Being in the hospital repeatedly really opened my eyes to what everyone else was going through and suffering through. When I walked around my level of the hospital days after my surgery, seeing all of those other people in their rooms really showed me how lucky I was to even be walking at that moment. And I know if I hadn’t been at the hospital so many times, I wouldn’t have gained that level of understanding or empathy about what others are dealing with. Sometimes it is very tough to remember that things could have been worse and to stay aware of the ways that having a Cleft lip and palate had a positive impact, but it is very important to do your best to remember that.
With all of the experiences I have lived through, even though some have been very hard, I am grateful for what I have learned because I can now share those lessons with others to help them in their journey. For example, I used to have to get blood drawn every 4-8 months and because I had to do it so often, I grew to know exactly what to expect. One time, I walked into the blood drawing area and saw this little girl who was probably the age of 7. I could tell she was visibly and mentally shaken and scared. She was crying and begging her mother to not get have to go in, but of course, she needed to. And this is where all of my experience comes in hand. I knelt down in front of her and convinced her she would be okay; told her that I wasn’t as bad as she feared and reminded her that she had her mom right with her if she needed. I told her that she had me there if she needed as well. Right after that she stopped crying and walked over to get it done. I guess there's just something about connecting with someone who has been there. Someone who knows. Knowing that I can use my experiences to help other people along is another reason I am thankful.