A woman is speaking out to warn others about the dangers of putting your feet up on the dashboard after she was left without a forehead for two years.
Gráinne Kealy was just 22 when a car she was in skidded on some black ice and hit a wall; her feet were propped up on the dashboard, over the airbag, and were forced back into her face – breaking almost every bone in her face.
Speaking about the crash, which took place on 16 December 2006, Gráinne said: “My boyfriend at the time was driving us through Borris-in-Ossory in County Laois to do a bit of Christmas shopping and I had my feet on the dashboard. It wasn’t something I normally did, but I had new shoes on so I knew I wouldn’t leave dirty marks on the dashboard.
“My feet were on top of the airbag and, I know now, they inflate at 200mph. The force of that meant my knees were sent back into my face really powerfully. I broke nearly every bone in my face. I had a brain leak [called a CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid)] and I lost two teeth.”
Gráinne and her boyfriend were rushed to hospital where she underwent surgery to fix the leak on her brain and the fractures to her face.
However, just a few months later it was found that Gráinne had an infection in the bone in her forehead, so medics were forced to remove it in 2007. Gráinne then lived without a forehead for two years.
“It took a while to slowly go down,” she explained. “It wasn’t like I suddenly woke up and it was sunken in. It took a while, which probably helped me get used to it.
“For a long time, I was afraid to leave the house. I became a bit of a hermit. I didn’t want to go out and then when I did go out, I would get looks. I bought hats to cover it. I was also worried about banging my head.”
But, in June 2009 surgeons at Beaumont Hospital managed to reconstruct Gráinne’s face by fitting a ceramic forehead.
She said: “It was strange. I’m aware of it, but I can’t really remember what it was like before I had it. Since it was first fitted, I’ve had fat taken from my stomach and injected either side of it to plump it out because you could see the edges.”