A three part comic for this year's Cleft Awareness Week based on my son recent Alveolar Bone Graft surgery back in February from a parents viewpoint.first one covering the time from when my son was born with an undiagnosed unilateral cleft lip and palate (it wasn't detected on any of our pregnancy scans) through the first two surgeries to primary school. The second comic was more of a general awareness/information comic that did touch on some of the pre-bone graft nerves.
This year we have undergone the major surgery we hinted at in the last two year's comics the Alveolar Bone Graft where they take some bone from a hip or shin to fill in the gap in the gum to allow the adult teeth to come in better without a gap.
You can read how our experience was from Pre-Op through Post-Op to Recovery. Perhaps because it was so recent I have gone into more detail and indeed I could have added lots of extra detail but I tried to cover all the main highlights which seemed to involve me drawing a lot of people sitting or looking at tablets/phones.
Here are some other general points that may explain some things from the comic.
- This is just our experience other parents and hospitals may do parts of this differently. If you are looking for advice for how your bone graft will proceed your local cleft team will be able to help. If you are looking for a way of explaining the procedure this new video from Great Ormond Street Hospital is great.
- My son is doing great but until we get X-Rays in a few months time we won't know if it has been successful or not.
- Our surgery took place at the recently built Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow which meant I got to draw some cool modern buildings and interiors (the Atrium of the main adult hospital next door is quite impressive). Our earlier surgeries were at Yorkhill which while it was older did mean you were on wards with others not in your own separate room where you didn't see the nurses and doctors moving around.
- Unusually the surgery was on Sunday and we were first up so the hospital was a bit quieter.
- The recovery at home did involve a lot of Youtube watching but we did try and get our son to move around sometimes. Unfortunately Scotland was hit with a big snowfall and so we were stuck in the house for the first week. By the second weekend we did get out and about a bit.
- You can get more information on cleft lip and palate from the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) website. This is a UK based charity there may be other organisations in other parts of the world. We have found this charity invaluable for meeting other parents going through the same experiences.
- This comic is one way of us trying to give back to the community that helped us through the bone graft by demonstrating how it was for us down to mundane details. It is safe to say that from the moment our son was signed off speech therapy this surgery was on our mind. Then when you start getting appointment letters you try and anticipate everything that is going to happen even when you don't know exactly when the actual surgery will be. For example we booked no holidays away from the house for the whole first half of this year because we were unsure if we would be able to take them.
Finally thanks to everyone inside and outside the cleft community who has shared or commented on these comics. It has been great speaking to others who either have gone through or are going to go through the same surgeries.