For Tamera Garrett, living with a child affected by a growth disorder has been a rollercoaster ride of struggle and success.
Recently, however, all of the concerns about whether she and her husband Mark were doing the right thing by treating their 10-year-old daughter, Madison, with daily injections of growth hormone were put to rest.
"I had a parent come over to me and say, ‘I never wanted to say anything before, but Madison never looked healthy, she always looked like she was going to break and now she looks really healthy,’" Tamera says.
Diagnosed with idiopathic short stature less then two years ago, Madison began growth hormone therapy a year ago. Prior to medical intervention, Madison had never grown more than 1.9 inches in a year. Since beginning therapy, she’s gained 17 pounds and 3 inches—now standing just over 4 feet.
More importantly, Madison’s growth has put an end to renal infections that have plagued her since babyhood.
"I don’t care how big she is—I’m not giving her two shots a day so she can be a model or professional ball player—I just want her to be healthy."
It’s a clarification Tamera has used against those who’ve criticized her choices.
"I’ve had some parents say, ‘My children think you have an issue with short people.’ But I’m only 5-feet 3-inches, I don’t have an issue because I am short," Tamera says.
Still, there’s nothing selfish or vain about treating a child affected by a growth disorder for the sole purpose of advancing their height, says Dr. Richard Levy, chief of pediatric endocrinology at Rush University Medical Center.
"It’s been argued that by making the shorter children grow taller, we’re upping the level at which kids are considered to be short," Levy says. "While statistically I have great sympathy to that, I face parents and children in rooms every day and have to act in their best interest."
And for parents and children affected by growth hormone deficits, doing something about it never comes easy.
"We’ve had Madison talk to a counselor, just so she knows it’s not a punishment," Tamera says. "Sometimes she doesn’t want to do the shot and I point out how far she’s come. It’s better now that she can wear clothes from the regular store—in the second grade she was still wearing Baby Gap. She really likes it when we go on a big shopping spree and when something doesn’t fit she thinks it’s kind of cool."