For those of you who think you don’t know what “Level One Trauma” is, you do. It’s what medical TV shows are made of. If there’s a screeching ambulance pulling up to the hospital, five paramedics holding I.V. bags and shouting things, an Emergency Room full of George Clooneys and McDreamys waiting to crack a chest or drill a hole in someone’s head, and then about ten more outrageously attractive doctors running after the stretcher toward the operating room, it’s a Level One Trauma. While these procedural TV shows—E.R., Grey’s Anatomy, and even my personal favorite, Emily Owens, M.D.(so bummed it got cancelled, especially after she finally got the guy)—tend to have a disproportionately large volume of Level One Traumas compared to the average medical center, it is not uncommon.
Laura Sharpe is the survivor of the kind of helicopter crash that you see in an action movie. The three other passengers died instantly. Laura’s life immediately changed from one of dealing with the everyday challenges of being a dedicated wife and mother, to a four-year struggle of overcoming pain and learning to walk again. When I met her a few months ago, she seemed like just another attractive woman who takes care of her figure, and wants a little body contouring in her middle age. Then when she got undressed, I saw a road map of scars on her torso and legs that I haven’t seen since back in my general surgery days.
The scars caused indentations and bulges on her back and abdomen, “pincushioning” pockets of fat where there shouldn’t have been any. Plus she had the usual accumulation of “muffin top” that we all start to see in our forties, no matter how much we work out. She was a great candidate for a lipo–once the pockets of fat were gone, she had the body of a fitness model again. I was glad that she was so thrilled with her results, but I found it interesting that after all of the previous reconstructive procedures she’d had to rebuild her face and body, she was especially excited about this one.
Please know that I am ABSOLUTELY NOT advocating liposuction as part of Level One Trauma post-op treatment, but Laura really wanted to write a guest blog to share her experience so here it is in her own words:
I am Laura Sharpe, a Level One Trauma survivor. A grateful Level One Trauma survivor.
At almost the 5 year mark after the 2008 helicopter crash and following….
43 fractures, 40% of my lower body burned, major bone infection with partial amputation, major brain trauma injury, approximately 50+ surgeries and doctors, 40 – 60 hour medical work weeks for 2 1/2+ years, 100 lb. weight swing , 6 day physical therapy work weeks….
Level One Trauma is sudden, it happens in an instant, it’s unexpected and it’s devastating.
Level One Trauma is physical, life threatening trauma that requires immediate medical attention within one hour to save your life. It most often involves disfigurement, disability and the need to re-invent one’s self, as one’s life is never the same as it once was.
This recovery requires a methodical medical sequence of approach and a long, long time.
After the rehabilitation had been completed–the surgeries, weight gain issues, physical therapy and retraining of the body and mind—I was still left with a severely disfigured version of my former self. My abdomen and back were lumpy, due to the dramatic scarring from all of my surgeries. My asymmetric quasi-moto body was a constant reminder of the nightmare I had endured. Yes, I was a survivor. And I am grateful for that. But still…
No matter how hard I tried and how much physical training and body therapy, I could not achieve a balanced look to my body.
Six weeks ago…I made a decision to have a sculpting surgery called liposuction to assist in my process. This is not something I would have ever before in my life considered doing.
After much research into liposuction, what it is and who I would entrust to do this body sculpting surgery…enter Dr. Suzanne Trott.
As founder of Artists For Trauma…where “Recovery is an Art,” I recognize the artist in Dr. Trott .
With her detailed artistic eye, laser-like focus, and an astute understanding of the human anatomy and its system functionality, she draws her approach beforehand to surgically sculpt the body much like a sculptor sculpts marble, bronze and clay.
With all this said, Dr. Trott removed fat cells from remaining stagnant traumatized areas of my body. All of a sudden I can see the results of these past years of physical therapy because Dr. Trott removed the remaining surface fat.
And yet it was determined that all of the accumulated removed fat cells added up to only two pounds!
I was astounded!
Who knew what two pounds could do! Wow!
I feel wonderful. The liposuction sculpting process is a powerful healing and artistic surgical tool in helping an individual recovering from disfigurement to reconnect with their body’s physical appearance in a more positive way.
And this re-connection and new acceptance a person may gain is so positive and empowering in the process of healing one’s self-perception.
All because of removing a couple of pounds of fat.
Who knew? … What two pounds could do!
So basically the liposuction had uncovered the body she’d been working so hard to get back. Not even years of physical therapy, weights and cardio could spot reduce what she was trying to get rid of. I don’t think you have to be a Level One Trauma Survivor to understand that .
Post-op she put on our new Lipo Queen™ Shape Wear garment, looked in the mirror and said, “I’m the sexiest disfigured woman on the planet.” It’s true—she looked like a lingerie model.
Laura is the founder of Artists for Trauma, an organization that helps trauma survivors through the recovery process by pairing them up with artists in the medium of their choice. This is not just another sexy Hollywood charity where you’re like, “exactly where is the money going here…?’” The most difficult recovery for the trauma patient isn’t necessarily healing the external wounds, or learning to use a prosthesis or a wheelchair or a permanent bladder catheter. It’s the internal healing, coming to terms with the fact you now have a prosthesis, or a scar, or only five fingers to get a manicure on…that this is how life is going to be, and you need to somehow accept it, and make it work. And that’s where the artists come in. For instance, one of the AFT team members is teaching pottery and sculpting to a blind woman.
I am not writing this as a physician talking about patients(i.e.–”other people”), but as a human being who feels as vulnerable to the sudden devastating effects of a trauma as the next person. I do not feel “exempt”, just “aware.” I’m not a skier and I don’t get in two-seater planes, and I have no plans to sky-dive any time soon, but I do get on the 405 freeway almost every day. Enough said. You get it.
Lipo Queen™ is a proud sponsor of Artists for Trauma, as a portion of our proceeds from our “Lipo Queen™ Shape Wear garments are being donated to AFT.
AFT is open to assisting both civilians and injured soldiers. So if you know anyone who might benefit from this fantastic organization that Laura Sharpe runs with genuine heart and passion, check it out at artistsfortrauma.org. They are also planning some cool charity events, including a fashion show this Spring that I hear will be featuring our Lipo Queen™ garment.