Woman Who Was Left Without A Forehead After Car Crash Warns Others Not To Rest Feet On Dashboard
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Warning: This article graphic contains images which some readers may find distressing
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 to LADbible 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."
As well as undergoing numerous surgeries directly related to the crash, Gráinne says that the accident triggered a sort of 'domino effect', leading to more problems and issues and that recovering from her acquired brain injury isn't as easy as some people think.
She explained: "I ended up with gallstones because of the medication I was on and I have near-constant headaches. There seems to be a different problem every year.
"I know people have it much worse off than me and I'm so grateful for the treatment I've received, but it's hard to move on when it's still ongoing for me. I think in total I've had 16 procedures and surgeries."
Gráinne, who has a four-year-old son, is now speaking out to warn others about sitting with their feet up while being a passenger in a car.
Gráinne continued: "You see it all the time. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Conor McGregor and Selena Gomez have all posted photos to their Instagram with their feet on the dashboard. They have billions of followers who see that. You see it in films and on TV, it's everywhere.
"I just want to warn others about how dangerous it can be. I didn't know - and some people say to me 'how could you have been so stupid?' but I honestly didn't realise it could be so dangerous. I thought because I was wearing a seatbelt and was sat up properly in the car, I was safe.
"I want people to learn from my mistake."