I couldn’t bear to look AT MYSELF

For Brittney Sullivan, 32, the decision to curl her hair had devastating consequences

PIC FROM https://www.thesun.co.uk

Scrutinising my reflection in the mirror, I pick up my foundation and begin applying a thick layer on my face. It’s hard not to get upset when I see my disfigured left eye, uneven skin tone and cheek smothered in scars. But as I desperately try to cover up everything with make-up, I remind myself that things could have been so much worse.

o much worse. I’d always been image conscious, styling my long, dark hair and wearing make-up every day. When I met David, then 22, in June 2004, he always commented on how beautiful I looked. We married in June 2007 and our daughter, Makennah, was born in 2008, followed by little Presley in 2012. But shortly after, I was blow-drying my hair one morning when I collapsed and blacked out. Luckily, David was in the room and called an ambulance. At hospital, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. It was caused by a small lesion on my brain, and although doctors couldn’t explain why it had happened, I’d be on medication for the rest of my life
Over the years, I had a few more seizures – but, thankfully, nothing too serious, and in May 2016, my son James was born. After a few months off for maternity leave, I was ready to return to my job as an estate agent. By now, the girls were at school and James was at day care.
It was tough, juggling everything, and every morning would be busy as I tried to get myself and the kids dressed and ready.

On 19 January 2018, it was no different. David had already left for his job as a prison officer, and James, then 20 months, was still asleep. I’d just finished getting the girls ready, and while they were eating their cereal and watching cartoons, I took the opportunity to go and quickly get myself sorted.
PIC FROM https://www.thesun.co.uk
stood in front of the bathroom mirror, switched on my curling tongs and parted my hair into sections. That’s all I remember – because the next thing, I was waking up in a hospital bed disorientated and in agony. Next to me was my mum, Angie, 53, looking desperately worried. My left eye was sore and felt uncomfortable, but Mum stopped me from touching it. ‘You’ve suffered a nasty burn,’ she said. I was struggling to comprehend the words she was saying but, still groggy, I managed to ask for a mirror. When Mum reluctantly held it up for me, I gasped in horror. It looked like my left eye and half my cheek had melted away, leaving a raw, terrifying mess. I could still see out of my eye, but it was barely open. I wanted to scream, but no sound would come out.
‘It’s OK,’ Mum said, trying to keep me calm. But I was so confused, it all felt so unreal. I tried to steady my breathing, but I was still unaware of exactly how I’d got there. Mum explained I’d collapsed at home. ‘David is with the kids but they are all so worried about you,’ Mum explained to me, taking my hand.

Feeling terrified

I’d been in hospital for a couple of hours by then – and, drowsy and disorientated, I couldn’t take in any more information. When I was discharged a few hours later, my eye covered up, I went straight home. I was still in shock, but other than giving me painkillers, there was nothing more the doctors could do for me at that time. I was terrified about how David and the kids would react to my burns, though. Sitting on the sofa, Makennah and Presley beside me, I cried when they both reached for my hands. ‘We still love you, Mummy,’ said Makennah. But I didn’t
smooth skin and an open eye, there were unsightly stitches and raw patches. No matter how much I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad, every time I looked in the mirror, I just wanted to smash it with frustration. Over the next three months, the skin graft didn’t heal properly – and in April, an expander was fitted into my left jaw. Doctors hoped stretching the skin would help, and as they inserted a balloon-like contraption into the side of my face, I dreaded the months that lay ahead.
Every week, Mum used a syringe to add fluid to the balloon, through a port behind my ear, in order to expand it a little. The first time, it hurt, but the pain soon subsided, although I could still feel the bizarre sensation of the liquid going in.

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