Matching tattoos key to solidarity in face of syndrome

Matching tattoos key to solidarity in face of syndrome

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Matching tattoos key to solidarity in face of syndrome


By choosing to get matching tattoos, Heidi Lewis’ family formed a united front in the face of a lifelong relationship she’s endured with a rare skeletal condition called Klippel-Feil Syndrome.

Generally caused by gene mutations, KFS is the fusion of the cervical vertebrae (the seven spinal bones in the neck that start at the base of the skull with C1 and go down to the shoulders). “People can be affected in all sorts of ways. I count myself as one of the lucky ones. I am fused from C1-C4,” Heidi said.

To express their support, Heidi, mom Tami Olmstead, dad Greg Simmons and sister Corinna Simmons lined up recently at Immortal Ink so artist Wes Ohler could give them the same skeleton key tattoo, as such an old-fashioned type of key is used as the KFS Alliance logo. Each one chose a different location for the art that expresses their solidarity.

“The tattoo idea of a skeleton key never really crossed my mind until I saw a couple of people post photos of theirs on the Klippel-Feil Syndrome Alliance Facebook page,” Heidi said.

Over dinner with Tami, who also follows the Facebook page, Heidi said her next tattoo was going to be a skeleton key. “I just didn’t know what design I wanted yet. (Mom) thought it was a great idea.”

Surfing the ’net, Heidi discovered just the perfect design on Pinterest and saved the image on her phone. She didn’t share it for about a month until presenting it to her mom and grandparents. “Everyone loved it. Immediately my mom said, ‘I want one. Let’s get it done,’” Heidi wrote on the KFSA Facebook page.

She then consulted with her dad, to see who his tattoo guy is. At her mother’s suggestion, Heidi invited her father to participate in the mutual tattoo project and the group was complete when her sister joined in.

Born with craniosynostosis, which causes skull deformity, Heidi had surgery at 2 months. Another surgery at […]