Source | www.tlnt.com | CAROLYN CANNISTRARO
I still remember the first time I sat in Bergdorf Goodman’s shoe department and realized I wouldn’t be able to wear high heels ever again. I broke down and started crying.
I believe that my experience of loss is similar to that experience of many people who receive and live with a life-altering health diagnosis.
Simple tasks that able-bodied people might take for granted are a struggle for me — like opening an office door or walking from the car to the office. It takes more effort and time for me.
I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was 22 years old and for the last 26 years, it has progressively gotten harder for me to walk. But for the first 14 years of my diagnosis, as I pushed myself to work harder because I had a dream to make it on Wall Street, I suffered in silence. I was worried what my colleagues would think if they discovered I was battling MS.
My physical and mental health began to deteriorate as time passed, so after more than a decade, I finally gave into my pain and asked my employer for an accommodation. I was also certain that my journey in the financial services arena was over. My self-confidence plummeted. I felt worthless. And I worried that my company, or any company in corporate America, wouldn’t want me.
But instead, I was greeted with genuine concern and empathy from my firm. They asked questions about my disability because they wanted to accommodate me. They made me feel special and valued. As a result, I’ve stayed with this firm, have been promoted over the years, and gained confidence in sharing my authentic self with colleagues and with my community,