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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)

TITLE: A Hole Lotta Fuss
By Lisa Keck
08/03/11


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Much ado about nothing—interesting topic this week but what is nothing? Is your daughter getting a tattoo on her 18th birthday nothing? To her it is. It’s no big deal, nothing to make a fuss about.

Is the fact that both your kids are banned from the local big box store for shoplifting nothing? The oldest did nothing wrong—her friend framed her. The youngest learned nothing from his sister’s earlier experience and went ahead and yielded to peer pressure. It’s certainly nothing to boast about.

There are other “nothing” phrases out there. One of my favorites comes from the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. One recipient’s late husband used to say, “Nothing to worry about, everything to pray about.” And there’s “Nothing to write home about.” “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

But what is nothing? A hole is nothing. Really, it’s a space where something used to be, could be or should be. I’d like to address the latter.

I was born with a hole in the roof of my mouth. There should have been skin and cartilage there and I think bone but instead there was a gap that started at my upper lip and went all the way back to my upper palate. It’s called a double cleft and it affected my appearance, ability to suck from a bottle, and my speech.

But that hole, nothing where there should have been something, also meant I got fussed over. I’ve had five surgeries related to my birth defect. I don’t remember the first two. I was only three months and 18 months respectively. I remember my third surgery or at least the hospital stay. I was four years old. One of my floating ribs was removed, shaped and put it in my mouth so skin would grow over it. I remember the look on my daddy’s face when he didn’t see me in my bed. (I was playing in the corner while the nurse changed my wet sheets.) I remember the grandmother of the boy in the bed next to mine reading to us and giving me books.

Not long after that surgery I started speech therapy. Daddy also took me to a specialist once a year. It was a bit of a drive but I thought of it as my special time with Daddy. My brother told me years later he was jealous of the time my parents spent on me taking me to therapy and doctors.

My favorite doctor was my plastic surgeon. He took pictures, not uncomfortable x-rays where you have to put that plastic piece between your teeth and hold still, but real pictures. He had a backdrop and twisty stool and he took both profiles and straight on pictures to monitor my growth and development. I remember feeling like a model.

It was he who decided on the fourth surgery. I needed my nasal passages widened so I could breathe easier but he also gave me a “nose job” and revised the scar on my lip. When I looked in the mirror at home I saw a fat lip, bandages over my nose and bruising under my eyes. It would be some time before I believed he’d helped my appearance. We took a few more pictures the next year but then the fussing stopped.

When I was a junior in high school it seemed my years of doctors making much ado about nothing were over. Speech therapy had ended in elementary school, as had the long drives to the specialist. There were no more surgeries on the horizon. Kids had matured and no longer teased my slight speech impediment.

Life was good. A painful chapter of unwanted attention had closed. I did like the extra time with my father and posing for pictures but could do without the surgeries and teasing. Then in college my dentist discovered TMJ related to my cleft palate and he surgically repaired it. Besides repairing the jaw by breaking and repositioning it he broke my chin to bring it forward and reshape it. Because of the repositioning I had to go back to speech therapy. They make it fun when you’re a kid with puppets and stuff but as an adult, it’s just boring exercises.

Doctors fixed my physical hole. Using my own bone when I was four eliminated rejection of foreign matter. Only God will fit the God-shaped hole in your life. Your soul will reject any imposters you try to put in His place.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst08/04/11
The experiences of life have much to teach us. Thank you for sharing yours. Love the word play in the title. Enjoyed the whole personal narrative between the title and the closing. I like how you brought it around at the end to a spiritual truth.

I wouldn’t start any challenge piece mentioning the topic of the week though. The second sentence would be a great hook all by itself.
Noel Mitaxa 08/04/11
I agree with Anita about your opening, as it limits your publication beyond the FW family.
Your close was (to me) a bit rushed. It may have been worth including a sense of God's presence and blessing through your range of medical procedures earlier on; to avoid what looks like being tacked on at the end.
Linda Goergen08/05/11
You have so much interesting and thought provoking information within this article, but honestly, somehow it all feels just a tiny bit disjointed – like thoughts trying to slip in different directions. But I like the message and I did enjoy the read, though I do also have to agree with the others about starting mentioning the challenge topic. I really enjoyed the information of your cleft palate procedures and your perspective of it and what insight you gained from the experience and I really think this would have been great just starting with paragraph four, telling of your personal experience and then tying in, like you already insightfully did, your “physical hole” with the spiritual hole we all have since the fall. But all in all an interesting read!
Joe Moreland08/07/11
I really enjoyed this piece because I felt like I was getting a very personl glimpse into the writers own life. Everything from the children's problems to the childhood ordeal of dealing with a cleft palate felt like a baring of the soul. I feel privileged to be allowed to read something that feels so genuinely honest. Maybe it's not. Maybe it's a fictional account - if so, it's brilliant how you made it feel so real. Great job!