Russell Silver Syndrome Life Stories: Brian

My name is Brian. I was born just outside St. Louis, MO. My birth weight was 3 lbs., 15 oz., and I was 15 ½ inches long. My Mom is 5’1” tall, and my Dad is 5’9” tall. It wasn’t until I was 9 months old that I was diagnosed with Russell Silver Syndrome. My parents never held me back, and I started kindergarten when I was 4 years old.

I was always the smallest kid in my class, but either I didn’t realize it, or I didn’t care. When I was 7 years old, my family moved to the Denver, CO area due to my dad getting transferred with his job. I adjusted well and quickly made friends. Honestly, that’s never been a problem for me. I have a good sense of humor and was always considered to be the witty and clever kid in my class.

Being small always drew attention from other people, and I relished it. I was also born with a natural talent for playing drums. I started playing when I was 4 years old, and by the time I was 5, I was traveling with my parents gospel group. I’ve never really thought of my size as a hindrance, but as a way to get people to notice me. I felt blessed because while some kids fought to stand out from the crowd, I automatically did thanks to RSS.

My doctor started me on Human Growth Hormone shots when I was 8 years old. While I didn’t enjoy having shots every day for 7 years, I appreciated the results. I went from growing about 1 inch per year to about 4 inches per year on the shots. The only doctor that would treat me for RSS was located in Kansas City, MO. So we made several trips a year from Denver to Kansas City to check in with the doctor and see how I was progressing. I was an only child until I was 11 years old when my parents decided to take in foster children. My brother and sister (who were both adopted by my family as babies through the foster care system) are both average height.

I played both baseball and basketball all the way through middle school, but it was obvious my talent was in playing drums. I have asymmetry and the left side of my body is bigger and longer than my right side. I wore a lift on my shoe until I was 12 years old when I had my right leg lengthened 2 ½ inches. It was a long and painful process, but I’m glad I had it done.

I continued on through middle school and high school and was a very popular kid wherever I went. I was never ashamed of my size and I didn’t shy away from making friends. I found my identity through music and playing drums. My high school and college years were really a great time in my life. I moved to Nashville, TN in 1997 to play drums professionally, and I did that for about 7 years.

I was fortunate enough to have seen 48 states and several different countries through my travel with music. I had a few average height girlfriends throughout my school years, but I didn’t find the love of my life until I was 29 years old.

I met my beautiful wife Jenny online through a dating website. I had narrowed my search to include only women that were 5 feet tall and under. My adult height is 5 feet tall, and I decided I wanted a girl whose eyes I could stare into without having to get on a stepladder.

Jenny met that criteria (as well as many other important criteria) and we began to date. Within 11 months of first meeting online, we were married. Five months later we became pregnant. I had always wondered if I could have children, and if so, would I possibly pass on RSS to them. I didn’t really know any other adults with RSS, much less any that had children. Thankfully we had a beautiful little girl with no traits of RSS. She is now 6 years old and growing like a weed! While Jenny and I both expect her to end up being a little short, we also expect her to be taller than us.

My Christian faith plays an extremely large part in my life. I was raised in the church and am very thankful to my parents for the heritage I was given. We are active in our local church and have a very solid social network comprised of friends and family. I work in the call center for a major research cancer clinic and I’m continuing to work my way up the corporate ladder. I don’t feel that my size has ever hindered me from getting where I want to go professionally. I’ve lived the ups and downs of life just like anyone else. But overall I’m extremely blessed and wouldn’t change a thing.

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