Most of Destiny Dyer’s baby photos have one thing in common — they picture her in a cast. The 22-year-old student from Bowling Green, Ky., was born with a severe brittle-bone disease that affects at most 10,000 people in the US. She’d broken more than 100 bones by the time she was 2, and she now stands at just 3 feet tall.
She is one of 12 individuals with rare, chronic disorders profiled on the new TLC show “Two in a Million,” premiering Wednesday at 10 p.m. Each episode in the six-part series connects two people who share the same medical condition, introducing them to perhaps the only person who can truly understand the pain, struggles and isolation of their everyday lives. They spend one week together, traveling to meet a doctor and inspiring each other to try new things like visiting a big city, learning to drive in a specially designed vehicle, taking part in team sports, or preparing for their first job interview. Here are the stories of three.
Medical condition: Jarcho-Levin Syndrome, which affects 1 in 40,000 people, causes the spinal vertebrae to fuse together and curve; Geigel suffers severe pain on a daily basis from her shoulders and hips rubbing together.
Daily life: Every New Yorker dreads their commute, but for Geigel, the daily routine can turn into a nightmare. Her ailment gives her a short upper body and no neck, and at 3-foot-9 and 70 pounds, she’s at risk of being crushed in packed rush-hour trains, forcing her to avoid traveling at peak times. The after-school hours bring their own perils, when kids are more likely to taunt her or take her photo for a cruel Internet meme.
“It’s really hard to be short because nobody sees you,” Geigel tells The Post. “Talking to a [bank] teller is really annoying because … I’m literally talking to the counter. And that’s where I feel less human, because the person will not get up to speak to me eye to eye.”
To cope with the frustration, Geigel turns to dance — she’s trained in ballet, tap and modern — and works as an office administrator in the Hunter College dance department. Geigel is divorced, and would like to have kids, but she says dating is difficult when your body is shaped differently.
For her match, 27-year-old Yajaira Pineiro of Florida, being confronted with her reflection was a bittersweet experience. “Though my first impression was a bit of a surprise, I was able to build a friendship with someone who completely understands my obstacles in life other than just imagining what I go through,” Pineiro says.