…..and all I got was a good parking spot.

While shopping, I overheard someone complaining how they needed to park in the handicapped spot at the drug store because they sprained their ankle and it hurt to walk.  A sprained ankle hurts like hell.  I get it.  You see my joints feel like they are sprained and/or broken most of the time.  They swell, ache, and get red hot on a regular basis.  The funny thing is, I lived in this pain for YEARS before I ever thought about getting a handicapped parking spot.  I didn’t want to take a spot away from someone who would need it more than me.  My rheumatologist suggested that I get a placard because I was an itinerant therapist who traveled between 6 schools.  Some days, I had to park 4 or 5 blocks away from the building while carrying all of my materials only to find the janitor was parking his Hummer in the handicapped spot so it wouldn’t get scraped up on the street.  I reluctantly filled out the application and I cried when it arrived in the mail.  I then had to complain to the one school to keep the normally abled janitor from parking in the spot I needed.  My email complaining was forwarded to an entire staff as “Here is a reason why no one should park in the handicapped spots”.  I was gutted that someone  decided to “out” me as a person with an illness who needed an accommodation.  When I spoke to her about it, she left work because she was so devastated that she hurt my feelings.  She went home, as I sat in a back office typing up reports while I cried my eyes out.  I’ve had a serious complex about my parking situations ever since.

A few people, including family members, laughed at me when they found out I had a handicapped parking placard.  I don’t look sick.  I’m not in a wheelchair and I only sporadically use a cane, so in their minds, I am not a valid handicap parking spot user. Then I met people who just assume everyone NOT in a wheelchair is using someone else handicap placard.  It seems everyone who doesn’t use  handicapped parking see themselves as experts on the subject.  I often hear complaints that stores have too many or too few handicapped spots.  I see cars pull into the spots with the blue lines (for people to get out of vans with ramps) without hesitation.  I also see the dirty looks I get as I limp away from my spot.

I recently complained at work about people parking in handicapped spots and ironically the person who parked there, didn’t realize it was handicapped because the plow team didn’t clear the spot and she couldn’t see the blue lines under the snow (this spot doesn’t have a sign in addition to the lines).  Ironically, her car wasn’t the one I was complaining about.  Worst of all, everyone knew I had to be the one who complained because I’m the only staff member who does have a valid handicapped placard.  How funny is it that I felt guilty complaining about people parking in the handicapped spots without valid tags?

I’ve been off my biologic drug for over 3 weeks due to bronchitis, so swelling is out of control.  I was walking out to my car at the end of the work day and was so happy that I didn’t have to walk very far because it hurt so much.  If I have to live with incurable autoimmune diseases that make my joints look like this:

 

 

 

the least I deserve is to have a good parking spot.

Posted by

Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

4 thoughts on “…..and all I got was a good parking spot.

    1. I always find it how ironic that patients who have a placard struggled with getting it…..yet tons of people without valid tags feel no shame in parking in the spots. SMH….it’s a bizarre world. Hope you are well!

      Like

  1. I feel awful guilty about my blue badge and ashamed about my badge I feel guilty because people can’t see my illness, so I understand how you feel. I see people judge am I get out the car but I don’t judge them but I do feel like getting my head tattooed with my illnesses but sadly it’s not big enough lol

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s