I have had 15 plus surgeries relating to my Cleft lip and palate. Each and every one of them were to try and correct something or add something that should’ve been there when I was born but was not. My first surgery was within weeks of my birth. And little did I know, that was just the beginning. But because I don’t remember that or any of the surgeries between when I was born and age 7, I will skip to age 7. And that does not mean I didn’t have surgeries in between those ages, I had multiple.
At age 7, I had a major surgery, a bone graft to close the palate completely. They took bone from my right hip to around my lip and to parts of my mouth. So not only did my face have to recover per usual, but my hip and leg as well. That meant bandages plus crutches. 2 in 1! It was pretty tough and a very long recovery. I was a very active person even at the age of 7, so being benched for such a long time on top of my face recovering was hard for me. Thankfully, I had a great friend by my side the whole time. Not just a friend, but a friend who got it. So at recess instead of going and playing sports and just running around (all things I couldn’t do which I always did), he sat right there with me at a table every single day until I was recovered. He kept me happy and entertained. And I will never be able to thank him enough for that.
My next major surgery was my columella lengthening, the columella is the area between the nostrils that connects the tip of your nose to your face. Because I was born with a Cleft lip and palate, my nose did not have a very long or normal columella. My nose almost looked like the tip was connected to my upper lip. And of course, that isn’t cosmetically or functionally normal so we needed to address it. The surgery went well, but because my skin around my nose and lip was so tight already, there wasn’t much skin to work with. So they did not get the length that they had originally wanted. However, it did make a difference, not only did it look a little better afterward, but my breathing was a little better too.