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Thread: How After Three Years and 112 Operations She's Come to Terms with Her Appearance

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    Post How After Three Years and 112 Operations She's Come to Terms with Her Appearance

    On a March day in 2008, 24-year-old Katie Piper opened the door of her London flat, and stepped out on to the busy street. The horrifying attack that followed would change her life forever. Her spurned ex-boyfriend, marital arts expert Daniel Lynch, now 35, had arranged for Stefan Sylvestre, now 22, to throw acid in her face.

    Half-blinded, her beautiful features almost totally destroyed, it would have been easy for the bubbly model and TV presenter, now 28, to retreat from the world.
    But Katie fought back. With her assailants now serving life sentences for their crime, three years and more than 100 operations have given Katie her smile back. Last year, she was one of the finalists in the Mail’s Inspirational Women of the Year awards. Now, she reveals her diary of her painful road to recovery and how she’s putting the past behind her.

    CHRISTMAS 2007
    I was 24 and enjoying fun, carefree, days with my five flatmates in Golders Green, London. Every Christmas, before we all went our separate ways to our family homes (mine was Hampshire) for Christmas, we always organised a house ‘do’.

    This year, I posed for pictures next to our tree, decorated with baubles from Poundland. I was making a living doing various TV presenting and modelling jobs back then. Like all young girls, my looks were important to me and I loved dressing up, looking pretty and getting compliments.

    MAY 2008
    Less than six months later, so much had changed. After the attack and the pioneering surgery of Mr Mohammad Jawad and his team to rebuild my face, I spent seven weeks at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital before returning to my parents’ home. I didn’t know then that over the next three years I’d undergo a staggering 112 surgical procedures.
    My mum, dad, brother Paul and sister Suzy were my rocks, smothering me with love as they supported me each day through hours of painful physiotherapy. It was my psychologist who recommended I keep a picture diary to chart my progress through the months and years ahead. Maybe she hoped that by doing that, the improvements — however small — would spur me on.

    But in those days, all I could think was how lucky I was to even be alive. Friends and family were always reminding me it was early days, yet seeing myself in the mirror for the first time, with my nose and eyelids burned away, my chest and neck melted like candle wax, was the hardest to accept.
    CHRISTMAS 2008
    Just a year before, I’d worn the same top, even sat in the same pose for a Christmas photo, yet now, so much had changed. Over the course of that year, I’d dropped to a skeletal five-and-a-half stones. The acid that I’d swallowed during the attack had burnt my oesophagus, leaving me unable to swallow food.
    My hair started to fall out through malnutrition, my periods stopped and I was fitting into children’s clothes. I had to wear a special rigid plastic mask over my entire face 23 out of 24 hours a day to compress my skin and stop the developing scar tissue turning thick and lumpy.

    It was hot, sore and uncomfortable, but I put up with it, knowing it might one day give me some sense of normality back. The problems with my nose were really getting me down, though. It had all but melted away in the attack, and as my reconstructed nostrils healed, the forming scar tissue kept blocking my airways, and had to be cut away.


    Distressing as this all was, it was the hospital appointments that gave my days structure and purpose. I left home only for them or interviews with the police or lawyers, too terrified that my attackers — who’d been remanded in custody — might somehow wriggle free. My family helped keep me sane buying box sets of my favourite comedy DVDs. Despite the scars, I can see in this photograph how far I’d come, it’s nice to see I’m smiling.

    OCTOBER 2009
    This was the first photograph the world saw of me. I’d spent the past 18 months as this nameless, disfigured face, attracting awkward, snatched glances in hospital waiting rooms. But I wasn’t going to hide any more. By going public, I felt I was seizing control of what the world knew of me.

    I’d even agreed to take part in a TV documentary. I was still wearing the face mask night and day but had discovered an unexpected bonus in my recovery: my hair. It had grown back thick and glossy thanks to the high-calorie liquid nutrition I was being tube fed through my stomach to help me put on weight. Looking back though, my appearance was the least of my worries. I’d reconciled myself with what I saw in the mirror, I’d even learned to accept that my life was no longer about socialising and dating, such was my terror of leaving my home. But I knew it was time to take my life back — I just had no idea what I was going to do with it.


