I can’t believe I’m writing this blog, years have slowly passed and here it is, the anniversary date of my last jaw surgery. Its unfathomable sometimes, knowing what I had to go through to be here and missing school.
I am adopted. I flew here to America when I was almost 11 months, I didn’t know how to walk or crawl b/c my caretakers never helped me learn to do that. I was given up for adoption b/c I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, which is not uncommon in some other areas. (I have a sister who is also adopted, who also has what I had, although hers wasn’t as bad as mine). I had maybe 4+ surgeries to correct my cleft lip and palate, my doctor said he’s never seen anything like my case.
2006 was a busy year. We went out East for vacation, my brother and his wife had another baby boy, my oldest sister got married, my sister graduated high school and my sister and new brother-in-law moved into an apartment. We all came to my sister’s and brother- in-law’s apartment to help celebrate my other sister’s 18th birthday. Her birthday is August 21, my surgery was this date. Of course there is many negatives about having jaw surgery, let alone any surgery. Mine was that the doctor could knick a nerve in my jaw and I wouldn’t be able to feel anything on my chin, there were others that I forgot but I don’t want to go into detail. I went into surgery and when I woke up, I saw a purple ‘halo’ around my head and 6 (3 giant thick screws) drilled into each side of my head. The rest of the evil contraption would be coming on later, but I needed to heal from this before they added it. It was hard to shower with it, let alone get dressed.
I went back to the doctor’s office and they added the second part, which hurt the most. They cranked the thin wires at the end very tight and I was crying, I hated how I had to go through that and was wondering why me? I was in the contraption for 2 1/2 months, I could have gotten it off earlier but my doctor (the amazing Dr. Mann) said no b/c its acting like a splint for my jaw. So I was like a hermit crab, I stayed home and didn’t want to go outdoors. My mom forced me to go to movies with her and other fun stuff, I hated it b/c people stared at me, and I’m self-conscious anyways when I’m the center of attention; so it made it worse. School started in September and I stayed home and was ‘homeschooled’, my mom and sister came to drop/pick up my schoolwork and I had a tutor to help me. Good thing about being homeschooled, I got straight A’s in all subjects but Science.
It was very hard to read a book with that thing on, it had a bar down the middle and I had to turn my head left to right just to read the pages. The worse thing though, I had to have it on for my sweet 16th birthday. I was very depressed and sad, I had to eat nothing but blended up foods and b/c of the bar, I had to have a turkey baster to even eat anything. I didn’t see too many friends b/c I didn’t want them to. My mom has saved a couple of pictures of me with that thing on, even though I did NOT want my picture taken with it on. I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to post it on here, to show you all what I had to go through and what I had to wear. This November will also be 10 years since I had it taken off, maybe I’ll be bold and post a picture, if I can find one.
Today, I sometimes struggle with everything. My smile and my speech, I forget I need to talk slowly, enunciate and focus on it. Its hard, I wish sometimes I didn’t have this problem and that I could talk freely and not be focused and enunciate every word. The doctors have done all they can, they can’t and won’t do anymore. I had a lot of jaw surgeries, and they can’t do anything else to make it how normal people’s are. While it’s a bit sad I can’t have a regular smile, I’m thankful I’m done and happy how my doctor’s treated me and how I won’t need to be on a strict food blended 6+ month diet anymore.