I was diagnosed at the age of 15 with a progressive degenerative neurological disease. The disease is in my spinal cord (grey matter) and affects motoric functioning. I was told by the doctor I would lose a millimeter a month of muscle strength, be in a wheelchair at 25 and die of respiratory complications at 40. I did not heed to this death sentence.
I was given a gift when I applied to NYU. The interviewer, after hearing and seeing my hands, said I have a choice. I can make it an asset or a limitation. I made it an asset.
I graduated NYU with both a Bachelors’s and an Advanced Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy. I was a licensed OT in the field of adult psychiatry (Staff Therapist-Director) and sensory integration in the classroom. I underwent 15 reconstructive tendon transfers and bone fusions while working for 25 years. I never said no.
The most difficult part was the lack of emotional acknowledgment/encouragement I felt from my parents which is fundamental and oh so critical.
The interviewer, after hearing and seeing my hands, said I have a choice. I can make it an asset or a limitation. I made it an asset. Laura Mayer Integrative Therapist, Intuitive, Author, self-employed
Because of that, I always felt like damaged merchandise, even with my professional successes.
How did this disabling disease impact my career? It made me show up as I was, no matter what was happening to me physically or how I felt emotionally. Being an OT, which is all about helping others to function, was the perfect mirror. In saying that, I couldn’t hide. The greatest part of my own story–I believe it helps others not to hide. Becoming the professional I was, although difficult and exhausting at times, was the greatest thing I have ever done. It helped me to love and honor myself as the AbledDisabled adult that I was. I no longer practice in the field of OT because it’s too physically challenging.
Today, I use my expertise and awareness to assist others to become visible and love themselves for who they are–no matter what the ‘dis’ is. I am most grateful for that amazing man who said over 40 years ago, it was ‘my choice.’