Anyone looking at me would see a normal 17-year-old girl with blond hair and blue eyes. Those taking a closer look would recognize that I barely reach 5'2". What my physical appearance does not reveal is that I have Turner syndrome, but then, most people don’t have the faintest idea what that is. Turner syndrome is a chromosomal condition that occurs in women and involves complete or partial absence of the second x chromosome. While I may not be one in a million, I am one in 2,000. Short stature is one of the most common characteristics associated with the syndrome, but serious heart and kidney problems and even hearing loss can occur.
When I was diagnosed at 12, my whole life began to make more sense. I never understood why when the rest of my classmates were growing like weeds, I remained a seed stuck in the ground. I had always struggled being the shortest girl in my class and was known as “Midget” or “Shorty.” After watching the classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” I became known as Oompa Loompa. Though these names hurt me deeply, I refused to let my classmates dampen my enthusiasm for school and learning. I got involved in lots of extracurricular activities, though they sometimes posed problems. Because girls with Turner syndrome tend to have poor coordination and perception, my athletic ability was nonexistent. I loved to sing, but it proved difficult to share a microphone with a group of girls seven inches taller. Despite this, I continued to drive myself to prove that heart and brains could make up for lack of height.
Once diagnosed, I was given a treatment plan that involved daily growth hormone injections. I am the type of person who worries about a doctor’s appointment for weeks in advance, so getting used to injections every day - and even worse, giving them to myself - was a true test of my character. However, I jumped this hurdle and after five years, I have grown 11 inches. This was an amazing response and I consider it my own little miracle.
I am not upset that I have Turner syndrome. It has molded my character and transformed me into the person I am today. I have learned that you need to rise above the negative in your life. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This statement has always inspired me and so I will journey on to the next stage of my life with pride and self-confidence.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.