We have all seen passengers who have their feet up on the dashboard as the car is cruising down the highway. Perhaps we have even done it as well but now, a woman is speaking out to warn people about the dangers of doing it.
When a car skidded on black ice and hit a wall, Gráinne Kealy was inside of the vehicle with her feet up on the dashboard. She was only 22 at the time. The airbag went off, forcing her feet and legs back into her face and breaking almost every bone in her face.
She is now speaking out, saying: “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.”
Both Gráinne and her boyfriend were taken to the hospital. She had surgery to fix a leak occurring on her brain and to repair the fractures to her face.
Unfortunately, Gráinne developed a bone infection in her forehead within a few months. That was 2007, when medics were forced to remove her forehead and she lived for two years without it.
She is now 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.
“It took a while to slowly go down,” Gráinneexplained. “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.”
Surgeons at Beaumont Hospital were able to reconstruct her face in 2009 and they provided her with a ceramic forehead.
“It was strange,” Gráinne said. “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. I think I’ll need to have that procedure one more time and then hopefully it’s done.”
That wasn’t the only additional surgery that was necessary for Gráinne. She experienced additional problems that kept compounding on top of each other and had to undergo multiple surgeries. Each time, more issues occurred and it was quite some time before she was able to overcome her brain injury.
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 is also a mother to a four-year-old boy is now warning others about putting their feet up on the dashboard when they are a passenger in a moving vehicle.
“You see it all the time,” Gráinne said. “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.”