Miracle Grow This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 7, 2013
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Some people are known by their characteristics, like “the nice guy” or “the smart girl.” I have always been “the short kid.”

Being known primarily for a physical trait feels as if your emotional and mental worth is impaired by the body you were born with. I had wanted to grow – literally – for a long time. Junior year of high school was the tipping point. That year, I decided to explore medical options that would help me achieve what society considers “vertical normalcy.”

I began to research growth hormone stimulation online, looking specifically for any detrimental side effects, but I couldn't find any. Growth hormone stimulation naturally causes the pituitary gland to continue growth for a bit longer, as long as the ­person's growth plates aren't fused yet. It isn't at all like growth hormone injection, which has many health risks and mostly focuses on muscle mass increase as opposed to normal growth. After careful consideration, my parents decided I could take the next step and meet with a doctor. The journey began.

The first step was to get X-rays of my growth plates and speak to an endocrinologist. Dr. Suarez was a few inches shorter and much older than me, probably in her late forties. (Going to a short woman for help with growing made the situation a bit ironic.) After the X-rays, she announced that my growth plates were fused. A hormone stimulant likely wouldn't do much, but she was willing to try it anyway. We scheduled an appointment for me to return to the hospital.

The day of the stimulant test is not one I remember fondly. I vividly recall walking up to the main entrance and seeing the words “Children's Hospital.” The sign itself seemed to mock my height. The hospital was like any other, except it was dressed up to be “fun” for kids. It resembled a jungle, with cartoonish animals adorning the walls. My dad and I were led into a room with a row of large reclining chairs. The cushions were made of a glossy teal material designed to prevent stains (i.e. blood). The whole place smelled of anxiety.

A woman in baby blue scrubs approached us with a dull gray bin. In my head it contained long needles, barbed probes, arm restraints, and other various big and sharp things. The bin actually contained an IV insert and vials for my first blood draw.

I endured a nine-hour intravenous fluid drip, fasting, and blood draws every half hour (did I mention my paralyzing fear of needles?). Time stretched on, the minutes seeming to drip into each other like the sluggish flow of the IV. During the test I disconnected from the situation. I mentally hit the off switch, not focusing on any physical sensation for too long. When it was over, I vomited.

The whole next week I was a bit more energetic; the hormone stimulant was supposed to have that effect. Otherwise I felt no different. The blood tests returned and showed that the hormone stimulant wasn't going to make a difference for me. I was stuck in my diminutive state.

Although my efforts didn't cause me to grow physically, the experience did change me. I came to terms with this part of myself that I can't change. I didn't have a huge revelation, but I did begin to accept myself as I am. I did grow after all – just not in the way I had planned.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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