I wake with my head heavily bandaged. My fingers carefully explore the extent of the dressing.
My lungs fill with air, and I exhale.
It is done, I am different now.
My skin chills as I slip from the comfort of the warm sheets.
I need to find a mirror.
What do I look like?
I undress my bandages carefully. I see myself for the first time, the reality slowly absorbs me.
Life will never be the same….
Disfigurement is not an easy subject to quantify. We all look different, some people look more different than others. Some are born different, some are changed by circumstance, some are changed by their own free will.
I never grew up being “different” I was a “normal” kid whose only conflict with image was teenage spots and do I look stupid with a 90’s pony tail. I have always been healthy, never been ill, unbreakable.
Apparently not that unbreakable.
I HAD CANCER IN MY 30’s
My surgery saved my life, and changed it.
I had time to plan for this day. Many do not. To be totally disfigured is a huge emotional, psychological, physical thing. I chose this for myself It was a simple decision because the alternative was not an option.
I chose disfigurement and in doing so accepted every operation that was to come which added scars to my face and body.
I WEAR THE MASK, IT DOES NOT WEAR ME.
Here is the brutal truth, living with an acquired disfigurement is tough. It affects people in many different ways. For me I accepted it, for me it was a choice I never had, I was helpless to prevent the alternative and so the only way forward was to accept everything that happened after.
I have had so many problems caused by radiotherapy well after the treatments ended.. the ongoing problems caused by radiotherapy caused reconstruction to fail, all that good work undone. But again you have no choice, you keep going.
I have to face the world with a new face now, but I am still me. I am facially disfigured but that’s okay. The emotional journey of possible death, and knowing people will never see you in the same way is tough.
I wear an eye patch. It serves me well. It covers up most of my disfigurement, whilst making me look interesting…. but the “arrgh” and “pirate” references wear thin
I decided to wear an eyepatch. An eyepatch for me gave me the confidence to face people without questions, but I don’t hide behind it, I smile all the time, I wear the mask, it does not wear me.
I am not alone. I have found so many friends through sharing my story.
The media helps so much, as the media is a consistent source of information.
I write these short stories as messages to people without a voice, for people who have no idea how to comprehend themselves with a different face.
Life is there to be lived, however you feel about your appearance.
Share my story, it will help others, raise awareness of facial difference.
Love to all,