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At some point in our lives, we come to understand the concept of death, and then it happens to our family members or friends. In the normal course of events, there is a progression: Grandparents die first, then our parents, and then we go. If we are fortunate enough to have children, then they survive our death.
Some people have a different pattern: their children predecease them. I have never known a parent who lost a child and was not deeply affected by it. David Horowitz is one of those who buried a child. In 2008, his 44-year-old daughter Sarah died suddenly and alone.
Sarah was born with Turner Syndrome, a disease I had never heard of until I read the book Horowitz has written about his daughter’s life. About one in 2,500 girls is born with Turner Syndrome, and it can make life miserable for those who have it.
There are characteristic physical abnormalities, such as short stature, swelling, broad chest, low hairline, low-set ears, and webbed necks. Girls with Turner syndrome typically experience gonadal dysfunction (non-working ovaries), which results in amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycle) and sterility. Concurrent health concerns are also frequently present, including congenital heart disease, hypothyroidism (reduced hormone secretion by the thyroid), diabetes, vision problems, hearing concerns, and many autoimmune diseases. Finally, a specific pattern of cognitive deficits is often observed, with particular difficulties in visuospatial, mathematical, and memory areas.
Sarah experienced a high percentage of the afflictions described above. She walked slowly and with great discomfort. Her vision and hearing were very poor. As an adult, she stood but four feet, seven inches.
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