Skip to comments.Can Those with an Invisible Illness Park in the Blue Spots without Others Seeing Red?
Posted on 08/20/2007 7:41:24 AM PDT by Between the Lines
OPINION, August 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- "Do you know the fine for using someone else's handicapped parking permit is $300?" "That parking spot is saved for the disabled! You should be ashamed of yourself!" Nearly everyone with an invisible illness has been told, "You don't look disabled to me!" One of my friends replied, "Well, you don't look stupid to me." I just bite my lip to try to prevent the tears from forming, broken-hearted that I appear to be deceptive, when I would do anything to give back this parking perk that I use on a rare occasion.
As I circle the parking lot a fourth time on this day I hope for a spot to open up within two-hundred yards of the store, but there is nothing remotely close at this bustling superstore where I need to buy my prescriptions and milk for my toddler. My rheumatoid arthritis is flaring badly, causing extra fluid in my knees to dislocate pieces of loose bones. Every step is painful and unpredictable.
Finally I sigh in resignation and pull into the farthest "blue parking spot." I reach for the placard--the one that has a bold white symbol of a wheelchair--and no, I don't have a wheelchair--yet. So after fifteen years of having this "privilege" at my disposal I still warily scan the area before reluctantly dangling the placard from the rear view mirror. Is there anyone watching, wondering, or waiting, ready to confront me?
I've had scathing notes left on my windshield and many people, empowered by television exposés, have approached me with their opinions. Judgmental expressions and whispers sting just as much. My husband and I adopted a baby and when I would get my child of the car I would avoid eye contact with onlookers because I could hear their whispers of, "She's not disabled! Or--if she is--she has no right to have a child!"
Nearly 1 in 2 Americans (133 million) live with a chronic illness. It could be diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, fibromyalgia or even chronic back pain. Many illnesses make walking long distances impossible because of limited lung capacity, physical pain, or unpredictable numbness in the legs. According to statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, about 96% of these illnesses are invisible. There is no sign of the illness existing, nor the use of an assistive device like a cane or a wheelchair.
I began National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week in 2002, which is held this year Sept 10-16, 2007, after witnessing thousands of people who had frustrations, fears, loneliness, and bitterness, about feeling invalidated. One's illness, age, diagnosis, or level of disease degeneration, doesn't change the emotional pain.
Strangers and loved ones alike doubt the severity of our illness or even the diagnosis. We've heard, "You look so good! You must be feeling better." But we don't feel better. We just bought some fake tan in a bottle and pasted on a smile.
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is a time to acknowledge that invisible illness is more prevalent than we'd imagine and everyone--both those who are healthy and ill--can make a difference by encouraging someone with an invisible illness, rather than tearing someone down.
Are those parking spots painted blue because they give so many people the blues? That small area of square footage is a breeding ground for many frustrations as we are forced to defend our illness and character to total strangers. I'd gladly trade in my placard indefinitely for just a week of having my old body back when I could run, sit on the floor, or even hold a fork without tendons popping out of place.
I anticipate the day when a nationally designated system is formed. Texas law states that blue placards are for those who use assistive devices; red permits are for people with a "condition that impairs mobility." In other states, red symbolizes six months of disability and blue is permanent. It's confusing! And for one with invisible illness, the wheelchair symbol discredits both our physical pain and--in the eyes of others--our reputation. Until then, we rely on Invisible Illness Week bumper stickers.
The next time you see a healthy looking man loading groceries into his car--parked in the "blue spot"--don't glare. Stop and offer to help him, or just smile nicely, giving him the benefit of the doubt. Seventy percent of suicides have uncontrollable physical pain as a factor. Your smile may save his life. At the least, it will astonish him, perhaps providing him with genuine encouragement he hasn't felt for months.
The ignorance on this thread is simply amazing.
I guess ‘compassionate conservatism’ really doesn’t exist.
I don’t waste my time worrying about whos parking in the handicapped spots. I park my SUV in the far end of the lot to avoid the doorbangers.
Good observation. I should have noted the use of the ramps downtown and in business areas, never in the suburbs I've lived in.
And I assure you that was the cost (in Califonia) fifteen years ago!
