My story...

Here's my life story - enjoy!

1969

I was born in South Wales, UK. The midwife said to my mother: "You have a lovely baby boy but he hasn't half got big feet!" I also had no sense of smell, but didn't realise at the time. Little did I know these were a sign of things to come...

All giants need a beanstalk
1970s

I remember having a very happy childhood, surrounded by lots of family and friends in a close knit community. I loved Cowboys & Indians (Westerns) and the cartoons of the day.

All giants need a beanstalk
1977

From the age of 8, I started to grow more quickly than the rest of my classmates. I didn't really notice it at the time. It just seemed natural. And although I began to get lots of joint pains, I still felt really good. I took an interest in football, music and girls. Life was good.

All giants need a beanstalk
1979

One summer's day in school, there was a knock on the door of my classroom. "Come in" Mrs Ellis shouted. The door opened. "Please miss, can Andrew come out and race against our class?". The year above were having sports day preparations, and word must have spread that I could run fast. So I joined their class and prepared to take part in the 100m sprint against their fastest runners. On your marks, get set, go! I came first. Years later I was told my whole class stopped the lesson, watched the race from the window and cheered me on. Wow! I felt good.

All giants need a beanstalk
1980

By the age of 10, although one of the youngest in the class, I was the tallest, strongest, fastest boy in the school. I felt so alive. Here's me captaining the Blue team in the annual sports day. The others didn't stand a chance! ;-) I loved the music of the day - new wave bands such as The Police, The Jam, ELO, The Pretenders, UB40, Blondie and so many more.

All giants need a beanstalk
1980

I started secondary school, and continued being active in sports. I played rugby, competed in cross country running and captained a team in the school 5 a side football tournament. I fancied Claire Thomas. We all did. She gave me her telephone number. Life was very good...

All giants need a beanstalk
July 1981

Towards the end of my first year of secondary school, I started to get headaches and my vision slowly deteriorated. After a particulary bad day, the school nurse took me home. Something was wrong...

All giants need a beanstalk
July 1981

While confined to my bed, a local GP came to visit and diagnosed migraine. I was taller than he was! And wearing size 11 shoes. Perhaps he should have noticed the signs. One night I became delirious, and was rushed to East Glamorgan Hospital, Pontypridd, then moved to the Heath Hospital, Cardiff. At this point my eyesight was poor, I had constant headaches and felt confused and ill.

All giants need a beanstalk
July 1981

A CAT scan revealed a large tumour on the pituitary gland that pressed on both sides of the optic nerve. The surgeon (Mr Weeks) came to see me pre operation, and explained that I might lose my sense of smell and taste due to the location of the tumour. After being given a sweet pink drink to swallow, I was asked to count down from 10 to 0. 10, 9, 8. That's the last thing I remember. After being put to sleep I was taken to the operating theatre, where my entire pituitary gland and tumour were removed. The growth spurt and energy levels I had enjoyed were caused by a pituitary tumour that produced excess Growth Hormone. Fortunately I kept my sense of taste which I am grateful for (I'd never had a sense of smell anyway). However, life would never be the same again.

All giants need a beanstalk
July 1981

Some time after the operation, I woke up on a stretcher, head bandaged. I was very hungry. And it just so happened that fish and chips were being served for lunch. While lying on the stretcher, my mother fed me mouthful by mouthful. I ate the lot! I spent several more weeks in hospital and recovered well considering. Although I burst into tears when I first saw my reflection in the mirror the day my head bandages were removed. My thick dark hair had gone, replaced with horrendous scarring and bruising.

All giants need a beanstalk
July 1981

During my recovery, I quite enjoyed the attention of the nurses! They would regularly congregate on or near my bed and help me with whatever puzzle I happened to be working on. I also spent time drawing and put some of my sketches on the wall. One nurse noticed this and asked if I could draw her. Who was I to refuse? So she posed at the end of my bed while I sketched away. I remember she had a Princess Diana haircut which was popular at the time. If only I'd kept the drawing! Instead I added my signature and presented it to her. On another occasion a nurse wheeled me to a room where numerous doctors were discussing my case. I was positioned at the front of the room for all to see. One doctor walked up to me, compared the size of my hands and feet with his own, and walked away defeated! Poor guy.

All giants need a beanstalk
August 1981

I spent 5 weeks having radiotherapy treatment at Velindre hospital, Cardiff. The treatment completely exhausted me and I lost lots of weight.

All giants need a beanstalk
Autumn 1981

After radiotherapy, I spent the rest of the year being home schooled. Mrs Squires was a great teacher and I am forever grateful. Now pumped full of artifical steroids, and without any growth hormone or testosterone, I hardly recognise myself.

All giants need a beanstalk
1982

On the advice of the headmaster Mr James, I was put back a year to catch up on the education I had missed. I lost touch with my friends, but made new ones, and continued a course of artificial but life saving HRT for the rest of my life. I looked and felt very different. As one friend said many years later - "You just disappeared".

All giants need a beanstalk
1980s

Years followed, trying to readjust to the new me, constantly being monitored and having my medication reviewed. I no longer played sport, and felt half the person I used to be, but survived.

All giants need a beanstalk
1980s

Years of testosterone treatment hadn't been that effective, and sensing my disappointment Doctor Hughes, the consultant I regularly saw in the children's outpatient clinic at the Heath, suggested it was time I transferred to Professor Scanlon's adult clinic instead. During my initial consultation with the professor, he replaced my fortnightly testosterone injections (Sustanon) with more frequent and powerful injections of leutenising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). He cautioned me with the advice: "Be careful now - you could get someone pregnant." Let's just say the treatment worked wonders, and I felt alive again. I met a girl. Then afterwards another. Thankyou Professor. The power of hormones eh...

All giants need a beanstalk
1980s

After Sixth Form College, I was lucky enough to land a sponsorship with an avionics company, so moved away to South East England for the next 3 years to train as a software engineer. By now I was feeling good in myself, my medication was balanced and working well and the opportunity to move away from home, with no-one knowing my background, was refreshing. Like a new start.

All giants need a beanstalk
1990s

After college I moved to Reading, England to start my first job as a computer programmer. And I met another girl. We got married and are still together 25+ years later. Once my balance of HRT was sorted out, I've been able to lead a very happy and normal life. I've travelled the world; I enjoy live music; I cook and I play the guitar (albeit badly)

All giants need a beanstalk
Today

Fast forward to today and I'm still here to tell the tale. With top quality medical care I live a great life, and that's the message I want to share. I miss my old self at times, but hey. Thanks for reading this far, and take care.

Andy, the Gentle Giant ;o) x