How stair gates helped tell my skin story

The following skin story is by Robin

My skin story: How life’s many misadventures taught me about the resilience and power of our skin.

When people talk about our organs, they often focus on the ones that you can’t see. Newspapers and magazines may feature articles on how to keep your heart healthy, what foods are good for your gut or how doing certain tasks can boost your brainpower, but not many talk about the organ that is visible to everyone. The skin is the largest organ we have, and it is incredibly enduring, which I have discovered after several of life’s minor mishaps and accidents.

I was eight when I ran across the playground and went skidding across the floor on my knees. Bloodied and bruised, a dinner lady saw me and insisted that a large dark mark in one of the wounds was dirt that would wash away. Later that evening I discovered a sharp shard of tarmac had in-fact made its home in my skin, and I am left with a scar today as a reminder.

Some years later on the morning of an A-Level exam I had thoroughly, and admittedly excitedly studied for, I fell down a flight of stairs and smashed a small metal stairgate placed there because of a young puppy, to pieces. A section of the stairgate entered and exited part of my thigh in a swift movement, so quickly I didn’t even notice until I saw my torn jeans and the severity of the wound beneath. I was whisked to hospital for anaesthetic and stitches, and while I was able to sit the exam some months later, a decade on the jagged scar remains like an odd souvenir.

I don’t begrudge a single mark, scar or freckle on my skin. Every one of them has its own piece of history, a funny remark or an incident that makes some people gasp and some people lean in closer to hear the grisly details. My skin has done its best to protect me, it has healed as well as it can and has seen good days and bad. It renews every 28 days to keep itself revitalised and prepared for the next fall, cut or scrape and I am thankful for how hard it works.

People talk about the skin in a far more negative light than it deserves. Adverts play morning and night promising ‘younger,’ ‘more vibrant’ skin and the models used appear to have been peeled fresh out of plastic doll packaging. We strive to erase the lines that grow on us with age, the stretch marks that creep up with changes to our bodies and everything in between. I don’t object to someone wanting cosmetic procedures such as Botox to alter their skin, or tattoos to cover theirs in decoration, after all it is important that we are happy in our skin as it stays with us for the rest of our lives.

I’m happy however with leaving mine alone for the most-part. I try to stay out of the sun and look after my skin by drinking plenty of water. It’s the least I can do after everything I have put my skin through so far. It will see many more changes as life goes on, and whether that’s a couple of lines gained from years of smiling and laughter or heaven-forbid one or two more scars, at least I will be able to look at it and know I have a story to tell.    

Robin

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