Hey gals and guys 😁
So now I am off work for a week (signed off for medical reasons)I thought I’d write a blog about the day my whole life as I knew it changed forever.
My then boyfriend William and I were back in Donegal visiting family.My aunty Cathy,her husband Joe and their kids were also in Donegal visiting from Cork 😁We were just back for 2 days so a quick visit.At that time as you know my relationship with William was falling apart 😑Being at home was a nice distraction.We were sitting around my parents kitchen island talking about hopes and dreams.My Dad mentioned he had always wanted to go to Prague to see the Astronomy clock tower.As we usually do,we went for a drinking session with my granny on the 16th of August (yes my granny is too cool 👵🍷)We chatted and as my granny would later tell me she could see how unhappy I was but knew I had to figure things out for myself.
On the morning of the 17th of August I was awoken by a phonecall from my mother👩.She told me that my dad had been in a road traffic accident and she was on the way to Letterkenny hospital to go get him (she thought he had just broke a leg as the paramedic was very calm on the phone)so I didn’t panic or think much of it🏥.
I should just explain that my dad is not my biological father.My biological parents split up when I was a toddler.My mother and I moved from New York back to Ireland after they split.My biological father had no interest in keeping in contact.My mother met my step dad a few months after we moved here and he has brought me up as his own ever since.We are currently in the midst of looking into my Dad adopting me so its all official 👨👩👧👧
Back to the morning of the 17th of August 2016.After I got off the phone to my mother I went downstairs to my granny and informed her of my Dad’s accident.I told her it didn’t seem serious and we had a cup of tea before William and I left for my parents house🏡.When we arrived my mother was in the shower.My aunties Arylene and Cathy were in the kitchen with my uncle Joe and the kids.Everyone seemed calm and we were all laughing about how Mam was going to kill Dad when she got her hands on him.Joe got the kids ready to go out for the day and headed off.Mam came down the stairs with an overnight bag just incase they were going to keep Dad overnight.William and I were due to go back to Galway that evening so I said goodbye to my mam and aunties as they headed to the hospital.I told Mam to ring me to let me know how Dad was.We arranged for William and I to collect my younger sister Grace (11 years old at that time)from school and to look after her until Joe came home with the other kids from their day out.
At 2:30pm,a half hour before we were due to collect Grace from school a Garda car pulls into our driveway🚔.At first I wasn’t too worried.I answered the door smiling and they asked “Are you Michelle Leckey?”I replied that I am her daughter and that she had left to go to the hospital.The Garda said”Oh so you know about the road traffic accident this morning”.It was his tone of voice and facial expression that gave me a bad feeling in my gut so I asked him”Is my Dad ok?”He looked me straight in the eyes and said very seriously”Miss,I think you should get to the hospital right away”😯.I could feel my heart drop and I pleaded with the Garda to tell me what was going on but he kept repeating the words”You need to get to the hospital as soon as possible”😯.William was standing at the door beside me while this conversation was going on and he took over as I went into shock😵.
I told him that I couldn’t go back to Galway because this accident is more serious than we thought.I rang Lidl and explained to them the situation as I knew it.They were very understanding.William rang his boss to let her know also.I kept trying to ring my mother but I got no answer.I rang my aunties but again no answer.I started making arrangements to get to the hospital as soon as possible.I wasn’t sure what was for the best as I was now responsible for my 11 year old sister and as her guardian,her needs came before mine😦.At first I thought about picking her up from school and leaving her with my granny while we went to the hospital but then I thought if something was really wrong I should stay with her because without her parents she would need the comfort of the next best thing.I was conflicted though because what if Dad died and I wasn’t there to say goodbye but I decided my sister needed me more and truth be told I needed her too.
We collected Grace from school.She asked where Mam was as she was supposed to collect her from school.We told Grace calmly that Dad was in an accident but we made it seem non serious.Not long after Joe returned from his day out with the kids and I told him about the Garda visit.Thats when he told me.He said that morning the Garda rang him and spoke to him about the accident.Joe knew how bad it was but decided it was best to stay calm when telling my mother.I immediately wanted to get to the hospital but William managed to keep my head straight and reminded me Grace needed me here with her.
