Monday, 12 November 2012

NoBloPoMo #9 My Face

A couple days ago, I mentioned that I had a "beauty secret" that I do not talk about very often, and is the reason I look about 15 years younger than I do, have incredible skin, and never had acne as a teen. I always feel awkward when people ask me for my "secret" like it is something that I am putting on my skin or such, that they can copy. Unfortunately, it is not.

When I was 22 months old, I was run over by a car. Among the injuries was a broken hip, broken shoulder, and skull trauma (which I will discuss in post #10).  My face was also severely injured, to the point that most of the skin was torn off (I was run over face down in a gravel driveway). I ended up having extensive plastic surgery to my face to repair it. The first surgery had 5 plastic surgeons operating for 24 hours, and I had several follow up surgeries after that. They did  skin grafting on me, using my back and thighs to replace the skin on my face. The grids from the skin grafting on my thighs and back were visible until I was about 10. (I think modern skin grafting does not leave as severe scaring, but this was back in 1968, when some techniques for plastic surgery were still pretty new).

I have occasionally wondered what I might have looked like had I not had an "extreme makeover" at such a young age. My baby pictures from before and after the accident are quite different (ie the shape of my nose and chin is changed, and my hair grew back a reddish brunette, where I had been strawberry blonde before the accident).

Knowing that my face is not what I was born with gave me a huge complex growing up. For years, especially as a teen, I could not accept compliments on my looks. I felt like it was a lie to tell me I was pretty, because I did not feel like it was really me they were looking at, but rather the shell that had been artificially created for me. I know this sounds odd, but it was something I struggled with for many years, and I think is part of what lead to my issues with weight as well.

Besides the skin aspect, the car accident did end up being one of those life-changing events for our family. It was my father's boss who had run over me, and out of guilt and responsibility, he promoted my father well beyond his qualifications, moved us from the shack we were living in, to the house he had just moved out of (he had just build his family a new home), and covered all the medical bills. It was a step up to a better standard of living that my family was able to then maintain well after the accident. Sometimes benefits can come from even tragic incidents.

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