Top Irish comic June Rodgers has revealed how she feared being left in a wheelchair when her pelvis disintegrated after a fall.
The entertainer, who appeared in Mrs Brown’s Boys, was unable to work for 18 months after the incident which initially damaged her shoulder.
Rodgers then resumed her career and appeared in the Christmas episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys last year, but she recalls that every day was still a physical, painful struggle.
“I knew that something felt terribly wrong down my right side, but I was told that it was just wear and tear,” June says.
“When I went to record the Mrs Brown’s TV special I actually couldn’t walk, I was waddling. I remember sitting in the airport crying, but I battled on.
“The pain was 15 out of 10. I was on medication, but it wasn’t relieving it. I couldn’t sleep and it was getting progressively worse.
“What I didn’t realise is that I was walking around with a time bomb inside me.”
It was Maurice Nelligan, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Dublin’s Beacon Clinic, who discovered the source of June’s excruciating pain and discomfort.
“I had been to other orthopaedic surgeons who said it was wear and tear, but as soon as Maurice Nelligan saw me he said, ‘I don’t like the look of this’, and he immediately investigated,” June says.
“He did an MRI scan and I was in serious trouble. He said, ‘Your hip bone is gone. Everything is gone, it’s actually collapsed.’”
There was a further shock in store for the comedy star when she was informed that there was a danger she could end up in a wheelchair.
“He said, ‘If you keep walking and it hits your spine you’re going to be in a wheelchair,” June reveals.
“It was terrifying to think that that could happen to me. What they think happened is that when I fell I cut off the blood supply down the right hand side of my body, and it wasn’t discovered. The hip bone died over a period of time. Then it crumbled away and basically collapsed.”
June needed an immediate operation to prevent catastrophic, life changing damage to her body. “It was carried out within a week and my whole hip was taken out and replaced,” she reveals.
“As soon as the hip was taken out the pain just disappeared. Now I would definitely recommend a hip replacement if anybody out there is in pain…go for it because it’s just amazing.”
The comedy queen took the year off to recover. “It took that bit longer to get the blood supply going again,” she explains.
“My husband has been great, and in times like that you know who your friends are. They would pop in to see me and I had people arriving at my door with food they’d baked specially for me.”
June finally got back on her feet and straight into work on her new Christmas show which is currently running at Taylor’s Tree Rock in Dublin’s Rathfarnham.
“I have no pain now, but I’m still doing hydrotherapy and physiotherapy to maintain myself during the show,” she says. “I turned 60 this year, so instead of a Ferrari I got a hip replacement. At least I’m still motoring.”
The performer, whose famous characters include Jacinta O’Brien, said she was deeply saddened by the recent death of legendary TV presenter Gay Byrne who launched her career.
“I was working in a factory and doing comedy on the side back in the ‘80s when Gay saw me in a talent contest,” June recalls.
“He obviously enjoyed my routine because the following week I got summoned to a phone call at the factory from the Late Late Show. It was one of the team telling me that Gay wanted me to come on that Friday night. Well, I nearly passed out.
“It was live television with no safety net…and it was the Late Late Show! I was so nervous that night, but Gay was reassuring and just so lovely to me. And literally overnight everybody knew me.
“Gay had me on so many times after that, and I remember when Tommy Tiernan made one of his first appearances on the Late Late he commented on it.
He said to Gay, ‘I’m delighted to be on the show, June Rodgers must be working.’ I thought that was gas.”
The June Rodgers Christmas Show runs at Taylors Three Rock, Rathfarnham, Dublin, until December 31.