I call M, my eldest son, “Big Guy.” That may ultimately become his “name” on this blog, but I have not decided.
M is “big” in many ways – he gives big hugs, he is a hugely loyal friend, he has a big voice, big ideas, and he has an enormous vocabulary. He knew several dinosaurs “types” (ex: Sauropods, Theropods) before he knew his alphabet. Indeed, before his 3rd birthday. In fact, he knows more about prehistoric animals than anyone else I know this side of a Ph.D. in Paleontology.
One way he is not big is in size. He slowly fell off the growth curve as he approached his 1st birthday and then stayed around 0 to 3% until he was 4. That’s when he leveled out. He weighed just under 30 pounds and just passed 36 inches tall at the time. After blood tests, including a 4+ hour stim test, and an MRI (he’s 4, you’ll recall), he was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) and now he gets a nightly shot. This will go on until he is a teen-ager or…the rest of his life.
He has definitely gotten heavier and a little taller, but he’d had a few “spurts” (not like the other kids in his class, but measurable) before this. Still holding my breath on this, as growth is the only way we know this is working without more blood tests. The poor kid will get plenty more blood tests, but his first blood test since starting the shots is not until July.
It’s tough to give a little kid a shot every night, even with nightly bubble gum prizes, matchbox car band-aids, weekly shark tooth or mosasaur tooth bribes, and monthly Transformer prizes from Dad.
Yes, we do the bribery thing. It’s a shot. And he’s scared. And we are mixing it up with the bribes as best as we can. Besides, a weekly trip to the fossil shop with Mom isn’t really something intend to drop until he doesn’t want to go anymore.
Ah, but I ramble. When the nurse was teaching me how to give the shots, she went on and on about how her niece’s parents (which I presume included her sibling) finally started her on the shots…because she was getting teased in school. This niece did not have GHD, just..the dreaded..shortness.
Now, I am 5 feet tall. And so, I am looking at the nurse. M is sitting in the corner pretending he’s not listening to how he is going to get picked on (no maybe in this woman’s mind). I take a deep breath and say, “You know, we are stressing that he needs this for bone and heart health, and I am not sure we’d be doing this if the only issue was height. To me, that seems like treating an individual for a social ill.”
Yes, I said all that to someone I knew would not receive it well, but it was said for M’s benefit. He needs to know we’re not trying to “fix” him. That’s my job – to be sure he knows that.
“Well, that’s your choice,” she snapped. Then she looked at my son and said, “He looks like a child with GHD.”
I replied, “I don’t mean to be contrary, but he’s having a very hard time with this; could you just teach me how to give the shot?”
What I wanted to say was, “Well, you look like a woman who’s about to have my foot in your ass.”
Yes, I know some people bristle under the idea that our definition of “normal” is damned narrow, but really, I am not treating my kid for being short. I am treating him for a hormone deficiency. And unless there appears to be some undiagnosed problem, I am really not OK with treating “shortness” as a disease. I am not telling anyone else what to do, but trust me, being short is not an illness.
And I do, in fact, know several men around my height who are also just fine (people keep telling me it’s different for men, but it’s never actually short men telling me this).
Imagine. The only issues I have ever had to deal with involving my height were other people’s issues..and all of these men I know concur, so…make of that what you will.
The nurse did teach me, quite thoroughly, how to give the shot. She also spoke to me like I was very stupid for the duration of the session.
I do realize M’s life will be easier if he is 5′ something rather than 4′ something when he is grown, but that’s not because he’ll be better in any way at a greater height. And if that were the only issue, he would get a say in what (if anything) we did about it, but I would stress that it was his choice and that he did not need to be better.
After all, this is my Big Guy. He’s perfect to me just as he is, and I will do anything to keep him healthy, but “normal?” well, that’s over-rated.
p.s. This post is less diplomatic than I would normally try to be; I am very tired (see previous post:). And while I do have opinions, I am very skilled at not judging others. However, I am also very skilled at protecting my kids, as much as possible, from messages that they should let anyone but them define their personal normal. That doesn’t make me a jerk; it makes me a Mom.