For 14 of my surgeries, wanting to be strong for myself and my family, I held my own and kept a lot to myself, emotionally. But during my most recent and most major surgery, I broke. I am not sure how else to word it. I just broke. I was just so tired from dealing with it, tired of all the surgeries and I think because this surgery was so major and occurred during my freshman year of high school just as I was trying to find my footing there both academically and socially, it was all the harder than usual. It became too much for me to handle on my own. I needed my family. I needed my circle.
During the beginning of this recovery, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t walk or do about anything on my own. And because of the active person I am, let’s just say I didn’t love that. I would never wish that first week after surgery on anyone, ever. And trust me I tried to do things on my own… I just couldn’t do it. I really didn’t want to give up all of those small (or big) things I’ve always been able to do on my own on my family, but I had to. And I still cannot thank them enough for that. This was the hardest part of my entire life and as I read this over and over to edit this article, every single time I cannot help but cry when I read over this part. But with my wonderful family, I got through it. They didn’t just do what I needed, they did so much more. Without all of the love and support from my family during all of this, I have no idea what I would’ve done or felt. I was broken. They put me back together. I have a very big family, and I still can’t believe how much they have done for me and how much they care about me throughout my entire life. It’s truly an amazing thing… Family, that is. It’s so special. For me, no doubt, family is first. Forever. Whatever I am dealing with, no matter what it is, I will always have family. Some things in life will be harder than others, and when you have those “downs”, remember that there will always be an ”up” after because there has to be. There cannot be “downs” without “ups”. And through all of it… Remember. You will be okay.
After my most major surgery, I ever had and probably one of the hardest parts of my life, I tried to find a place where people knew exactly what I was going through, I found absolutely n0 results. Yes, people can say “I’m here for you” and all of that, but they don’t truly understand what it’s like from our perspective. That isn’t to blame them, they just don’t have a cleft lip and palate. That’s all. It’s so much different than most people think. So my goal after going through my recovery without the support of someone who had truly been through what I was going through was to create a place for people to help one another who have done exactly that. If someone were to ask me what was something I was missing through this whole process, I would say a way to connect with people who have been there. I think that would make the process a hundred times easier for people. I think it would’ve helped me so much to talk to someone who has already been through it all already and could’ve told me how it went for them, that alone would have been so reassuring in such an inconsistent time. But because I didn’t have any of that, I want to make sure other people do have that and have a way to connect. And that is what I hope I am accomplishing with CleftProud.