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Your Outlook Is Everything! - by Maria Elena Springer

Hello, my name is Maria Elena Springer, and I was born in 1971 in Aguascalientes, Mexico (born and raised there). I had a pretty normal childhood, and other than having a lot of upper respiratory infections and asthma, I didn't have any major health issues. I really didn't feel any different from my friends or the girls at school.

I was never teased or bullied because of my height, and if anybody made reference to my height it was in an endearing way. My parents, though, saw that I wasn't growing as I should (my dad is very tall), so they took me to the doctor and, low and behold, after lots of testing, I was diagnosed with Turner syndrome (TS).

It is all a blur; I don't remember getting any growth hormone shots, and all I remember my parents telling me about my condition is that because of it, I wouldn't be tall. That was it; no mention of infertility, heart conditions, or anything like that - not even the name of the condition. Hey...I didn't care. it didn't make any difference to me. I did okay in school, and yes, I struggled with math and with drawing. My brother used to do my drawing class homework for me because he was very good at it.

I thought it was just the way I was. I was good at English and Spanish, and I excelled at spelling and grammar (I won a few contests), so yeah, I struggled with math...big can't win them all! I didn't feel out of place yet. Then the principal of my elementary school when I was in 6th grade told my mom about a great endocrinologist in Mexico City, and off we go!

Every month I would take a day off from school, and my parents and I would make the 6-hour trip to Mexico City to see him. To this day, I still remember the awful anxiety before each trip that didn't go away until after I left the doctor's office. Don't get me wrong, he was a wonderful doctor, but still I felt very anxious. He didn't explain either what the condition was. He just put me on a diet (because I was chubby) and measured me every time I went to see him. Then he told me that was all he could do for me and referred me to another endocrinologist. I was 15 by then. He was wonderful as well, and he was the first one to explain to me what the condition was. When he told me I wasn't going to able to have children of my own, I was devastated, but of course he told me that there were other ways to become a mother.

He started me on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and shortly after I had my first period. I was elated! I finally felt like a woman! I saw him up until I was 19 and then I was on my own. I didn't know how to find or transition to an adult endocrinologist, and my parents didn't seem very concerned with looking into it since I looked healthy enough.

So, I didn't see a doctor for years. I just kept taking my HRT. I started college, got my degree in Modern Languages, and then started working as a Spanish teacher for the growing Japanese community that was settling in my hometown. I also worked as an English teacher in the University of my hometown. In the dating area I didn't do too bad. I had a few boyfriends, one of them kind of serious, but didn't work out. I didn't think I was ever going to get married, since I was already 30 years old and had no prospects, so I was planning to work hard, save a lot of money, and travel the world.

Then as I was messaging through Yahoo Messenger with some friends, a guy popped up in my screen asking me if I spoke English, I said yes, he told me he liked my profile picture, and that was it! Seven months later I quit my job, left my family, friends, and my country to move to the U.S. to marry this guy.

It was the best decision I have ever made. When I told him about my condition he was so understanding. He told me that that was one of the many things that attracted him to me because he wanted to have me for himself for a few years before we had children, and since I couldn’t get pregnant, that wasn't going to be an issue. When we first got married, we planned to adopt, but as the years passed we decided it wasn't a good decision for us.

He did a lot of research on Turner syndrome, and because of him, I learned a lot things about it that nobody ever told me before, and a lot of things made sense. I am blessed to not have a lot of health issues. I was relatively recently diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta and last year my cardiologist discovered an aneurysm also in my aorta, but both issues are mild, so I just have to keep them monitored. Other than that, and some issues involving NVLD (non-verbal learning disorder) - the social aspect especially - I am doing pretty good. I've been working at the Beaverton library in Oregon for almost 18 years, and I'm also a medical interpreter. It was a lot of work, but I got certified a couple of years ago. That's my story. I hope it can give encouragement to my TS sisters.


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