Two or three laborers and a supervisor. Two pickup trucks. Compressor and jackhammer; small loader; dump truck; traffic control; cement truck; concrete finishers, another supervisor... over a span of two or three days.
Is it beginning to make sense now?
Ask my poor husband about having a wife with the Jimmy Legs.
For the past decade, the only good night’s sleep he gets is when I’m out of town.
It makes me ashamed of my nationality when I see a van use one of the large handicap spaces then a mother (no more than 50 yrs old) and then her DAUGHTER lower themselves down with the van’s lift then drive their SCOOTERS through the grocery store.
Their only handicap appeared to be morbid obesity.
wasnt addressing you to “come walk...”
Meant the folks who challenge anyones disability. Same as the book/cover thing... Stay well
No it does not.
I would explain, but I have grown weary of educating other people's children.
I know, I was just letting you know that you don’t walk alone. there are lots of us around, and when we aren’t around, there’s always the Big Guy.
Good golly folks, I have friend who has RA and she can longer walk by herself. Before that she used crutches and she was in agony every step. Those of you critcizing this woman have no idea in the world what you’re talking about.
Lisa Copen, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis & fibromyalgia.
Most people know that motocycles can, and do, park practically anywhere, including places much closer to the entrances than "handicapped" spaces.
Yeah, but unless you sleep with your boots on, how bad can it be?
“Nice to see you sucking it up for the 50-something men.”
You are a maroon, a real arm chair tough guy...and looks like a licensed doctor to boot. The irony of you one day possibly being in my situation-—or the situation of any other FReeper with a real medical handicap-—and begging your physician for a handicap parking placard puts a smile on my face.
Don’t bother answering. I’m not wasting anymore time with an opinionated nitwit, and I don’t need a medical degree to make that diagnosis.
Lisa Copen, founder of Rest Ministries, Inc., author, and editor of HopeKeepers Magazine.
Now as far as true compassion. the mood here is screw the elderly and screw anyone who can't do a marathon. Like any law the ADA is abused (which is why we should have fewer laws), but just because someone parks in a handicap space without hauling out their O2 tank isn't any reason for the busybodies to get their panties in a wad.
Well, sitting offers some relief. I can adjust my weight so it's not so spine-centered, and the pillow I sit on also adds some cushioning to ease the pain at those rare times it's pretty bad.
Needing the extra space to get my mom’s wheelchair in between the cars so she can get into it, is the reason why we use her handicap permit. However, that didn’t stop us from getting yelled at by a passerby several months ago.
An elderly “man” (and I use the term very loosely here) actually came up to me and grabbed my shoulder when he saw me get out of the driver’s side and start walking towards the back of the car, to tell me that those spots were only for handicapped people! I coldly replied that it was my mom who was incapacitated, and that I needed to get her wheelchair out of the car now, and he *yelled* indignantly at me that the **driver** needs to be the one who is handicapped in order to use the permit! (So I told him to mind his own business, and told him that he should go home and try to find a pair of !@!!s in his pants instead of picking on women and children(my kids were in the car too)). Meanwhile, it was my mom’s car that I was driving for her, and only because her back pain is so bad that she cannot manipulate her legs and feet around to work the pedals to drive, so I and my dad are her “chauffers”.
People are just unbelievable.
The only problem I have is with people who spring from their cars and stride purposefully into the grocery store from their handicapped spots.
They show absolutely no indication of any infirmity AT ALL, and it’s obvious from their movement that they could walk the extra 50 feet or so from another spot with no difficulty at all (my store is not crowded).
I give the benefit of the doubt to slow walkers.
Correction, the people that hijacked the idea for handicapped parking for their own use!
For your enlightenment, the correct title is "The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990" and took effect July 26, 1992.
I was referring to handicapped parking spaces which I can remember as far back as 1965. These parking spaces were half again as wide as normal parking spaces, were located next to a cut out at the curb and were usually identified by a sign stating "Handicapped Parking Only" and with a picture of a stick figure in a wheelchair. (Something else hijacked by the ADA and that has come to represent "anybody who can convince their doctor to write them an excuse").
But then again, I'm using common sense and logical reasoning, whereas most of the people arguing with me are going on raw emotions.
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