Physically Challenged: Humbling Experience, Huge Learning

By Rita Wuebbeler - 01.24.2014


I recently spent almost seven weeks not being able to put weight on my left knee due to a minor bicycle accident where I fractured a small bone in my knee joint.

It turned out to be a small accident with a huge impact. When I received the diagnosis from my orthopedist along with her casual “you need crutches” at the beginning of October, all I could think of were the numerous trips I had scheduled in the next two months.

I was planning to teach classes or give presentations at international conferences in far-off places, including Estonia, Germany and Canada. I almost panicked but then decided to get practical. What did I have to do to still be able to travel and teach?

I had to ask for help! I became an expert user of the airlines’ (and AMTRAK’s) wheel chair assistance services and relied on the helping hands of many fellow travelers and hotel staff when trying to maneuver stairs, steps and other “barriers.”

So, no big deal, right? Using crutches and a wheel chair is an “inconvenience” but at least it’s only temporary, right?

Right! However, the experience of being “temporarily‚ÄĚ physically challenged was humbling and has taught me some important lessons:

Asking for help comes with challenges.

I had to rely so much on certain friends and colleagues, especially while traveling and co-facilitating, that it temporarily changed and affected our relationship. Even though I became pretty good at asking for help, it still “did a number on me” and made me feel insecure and “too demanding” at times. Read more »