In the summer of my sophomore year of high school, my mother became worried. I still hadn’t hit puberty, you see. We knew it wasn’t normal, but you know how it goes with things like that. No one ever wants to talk about or even acknowledge them. So it was with my development, or lack thereof. Mom tried not to let it show, but I could see it. I knew her so well.
It had always been just us. Dad left when I was too young to even remember him. I recall glimpses and flashes, but nothing more than that. I probably wouldn’t even know him if he walked up to me. But mom…well, I know her, and she knows me. So I could tell that she was worried; we both were. We didn’t talk about it or anything, but it was there all the same.
What was wrong with me? Was I doomed to live my life as a prepubescent freak? There I was, fifteen years old, and still, I hadn’t shown any signs of impending adulthood. I was still a child. How was I supposed to act like a maturing teenager when my body just wouldn’t cooperate? Increasingly, it was all I thought about. I retreated into myself.
It was in that summer, though, that I would get some answers, though I wouldn’t care much for them. Under the guise of a routine checkup (Mom didn’t want to scare me), we went to the doctor. She talked to him without me in the room; she didn’t want to upset or embarrass me. When I went into the room, he asked me a few questions, and then took me to another room where they took some blood.
I would later find out (years later, from my mother) that the doctor had been optimistic that I was simply a late developer, and that if worse came to worst, they could jump start my development with hormones.
As we left the doctor’s office, I remember feeling a deep sense of trepidation.
The results came back a few days later. The reason that I hadn’t experienced puberty was because my body simply could not process the testosterone correctly. Apparently, it had to do with some rare genetic disorder (the name is way too long to remember). But the bottom line was that the aforementioned hormone therapy would have little or no effect on me. Either I would have to submit to radical, untested gene therapy or I would have to let my body work its own problems out.
Of course, there were pros and cons to either way. With gene therapy, we had a good shot at fixing the root of the problem, but, like I said, it was largely untested and could have serious consequences to my overall health (cancer, shorter life expectancy, etc.). With just letting it ride, well, I might develop. Or I might not. Or somewhere in between. But at least doing so wouldn’t actively contribute to failing health.
I’ll admit. I wanted to take the gene therapy. It seemed like such a no brainer to me then. Thankfully, my mother’s cooler head prevailed, and she convinced me to wait it out. For almost six full months, I hated her for that. I’m not talking simple annoyance or hyperbole. I literally hated her. And I hated myself. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I actually considered suicide a few times.
But then I met Amy. Well, that’s not exactly true. When I saw Amy for the first time is when my outlook on life truly changed. I didn’t meet her for a few months after that. Blame my shyness, I guess.