High School Disclosure
High School Disclosure
Bella and three high school friends Caroline, Esmeralda, and Juliana are sitting on the bed in a hotel room while on a trip with the high school chorus their senior year.
“Hey. Before it came up that there is a reason why I’m short. I told you I’d tell you later, but now I need to tell you something,” Bella announced in a tone indicating that it was important.
“Caroline! Bella has something to share,” Esmeralda yelled.
“Ok. Can I finish brushing my teeth first? What’s the matter?” Caroline called back from in the bathroom.
“Caroline! Bella needs to talk. Get in here. Now.” Esmeralda chastised loudly.
“Coming. Coming. Sheesh.” Caroline replied finishing up in the bathroom.
“Ok. Bella we’re all here. What’s up?” Esmeralda prompted, leaning forward.
“I don’t tell many people this because it makes me uncomfortable to share. It’s kinda personal and it’s just not important for most people to know; none of their business and it takes too long to talk about usually. Please don’t tell anyone else” Bella announced as introduction.
“Of course not. We won’t blab about things that are yours to share,” Esmeralda promised. “You can trust us.”
“Promise I won’t tell,” Caroline said seriously.
“Me too. I’ve known you forever. I’m not going anywhere.” Juliana reiterated propping a pillow up behind her.
“I do trust all of you. That’s why I decided to tell you this.” Bella continued, “Well you have probably noticed that I am short. There is a reason. I have Turner Syndrome. It’s a chromosomal abnormality. Most people have two sex chromosomes XX for girls or XY for boys, but I only have one X chromosome. Only girls have it. Girls with Turners are short, can’t have children, and may have other symptoms like heart problems, trouble with spatial perception, and moles among other things.”
There were a few moments of thoughtful silence to process what had been said.
“Wow,” Esmeralda said breaking the silence by hugging Bella. “Lots to think about. Are you OK with not being able to have children?”
“Ez…is that really your first question? Jeez.” Juliana reprimanded whacking her on the shoulder.
“It’s OK Jules.” Bella said in a placating way “I don’t want to talk about that right now Ez. I may be more upset about that as I get older. So far it hasn’t been a big deal. I can always adopt and I can be with children as part of my job if I become a teacher. I’ve know since I was little so I’ve come to terms with it.”
All the unasked questions zooming around in the air made Bella feel like millions of mosquitoes were buzzing around being irritating by attacking her.
Caroline and Esmeralda on the phone later that week.
“So Bella has Turner Syndrome.” Caroline began.
“Yeah. It explains some things” Esmeralda exclaimed “I just wish she had told us earlier although it shouldn’t change how we are with her.”
“I agree,” Caroline replied, “I would have liked to have known, but I understand why she didn’t tell us.”
“Oh totally. It is very personal.” Ez commented.
“Is Turners the one we learned about in Bio where you only have one X chromosome?” Caroline queried.
“Yeah,” Esmeralda affirmed, “Bella said that. Remember? She said it’s a chromosomal abnormality. It’s horrible but I can’t think of someone being abnormal without a mental image of Igor in Young Frankenstein saying the brain was from someone named Abby Normal.”
“Love that movie.” Caroline said chuckling at the memory “I guess abnormal doesn’t have to mean something bad just different.”
“Who wants to be perfectly normal anyway?” Ez asked rhetorically.
“What’s a syndrome exactly? It’s not a disease and it’s not contagious right?” Caroline asked already pretty sure of the answer.
“No. Certainly not. A syndrome is just a collection of physical characteristics.” Ez stated matter-of-factly.
“Well look who knows their stuff,” Caroline teased. “You should be a doctor someday.”
“Pshh. Whatever,” Esmeralda retorted.
“No I’m impressed. It’s great,” Caroline said reassuringly. “You think you’re really still female if you only have one chromosome?”
“Of course you are. Don’t be stupid,” Esmeralda withering replied.
“Alright. I wasn’t judging. I was just thinking out loud.” Caroline back-pedaled.
“Makes sense to wonder that,” Esmeralda agreed and then added, “I just realized something. She always tells us how she was born Mother’s Day, but she can’t have any children of her own. Boy is that ironic!”
“I know! Oooff. She is so great with children and such a sweet, caring person. She would be an incredible mom,” Caroline enthused.
“She would. At least there are many options available now from in vitro fertilization, to surrogacy, to adoption,” Esmeralda informed Caroline.
“I know,” Caroline agreed. “Between gay and lesbian couples and women who are infertile for other reasons there are others looking for alternatives. I can imagine that she might adopt though.”
“I can see that. There are so many children in the world that need to be taken care of. She can make a huge difference,” Esmeralda wistfully commented.
“Oh definitely. Especially since she wants to teach,” Caroline affirmed. “Strangely I never even thought of her as short until she just brought it up. She’s always so bubbly and full of energy.”
“I never thought about her being short either, or else I assumed she was short just because that’s the way she was. She never made a big deal about it,” Esmeralda said thoughtfully.
“I wonder if she’s ever met anyone else with Turners? It sounds like it’s pretty rare,” Caroline wondered aloud.
“I doubt it, but that would be interesting to find out. There might be medicine she has to take. I wonder about that.” Esmeralda commented.
“We should ask her. It’s no good to be talking behind her back” Caroline answered a bit guiltily.
“Yeah we should talk to her. Well I gotta go anyway. See ya.” Caroline ended the conversation.
“Later.” Esmeralda replied.
Bella, Caroline, Esmeralda, and Juliana at Bella’s house the next weekend.
“Hey Bella. Thanks again for telling us. I have some more questions if that is OK?” Juliana asked testing the waters.
“Sure. I don’t mind. I’ll tell you if I don’t want to talk about something. First I want to tell you something. Sometimes we talk about gay and lesbian people being “in the closet.” In some ways that’s a great way to explain what it is like to have TS because it’s all about sexuality which everyone is anxious about talking about. Most women who are infertile for other reasons don’t find out until they are already in a serious relationship, but I already know. It’s difficult for me to get to know someone well enough while still holding that back. Information is powerful. Once you know something about someone it’s hard to treat them the same and to understand their point of view while still being respectful. I don’t want that to happen, so it’s hard. I’m happy to talk with you. It helps me not to have to hide that part of myself. Anyway…go ahead and ask whatever you want.”