My Crowning Glory

Over the last few years I have seen a lot of articles on famous men having hair transplants, the first thing  I think is who cares, its none of anyone’s business then I think its terrible that this procedure is always being spoken about as a cosmetic procedure for vain old men.

As with most cosmetic procedures hair transplants can be used for reconstructive purposes, I have had both a hair transplant and eyebrow transplants and the results are miraculous, I cannot over emphasise the different these procedures have made to me. Of course people who have this done for reconstructive reasons, aren’t spoken about as it makes the procedure less glamourous and people prefer to think of it as purely a shallow cosmetic procedure, its easier that way.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t see the point in men having hair transplants as men go bald, its natural so why bother. I don’t see why men would be self conscious about it, its natural and a lot of men are very attractive bald plus lets face it men can look any way they want and it won’t really affect how they are treated by others or society unlike women. But thats just me, each to their own, I’m not a man so I can’t claim to know how they feel, whatever makes them happy. I know that in the tv/ movie world it makes a huge difference to the work you get. Also without the demand for this procedure for cosmetic purposes there would be no money to develop it and it would not be available for reconstructive purposes (there is no money in burns reconstruction).

I had a hair transplant done about 7 years ago in HRBR, Blackrock (before it was cool ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I had met the surgeon, Maurice Collins, years before that but put the operation off as I was in college and it is a very expensive procedure. Guess what, like the lazer, hair transplants are not covered by the health service or health insurance as it is a cosmetic procedure, even if used for reconstructive purposes (are you noticing a trend here?). I had an eyebrow transplant 2 years later. I did have to be talked into the eyebrows as I was bit worried about getting anything done to my face. You probably think look at you, what have I got to lose but its taken me 20 years to look like this so it is a big decision.

As the roof literally melted during my accident a lot of the flames fell on my head burning my scalp and face which meant I had no hairline, eyebrows and had patches of hair missing, not a good look. You cannot underestimate the effect having no hair or eyebrows has on a woman, a lot of cancer patients say that losing their hair is the most traumatic part of their illness.

The procedure itself is pretty amazing, in very basic terms they remove a strip of your scalp then harvest each tiny hair follicle and replant them one by one wherever the hair is needed (I wouldn’t have the patience). Its a bit more complicated than that but you get the gist. They also plan out the shape of your hairline or eyebrows so they match the shape of your face and look as natural as possible. I have had hundreds of operations so they don’t make me nervous the only thing that I was uncomfortable with is the fact that you are awake during the procedure, my worst nightmare is being awake or waking up during an operation. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I was able to watch a few movies to distract myself during the actual procedure, I think I watched Sex & the City during one of them, but I mainly just waffled away talking crap for hours, the poor nurses. The nurses and doctors are so nice and brilliant at their jobs, they really care about what they do. The hair transplants need to be kept wet for a few days, they fall out (a bit worrying when that happens but it’s normal) then they grow back.

The hair line was a very subtle difference but it took me a few weeks to get used to my eyebrows but I am obsessed with them now, I looked like I had 2 caterpillars on my face. You don’t realise the difference a hairline and eyebrows make to your face they totally shape all of your facial features. I get a lot less attention with them, people don’t notice me as much. I know some people would like more attention but for someone who wasn’t able to go out in public without being stared at for nearly 20 years this was huge!

I would advise anyone who is considering having a hair transplant (for reconstructive reasons actually screw it, even for cosmetic reasons) to definitely go for it, I have no regrets it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

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Lazer me Beautiful

I have just returned from a flying visit to London where I had lazer treatment. I flew over on Wednesday afternoon for treatment on Thursday then flew home on Friday morning. I usually spend a few days there but I am broke at the moment so felt that the less time I spend in London the less money I would spend ๐Ÿ™‚

I met Dr Tapan Patel, the owner of the PHI clinic on Harley Street, about 5 years ago at a Katie Piper Foundation event in London. He told me about a new lazer he had started using and asked if I wanted to try it as he thought it could really help my scars. I of course said yes definitely, thank you; I am willing to give any treatment a try and he seemed like a very nice, genuine person so I trusted him.

I have had lazer many, many times before in the hospital which treats the pigmentation / colour of the scars but this lazer is different it helps to improve the appearance, pliability and texture of the scars; burn scars shrink, they look bad and restrict movement.

I returned to London a few months later for a consultation with Dr Patel (who is so lovely); he told me he had started using the new Lumenis Ultra Pulse CO2 Lazer on burn scars and had seen great results in other patients. I have had hundreds of skin grafts and z plasties to release my skin and improve my range of movement and appearance; skin grafts especially are literally torture so any new treatment that could possibly have a similar effect was very exciting.

