Kilkenny campaigner Vicky lost boyfriend and two pals in horror crash when she was just 19
KILKENNY cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has spoken of the time she lost a boyfriend and two friends in a devastating car crash that left her with serious injuries.
The mother-of-two was involved in the horrific car accident while she was on a trip in France in 1994, when she was just 19.
“It was the first big thing that happened in my life that made me realise I’m not invincible and life is not fair,” said Ms Phelan. “These thing either make you or break you. I had to grow up very quickly. I lost three friends. I was in hospital nearly four months, I broke 70pc of the bones in the left hand side of my body, I had to do a lot of rehab. It shapes you, you see the fragility of life, I was only 19.”
Ms Phelan spoke of the incident during an interview with ‘Love and Courage’ podcast presenter Ruairí McKiernan.
After the crash, the Mooncoin woman was transferred from a hospital in France back to Ireland. She praised the French health system, but said she experienced problems when she returned to Ireland.
Ms Phelan said she was advised by French specialists not to sit up for two weeks or she would damage her pelvis. But back at home, she said she was given the opposite advice by an orthopaedic surgeon.
“It was the first time I challenged the medical profession after my car crash,” she said.
“He [the surgeon] looked at my files and said, ‘We’ll have a physio and have you out of that bed tomorrow.’ I said, ‘no, you won’t.’ I said, ‘Excuse me, I’m going to go with the doctor who did the procedure in France. He said I was not to sit up for weeks.’
“[The surgeon] turned on his heel and marched out of the ward. The [ward] sister came back and had a go at me. I said, ‘Hang on, this is my body, I’m not a child and I can speak for myself.'”
Ms Phelan remained in hospital for three months, apparently at odds with the surgeon
“I’d lost three of my friends, including my boyfriend and I had all these injuries and all he could see was I had an attitude problem,” she said. “But I stuck to my guns. That was my first foray into standing up for myself against an authority figure. I think he thought I’d be an easy walkover.”