I lost the use of my hands in college. I could not write, type, or turn a doorknob. I was in excruciating pain all the time.
For two years, doctors could not figure out what was wrong. One told me I was making it up. Several told me that I would never heal.
I was raised believing that hard work could get me anywhere – but for the first time, it couldn’t. I was raised believing in self-reliance as the greatest virtue – but now, I needed help with almost everything.
While I had intellectually understood that life is not fair, for the first time I felt it.
I felt the frustration of facing barriers outside my control – some unavoidable, but many that were within people’s power to change.
Eventually, I found workarounds, like operating a mouse by foot and "typing" with voice recognition software. Eventually, after multiple surgeries, I healed. But I never forgot the lessons of those years. I gained a newfound determination to help people overcome the obstacles they cannot tackle alone, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and to understand that asking for help can be a strength, not a weakness. Now, I feel privileged when someone asks me to lend a hand.