A Different Kind of Normal

It’s been many years since I asked myself, why me? Why was I born with a cleft?

There’s no known history of cleft in my family so the cause is probably not genetic.

Perhaps it was just a fluke. Or perhaps it was meant to be, for who would I have been today if I hadn’t been born with a cleft?keep-calm-its-only-a-cleft-1

Whatever the cause, I would never want to swap my face for one without a cleft.

After all, cleft lip/palate, in all its different variations, is one of the most common birth defects in the world. I recently learned that every 2.5 minutes, a baby with cleft is born somewhere in the world.

So I’m in good company. And this made me think that cleft, really, is quite normal.

Just a different kind of normal.

“When I Am Among the Trees”

My Swedish family holiday has come to an end, with everyone alive and well. As a reward to myself, therefore, I’m spending a few days alone at a small country hotel in Wiltshire.

I’ve come here to read, write, walk in nature and recharge my batteries for the autumn. I’ve been here several times before so I’m very familiar with the hotel, its staff and its surroundings.

FullSizeRender copy 2The rain poured down as I arrived yesterday afternoon, but by the morning the sun had managed to break through the clouds. As soon as I’d finished breakfast, therefore, I went for a stroll in the tree-rich grounds of the hotel.

The grass was still very wet so my canvas trainers soon got soaked. But I kept walking.

For I’d come to greet a very special tree – special to me that is. It’s by no means the grandest tree here but it’s the one I know best. Continue reading

Beautiful Blemish

I’d like to think I look a little like a younger, blonder and plumper, version of my late grandmother. Many would attest to our likeness but with a caveat; traces of a repaired cleft lip are clearly visible on my face.

Yet at the age of 43, I don’t pay much attention to my uneven lip and wonky nose. They’re certainly not the first things I see when I look at myself in the mirror. Usually I’m more concerned about how messy my hair is, or whether I’ve got new hairs sprouting from my chin (a sure-tell sign of ageing). Continue reading

Sound and Silence

I have never thought of myself as disabled on account of my cleft, although a middle school teacher once referred to my cleft as an example of a disability, in front of my classmates no less. Her intentions were probably benign, but I felt grossly humiliated.

Indirectly, however, my cleft has contributed to lasting hearing loss on both ears – a consequence of all too many ear infections, which often befall children born with cleft. And my hearing loss does make me feel disabled at times. Continue reading