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When I Was Called a 'Late Bloomer' Because of My Rare Condition

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Even at the ripe old age of 46, I still hate the term “late bloomer.”

I was stuck with this tag as a teenager. I had to watch my friends and classmates develop into young adults while I was left behind — both physically and emotionally. Up to the age of 13, I was a fairly normal boy, or so I thought. I wasn’t very good at sports, reasonably OK academically, and did all the usual things kids did at that age.

Then it all changed, slowly at first, but it did become increasingly apparent I was being left behind. Part of this was my fault, as I did not feel the same as everybody else since I had not started puberty. I was invited to the normal teenage parties at first, but I kept making excuses about not wanting to go, because I felt so different compared to everybody else. Eventually the invites stopped coming. I was being left behind both physically and emotionally. At first I thought, “Fair enough, we all start at different ages,” but once I reached 17 or 18 and still had not started puberty, it was obvious something was not quite right.

I was sent to the doctor, but I was dismissed as a “late bloomer” and told to wait and see. Even as a 19-year-old at university, I was being told I was still a “late bloomer.” It was not until I started my first real job after university at the Royal Free Hospital in London that I eventually discovered what was wrong with me. I went to see one of their endocrinologists. I did not have an appointment; I just went to his office. The first question he asked was, “Did you have a sense of smell?” At 23 years of age, and no doctor had ever asked that question before. I said I had never been able to smell. This lead to the diagnosis of Kallmann syndrome.

I grew up just before the Internet age, so there was not much chance of doing my own research on my condition until I went to university. At that stage, I just believed what my doctor told me and just waited.

Those years from 18 until 23, when I could have had a diagnosis and treatment, meant I missed out on a very important stage in physical and emotional development.

It still affects me today.

Having a poor body image and not being part of a social group has made finding new relationships difficult, if not impossible.

Now I am very keen on advocating to help others, especially teenagers, have access to early diagnosis and treatment for Kallmann syndrome.

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Getty Images photo via Yalana

Originally published: February 20, 2018
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