Looking at myself in the mirror and wondering who is my truest inspiration? I became conflicted with my thoughts for a brief moment. Asking myself another question, would it be selfish to write about myself? I observed the feelings and thoughts that surfaced. Feeling selfish for being an inspiration to myself comes from conditioning that started at a very young age. I wouldn’t say that I have never had anyone inspire me, because people have inspired me. The decision to write about myself is not selfish at all. It is pure vulnerability and a beautiful form of art. A masterpiece in the making. When I was born, I was two months premature, diagnosed with Bilateral Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate. A hole the size of a nickle in my heart, that was diagnosed as a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus) heart murmur. Most cases the murmur will close on its own, with severe cases surgery will be needed! When reaching age four, open heart surgery was necessary. The scar runs from the center of my left side directing up and around my back, stopping just below my neck. Surgeries started as an infant and was needed to graft me a complete mouth. With a bilateral cleft lip and palate, the front part of your gum area is disconnected from the rest. In my situation, it left the palate facing outward. That is because I did not just have a one sided cleft lip, it was bilateral. Most babies will only develop a one sided cleft lip. I have two scars that connect to my grafted mouth. I only had two small pieces of lip on each side of my mouth. In the United States alone, 1 in every 1,600 babies are born with both cleft lip and cleft palate. My diagnosis is the least common, only 9% of babies in the United States are born with it. I still get flashbacks of the butterfly needle for the blood being drawn from my body. It was so difficult for a Phlebotomist to find a vein, the worst one was the top of my small foot. When you go to elementary school, you get to play and be a child. So many times I had to sit on the sidelines and watch kids play. I could not tell you exactly how many surgeries it was, I lost count long ago. Two of the most intense surgeries I recall were two of my last. When I was in the 5th grade, doctors wanted to take a piece of bone out of my hip and graft it into my nose. The purpose of that was to fill the open hole at the roof of my mouth. The pain was almost unbearable to walk because of the incision on my hip. I had to be on a walker and crutches for months. The bone didn’t really take like it was supposed to either. I had no other options because every time I drank something it came out of my nose. After the long healing process of that, it started to decay and release from the graft. That was a traumatizing experience. The 2nd surgery was right after my dad passed away in 2004, I was scared to go under anesthesia without being able to wake up to him and mom both being there. I made the choice to be awake, with laughing gas and numbing medication shots in my mouth. The surgery was to cut through my grafted gums and hook small chains on the two baby teeth that didn’t grow in properly. That is common with cleft babies. The smell of my own burning flesh and the sounds of the tools being used was too much. I had no choice but to sit through it because I refused to go under the knife without my dad. I appreciate and applaud the doctors and nurses that did their very best to give me a better life. In the year 2000 I had an ear infection that needed medical treatment. On my way to the hospital in a very rural area and winding roads, I got car sick. It was just me and my mother, she had to pull over so I wouldn’t get sick in the car. I thought I puked and leaned back and shut the door. I did not actually shut the door, I became unresponsive and started having a seizure. I had to be rushed to the hospital. She was so alone in that situation and I am forever thankful for her. I woke up from a month long coma at a Women’s and Children hospital. At only 8 years old I was diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis. A helicopter had to be flown in so I could be flown out to a hospital that was better equipped to take care of me. While I was hospitalized I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, on the frontal lobe. Thankfully it is benign and I didn’t need brain surgery. With a benign tumor however, most people or children will develop seizures. For a long time I had these feelings of it being too late for me, I wouldn’t make it much longer! I want to say to you in this moment, it is not too late for anyone. No matter what you go through in life, keep going and don’t you give up! I am 30 years old today and I am here to tell you, I am my own inspiration. I am a unique form of art with many scars. I am inspiring to myself because it took courage, strength, and resilience to make it this far. The journey of my own life has inspired me to truly break free from my upbringing and chase my dreams. I am my own unique inspiration!
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