Learning to Fly

I never really felt too different from the others guys growing up and considered myself completely normal up until quite recently. I played a wide range of sports as a kid and throughout my high school years I stayed active in volleyball, swimming, cross-country running, and badminton. When all my childhood friends’ shoulders began to widen and began showing off their teen-‘staches and scraggly beards, I figured my time was just around the corner and I wasn’t too concerned. I had lots of friends who only got their puberty towards the end of high school, and many who remained skinny but hairy. I suspected nothing was different about me – my voice had dropped a bit, my shoulders had broadened a little bit, I had new hair growth under my arms, on my groin, and on my stomach, and that was good enough for me. As for my small testicles, I always figured “different strokes for different folks”. I was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets from 13 – 19 years of age, and as we were required to keep our hair short and our faces clean shaven, I never experienced much envy of not being able to grow much facial hair anyways.

One of the Cadet Program’s main principles is teaching youth about responsibility and being able to accomplish anything with enough hard work. So although I was considerably weaker physically than my peers, I always chalked this up to being my fault – I didn’t work out very much and avoided upper body sports. On our yearly fitness tests in Cadets, I could always achieve good results in running, but failed badly with push-ups and chin-ups, however, what I lacked in those areas I made up for in cross country running, always averaging a “Bronze” or “Silver” rating as I could run quickly and for longer durations.

Although I was by no means a “popular kid” in high school, I had enough close friends to keep me from feeling alone. After high school, I attended community college taking Restaurant management. but lucked out on making friends – I think because I felt so different all of a sudden from my peers. You see, everyone was sporting beards, moustaches, or the “5pm shadow” and I was as baby-faced as they come. I began to feel less masculine, even child-like, and out of place. While I didn’t experience direct harassment from anyone, I certainly did feel excluded as people never really took me seriously. Working during this time at a bar, customers would regularly question whether I was even old enough to serve alcohol, and I often felt like people were judging me just by my appearance. During that time, I also began over-eating, and pretty much avoided all forms of exercise. While I had been a healthy 180 lbs throughout high school, standing at 6’3″, my weight ballooned to 225lbs and nearly a 40″ waist as I took consolation in junk food and computer games in my off time while my peers were out drinking and scoring dates. The few times my high school friends did manage to get me out, I always got carded when they got in, and once was accused of having a fake ID as there was no way I was as old as by Driver’s License said. I had a couple of girlfriends in high school, but was pretty much single from age 19 – 22. My confidence was shot to pieces, and I felt inferior to even the chubby XY population – at least they could grow beards

Things started to look up a bit when I got a job at the Hilton Hotel in London, Ontario. the staff were quite possibly the most supportive and friendly people I had ever met save for my Cadet friends. I quickly developed friendships with many of my fellow co-workers and began to re-develop a positive outlook on life. During this time, I also got involved with cadets again as an adult volunteer. Two of my new-found friends at the Hilton got me into working out at a gym. We were all about the same age (22) and all feeling skinny and under-toned. So we set out to change ourselves; working out 4 days a week at the local gym. Running and lifting weights felt fantastic, I felt a new sense of being and masculinity at the end of each workout as my muscles ached from the exercise, but I really felt alive. Problem was however, that as my friends began to make gains fairly quickly, mine were very slow. Unlike other XXY’s, I was able to put on muscle, however I found that if I slacked off from the gym for even a few weeks my gains would be gone. Essentially, I couldn’t keep the muscle unless I was using it constantly. After three months of steady routine, friends and family noted that I looked firmer and less flabby, but I still had skinny wrists, no abs, and although decent upper arms, my lower arms were as twiggy as could be despite all efforts to make them stronger. Eventually, I got tired of working out hard for only incremental gains; I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t growing at the same rate as my workout partners. I ate a better diet, got the right amount of sleep, avoided alcohol, and was consistent to the gym. After about 3 months, I stopped going regularly and just attended enough to keep the belly fat off.

