This young woman opened her purse to give some coins to a vagrant. A month later, she couldn’t recognize herself in the mirror.

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It was just a normal mirror but as I reached for it, my hand trembled. ‘Take your time, Katie,’ my psychologist Lisa said gently. ‘Look at your chest first, then work your way up slowly.’

But I didn’t do things by halves. I mean, how different could my face be? It might be red and scarred, but it would still look like me, right?

Taking a deep breath, I held it up to my face. That little mirror was a window into hell.

My skin was red raw. My eyelids were puffy and underneath, my eyeballs protruded like cartoonish globes.

My left eyeball looked milky and opaque. My lips were swollen like sausages and my eyelashes and eyebrows gone.

My nose was a shrivelled mound. My cheeks had sunk into my skull. My face had melted into my neck like candle wax.

I wasn’t a model and TV presenter any longer. How could I be, looking like that? ‘No,’ I whimpered, my chest heaving with sobs. No tears came: my ravaged eyes couldn’t even cry.

‘What have you done to me?’ I wailed inside. ‘Where’s my face? Get it out of the bin and give it to me right now. I’ll fix it myself.’

‘It’s early days, love,’ Dad said soothingly. ‘You won’t look like this for ever,’ Lisa added. But all I could hear was the thump of my heart and the whoosh of blood in my head; their voices sounded far away.

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Even though I sat there in silence, in my mind I screamed for my beautiful, stolen face  –  gone for ever.

 

 

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