    CHRISTMAS 2009

    The response from the documentary was enormous and I started receiving messages of support from all over the world. One girl, a burns survivor, wrote to me enclosing a photograph, and when it fell out the envelope I had to do a double-take. She looked almost exactly like me. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone.

    I’d started to put on some weight too, and the texture of my skin was improving every day thanks to the pioneering treatment at a specialist rehabilitation clinic in France. Being there helped me enormously psychologically too. Meeting people like me, suddenly I was no longer embarrassed about my looks. I’d even been invited to present Channel 4’s alternative Christmas message. So much had changed from last Christmas.

    JULY 2010
    Another ‘first’ on my path to recovery: I got to wear earrings again for the first time in over two years, at the official launch night of my charity, the Katie Piper Foundation. Having lost half my left ear, I had no earlobe to which I could attach them. One of the stylists managed to rig up a clasp and hang it from the rim of my ear. The earrings were such a small touch but I can still remember how lovely it was to feel glamorous again that night.

    I’d been inspired to set up the charity by the treatment I’d had in France, and wanted to raise money to make it available to more people in Britain and run workshops on things like applying camouflage make-up. I also set up a forum where people like us could ‘meet’ and talk safely online. Loneliness and isolation is a huge problem for those with facial disfigurements and injuries.

    NOVEMBER 2010
    I was hugely honoured to be chosen as a finalist for last year’s Daily Mail Inspirational Women Awards in London. I took my mum along as my ‘date’ for the evening and she joked it made a nice change to be able to do something fun together: sipping champagne in a luxury hotel instead of helping me into my hospital gown.

    The texture of my skin was so much smoother, I no longer had to wear the mask and I could even eat solid food again. Permanent make-up tattooed on my eyebrows and lipline made me feel so much more confident about my face, but the real achievement that night was that I was no longer scared to step out of the door. It felt like I had my life back.
    MARCH 2011
    This month I finished making my second TV documentary, My Beautiful Friends, in which I meet other people learning to live with facial injuries and disfigurements. I was — and still am — a long way from finishing my own treatment; my eyes and nose were beginning to present further problems as the shrinking scar tissue pulled my skin down, requiring yet more skin grafts.
    Today, my face is made up of a patchwork of skin from all over my body, I find hairs sprouting in all sorts of strange places: eyebrow hairs in the middle of my forehead, and fine downy hair from my back on my cheeks. I don’t mind them, they remind me of how far I’ve come.
    SEPTEMBER 2011
    My first public appearance as a brunette (top picture). I’m no longer that ‘blonde girl who had acid thrown in her face’. I’m not the target of ‘white van’ men anymore. Once, I was climbing out a taxi when I heard that awful salutation: ‘Oi, Blondie!’ being shouted at me from a building site.

    When I turned round one of my ‘admirers’ cruelly commented: ‘God, that was a bit of a shock’. I had an armoury of comebacks at my disposal, but I was too shocked and hurt to use them. Now, when I look back at that blonde, 24-year-old in the first photograph, it feels like I am looking at an old friend, someone I once knew very well, but from whom I’ve moved on.

    Going brunette was a huge part of that moving on process, I am a completely different person now, both on the outside and inside. But my journey is still not over, I have more surgery planned; my next operation will be to rebuild the rims of my nostrils and give me a septum, using cartilage from my ears. It will be a long time before I’m finally free of the surgeon’s knife. But I have learned to love my face again, something I once thought impossible.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/ar...ace-again.html

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    Well I'm glad those barbaric apes are both doing 'life' in prison ... that should keep them off the streets for at least 6 years!

    As for this young lady, she's shown great courage to bounce back from her ordeal but why oh why did she go out with that nigger in the first place?

    I'm stopping short here of saying she deserved what she got (because nobody deserves that!) but if you go out with these simian scumbags there's always a risk, as she has now learned to her cost

    As for her attitude towards 'white van men' who she claims used to 'target' her with admiring comments, I don't think she should be so disparaging about White, working class males because she'd have been far better off with one of these than the appalling sub-human she saw fit to choose as her partner!

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    Three years and one-hundred-and-twelve operations later. At the risk of sounding irreverent, how much do we want to bet that a future boyfriend she might have could well be another 'ethnic other'?
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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