I think there is enough background to illustrate just how devastating innocent comments, looks, and situations can be
for someone who has an "alternative appearance". So, I'll skip a bit and say that I went through the angst of coming
out with far less turmoil than being a teenager, and with far more resources at my disposal.
While living in Edmonton
, I asked a few neurologists if they knew anything about surgeries to correct my paralysis. They all said
they hadn't heard of anything. Rotters. I was asking the wrong group of doctors. When I moved to Fredericton
to go to University
), I went to a GP for a check up. She sent me to a Plastic Surgeon to get his opinion on a mole. The
mole was nothing but this guy couldn't believe I hadn't "done something" about my face. He then proceeded to tell
me that surgeries had been performed for the past 15 years or so to do exactly what I had been asking about for years.
Initially, the surgery was only done on children; I had heard of that from a newpaper clipping my aunt and uncle sent
me while I was still living up North. I had asked about the surgery by name when I was in Edmonton. Now,
out of the blue, I was being told that the surgery did exist, it was covered by medicare, and I could go to Toronto if
I wanted to have it done. Oh, yeah. It was that easy.
In April, 2004, I jumped on a plane, went to Toronto, had an hour consult with Dr. Manktelow and spent another half
hour getting photos taken, and then it was over. They could do the surgery. It would take a year to
set up, but it would happen. I spent the next couple of weeks clenching my teeth involuntarily because this could be
the action that would make me smile after surgery. That wore off eventually, but for a while there, my jaw was
And so time passed.
I got the word just three weeks before the surgery date. February 3, 8 am. I made arrangements
to leave right after our class had a two-day seminar. January 29. I was more stressed during that seminar than
I had been in ages. I didn't think I was worried about the actual surgery - I hardly thought about it at all.
But, after spending two intense days with people I genuinely like and enjoy, the reality of what I was going to do set in.
I had lived my whole life wondering what others thought of me and dreading new situations. Here were people that
I had only gotten to know over the past six months and I knew them better, and they knew me better, than any bunch of students that
I had known before. I was totally overwhelmed. All that angst, all the times I didn't join in or do something
because of how I looked, all the frustration and sadness, everything came up in the last ten minutes before we broke
for the day. I cried. I didn't think I would, because I usually don't, and I just felt so tired. My friends
were there. And they cared.
So, here I am creating/updating my website after surgery. I'll be adding pictures here that document
the healing process, so check back soon. Also, check the link to my blog
for a more up-to-the-minute kind of commentary.