When I was 22 my life was turned upside down. An accident changed my life forever and I am only now ready to tell the world about it and hopefully in the process it might help prevent the same happening to someone else!
My name is Grainne Kealy and I am now 31 years of age. On the 16th of December 2006 my boyfriend and I left our home in Galway for my home place in Laois. Going through Borris-in-Ossary the jeep skidded on a patch of black ice and crashed into a wall. As accidents go it was a bad enough one. The jeep was destroyed but thank god there were no other vehicles involved. My boyfriend got out with minor injuries thank god but he has all the memories! It is thanks to him and my family that I can tell you this story.
You see I had decided along the way that I would be more comfortable if my feet were on the dashboard. It was something I rarely did and only did that morning as I had bought a new pair of Ugg boots and knew that I wouldn’t dirty the dashboard. Silly when you think about it! By doing this my feet were placed directly on top of the airbag without realising. When the jeep collided with the wall the airbags inflated as they do but because my feet were on top of mine it actually pushed my feet, knee’s first into my face. I didn’t know much about how airbags work so here’s some information I have learned to better help you understand how dangerous it is……
The airbag system ignites a solid propellant, which burns extremely rapidly to create a large volume of gas to inflate the bag. The bag then literally bursts from its storage site at up to 200 mph (322 kph) — faster than the blink of an eye! A second later, the gas quickly dissipates through tiny holes in the bag, thus deflating the bag so you can move.
So there you go…….now you get it. I kneed myself in the face at 200mph! Sounds a lot worse now doesn’t it.
I had really done a job on myself. I had multiple facial fractures (my mother was told that I had broken every bone in my face), a CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid) leak from my brain and oh yeah I lost two teeth! I was eventually moved to Beaumont Hospital under the care of my Brain surgeon and the Max Fax (Maxillofacial) team. They told me that I had pushed in and up my face and they would have to basically pull it all out and put it back together! Sounds nice huh!! In 2007 I experienced a set back and had to have my forehead removed. Yes……my forehead. And yes……..all of it. I lived without my forehead for two years until the 17th of June 2009 when I got my brand new Italian ceramic forehead. I’m sure most of you reading this are a little puzzled by this……I know I was when they told me. I had nothing in place of my forehead for two years. My head sunk in and I looked a little strange. But thanks to the amazing work done by the great surgeons in Beaumont Hospital you would never know it was fake.
My recovery has been very tough and because of the complications in May 2007 I am still recovering. I am also recovering from a minor brain injury called Acquired Brain Injury but thanks to the people at A.B.I Ireland I am well on my way to being ME again! It has been a long long road. I have no memory of the accident, the three months leading up to it or the month following it. I have a few little memories from my time in Beaumont but not much. One of my first memories is looking in the mirror for the first time. I didn’t recognize the face looking back at me. That is one of the worse memories I have and one that I hope with all my heart not many people will ever have to go through.
I have been waiting for years to be able to tell people my story but I was never strong enough to open up about such a heartbreaking experience. I am sharing my story now because I can’t stand the thought of another person having to go through what I have had to go through. I would hate for another persons family to have to get that dreaded phone call as mine did! I have always said to my Mother…….I got the pain but they got the memories.
I see passengers with their feet on the dashboard a lot of the time and it breaks my heart. I’m hoping you will pass on this message / warning to everyone you know and hopefully people will understand how dangerous it is.
To the amazing people at A.B.I……I’m sure they have no idea how you have helped me. Not many people know about Acquired Brain Injury and to be honest neither did I. I do find it tough some days when I constantly lose words while in the middle of a conversation. This can happen to me twenty times a day. I get headaches when too many people are talking around and to me, when someone tries to talk to me over music and I sometimes find it difficult to stay focused. I was so lost before I was diagnosed with A.B.I…….feeling like I was going crazy as I couldn’t remember words and my memory wasn’t the best. They have also helped me with my problem of not liking my new face. I still dislike looking in a mirror and I do not like my face but I can deal with it much better now. I know when things are getting a little too much now and I know how to deal with it. I would have been lost without them and I will never be able to thank them enough for helping me.
PLEASE KEEP YOUR FEET ON THE FLOOR IN A VEHICLE……..FRONT AND BACK PASSENGERS!!
One of the worse parts about it is that it seems so obvious when you think about it. So please listen to me and learn from my horrible experience.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I can only hope with all my heart that you wont ever have to go through what myself and my loved ones have had to go through.
Please pass this on to as many people as you can.
Help me tell my story so something good can come out of such a bad experience!