I had never heard of this lazer before as it was initially developedย for cosmetic purposes, to improve wrinkles, (the lazer for burns would be much stronger though) so is of course not available through the heath service and is not covered by health insurance. A lot of new treatments are not available as they are classed as cosmetic not reconstructive but they are actually both, depending on the patient, for example hair transplants, microdermabrasion & semi permanent tattooing. This is another topic that I could argue for days but basically a lot of cosmetic treatments can be used for reconstructive purposes but are not available to burns survivors due to the cost. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ It is only due to nice doctors like Dr Patel that very lucky patients get to avail of these amazing treatments!!

Now I will not lie this lazer is sore, my skin bleeds for a few minutes & is pretty much raw after treatment, it is more painful than other lazer treatments I have had because it goes deeper into the skin but it works so I don’t care about the pain. Basically the lazer breaks up the scars by making (burning) little holes in the skin which encourages the collagen production to heal these little holes leading to new skin. I am not a doctor so probably dont explain it very well. These holes are tiny, like millimetres, so the difference can be tiny but any improvement no matter how small makes a huge difference. I feel a difference straight away even during the treatment it is amazing. I have had a few treatments now, I can’t remember exactly how many, maybe 5 or 6 and I have noticed a huge difference in my face, neck, chest and arms. This lazer is amazing and Dr Patel said he will carry on as many treatments as I need (he is so nice) which may take a while!! The lazer is also meant to work wonders on acne scars.

My appointment on Thursday was at 10.30am, I left my hotel at 9:30 to look for a book shop, so I would have something to read during my appointment, then walked to the PHI Clinic on Harley Street, the clinic is gorgeous. The nurse, Jude (who is Irish so we automatically like her ๐Ÿ™‚ ) covered me in numbing cream and wrapped me up in cling film (not attractive) it takes about an hour for the cream to work so I had a chat with Jude, read my book and ate Malteesers. You really need this cream with the CO2 lazer believe me! Then Dr Patel’s colleague, Dr Benji Dhillon (who is also lovely) explained everything to me again and with Jude started the treatment. He lazered my face, neck, chest and arms while Jude used a machine to blow cold air on the treatment area to help the pain. For some reason it actually wasn’t as sore this time as it has been previously and only took about 30 minutes.

Afterwards I walked back to my hotel but I was still numb from the cream and full of beans from the adrenalin so I went for a walk around the shops for a few hours. After a while the cream started to wear off, ouch, ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and I felt exhausted so I went back to the hotel, ordered room service and slept until the next morning.
I am home now (2 days later) and am still a bit sore and red but I definitely notice a difference in the areas treated, they are much softer and looser something I could never have imagined a few years ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Amazing Seaweed

Any of my friends will tell you that I am constantly trying new alternative treatments (my Mam usually discovers them then talks me into it), whether it is a new cream, a healer, new laser etc. I’m willing to try anything once because there is only so much modern medicine can do!

Most of the treatments I try are new, modern (expensive) inventions or techniques but I tried a very old, traditional, relatively cheap one a few weeks ago. Myself and my Mam went to try out seaweed baths in Sligo, I did have a seaweed bath years ago but I can’t really remember it. I have always known that seaweed was meant to be good for your skin but the thought of sitting in a bath of seaweed didn’t really appeal to me but I thought why not?!

A few days later we got into the car and drove over to Strandhill (2 and a half hours away). When we got there my first question was do they get rid of the spiders in it and yes they do! ๐Ÿ™‚ We were brought to our own rooms where you spend 5 minutes in a steam shower to open up your pores then spend 45 minutes in the seaweed bath which is very slimy as a result of the gel from seaweed emits. Now i didn’t really enjoy the bath because sitting in seaweed is not my idea of a good time and I am not very good at relaxing but my mam said it was like ‘heaven’ (her words not mine) so it depends on the person. ๐Ÿ™‚

Seaweed is known to have amazing healing properties as it contains a huge amount of minerals especially Iodine. It helps to promote skin elasticity and intensely moisturises your skin and hair, encourages liver activity and increases your metabolism. It also helps your body to eliminate toxins and impurities. It is good for your thyroid, circulation, psoriasis, eczema, arthritis…… basically it is amazing.

I noticed an improvement in my skin straight away, burns lose elasticity so are very tight and can be dry because the pores are damaged so the body’s natural moisturiser and temperature regulation (sweat) don’t work properly but my skin felt softer straight away, instant relief really. When I woke up the next morning I noticed a huge difference, my skin was soft, supple and nowhere near as tight! I was in shock at how good my skin felt and looked ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I went straight online and ordered a seaweed face mask (which also works) and seaweed to use in the bath at home.

A few days later my skin was back to normal so I will be going back for more seaweed baths, if they were closer I would have one every weekend. You can also eat the seaweed but that is a bit much for me, my Mam says it is gorgeous if you want to try it though ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Anyway I would absolutely advise anyone who has any type of skin issue, or anyone who just wants to give themselves a bit of TLC, to try a seaweed bath you have nothing to lose.

Job Hunting & Interviews

If there is one thing that I have a lot of experience in it is looking for a job & doing job interviews!

