One Of This Month's Featured Families!
June 2002

Angela Nelson
Complete Unilateral Cleft Lip and
Complete Bilateral Cleft Palate
West Virginia
pay for it since, it is a preexisting thing, and because it is not stopping me for anything.

I have to say that the BIGGEST REGRET of my life is not having the surgery then, because now it would have been over and the pain would have be done and gone. I think for myself, I would not have such a low-self esteem now if I would have had the surgery. I was not brought up to think I was different. I went to the hospital a lot, and I just thought that was normal. I was teased, of course, but I always had my mom and dad, and my 3 sisters, and I have a lot of good friends. I found this group because I was writing a term paper for class and I did it on the birth defect cleft.

Now that I have told my story, this is a message for all the teens. I am not here to tell you that you are wrong or right. I am not here to judge you, or to put you down for feeling like you are ready to give up. I remember feeling like I thought my mom hated me, and that is why she was making to go to the hospital. I remember feeling like I am so tried of being in the hospital and being looked at by doctor after doctor.

I really do have to say that I would like to think if I could go back in time to 10 years ago, I would go ahead and have the surgery. However, I know where I was at the time, and how I felt. I wish my mom and doctors would have made me have the last surgery done so I did not have to make my own choice.

I know it is hard, but please remember that your parents are not the bad ones here. However, they have no idea how it feels. Most parents if they are like mine would go through the surgery themselves if they could; however, they cannot. We are the ones who have to go through it, and WE are the ones who have to live the rest of our lives with what ever choice WE make. Please ask question to the doctors and your parents. Make sure you understand all that  is involved not just about the surgery but what happens if you do not have the surgery, because you are the one who has to live the rest of your life with what even choice you make now. I really wish someone would have told me to think about my choice, and that it would affect the rest of my life, but of course how can you tell a teenager.

Now it might be to late for me to have the surgery I should have had, because of money and time. If I can have it done, what should have been one more surgery may turn into 2 or 3 because of how old I am now.

I hope this has helped someone. I just do not want you to have the BIGGEST REGRET be this. What you think looks ok now, you may not like in 10 or 15 years from now. However, it is your life and only you can make that choice.

Thanks for listening.

My name is Angela, I am 27 years old. I was born with complete unilateral cleft lip and a
complete bilateral cleft palate. I have had 17 different surgeries since I was 6 weeks old. I had my nose done in 11th grade which needed to be redone a little bit because some of it fell and I had my jaw broken in 10th grade. I had braces on for 10 years and I have a false tooth, because one of my teeth grew in backwards and they had to pull it. I never had a problem with dating. I started dating in 8th grade.
All through junior high and high school, my mom always let me make my choices on my surgery. Of course, the night before I always said no, and we did it anyway, because I knew that it had to be done, and I did not want to upset or hurt my mom. Then in 12th grade I started dating this guy. I was in love, I finished school and it came time to have my last surgery. I was turning 18 years old. My mom and I went to the doctor and they started telling me what they were wanting to do. I was going to have my jaw broken again and my false tooth was going to be made to look like it is real by drilling a hole in my gum and putting it in. They were going to put a bone in my top left side of my mouth to help push out my lip so it would be even with the other side.

Well my mom gave me the choice of what I wanted to do. Of course it sounds very painful, and I  knew I was going to hurt for a while, but I thought it looked ok and my boyfriend thought it looked ok and he just asked me to marry him. I was going to go to school, and get a job. I was done being in the hospital and done hurting over this, so I did not have the surgery done.

My mom blamed the guy.  I can see why she would want to. I was thinking that he loves me and he is the one who will look at me for the rest of his life so why, if he is happy should I not be. But I was the one who could have had it done if I wanted to.Life went on, I turned 18 which meant I was no longer on my mom's insurance. I went to work and school. And we did not even up getting married after all of this.
So now 10 years has passed and I am working on having the surgery now. I want to get the last one done for myself, but mostly because when I stop I hurt my mom, because she put so much time and effort in taking care of me and then I did not go through with the last one. However, now I work full time and go to school and live on my own. I have insurance, but of course we are not sure if they will help
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