My Hardships and Blessings

February 21, 2018

 

 

Hi, my name is Carrie Odom. I was born and raised in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and have one older sister. I was diagnosed with Turner syndrome at ten years old. Here is my journey with Turner syndrome.

 

I was born March 10th, 1983 to Mike and Debbie Fleischman, weighing 5 pounds 4 oz. My parents say I was born very sick with ear infections and pneumonia. I was hospitalized for the first three weeks, and they almost lost me several times. I was blessed to not have any major issues afterward; only constant inner ear problems. With chronic ear infections, I had two sets of tubes in both ears by the time I was 4.  When I was about 5 years old, my parents noticed my feet grew out a little. So, I had to get some therapy to help them grow normally. My glands under my ear would constantly swell, so I had to have a small procedure to help with that at 6 years old.

 

Later on, I found out my hearing was slightly low due to a hole in my ear drum. At ten, I had my first ear drum reconstruction surgery on my left ear. The other reconstruction surgeries were at ages 12 (on the left), 15(on my right), and 19(on my left). The last one, they though one of the small bones in the inner ear was missing. Turns out, it was covered up by a lot of infection. My hearing didn’t improve after the last one, so by the time I was 20 I had my first hearing aid. I needed them in both, but my family could only afford one. It was difficult to adjust, both physically and emotionally. I tried to hide it, and would never tell anyone. I thought to myself, I am way too young for a hearing aid. I was also scared of losing my hearing in the near future. A few years later I was able to get the second. After a little while, I appreciated hearing better and did not care what others thought anymore. I am thankful and blessed to have them.

 

Growing up was hard for me socially. I was always the real short girl with wild curly hair. I was raised in private school, which meant small classes and most of the same kids every year. I was picked on and teased a lot all throughout elementary and some of middle school.  I would come home crying about it all the time.  My parents helped anyway they could, consoling me and telling me they would buy me height if they could. I would yell back at the kids, and try to stand up for myself, but it didn’t stop it. I was a feisty one too, I even hit a few boys that wanted to constantly pick on me. My grades were never good in certain subjects, so I was held back in 4th grade.  Nature and the outdoors were my relief. Every weekend my daddy would take us to his hunting camp in Alabama. I loved it so much. I started to hunt with him at four years old.  It was great growing up being a little bit of a tomboy country girl.

 

At ten years old, I wanted to know why I was so much shorter than my peers. We talked to my pediatrician. She said it was just nature; I had short family members, so I was just going to be short. My dad asked a lot of questions, and my growth chart was brought out. She explained to my parents how they mark it. My dad pointed out that, based on what she explained, it was being marked wrong. She sent me to a wonderful pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Helen Shaing. She said she knew the first time seeing me that I had Turner syndrome. She was keeping up to date on what she knew about Turners and would always keep us informed medically. Keep in mind, this is 1993, so it was not much compared to today.

 

She immediately got me started on the growth hormone Nutropin. I gave myself that shot every night until I was 16. It was not easy at first because I hate needles!  It was a lot better being a few inches shorter than my peers, not half a foot or more. Around 15 and 16 years old, it was a little hard in high school. I looked so young and had a lot of weight gain from the growth hormone. I was only about 4ft 8 in., weighed about 140 pounds, and I looked like I was 12, not 15. By 16, my growth potential was met, so hormone replacement therapy was started.

 

Between no more growth hormone and aerobics classes, I lost about 20 pounds by the end of my junior year. It was great to go through puberty and look my age! I had a few more friends, and even had my first boyfriend at 17. Not many friends knew about my Turners.   Only when asked why I was so short would tell them what I was diagnosed with, and what little I knew about it.

 

When I was 16, my nephew was born. Even though I always enjoyed playing with younger cousins and little kids, he changed my life. I knew I had a passion for working with kids. I started getting into child care at a local daycare at 17 years old. I went