DINWIDDIE, Va. – One year has passed since a farming accident tore Katy Daniel’s scalp from her head.
She underwent seven surgeries at VCU Medical Center in the 57 days that she was there, after her ponytail became snagged in a piece of equipment.
The past year she has been #KatyStrong – a hashtag started for her – as she tread the long road to recovery, part of which has been becoming comfortable with revealing her scars.
"I don't care, I've gotten to the point now, I don't, it don't bother me,” Katy said.
Her journey of recovery is far from over.
"Before I can move on to anything else, I've got to be comfortable in my own skin,” she said.
Traveling the healing is made easier on horseback, a place where she feels “at ease and nothing else matters."
But the course Katy is on now is much different than one year ago.
"I take things slow now, my life I've slowed down, live it day by day, cause anything can happen, you just don't know,” she said. “And I know that now."
A medical helicopter was dispatched to the field beside Katy’s house, that fateful May 8. Her hair and scalp were gone, and she lay there bleeding in the arms of her Uncle David.
"I didn't know I had lost my ears until I was about to leave the hospital,” she says.
The community poured out their support in many ways.
Singer Brittany Marie wrote a song and created a video inspired by Katy.
Friends and neighbors held a barn raising, knowing that Katy's healing process would go better with her horses close by.
"Who would have thought that a year ago, I'd be, you know, sitting on a horse, talking to you,” she said, shocked that it’s been a year – shocked that she’s happy “with where I'm at with myself."
That doesn't mean the 21-year-old doesn't have her bad days.
"I have a lot of good days, every now and then I'll have a bad day,” she said.
She still faces more surgeries, a major one that will include getting ears.
Her identical twin sister Taylor will be a crucial part of the surgery.
"There's a reason I'm a twin,” Katy said. "They can basically mold Taylor's and do something with those."
Katy has a part-time job at a local produce stand. She said it is another part of the healing process; with the job comes people asking questions.
“It's amazing how much support I got out of it, you know,” she said.
She is surprised a year later that people haven't forgotten.
While public support has been important Katy gives credit to the doctors and nurses but most importantly to her family.
"When it comes down to it, my parents and my sister and brothers, they really helped,” Katy said.
Out of a near fatal tragedy, a family was brought closer together.
"We're all closer, we talk every day,” she said.
A family that around November 5 will grow larger by one, as Katy is now expecting.
"I'm very excited, I love kids and it helps keep my mind off of it,” she says.