The hours went by but it felt like years until my the house phone rang☎.I answered and it was one of my aunty’s who explained how bad my Dad’s condition was.She told me that my Dad was going to be airlifted to University Hospital Galway as the best cardiologist was working there.Then she said the words that changed everything”Shauna,they don’t think he’ll make the journey to Galway.They are expecting him to be DOA”💔😭.I don’t remember hanging up the phone or much after that.A plan was made that they would come from Letterkenny hospital after Dad was on the helicopter and we would get some suitcases ready.William would drive myself,my mother and aunty Cathy to straight to the hospital in Galway and aunty Arylene would mind Grace.My mother made the decision that Grace should stay at home until we knew for sure what was happening.She didn’t want to scare or worry her.I felt it was the wrong decision but I supported her anyway.
In the car my mother explained that when she arrived at Letterkenny hospital the doctor told her the list of Dad’s known injuries.She went into shock but they let her see him.He was in surgery when she got there.By pure luck the world’s best heart surgeon was visiting Letterkenny.He was due to fly back to Australia but when Dad came in he stayed to take care of him.While being operated on my Dad went into cardiac arrest and my Mam was ushered away while they worked on Dad.She was sure we had lost him there and then but after what seemed like a lifetime they got him back.
They temporarily stabilised his heart and made the decision to airlift Dad to the hospital in Galway.They operated on his broken leg and stablised his broken pelvis.They gave my Mam my Dad’s possessions that he had come in with.As they wheeled my Dad to the helicopter he went into cardiac arrest for a second time.Again the doctors were able to revive him.The doctor accompanying Dad in the helicopter was a biker too and so was the pilot and they assured my mother that they would look after him.I asked my Mam how the accident happened but she said all she knew was that it was a boy racer that crashed into Dad👨🚘.
The journey to Galway from Donegal felt like the longest time ever🕰.When we arrived a nurse came to see us in the ICU waiting room.Dad has survived the journey and had been wheeled straight into theatre.The nurse called Niamh was lovely and became our beacon of hope against all the odds.Dad was in surgery for 8 hours and when they were done he was wheeled past us in a coma into the ICU ward.I never felt such relief.Soon after a doctor came to talk to us and to be honest I don’t even know how to begin to explain what he said but Niamh was there to explain in plain English.I simply asked”Is my Dad going to die?”and the doctor didn’t sugar coat it “I’m sorry but the extent of injuries your father has suffered,the odds of survival are not in his favour,the next 24 hours will be critical”.We were not given much hope.As the doctor left the room my mother broke down😭.I had never seen her cry in my 27 years.She was holding my Dad’s wedding ring and wailing”I can’t lose him”.I had to be the strong one at that point and I assured her that if anyone can beat the odds then its my dad.I asked should we tell Arylene to bring Grace to the hospital but Mam said to wait until the next 24 hours pass.
I don’t have much memory of the next few hours.In those first 24 hours after Dad’s heart operation in Galway he took another turn for the worst.His blood pressure dropped drastically and they had to operate on his heart for the 3rd time.The doctor and Niamh came to see us.He cleared the waiting room and put the blinds down.I thought this is it.Dad has died.He explained about the combination of an open book fracture of the pelvis,the tear in Dad’s heart,the broken leg,the four breaks in his spine and the bleeding on the brain made it difficult for them because once they operate on one area and fix it,it causes issues with the other injuries.I looked at him and I barely got the words out through my tears but I asked him”I have an 11 year old sister would you advise we bring her to the hospital to say goodbye?”.The doctor simply replied”Yes get her here as soon as possible”.I broke down for the first time and I couldn’t stop😭
It didn’t seem real.My heart broke but not for me.I was devastated for my little sister.How do you even begin to tell a child that she is going to lose her father?She was only 11 years old.I felt guilty.I had Dad in my life since I was toddler and until I was an adult but she needed him and he is her biological father.Mam and I were allowed to spend sometime with Dad before he went for surgery to say our goodbyes (just incase).The nurse asked us if we would like for him to be given the last rites and we said yes📿.My Dad is Protestant but the minister was away on holiday so they asked us if we minded if a Catholic priest gave him the last rites and my mother replied”It all goes to the one man as far as I am concerned”.It took an hour for the priest to get from Cong to the hospital.My mam and I couldn’t help but laugh that if Dad survived this when he came around we were going to mess with him and tell him we converted him 😂When the theater was prepped for Dad they came to get him.Before they wheeled him down I thanked him for being the best father a woman could have ever wished for,I begged him to fight to stay with us or at least hold on until Grace was here to say goodbye and I made a promise that if he made it through all this I would pay for him to go on holiday to Prague.I prayed to everyone I knew who were in heaven and to God himself.I made every promise under the sun.My aunty Cathy made the call to my aunty Arylene to bring Grace to the hospital as soon as possible.As soon as I saw Grace walk into the ICU waiting room I wrapped my arms around her.Soon after Grace arrived Niamh came into the waiting room and explained to Grace what was happening.
