There once lived a man who was both a dwarf and a giant in a single lifetime. His name was Adam Rainer. Not much is really known about him, apart from the medical facts. Here’s my take of it…
Every year my father used to make me and my brother stand with our backs against the pantry door. “Make the top of your head touch the sky,” he said. Then he would level a steel ruler across our heads and make a notch in the door. Beside it, he would etch our age.
It was a ritual I thought nothing of until I turned eleven. That year my brother’s etch was taller than mine. He was eight and he gloated about it. “Don’t worry Adam, you’ll catch up,” my father promised.
I didn’t. In fact, I hardly grew at all and at the age of 17, I stopped completely. I was four foot tall. From then on my father stopped measuring us.
The year was 1915 and the war had broken out and while the rest of the world fought each other, I battled myself. I struggled with self-loathing and anger and jealousy. I avoided sports and physical contests, and when my friends started to date, I loathed them. My sole desire was to be big.
In 1916 I turned 18 and I tried to join the army. My motives were selfish. I needed to prove myself, prove my worth. I wanted to be seen as an equal. And I wanted to fight. Somehow, it made sense to marry the two wars, inside me and outside me, in a final onslaught that might end them both.
Of course, the army didn’t want me. Too short. Too weak. No one wanted me. I was too short and too weak to be a farm hand as well. The local chemist said I was too short to stack the shelves. I turned in on myself. I stayed home. I turned to booze.
Meanwhile, the other boys went and fought. Some didn’t come back. The ones that did were disfigured and broken. I looked at the stumps on their arms and legs with satisfaction. I felt vindicated, and finally, I felt equal. Then I felt guilty for feeling that way.
In 1919 the war ended and in 1920 the world started returning to normal. But not for me. That’s when I started growing. At first I thought it was just a late growth spurt. At first, we celebrated. I only noticed when my pants and jackets grew too small. I stood with my back to the pantry door and my father placed a ruler on my head and we laughed. Two inches. I had grown two inches. But it didn’t stop.
Months passed and I got bigger and longer. My hands and feet distended. My arms and legs stretched and stretched. I was sore and swollen all over and constantly exhausted.
Years passed and I hit 5 foot. I slept for hours and hours on end, and even that wasn’t enough. I suffered headaches and cramping. My jaw widened and so did the gaps between my teeth.
Even more years passed and when I was in my mid-20’s I outgrew my brother. The growth was not a welcomed oddity anymore. It was making me sick. It was out of control and I was terrified.
I didn’t put on much weight as I grew taller. I felt nauseous all the time. Dizzy. I had no appetite. That’s when the real nightmare began. My spine started to warp and bend and walking was painful. My sight and hearing failed me. My forehead protruded, distorted by too much growth.
By the time I turned 30 I was more than 7 foot tall and the doctors finally came up with a diagnosis and a plan.
They told me a tumour was growing on my pituitary gland. It had been there for ten years. For ten years the gland had been making too much growth hormone. The solution sounded easy enough. Cut it off. Slice the tumour off the gland. The doctors said the chances of success were slim but I told them they had to try.
It didn’t work. I kept growing. Now, I am now 50 years old and 7 foot 8 inches. I have been bedridden for decades. I am deaf and I’m as good as blind. I am ghastly to behold and regarded as little more than a medical peculiarity. I will surely die soon, but I will live forever in history having achieved nothing apart from being both a dwarf and a giant.