Woman Who Lost Her Forehead In Crash Urges People: 'Learn From My Mistake'
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Warning: This article contains graphic images
A woman who was left with no forehead after being involved in a horrific crash now spends her time warning others about the dangers of putting your feet up on the dashboard.
Gráinne Kealy has been recognised with two awards by the Road Safety Authority for her dedication to educating others after she was left with life-changing injuries aged just 22 when a car she was in skidded on some black ice and hit a wall.
Her feet, which were propped up on the dashboard, over the airbag, were forced back into her head - breaking almost every bone in her face.
Speaking to LADbible, Gráinne, 36, said: "Constantly seeing pictures of people with their feet up, is very disheartening. I think, 'Am I doing enough?'.
"Even last week I saw on social media Justin Bieber and Cardi B with their feet up - and they have so many millions of followers...
"So, it was just amazing to get those awards and to know that people are hearing me. I still have a long way to go, but I'm being heard. It was the pat on the back I needed to push me on."
To get her story out there, Gráinne attends road safety events where she speaks out about her experience in hopes of warning others.
She continued: "Afterwards teachers and students come up to me and say, 'oh wow, to look at you, you'd never know you'd gone through all that'."
Since the crash in December 2006, Gráinne has had 16 surgeries and still suffers with numerous problems due to her injuries.
She spent two years without a forehead, until June 2009. Gráinne was fitted with a ceramic forehead and the surgeons did such a good job that people find it hard to believe what she's been through, which has both a positive and negative side.
She said: "In one way it's great to get that people can't tell the difference, but in another way, it does mess with your head, because I see a difference [to how she looked before the accident].
"The second I look in the mirror I notice. And people say to me, 'oh you'd never know' and I think, 'well, I do'.
"Obviously it's a great reaction to get but at the same time, I've been put in situations that are awkward.
"I had to go on disability because I was off work for so long and part of that was a free travel pass. I'd not long had my forehead put back and I remember going to the train station and I produced my travel pass, which wasn't a thing I did easily, and the woman refused me.
"She refused me point blank. I had to call the Guards to come and get my pass back. I cried. It was a horrible experience. She just did not believe me.
"Again, I can understand that type of thing, because it does look like not much has happened to me but that's not the truth. It is tough.
"I am lucky but it does have its downsides. It's like a hidden disability and it really opens your eyes to it and shows that people shouldn't judge, you never know what is going on in other people's lives."
Gráinne hopes that by telling her story to as many people as possible she can help stop anyone else going through what she had to.
"Please learn from my mistake," she said. "I can't say that enough. To say that all these years later I am still going through this. I may not be getting the surgeries but I have the depression, I have the issues... I get told to move on, but I am reminded of it every time I look in the mirror.
"I just can't emphasis enough how much it's changed my life and how it's just not worth the risk. I never thought I would be in this situation. Not in a million years. Please, just be safe."