Niamh was a god send because neither myself nor my mother knew how we could break the news to my sister and we were in no fit state too.Niamh made us all feel like there was hope despite being told otherwise.She not only looked after my father but our whole family.She is the best nurse there is and you can tell she genuinely cares about the patients which put us at ease.We knew Dad was in good hands with Niamh.We spent the next few hours of Dad’s latest surgery drinking tea and praying.My aunties became the family spokespeople/secretary as the Garda rang with continuous updates on what happened.Niamh came running into the waiting room with a huge smile on her face,a thumbs up and shouted excitedly”He made it through the surgery”.We hugged each other with relief.Soon after Dad was wheeled past us and once he was settled we were allowed to go see him.
As he lay there I couldn’t help but cry😭.There wasn’t one part of him not covered with a cut,scrap,bruise or dirt from the road.My sister was so brave and strong.She didn’t cry.I don’t think she felt she could in front of my distraught mother.We weren’t sure what was the next step or what to do.All that matter was that he had made it through the critical 24 hour period.Just so you can get a clear picture of just how lucky my Dad is to be alive I will give you the final tally of his injuries:
-Bleeding on the brain
-Swollen and bloodshot eye from where his glasses broke
-Broken teeth and swollen lip
-Two fractures in his neck
-A broken shoulder
-Two broken vertebrae in his back
-Tear of the aeorta in the heart which had to have stent put in
-Broken wrist and thumb
-Open book fracture of the pelvis
-His leg was broken and shattered (he eventually had to have it amputated as too much damage was caused)
The doctors kept a diary which they wrote in everyday so that when Dad would eventually come around from the coma he could read it and know what exactly was going on.We wrote in it too.The doctors kept telling us that they couldn’t believe he made it through the surgeries.Our prayers were being heard.I can’t remember for exactly how long Dad was in a coma but when the doctors felt he was strong enough they started bringing him around slowly.We waited impatiently by his bedside for weeks until he finally opened his eyes.I’ll never forget the look of fear and confusion in his eyes when he came around.Niamh explained slowly that he had been in an accident and is hospital.She told him to try to remain calm and told him he will be ok.He looked at us with tears in our eyes and reassured him that it was tears of joy and not to worry.
Over the next few months Dad made tremendous strides😁😄😃.At the beginning when he was coming around he was on a high dosage of morphine for pain relief.We got great craic out of his hallucinations🤣.One minute he was commentating on the motorbike racing,then he thought he was back at work so he started bossing the nurses around and at one point he thought the nurses were strippers🤣.There was one bad halluncination he had though which was that he thought people were out to try kill our family but he couldn’t tell the Garda because there was a stash of cocaine belonging to him under his bed 😂My Dad is a barrister and the strongest thing he had ever taken non-medically was weed 😂When he was stronger and able to breath on his own properly they took out his ventilator.Hearing his voice after all those months was the greatest thing I have ever heard.Its what I imagine parents feel like when they hear their child’s first words.Eventually Dad was well enough to move from ICU into HDU 😊
In HDU he made more progress.He started talking more,eating and drinking small drops of water.Dad had been tube fed while in coma.Before the accident he was 22 stone (which the doctors reckon helped save his life)and he lost 7 stone while in Galway hospital.My mam felt comfortable enough to go home a few days a week to be with my sister who by now had gone back to school.I sat by my Dad’s bedside while she was gone but I struggled.I didn’t know what to say to make it better and thats all I wanted to do.At the same time the realisation hit me that my Dad as I knew him physically and somewhat mentally was gone.I had to mourn the person he used to be even though he was still alive which made me feel awkward.I hit a pit of depression like no other.William used to have to persuade or drag me to the hospital to see my Dad.I feel bad saying that but I didnt know how to be around this new version of my Dad and I just wanted my old Dad back.I eventually opened up to my mam and I went to my GP for help.She diagnosed me with anxiety and depression.I was prescribed medication and Lidl kindly paid for my councelling.
