Cleft lip and palate patients often have to overcome many difficulties and challenges as they grow up: from psychological challenges to gruelling operations. Building up resilience from a young age means that when you’re in the busy world of work and its continuous changes and demands, those who have learned how to quickly recover in the face of new challenges will be better equipped to push through problems and come back even stronger.
Although being born with a cleft is certainly not the end of the world, hardship is something a cleft patient is used to dealing with. Having a focused individual that can understand that sometimes more is going on beneath the surface of a problem, allows stronger relationships to be built and more perceptive decisions to be made.
Although judgement is something which shouldn’t be an expected part of being born with a cleft, it often goes hand in hand with the condition. This means, however, that someone born with a cleft will know how excluding judgement can be. To have someone who is aware of judgement and bias can help anyone in a team realise their potential, since they are not being judged before they have been given a chance. This means that cleft patients are more likely to shed light on opportunities that may have otherwise been overlooked.
The most important years of surgery are often when cleft patients have left school, and thus treatment appointments have to be juggled around work, apprenticeships or university courses. Therefore, cleft patients have to work harder to keep up, and therefore need to be organised to manage their professional and personal lives. Being able to succeed under immense psychological and physical stresses makes cleft patients that much more employable for their organisation to keep their medical, personal and professional lives separate and on track.
After years of talking to people who are vastly higher qualified and educated, cleft patients must juggle their personal emotions and practical treatment plans. This means that often difficult questions have to be asked and difficult news must be taken and considered before making large, crucial decisions about the future. As treatment progresses, more importance is placed on the patient in regard to how they choose to progress in their treatment. The biggest stake is often on the line – your life and well-being. The need to weigh up the pros and cons of a decision is imperative as a cleft patient, so by the time we’re done with surgery, we’re ready to take on any decision necessary.
6) Skilled risk assessors
Having said that, we make large decisions about vital treatment plans. A lot of cleft surgery becomes elective as you get older, so the need to find out all the information necessary to take on a risk becomes essential. This means that we get used to taking on and assessing risk – with a lot more than a simple financial burden at stake.
7) Excellent listeners
Cleft patients have to listen to and comprehend complex information to be able to understand their treatment options and make decisions about procedures they would scarcely know anything about. Considering that maxillofacial surgeons require thirty years or more of medical training to be able to perform procedures on cleft patients, to comprehend the processes requires cleft patients to have excellent skills in receiving and understanding the information presented to them.
A cleft patient’s listening skills must be of the highest standard, and the ability to process complex information about procedures must be at its highest capacity. However, ultimately a cleft patient will need to have a powerful voice that is ready to lead and make important decisions: as cleft patients grow up, less is left for the doctors to decide and more is put on the patient’s shoulders. It is therefore crucial that cleft patients are powerful and confident in their voices to make good decisions and lead a team to the conclusion they set their mind to.
9) Team work
Decisions that cleft patients make have huge impacts on their futures, and thus to make the decisions a lot of trust must be built between the patient and doctors through excellent relationship building. Not only are good relationships needed, but cleft patients must hold up their side of the treatment plan for successful results. Yes, the surgeons undertake the ‘big operations’, but the years of maintaining hospital appointments, checking for trouble in the complex brace work and completing pre- and post-op care efficiently requires good teamwork between the patient and the doctors.
Ultimately, being born with a cleft gives you more hurdles to conquer in life. However, as each challenge is overcome and each new obstacle dealt with, the determination of a cleft patient to succeed is only made stronger. The fact that cleft patients have to go through more to succeed in life merely highlights their determination. Whether that’s determination to see their treatment through, determination to push through psychological burdens or determination to never let their condition hold them back, cleft patients will ultimately go through more and be stronger for it, making them more determined to succeed in life.