It’s been a while guys, so I thought I’d start off today with an old family photo.
Here’s me and my brother Michael in August 1999 (at the Guinness Factory in Dublin – where else?):
Despite what this photo might suggest, Michael and I aren’t twins. In fact, I’m four and half years older than he is – when this photo was taken, he was four. And I was nine. Yeah, I was pretty short.
13 years later, now standing (when fully stretched out) at just 5’0”, I’ve heard pretty much every short joke there is. There are many downsides to this, largely relating to not being able to reach things. The positives include being the same height as Kylie, and the money I save by fitting into children’s shoes (I’m a dainty size 2).
The McColgans are a fairly short bunch anyway, so I was never going to be a supermodel. It’s rare for JIA to affect growth, but the combination of the severity of my arthritis in the first few years and the steroid Prednisolone I had to take seriously slowed my growth.
In 2000 I started a growth treatment called Norditropin Simplexx. I took this daily by injection (which can be in any fatty part of the body – I opted for thighs) for six years, and now have some delightful dints in my legs to show for my efforts. Over this period I grew by about 12 inches and made it past my personal target of 4’11”!
Being on growth hormone medication is a real lifestyle commitment. Both my mum and I had to train how to perform the injections, as did any adults in positions of responsibility if I ever went away from home. We had to buy a special fridge to store the medication in, and our house was littered with sharps bins and latex gloves. You know, the usual things you might see in a family home.
I had to go to appointments with specialist growth nurses, who had to monitor how well the treatment was going, as well weighing and measuring me. The measuring aspect was pretty hilarious and a bit different to the normal process patients might experience when visiting their paediatrician. Once I was stood in my bare feet, the nurse would put her hands underneath my chin and stretch out my body, just to make sure they were measuring me as accurately as possible. I think there may still be some records that say I’m a few centimetres taller or shorter than others due to this method!
For the whole six years, there was only one mishap – pretty impressive, I think. When you have injections in your thighs, they need to be done on the top or outside. One time, we missed a bit – the result was a long snake-like bruise from the top of my thigh to my knee, which was really painful. Don’t do it, guys!
For me, the dinted thighs and years of injections were completely worth it for just this reason: I’ve made it to an appropriate height to wear clothes from petite collections, rather than childrenswear.
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