Once my medication and councelling began to make a difference I decided to try get back to some normalcy by going back to work a few hours a week.I can’t thank Lidl enough because they worked the roster around me so that I would work all mid day shifts so I could be at the hospital in the evenings with my father.It soon became clear though that I had gone back to work too soon.Dealing with work on top of my Dad’s accident and my crumbling relationship drove me to my limit.I had suicidal thoughts and had even planned to kill myself but my sister saved me.She was staying here in Galway one weekend visiting Dad in hospital.After seeing him in hospital late one night William and I took Grace back to the apartment for bedtime.I had decided that was the night I would do it.I felt so empty and alone.I just wanted the pain to stop.I climbed into bed beside my sister to say a final goodnight.As I lay beside her I told her how much I loved her and how much she mean’t to me.At 11 years old,with a sense of knowing and wisdom beyond her time,my sister wrapped her tiny arms around me and said”Shauna its going to be ok,I am here if you ever need to talk,we’ll get through anything aslong as we have each other”.Those words saved my life because for the first time in years I felt like I didn’t have to pretend I was strong,happy etc.I wiped the tears from my eyes and told Grace not to worry.I said goodnight and left her to read her book. (This part of the story explains the “By the GRACE of God”tattoo on my left arm)
After 6 months in University Hospital Galway my father was transferred to The Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast because they have the best orthopaedic doctors in Ireland and the UK.As they had to deal with the troubles of the religious war in Northern Ireland throughout the 70’s,80’s and 90’s they were more than qualified to deal with my Dad’s broken bones.All his broken bones were healing apart from his leg.I was glad that Dad was well enough to be transferred to Belfast as it meant another step closer to getting him home but I fell into a deep depression when my family left Galway.I hated not being able to go to the hospital everyday to check on Dad myself and anxiety consumed me as I feared I was too far away if something were to happen.I missed having my mam here supporting me too and I didn’t want to face being left alone with William again.
I went back to work full time to try get myself back to normal.I thought some rountine would help me.Just before Christmas we found out that my Dad’s broken leg would have to be amputated if there was ever going to be a chance of him walking again.Out of all that had happened,I struggled with this decision the most.Prehaps because I was in denial and had convinced myself that Dad would eventually come home completely back to his old self one day.As Mam told me the news over the phone while I was in the staff canteen I couldn’t control it.I broke down and cried asking”Why this is happening to my Dad?He had been through so much already(before his accident he had just overcome skin cancer and his father had died in May 2016)What had he done to deserve this”My mothers heart broke as she started crying too.When I got off the phone my manager Shaun done his best to comfort me and sent me home from work.
On the day of the amputation before his operation my Dad thanked us all for being with him.He didn’t need to thank us I told him as there is nowhere else we would be than by his side supporting him.I was a nervous wreck considering the previous surgeries he had been through.I was scared of how he would feel and react after losing his leg.Such a devastating and lifelasting reminder of the hell he had suffered.We knew it was for the best so he could learn to walk again but even with this amputation the doctors had told us there was a slim chance he would ever walk.We had faced these odds before when doctors told us he would die mutliple times.My Dad is determined to walk again and I know one day he will.The operation went well thankfully.When he came around we were allowed to go see him.I didn’t know where to look but my mam faced the issue head on.She looked at his leg which was amputated below the knee and touched it.I decided to be brave and told Dad”I’m just not ready to look yet” and he replied”I’m with you on that one” and we smiled at eachother.
When visiting time was over we went back to the house.William and I were leaving the next day as we both had to return to work.Dad was kind of dosing in and out all day.At first we paid no attention as we figured he was still coming round from his operation yesterday.I woke him up to say goodbye but he was barely conscious.I was reluctant to leave but the nurses assured us he was just getting over the surgery.We went back to Galway but I left feeling like something wasn’t right.The next day back in Galway I get a phonecall from my mother saying my father had took a turn for the worst during the night.He had some kind of infection but was not responding to any antibiotics.He was unconscious and his organs were starting to shut down.I was angry and knew I shouldn’t have left.I made plans to go to Belfast as soon as possible but Mam told me to wait 24 hours.I didn’t sleep at all.At death’s door once again,Dad was diagnosed with septicismia (no idea how to spell it) and they found a cocktail of antibiotics which finally began to work.My Dad says now that that was the only time he felt like giving up but mam wouldn’t let him thankfully.