At work, despite my young-appearance, I was eventually promoted through the supervisory ranks to the position of Assistant Restaurant Manager at a local eatery and continued part time serving room service at the Hilton. Financially I was in great shape, and physically, I was probably as good as I was going to get without Testosterone therapy. Amazingly though I still turned a blind eye to my baby-face and body type as being abnormal, I was just getting used to the fact I would always look young and I would never be able to have the quintessential symbol of masculinity – the six-pack abs.

At 23, I re-evaluated my chosen occupation and decided that a life of Restaurant and Bar Management really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I loved instructing and teaching in Cadets, and as I was pretty good at it – decided that maybe teaching would be a good career. So I made a major life change – I quit my jobs, enrolled in university in another city, left town, and decided to start fresh

For some obtuse reason, I figured that maybe if I forced myself into lots of workouts, maybe it would help my hair grow as well  . Seems a little ridiculous now, but I figured that if I couldn’t be a hairy man, at least I could be a muscular one. So I left town, started my first year in a History degree, and worked out like crazy. Things seemed to be going well for the first four months, but self-discipline and will-power fade eventually and although my academics were decent, I had again achieved little in regular weight training beyond fat loss.

Consistent with a lot of other stories on social media support groups, I did experience difficulty staying on task with school work similar to ADD. While my first year wasn’t too hard, my second and third years were brutal as the work load was much harder and I had to drop almost 50% of my courses both years. 4th year was almost as bad, and as a result I am currently in my 5th year of what should be a 4 year degree

The Discovery

About halfway through my 4th year, I suffered a major mental breakdown. I was getting sick and tired of looking like a teenager halfway through puberty. I was angry that I could never keep any muscle, that my stomach could never seemingly be flat, my shoulders were narrow, and my arms were so weak. I hated always being mistaken for a younger person, and being called “young fellow”, “kid”, etc. The one thing that probably drove me over the edge was while working part-time at a bar, I had to regularly cut people off and ID them. Hearing “aren’t you a little young to be working here”, or “how can you be a supervisor, you’re only what – 16?” when I was 26 really got under my skin. I googled “26 years old – no facial hair”, and amongst the results was one of the symptoms of Klinefelter Syndrome. So I clicked on the page and was both horrified and satisfied to see something I could sync with.

For months I languished in despair about whether or not I had this; the infertility aspect had me the most upset. For 3 years I had been dating a beautiful girl whom I had hoped to start a family with. Finally, I worked up the nerve to go and see a doctor at the university clinic. She gave me a complete physical and referred me to a GP who specialized in genetics and internal medicine. Anyone familiar with public health care – particularly the Canadian system can understand how long non-emergency medical situations can take… I waited 5 months before being seen. Then 2 months before the results from the first round of tests which confirmed low testosterone and infertility, and another 3 months before the karyotype confirming 47,XXY. The whole time, I tried to remain as positive as possible – but going through a process similar to the 7 stages of grief: Shock & Denial, Anger and Blaming, Depression and Self-hatred, and eventually – Acceptance. I kept my family and Fiancée in the loop the whole time, and all have been very accepting, although certainly my Fiancée has had to evaluate whether or not she wanted to keep a relationship with me; knowing there was a 99% chance we will never naturally conceive, and only a 40-50% chance we will be able to have our own kids using IVF and other new technologies; adoption and sperm donation being the only sure-fire way to have children.

The Future and Acceptance

After getting my endocrine levels checked and my karyotype back, my Specialist and I began to discuss treatment and after consideration, I obtained a prescription for Testosterone injections. I just got my first one two weeks ago, and am already feeling better. Granted it has only been two weeks, and I haven’t seen any new hair growth yet, but I have observed a great change in my energy levels and libido. I don’t feel nearly as lethargic throughout the day, and my sex drive has never been stronger. While I’m not a believer in miracles and one-shot cure-all pharmaceuticals, I am hoping that through regular T-shots, I will be able to achieve at a little more of the “adult man” look both facially and through strength training – through my body as well.

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