Saturday, 19 January 2008

My life with a cleft lip and palate.

This is a piece I have written for my journalism class at Uni. It is in relation to a previous blog called "fixed". I wanted to tell people what a cleft palate is and the treatment people go through to not only fix it but restore their face to how it would have looked without the condition. This is not completed and will need to be edited before I hand it in.


My life with a cleft lip and palate.

I was born in Farnborough Hospital with a cleft lip and palate. Because of all the long treatment I have had to tolerate with I feel I am almost as much as an expert on the subject as the professionals who have dealt with me. My parents didn’t know I had this condition, so when they saw me for the very first time my features we quite a shock to them.

A cleft lip is a separation between the upper lip and mouth. Sometimes there can be a split between one nostril (unilateral cleft) and both (bilateral cleft.). I was extremely lucky that I was only born with one split as this meant my treatment wasn’t as severe as if I had been born with both. A cleft palate is when the palate has not completely formed and is not joined together. This may occur at the back of the palate (soft palate) or all the way through both palates (soft palate and hard palate.) Once again I was extremely lucky to have been born with the least problematic condition. Some babies are also born with heart conditions.

About 1/600 babies are born with a cleft lip and palate. The condition is treatable and there is no reason why a child can’t have a childhood like other children, as long as their carers are supportive and playa positive role in the production of their self-esteem.

If left untreated it could cause social difficulties for a child, including educational loss and problems making friends. Luckily the NHS has the equipment and skilled surgeons to treat each child born with cleft lip and palate in the UK. My treatment was largely based at Guy’s Hospital in London. No one knows why some babies are born with cleft lip and palate. Sometimes the condition runs in families and sometimes it doesn’t. The most important thing to remember is that it is no ones fault. You are not to blame.

Being born and growing up with a deformity isn’t easy, as people can use this as an excuse to be a bully. Name calling was a huge problem for me at school, and this made me weary of those around me in all social issues. The most hurtful comment I received was whilst I was having dinner at my Secondary school. A very stupid boy in a year above me called me Bubba. He was a character in the film Forest Gump whose bottom lip stuck out far due to having “big gums.” I hated people commenting on the way I looked. As far as I am concerned it was no ones business and one day I wouldn’t have that intrusive lip, but reminding me of this didn’t take away the hurt I felt inside. Also, people (including adults) thought they had right to remind me every day that my lip stuck out. Walking past down the street or in the school corridor I would often see people pushing their lip out in a way to make fun of me.

When the new cleft unit opened at Guys Hospital I began to see the unit’s psychotherapist. I found her a great help, as I also suffered from General Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It isn’t clear if dealing with the bullying and constant treatment was the course of my mental health problems, but I learned that research has showed that a higher percentage of children with harelip and cleft palate are more likely to than those who don’t.

10 comments:

Toetie said...

Hi Sarah! Just read your amazing article on your life with a cleft lip and palate. You sound amazingly self confident and well adjusted and I am happy for you. My son was also born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and is beautiful. He however despises the appearance of his lip which is protruding somewhat and his upper lip is scarred. He is an introvert and a very sensitive child. I wish him all the happiness and God"s blessings in life, but need help to build his self confidence and to equip him with tools to cope in the outside world. He seems to be scared to go to the "big" school and I am not sure whether I should hold him back for another year to protect him against bullies.

I t seems as if there will never be enough a mother can do to help a child who experience him/herself as different. What do you suggest?

Toetie

Bev said...

I have a son with a cleft lip and palate and I have just written a posting a few weeks ago about his progress. Great blog!

Karen said...

to Toetie. hi my name is Kiranmai but people call me Karen.. i was born with a cleft and lip pallet also. i am know 14 years old and going to turn 15 soon. this is my story. before when i was just lilttle kid i didn't think i was different or anything there some school who have kids that bully and there some that most r okay with. i wasn't bullied until i got to middle school. but there was little problems in 5th grade. i didn't relize i was born with this condition as soon i as began to grow up and i then notice mt face was different then other. no matter what you do even if u send ur son to school there is no chance that he will not get bullied. i am stilling being bullied i come home cry and sometimes my parents see and ask me y. everyone stares at me they all make fun of me once they look at my face they all say UHHGGG!!! theres no way to stop that.. i even feel like sucide. everyone child who is born with a condition like this or other that is part of out will be bullied. theres is no chance he will not. some day he has to face throuh but he will have nice friends who will care for him like i have they always say don't think of other they just dont get what im going throuh. best of luck for him. im about to get my surgery this dec. i will be 15 then.. so i hope u understood no matter if u held him back once he go bak he will still be the one to be stared and bullied..the teachers and concerls just gives the kids warning but sometime their there to help but most of all year there not.

James Fernie said...

Hi Sarah - Echoing the other comments on here. Good for you for putting this up. It's good to read. My son Jake is one now and has successfully come through both lip and palate ops and is well on the way now. It's interesting to read your blog for an insight into what the next years ahead will be like for him. I've added your site to my blog, feel free to add mine to yours! http://20weekscan.blogspot.com
Thanks

James

petitay said...

hi sarah. i read your article. I have a cleft lip palate, sometimes it feels torture for the rest of my life. but life must go on. :) even i've undergone 3major operations still have speech problem. :) but its okey.. i love my life now. well i should. :) i will link u on my blog hope ull do the same. thanks sarah. :) http://simplypetitay.blogspot.com/

Sarah Marie Love said...

Hi guys, thnaks for all your great comments. Sorry I havn't replied to you all. I gave up writing my blog after serious depression, but hope to carry it on now I'm recovering. Writing is such a big deal for me, especially when I am feeling inspired and in need of an outlet. I hope you are all well and everything is going your way in life. Never give up onlife or feel intimidated by other people, after all they are the ones with the problem, not you.

Best wishes
Sarah

Sarah Marie Love

Saiyuo12 said...

Hi Sarah just read your amazing article on your life. I was born with a cleft lip and palate and so my mother gave me away because she didn't know how to take care of me. But I was adopted by a great family when I was not even a few months old. And they took the time to get me a good doctor to fix my cleft lip and i had to undergo many surgical producers growing up. I was constantly tease time and time again in elementary school. I would cry many nights and talk to my mother about why god made me like this. And my mother would always tell me that god has a reason for everything. So i wish you the best and everything.

Saiyuo12 said...

Hi Sarah just read your amazing article on your life. I was born with a cleft lip and palate and so my mother gave me away because she didn't know how to take care of me. But I was adopted by a great family when I was not even a few months old. And they took the time to get me a good doctor to fix my cleft lip and i had to undergo many surgical producers growing up. I was constantly tease time and time again in elementary school. I would cry many nights and talk to my mother about why god made me like this. And my mother would always tell me that god has a reason for everything. So i wish you the best and everything.

jackson said...

my name is jackson, i am 14 years old and i was born with a cleft lip (i know it's palate, but my friends call it lip for short). contrary to karen, i was never bullied, and i have never had any problems. i currently have a very pretty girlfriend named lauren. we forget about it and we joke around with it also, im always open to discussion about it any time. have thoughts fill up their heads "dont be embarrased, dont be afraid". its ok, we are humans too, and if you know how to take jokes and hard comments, you can have fun with your life. :) and <3 to all those young children with cleft lips out there.

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