t want it to happen to other people.”