I graduated in 2009, slap bang at the start of the recession (typical) :-(. It was difficult for anyone to get a job let alone someone with a disfigurement or disability. If anybody says or thinks that people with a disfigurement or disability are not discriminated against in the job market they are on a different planet. It does happen! It happened to me, not regularly but it did happen. The sad truth is you need to be 10 times better than a ‘normal’ person to be considered equal, especially at the start of your career.

Like a lot of other graduates I spent the first year after graduation on the dole and being knocked back over & over again. I had interned in Washington DC for a few months after completing my finals so that helped me in being selected for interviews. Getting past the interview stage was impossible though!

I won’t say that i was turned down for every role as a result of my scars, I’m sure there were better candidates & we were in the middle of a global recession!! I did have bad experiences though, interviewers sitting with mouths open when i walked in, 30 minute interviews lasting 5 minutes because the interviewer couldn’t concentrate on anything but my face.

Eventually I got lucky as I was given a contract, in the college where I completed my Law degree, as a Tutor for a few months which I really enjoyed (I wasn’t very good though). After that I was given a 3 month contract in Ryanair processing refunds (as a result of the volcano erupting in Iceland). I then ended up in the legal department of a Fund Administrator for 6 months (on Job Bridge before there was Job Bridge) & then a few months in the Department of Justice (again working for free). The market was so bad at the time that even getting someone to let me work for them for free was difficult ๐Ÿ˜‰

From there I got my first PAID role in Compliance in a Fund Administrator & since then i have had 7 contract in 7 different companies, the longest lasting for a year. This meant looking for a new job & doing a new round of interviews every 6 months (on average). I must’ve had close to a hundred interviews over the last 7 years, no exaggeration.ย I have been in my current role for 15 months & it is permanent so hopefully I won’t have to do any interviews for a long time!! ๐Ÿ™‚

It has gotten a lot easier over time due to me having a lot more experience & even though it might not seem like it there are a lot more jobs than there were 6 years ago, I received 3 job offers the last time I was looking!

A few interview tips I have come up with over the years are:

  • Body language – this is so important, if you act confidently and act like you deserve the role then the interviewer will too. Fake it until you make it as I always say.
  • Don’t be intimidated – the person interviewing you is just a person at the end of the day & they have probably had to do a lot of interviews too so will understand if you are nervous.
  • Eye Contact – this indicates that you are confident and are able to interact with people.
  • Listen to what the interviewer is saying. – No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t listen or can’t direction
  • Don’t memorise answers – I have always performed better in interviews where I was natural & thought about the answers I was giving.

A question I get asked a lot is whether i make an interviewer aware of my scars before an interview and the answer is no, i have never mentioned it, I don’t see why I should. If an interviewer isn’t professional enough to deal with it then I don’t want to work for them anyway. I also don’t mention my scars in an interview, I don’t see how it is relevant I am not interviewing to be a model. It is totally up to each person though, I can understand why some people would mention it.

The most important thing is don’t give up & apply for everything! It took me 5 and a half years and 10 contracts to get a permanent job but I got there eventually.

Look at me being all positive ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

My Very First Blog Post!!

I have been toying with the idea of setting up a Blog for years but never really felt it was a good idea until now. It always seemed like a lot of effort and it is opening yourself up to criticism from the big bad internet. Also what am I going to write about? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

My family and friends have been suggesting that I set up a blog for a long time because seemingly my rants can be funny and anyone who knows me knows that I can be opinionated. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am a big believer in always seeing the funny side of life even in the worst situations.

I plan to blog about anything and everything that Iย come across, being a 30-year-old in Ireland at the moment has its challenges, let alone being a disfigured women. I was in a house fire in France when i was 7 which resulted in 3rd degree burns to 70% of my face and body (not great) as a result I have experienced a lot of discrimination but have also had a lot of great experiences. I have had hundreds of operations, God knows how many, which are ongoing, my last operation was 3 and a half years ago. As new procedures and technology are developed I will hopefully have more treatment. Having burns is only a tiny portion of my life though, other people make it a much bigger issue out of it than it actually is. If other people were less bothered about it my life would be a lot easier. As I have heard many times it is society that disables a person and I can confirm that this is very true.

I was on the Ray D’arcy show on RTE1 last weekend with Tom Hickey (who also has a blog – Hickeys World) speaking about disfigurement and my experiences, since then a lot more people have suggested a blog so here I am. I have done quite a lot of media work in order to raise awareness of disfigurement and I have had experiences with the media that have not been very positive. The fact that everyone was so supportive and encouraging after this interview helped to give me the confidence to do it.

I studied Law & Business in college, then a Masters in Law, I also interned in Washington DC for a few months, but I am now working in compliance in financial services which is mental at the moment. I am very interested in equality and human rights so will probably write a bit about that too. Who knows?

I have a summer of weddings (I am a bridesmaid) and hen parties to look forward to, with a few babies thrown in (not my own), so that will be taking up most of my time and bank balance.

Dont expect anything amazing for the first while though as this is the first time I have ever blogged, hopefully I will improve over time ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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