By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN was left with her lip hanging off and her nose sliced in two after a dog attacked her at a barbecue.
Network marketer, Amber Esala (26) who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, had a full day of celebrations planned for her favourite holiday, Independence Day, on July 4 of this year.
With her boyfriend, Kyle (24) and daughter, Raelynn (11 months), Amber had decorated her house and driveway especially for the occasion and they enjoyed a celebratory barbeque in their garden that afternoon.
Later that evening they were sitting in the garden with their neighbours, who were dog sitting a German Shepherd for the evening, when all of a sudden fireworks being set off in the distance spooked the dog and it attacked Amber’s face.
The shock attack left Amber’s upper lip hanging off and her nose sliced through. She was rushed to hospital by ambulance and spent 10 hours in A&E whilst she waited for her face to be stitched up.
When Amber was discharged from hospital the next day, she was worried that Raelynn, who was asleep when the attack happened, would be frightened of her due to her injuries. As soon as Amber arrived home, Raelynn embraced her, and Amber’s doubts disappeared.
Now over a month since the accident, Amber suffers from night terrors and sometimes feels sad when she looks in the mirror. Although she finds it difficult to smile due to the loss of sensation in her face, Amber is determined to not let herself be defined by her scars and is instead embracing them as a sign of being a warrior.
“My friend and I were sitting on the ground with a German Shepherd that our neighbours happened to be watching for the night. This particular dog seemed nice yet a little frightened due to the fireworks being set off,” said Amber.
“I remember it being quiet and then we heard a loud boom of fireworks down the street. The last image I had was staring at this dog face to face. I remember the dog’s eyes locking with mine before it attacked me.
“I came back to reality when I got up and the blood came pouring down. I was so confused and all I could remember was saying: ‘My face, my face is messed up.’
“They rushed me to the first hospital. It was question after question and all I could think about was my little girl sound asleep in her bed. The thought of her having to wake up without her mum really terrified me.
“I then thought about what my face actually looked like because I could feel everything. It wasn’t until I was sent to the second hospital where they actually gave me some medicine to numb it.
“Half of my lip was hanging off and my nose was sliced all the way through. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
“The surgeon did an amazing job, he talked me through everything and I remember him saying: ‘I’m treating this as if this were my wife and I would want the best possible care’. It was very comforting knowing that he was taking this ever so seriously.
“It took the whole night and we got to go home the next morning around 9:00 AM. I had to get a rabies shot because I wasn’t sure if the dog had been given a rabies vaccine.
“As I walked out of the hospital all I could do was cover my face. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I was scared. The number one thing I thought about was going home to my daughter and her being scared of what she could see.
“As we returned home it was the first time that I had seen my daughter since the accident and she scrunched her little nose and gave me a big hug.
“What I loved most is the fact that everybody around me had this sadness in their eyes and they were hurting for me. However, my daughter looked at me like I was her biggest superhero.
“Seeing my daughter made me want to be strong for her.
“It’s been almost a month post-accident and my healing has come a very long way. As for me I have a while to go, I still am sad when I look in the mirror.
“It still is hard for me to smile in photos or even take photos. I still haven’t been to a dog park. I still go through pretty bad night terrors. However, I’ve been taking amazing care of myself. I have the best skincare routine for my scaring followed by a lot of self-care physically and mentally.
“It’s still hard to get used to the numbness in my face. I have bad dry eye and I can’t smell the best. I’m hoping that with time those senses come back.”
The state where Amber lives has a two-bite rule when it comes to dog attacks and the dog who attacked her is now taking obedience classes – remarkably Amber doesn’t blame anyone for her accident.
Sharing her story on Instagram has been incredibly therapeutic as she has been able to help others.
“I love reaching out and helping people,” she said.
“I love seeing my story make a difference. Opening up and being vulnerable on social media has helped me emotionally in so many ways.
“It is such a healing experience. I have many people who are truly moved by my journey and I want to continue to change lives and create awareness.
“There was no one at fault, it was a lapse in judgment. At the end of the day we as people let our guards down too easily and that is something that we need to realise; animals are animals they have animal instincts and if they’re scared or frightened they can attack.
“We need to be more cautious when around all animals even if we think we know them.
“I am thankful for a lot of things because as bad as it was, it could have been a lot worse. I am more thankful that my little girl wasn’t around, nor did she see anything happen. This could’ve easily have been her a couple hours prior.
“Just know that if you’re ever going through a difficult time that has altered your appearance in some way be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel all of the emotions. Your scars are beautiful, and they show a true warrior.
“Take time and learn to love yourself and embrace the body that you have. If you are going through a difficult time talk about it.
“There is someone out there to listen. We may not understand the obstacles that we’ve been given, but we do have a choice on which path we take.
“Embrace the journey you’ve been given.”