One of This Month's Featured Families!
May 2004

Unilateral Cleft Lip and Palate
At the moment I m in my 30's.  I was born in the Asian country of Sri Lanka where facilities are minimum for such patients.  Anyway I've undergone countless numbers of surgeries since I was born & still it is continuing!

When I was born, there were no reconstructive surgeons in my country.  So just general surgeons have operated me. I have a right unilateral cleft lip &  palate.  Revision of lip has been done several times during my childhood, because my parents were worried about it.  Palatal repair also has been done, but fistula was left in the hard palate.  I didnt get any speech therapy either, but my speech is good enough!  I could remember how my father was trying to correct me those younger days, when I pronounce words badly.Actually he shouted at me which made me very nervous to speak.  Still I am very nervous to speak with him!

I was the second child of four children in our family and there are no familial traits of clefts.  Still there is that tiny feeding bottle at home which they used to feed me!

I was sent to school as a normal child, but I was being teased at school almost everyday!  Still I can't bear it when I happen to remember those bitter days.  But my parents never knew about any of those things, because I never complained.  But I wonder why didn't they even guess about them?

My mother was a teacher and my father was also a lecturer in teacher's training college.  Every single day at school was dreadful.  But I never even tried to stay away from school!  I still dont understand, how did I get that much courage and strength to face and stand all that?  Thank God!  Amidst loads of harrassements anyhow I was lucky enough to finish my whole education.

In my teens I was rather worried.  I was pushing my parents for something more.  Cosmetic surgeries were available at that time, so I underwent the second phase of my surgeries.  I found a reconstructive surgeon, & he revised my lip & re-repaired my soft palate.

I couldn't fair well enough at my A/Levels & so I missed university.  I was wondering which kind of job that I should do?  I was not a normal person so I thought I couldnt do what an average person can do.  I was really worried.  At last I joined with nursing, merely on my father's insistence because still I feel that it is not suitable for me.  I still feel very embarassed at times.

Anyway when I got my appoinment as a qualified nurse after three years, I met one of best reconstructive surgeons in our country.  I was given priority and again underwent several surgeries: that is the third phase.  He directed me to an orthodontist (when I was young, I was referred to an orthodontist, but my parents didn't take me, because they were just worried about the outer appearence!).  Again, I got priority and the orthodontist explained to me everything.  I agreed becasue I wanted to get done every possible thing.

Dates were also given for the surgery.  My father was so dissapointed.  He was urging me to not to get it done.  So I had to abandon everything.  But I was worried.  Always I wanted to be one of the other normal beings!  I was dreaming day & night.  Again I went to a different person.  Same thing happened.  Again I went for the third time, because I wanted it so much!  Only I could feel the pain in my wounds because I 've become so normal for my parents,friends & relatives.  But for me, I was completely a different person from others.

Then I got a chance to come to UK as a nurse.  I was upset, because I was having this deformity.  Still I came, and deep inside I had another very special fulfil my biggest ever dream!
At last God has come to help me.  He has given me a golden opportunity.  I met a dedicated cleft team.  I know I 'm very late, but at least now I can acheive my goal.  I'm a very ambitious patient now, willing to sacrifice at every cost.  At the moment I'm wearing braces, which is dramatically changing my dental arches.  Two weeks ago, I underwent a repeat alveolar bone graft to close the hard palate fistula & am now recovering.  If it  becomes successful this time, I can look forward into the next step, possibly at the end of this year!  Then afterwards another series of plastic surgeries to finalize everything!

Nothing is easy.  I know.  Being born abnormal is never easy.  An average person might never know even half of the miseries that we are going through.  You need lot of courage, strength and ambition to sail your life amidst never-ending problems & troubles.  I think everyone who is born abnormal is naturally tough enough to face all this!


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