Documentary on One: The Comeback Kid, 2.00pm, RTÉ Radio 1
At 1.45am on October 16th, 2005, seventeen-year-old Shane Mullins left the local pub in Abbeyknockmoy, Co. Galway with one of his friends. They had both been drinking since seven o’clock the previous evening. Shane climbed into the driver’s seat of his car and set off towards home in Monivea.
He lost control of the car not far from the pub. When it hit a ditch and rolled into a field, Shane’s head came into violent contact with a concrete pillar. As his friend climbed unscathed from the wreck to raise the alarm, Shane fell into a coma.
Rushed to hospital in Galway, Shane’s friends and family were told to prepare for the worst. “My family were asked would they donate my organs,” says Shane. “Thankfully, they didn’t. The organs have come in handy over the last few years.”
He spent three months in hospital and three more in the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire. He is now blind in one eye, has limited co-ordination, reduced mobility and suffers from many of the cognitive impairments that go with brain injury. Despite these obstacles, Shane is touring the country, talking in schools and colleges about his experiences since that night.
He has developed a self-help programme, which he calls D’MESS, designed to help young people face and fight their own demons. Each letter stands for a word – Determination, Motivation, Emotional, Support and Social life. In his talks, Shane discusses each heading in turn, explaining how he used his system to bring himself back from depression and alcohol dependency.
In his fight to regain his independence, Shane faces each new obstacle with humour and honesty. His problems with balance frequently lead to confrontations with the law. “I’ve been pulled over about eight hundred times.” He says. “It’s people in shops reporting me, or other drivers. They see me wobbling into the car, obviously, they think I’ve been drinking…”
In this documentary, we follow Shane as he works to turn the self-help system he has developed into a business. He also takes a personal journey back through what happened to him seven years ago. For the first time, he talks to those who were there that night, together with the medical professionals who contributed to his recovery. He returns to the scene of the accident to confront the reality of what happened to him, to accept it and move on with his life. Produced and narrated by John Hearne.