Hi All, my name is Tarteel, and I live in Palestine, it's a conflict area, and I was born in the most troublesome years, 1995. I was born with unilateral #cleftlip and palate "CLAP"; I went through over 8 surgeries, two surgeries for my lips, two for my palate, and one for vocal cords. These surgeries were done by "Operation Smile" and MSF.
Besides, I had to do 2 surgeries inside my mouth because my teeth were a mess. I had a bracelet from 9 until 18 years old, now I wear a Permanent denture for my front teeth.
My last surgery was Rhinoplasty (nose surgery), 8 years ago, it was done by a local surgeon. I had to do it for two reasons; one is the appearance of course, but most important is the breathing issue I had.
The surgeon said It's normal to still have breathing difficulties for 6 months or even a year. But It was more than that; the surgeon said he is not able to do much about it, and It's better to have a more expert surgeon outside the country.
However, We have already paid alot, and I was about to finish high school and go to university. My parents and I preferred to invest what we have in my education.
I will never regret this decision, I studied sociology, and now I work in the human rights field, which I really love, and where my passion is.
Yet, I had to sacrifice my breathing condition, as I thought it's not that serious. 8 years later, it got more serious.
My childhood wasn't that hard, as I was a smart girl, that protected me from bullying, but youth Is hard for me, especially when it comes to dating or making friends. I feel so insecure about my lips, my scar, my teeth, and my nose, and I feel like no one can love me or like me while I'm looking that way.
I have never met someone with cleft lip and palate, and honestly, I used to be afraid of meeting one, so I'll keep seeing my insecurity in them. I don't know If anyone can relate, but I wanted to ignore anything that reminds me of my look.
Unfortunately, the Arab world, Is a place where they don't have enough support groups to assist people, especially teenagers, to face challenges, get more confident, and be proud of themselves. As my personality growing, I now realize how my cleft made me so much stronger. I wish I was able to understand that earlier.
My goal is to support and help all cleft lip people, especially girls, I created an IG account: @arab.cleftlip, and I'm happy to chat with any of you. I speak good English and Arabic, and I'm pleased to support you.
#cleftlip #cleftproud #cleftstrong