I went to see my pediatric endocrinologist today. I weighed just over two pounds when I was born and was 15 and one-half inches long. I didn't catch up to within the normal range for height or weight by the time I was two. At that point I was officially growth deficient. Some kids don't see a pediatric endocrinologist for growth deficiency until after age two, but because my father is a research physician and is acquainted with many medical specialists, he started taking me to a pediatric endocrinologist he knew who specialized in growth delays and deficiencies just before my first birthday. I've been seeing the same doctor this whole time, which is for over fifteen years. From what my baby book says, I wasn't terribly fond of the guy on my first visit, and I can't say much has changed in that regard. It didn't exactly break my heart when he said I don't have to see him again until after my eighteenth birthday. What that really means is that I don't have to go back at all if I really don't want to, since once I'm 18 I'll be making those decisions for myself. I'll probably go back just so he can document my data for his research as long as he agrees not to poke and prod too much.
My father's professional research is almost exclusively in oncology and hematology, but if my mom, my brother, or I acquire any medical condition, he instantly becomes an expert regarding that condition. Sometimes his expertise is legitimate. When my mother had thyroid eye disease, he talked to leading specialists in that field all over the world. Sometimes his expertise is mostly in his own mind. Anything that is ever wrong with my brother or me can be cured by better nutrition and by going to bed earlier. He makes these claims based on nothing but his own bull-headedness.
I believe that my father actually has actually done some reading on growth delay and deficiency-- nothing that would warrant the level of expertise he claims to have, but some, nonetheless. From his reading, he has been working for about the past eleven years on the perfect formula for a growth milkshake. We have been fighting about his formula for about that long. Before that, I drank (under heavy protest) some weird nutrition suppplemental formula from a can. I hated it, and every morning and night was mortal combat. I know now that he was making me drink the stuff for my own good, but it was positively vile! I gag just from the memories.
Then when I was five, my father decided to develop his own recipe, about which we cannot reach consensus. If there's not enough ice cream, I can taste the other stuff. If there's too much ice cream, I can't finish it and don't get all the nutrients. When I was younger, he used to threaten me with physical violence if I didn't drink it all. Now that I'm too old for that, we've been passing back and forth the same five dollar bill for about the past three years. I give it to him if I don't finish it. He gives it to me if I do. I don't know why I've never spent it when I have it, but it's probably because I've had more disposable income from my work as a church musician than most people my age. Even after I bank 80% and tithe 10%, there's a decent amount left. Also, if I didn't have the correct change, he would probably take my entire twenty and keep it until he had the opportunity to break it and give me change.
Now, more than ever, my father is convinced of the benefits of his growth shake. He's talking about patenting the recipe. He says he's going to use my name in the product. As if I want any association whatsoever with such an ill-fated product! Money-hungry person!!! Why shouldn't he just publish the recipe for all who would benefit from it? No one's going to pay for it anyway, and even if someone did, the person would just ask for his or her money back when the undersized kid refused to drink it because it tasted like $hit. Besides, it's not as if we're dirt-poor. My mom works, too. My parents would have plenty of money if they would quit helping the nieces and nephews whose parents could but refuse to pay for college. Why should any of these people pay for their kids' educations? They know my parents will come running with their checkbooks open! My parents are going to give it all away, and then there won't be any money left to send my brother or me to college, and I certainly hope that they don't think their tightwad relatives will help them out when that becomes the case. In any event, the growth shake is not going to help us financially because even the world's most gullible people have limits to their stupidity.
I asked the pediatric endocrinologist if I still needed to drink the growth shakes my father makes. He said it was up to my father because I still have the potential of growing between one and two inches. To say that this made me very upset would be a gross understatement. While I would love to grow another two inches, it's speculative at best at this point. All they know is that the growth plates haven't closed and that I haven't reached certain developmental milestones. Specifying the milestones would get into sensitive information best kept private, but you can use your imagination. In any event, at this point it should be up to me how much more I want to grow, but it apparently isn't.
We went out for dinner tonight. I had steak, and I had ice cream for dessert. It was really nice for once to have ice cream without any nasty-tasting additives.
Tomorrow night it will be back to the growth shakes. My dad has the five dollar bill, so I'll have to drink all of tomorrow night's shake or go in the hole financially.