“One evening in November 2015, while out with some friends, I slipped and fell over a step in one of the most beautiful colleges in Oxford. Within 48 hours of this fall, I was lying unconscious, fighting for my life in a hospital bed. I spent time in a coma suffering from sepsis, followed by weeks in the ICU, and months of hospital recovery. What started as an insignificant graze, resulted in me losing 70% of the soft tissue from my lower leg, due to an infection called necrotising fasciitis, caused by a flesh-eating bacteria. I underwent extensive reconstructive surgery and skin grafts in an attempt to save my limb.
Most of the issues I’ve had with the scarring itself originate from a worry of how others might see it, and what they might think. When I had healed enough to start showing my scar, the staring and gawping from strangers on the street would often be too much. There was a time when I felt entirely hopeless, scared to wear a dress because of what total strangers might think. A big change to your body is difficult to cope with, and trying to overcome this alongside my ongoing physical recovery, processing what had happened to me, the stresses of University, and the ups
and downs of everyday life was, and still can be, a huge challenge.
Today I’d like to believe that I’m finally starting to ‘own’ my scar, but I’d be lying if I said I never struggle with it. There are days when I sit on the bathroom floor and cry my eyes out, but there are days when I can walk down the street in a super short skirt and not give a damn who looks at my leg.
My friends often comment on how strong I’ve been regarding the whole situation and I never know quite how to reply. I definitely aim to create this perfect illusion around my life that I never let anything phase me, and although it’s true for the most part, and I don’t really sweat the little things that much, there are always bad days. There are days when I don’t want to leave the house, that I can’t face the looks and the stares and the comments. I get scared that people will struggle to love me because of my leg, or struggle to find me attractive because of it. I have days when I can’t understand how and why it all happened. But those are just bad days.
All I can take from this experience is that I am incredibly lucky. I am acutely aware that things could have turned out so differently, and so much worse. It’s become very difficult to complain about things, about the state of my life, about my condition, because I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve never been able to shake this feeling. Instead of thinking why this awful thing had happened to me, it dawned on me how fortunate I really am. Why did I get to keep my leg, my life, when so many others suffering from similar infections do not?
My scar is me. It tells my story and reminds me of how fortunate I’ve been in my life and how strong and fierce I can be. I look at my leg and find it impossible to hate it. To me, it’s a symbol of all the strength and positivity that I had to find inside me when times were a lot more bleak, and my thoughts a lot more dark. It serves as a reminder that I can overcome anything, and that even when things seem rough, we are always much tougher than we think we are.”