Last July, 9-year-old Alex Everett received his first shot of synthetic human growth hormone—an injection he will get every night for eight years. Alex is not sick—he is short. Should we be treating stature as a medical condition?
I swipe an alcohol-soaked gauze pad over my younger brother’s left thigh, an inch below the hem of his SpongeBob boxers. As I screw the needle into the injection pen, Alex feeds me instructions. It’s my first time, but already it’s his 37th.
“Here are the rules: Insert the needle quickly and gently, but only when I say so,” he says, taking the pen to pantomime the motion. He removes the first of two protective caps and turns a knob on the pen—one, two, three, four, five clicks—and watches intensely as his dose is released into the barrel.