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Repost: I wonder why I resist repairing myself.

I was reading an essay concerning left vs. right sources of authority and something stood out: the author referred to Dr. Charles Krauthammer’s opinion on stem cell research and factored in Dr. Krauthammer’s paralysis.

I didn’t know any of this. The paragraph in question that caught my eye:

Take, for example, Krauthammer’s position on embryonic stem cell research. Though Krauthammer is secular, he opposed creating human embryos for the sake of stem cell research — a position all the more noteworthy in light of his own paralysis as a result of a spinal cord injury incurred as a young man.

Now, this is a nuanced paragraph. The opposition is for specifically creating human embryos for stem cell research, not stem cell research itself; Wikipedia summarizes Krauthammer’s opinion on stem cells as being pro-stem-cell research using discarded human embryos with restrictions in applications.

I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Prager is exploiting nuance for his readers. He was not wrong – but result is that one thinks Charles Krauthammer is opposed to stem cell research when what he actually is opposing is embryo farming (which I am defining here as entities acquiring embryos for no purpose other than stem cell research. I know, this isn’t nuanced either. But at least I’m honest about it.)

Anyway, this got me thinking on a tangent.

One of the defining aspects of me is my cleft palate. Bilateral cleft palate, double harelip, the works; I have pretty much one of the more severe forms of the defect. (And you wonder why I can’t sing…)

Nowadays, kids born with this problem go to a doctor almost immediately and are repaired. It’s one operation, usually a fairly short recovery time, little impact on the rest of their lives. (This assumes availability of the proper medical care, of course.)

When I was born, though, nothing of the sort happened. I guess survival rates were pretty low; in decades prior I probably would have been left at an orphanage to die, or abandoned on a hill for the gods (depending on when and where we’re talking about.)

However, my parents decided to go for it; I ended up spending a lot of time at Duke University Hospital, undergoing thirty-seven major operations for reconstruction (and construction.) That’s my count, so I could be off by some, I guess, but I’m not aware of any deviations.

But it wasn’t finished. Kids today get reconstructed at birth, and their growth cycle is part of the reconstruction. For me, though, I got put into a holding pattern until my face stopped growing…

… and I never finished. When I was 13 or so, my step-father asked me if I wanted to be who I was, or change who I was, which was an unfair question to someone so young (especially me, really.)

I chose to remain who I was. No more surgery, no more recovery, no more missing six weeks of class, no more spending months unable (forbidden) to say a word, no more of any of it.

This was a mistake.

But now… I have the opportunity to undergo reconstruction (at forty, I’d think my growth is pretty much done) but I don’t want to.

It would be nice to not have some of the physical burdens; I still get stared at by little kids, I still have to remind myself how to speak clearly, I still can’t whistle, for goodness’ sake – but do I want to undergo reconstruction, change who I stare at in the mirror?


And I don’t really understand why. I tried to look this up, but I couldn’t find anything; maybe I’m just looking the wrong way.

I wish I understood myself better.

Author’s Note: Another repost.

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