Christmas was coming up and we were going to spend it in Belfast.Dad was now well enough after his amputation that he was transferred to Musgrave to begin his rehab a few weeks beforehand.We had an early Christmas dinner and opened presents at our house in Belfast but it sucked without Dad.We went into the hospital that evening to spend time with Dad and open presents with him.William and Mam went out for a cigarette and Grace headed off to the staff canteen to go say hello to one of the nurses she had become friendly with.Dad looked at me and asked”So how are you really doing?”and I told him that I was very unhappy especially in my relationship with William and that I wanted to end the relationship but was waiting for the right time.Strangely enough this was the first time I felt used to the new version of my Dad.A woman will always need her parents no matter what age.I told Dad that his accident showed me that life is too short for loveless relationships,toxic friendships,crappy jobs and I just wanted to be the best and happiest person I can be.
The doctors in Galway told us that Dad would be in hospital for 2 years from the point he came into them until he would be finished his rehab but again he defied all expectations,predictions and odds.10 and a half months on from that horrific day of August 17th 2016 my Dad was given the go ahead to come home 😁As of today he has continued his physio at home,at the gym and as an outpatient of the local hospital in Ballyshannon/Sligo.He is in a wheelchair but he can stand unaided for a few minutes and can take a few steps with crutches.This progress has meant that last week he was recommended for a prosthetic leg 😁If he is deemed eligble (which I have no doubt he will)it’ll be no time before he is walking.Of course we know he’ll never walk normally but aslong as he can make it around the house,around work and enough to be able to walk his daughter’s down the aisle one day then Dad is happy with that and so are we.
As to what actually caused the accident we found out after the Garda had completed their investigation.My father was stopped at a junction behind a people carrier/jeep on his motorbike on his way to work in Derry.A boy racer was speeding and lost control of his modified Audi.The people carrier saw the boy racer coming at top speed and made a quick right turn so my Dad had no chance.He didn’t see the boy racer in his Audi coming and he crashed into my Dad.The Garda estimated that the impact my Dad was hit at was 120mph.My Dad was found 75 feet away from his motorbike.Thank god my Dad always bought the best brands of biking gear which helped save his life.His motorbike was completely distroyed and his helmet was smashed to bits but done its job as despite suffering a bleed on the brain,he hasn’t been left with any permanent brain injuries.The accident was in no way my Dad’s fault and we want to get the word out as there is this stigma attached to motorcyclists that are involved in road traffic accidents that they are always blamed first.
Yesterday my parents met the two people who without a shadow of a doubt are the reason that my Dad is here today.Linda Callaghan was out walking her dog when she heard the crash.She was first on the scene.She opened my Dad’s helmet visor and kept him conscious by talking to him.She told another passerby that there is a paramedic living a few feet away and to go check if he was home.Linda dialled the ambulance,Garda and firebrigade.She held my Dad’s hand and noticed he was wearing a wedding ring so she asked if he was married and if he was able to give her his phone number to which my Dad replied”Yes my phone number is……and my wife is going to kill me 😂”.Typical Dad always making a joke.Knowing that there was a very real possibility that those could have been my Dad’s last moments I take some comfort in knowing he wouldn’t have died alone.Pat Carlin,the paramedic living close by,was on the scene soon after.He knew not to move Dad and kept Dad’s heart going until the ambulance arrived and took over.It was lucky Pat was around as he was actually not meant to be.He was running late for work that morning.Both Linda and Pat’s quick thinking actions are why our story turned out to be one of hope and survival against all the odds.I wish I could have been there to meet them myself yesterday but I am not well enough to travel yet but I hope to meet them before I go to Australia.Sometimes ordinary people come into our lives to do extraordinary things and our family can never find the right words to show just how grateful we are to both Linda Callaghan and Pat Carlin.
As for the boy racer who caused all this.Well I can’t say much as its a legal matter and the court case is ongoing but he deserves everything he gets.After the accident instead of helping my near dead father he found it more appropriate to put pictures on various social media of the scene of the accident but what disgusts me most is the picture he put up on social media of my father lying on the road being revived by the paramedics with a caption saying “Bad day for my new Audi” 😠😠😠We have learned that he was also uninsured and has since been in more road traffic accidents.He is going to kill someone driving and I just hope its himself.
Anyway I will leave you with a picture which fills my heart with joy.Its of my Dad meeting his saviours Linda Callaghan and Pat Carlin yesterday that my mam sent me 😁
Oh and by the way I kept my promise to send my Dad on holiday to Prague.My sister and I paid for flights and hotel for the parents to go to Prague on Valentine’s week as a Christmas present 😁
Positive vibes always,