'No one thinks it'll happen to them'


“Living with a serious injury is a daily struggle, and life will never be the same again,” a 25-year-old nurse whose spine was damaged in a road crash said yesterday.

Elaine Hanly from Roscommon was speaking at the launch of a Garda and Road Safety Authority Christmas and New Year safety campaign.

Ms Hanly described how injuries she sustained in an August 2011 crash have changed her life.

“Nobody ever thinks that they will be in a crash or that something serious could happen to them, but it can.”

Working in an elderly care home and living on the family farm, Ms Hanly said, “I enjoyed my work . . . all and all life was going great.”

Waking up in the Mater after the crash, she said, “I was in such pain, the implications and permanency of my injuries did not register.”


A spinal injury has left her paralysed from the chest down. “The turnaround from being a nurse to a very dependent patient, literally overnight, I found very hard to accept.

“The most difficult thing I found was the helplessness. Having to swallow my pride and accept help for basic tasks was just awful.”

This year she learned to drive a modified car. “Learning ways to do daily tasks like making dinner gives me great satisfaction.”

She recently returned to work in administration, and is hoping to study further. “I really, really miss the physical hands-on side of nursing, but I’m still grateful to be back in any capacity.”

With some of the restaurants, pubs and shops she used to go to now inaccessible to her, she says: “It’s horrible having to forfeit some of my favourite places because they no longer suit me. But that’s my life now.

“I’d just like to ask everyone to please be careful out on the road – we are so fragile and no one thinks it can happen to them. But it can.”