I had an article in a previous edition of Access Magazine.
Stephen McMurray talks to Lauren Ruotolo – a successful media executive and author of a new book that’s part memoir and part motivational guide…
Today’s modern woman faces a mixture of challenges, from obtaining and developing a successful career to the maze of relationships. What if however, you faced these challenges with a very rare and mysterious medical condition which meant you were very short and needing to use elbow crutches? Well, Lauren Ruotolo explains how in her inspiring book Unstoppable in Stilettos.
Lauren was born in 1976 in New York. She was diagnosed with McCune-Albright syndrome when she was two years old. This rare syndrome is caused by a mutation in a particular gene which results in weak cystic bones and hormonal problems, including potential premature puberty.
Her first period arrived when she was only nine months old. The Paediatrician prescribed hormonal treatment. Lauren slipped in a puddle when she was two and broke her femur and was subsequently diagnosed. Lauren consequently broke her femur another six times by the time she was eight.
Lauren made a decision when she was five which would have a major bearing on her life, she went against medical advice and decided that she wanted to walk around rather than use a wheelchair. However, this involved a tough regime of physical therapy to build up muscle strength.
Indeed, as Lauren puts it herself – ‘I am most proud of my determination to live life and not let the small stuff bother me. This has been a way of life for me and something I will continue to do as long as I’m alive.’
Lauren very much reflects in her book about growing up and how adults labelled her as being unable to take part in activities. From not being invited to a friend’s birthday party to not being employed as a Counselor at a summer camp because of her supposed inability to carry lunch and towels.
Lauren went to Hofstra University and gained a degree in Communications. Fortunately, unlike many of her peers, she knew she wanted to work in the entertainment industry and undertook a number of internships during her time as a student.
Armed with her degree and various relevant internships, Lauren thought she was well placed to gain employment. However, after 30 job interviews she received no job offers. A major reason appeared to be around employers’ wariness around health insurance. Finally, a celebrity public relations firm offered her a position. Lauren’s career has blossomed and she currently holds the position of director of entertainment promotions at Hearst Magazines.
Lauren describes her lowest point when she was 26 – ‘My left femur was killing me, my doctor confirmed a small fracture, but was very nervous that the bone was going to crack all the way through and if it did I would be in a wheelchair. I refused to think this could happen and sat in my room for two days and would not leave. I went back to the doctor in tears and told him something has to be done. He recommended Zometa which is a calcium infusion and has helped heal my bone. Those two days brought back tons of scary thoughts, but in the end I was more determined than ever to stay fit and get the bone healed.’
Standing at just 4’2 barefooted (though usually wearing stilettos) and using crutches was an obvious concern for Lauren when looking for a partner. A turning point arrived when a man she liked stated that he could not date someone who used crutches. Lauren turned to therapy and found acceptance about who she is as a person. Finally, Lauren met a man who could see her for who she truly was.
In writing Unstoppable in Stilettos, Lauren hopes that readers ‘feel empowered to say yes to something that could change their path of life for the better and that overall they feel more confident to take on everything life has to offer.’