Last updated: October 2022
Being someone who has Multiple Sclerosis, but doesn’t “look sick”… I tend to get some commentary from others when I’m out and about, and I need to use my handicapped placard.
Walking in extreme heat
I wanted to share with everyone something that happened to me not too long ago. I was at the grocery store, and it was PACKED full. I would have had to walk ½ a mile in 105°F heat, from where the open parking was to get into the store. So that doesn’t include me actually walking around in the store, getting my shopping done… then walking back OUT to my car. Let me just clarify that the heat bothers me in a BIG way.
Using my handicap placard
So instead of parking in the back of the parking lot, I used my handicapped-parking placard, which I really don’t like doing unless I NEED to. So I parked in a handicapped spot, went inside the store to get the things I needed, and then came back out to my car. So, I’m putting things into the back of my car, and I’m already leaning on my car for support because the heat and humidity at the time was just THAT bad.
Being called lazy
As I’m in the process of putting my groceries into the back of my SUV, I have this lady in full spandex ‘work-out’ clothes with perfect hair and make-up walk up to me - actually, let's say that she ‘swayed’ her way up to me and decided to tell me what she thought about me parking in the handicapped parking spot. And by that I mean… she called me a lazy you know what (use your imagination).
I snapped back
Now, let me just say that yes, we all know that I have a hard time holding my tongue with comebacks to these small minded people, but I’ve been working on it - to not just go off on everyone all the time. But I was overheated, tired, weak, and just frustrated in general. And she hit my last nerve, pun intended. So I told her she needed to get the stick out of her uptight… yeah. She then proceeded to stomp away from me in a true temper tantrum fashion. All while I’m still at the back of my car, trying to not fall over.
Now, this little interaction that lasted maybe a minute ruined the rest of my day because I was already having a not-so-good day to begin with. But this is what brings me to the topic of Disability Discrimination. Because I know that I’m not the only one that has gone through this, and I won’t be the last.
I'm already defending myself
The way I see it is, I’m already defending myself from, well, myself. Why do other people have to add to that? I know that a lot of people are just uneducated, and don’t understand that not all disabilities are visible. This goes to show that there needs to be more awareness to the general public about diseases like MS, that aren’t always visible.
I guess I shouldn't assume that everyone out there has the common courtesy of being polite and respectful to others. Because I would NEVER, EVER do anything like that to someone else.
I don't know their story
It does irritate me when I see someone parked in a handicapped spot with the car running, and someone still sitting in the car, waiting for the other to get out of the store, using a handicapped pass. But I don’t know their story, so I’m not going to make it my business.
I also shared a photo the other day on my Facebook Page. It was a car that had a temporary handicapped placard, was still running, but it had no one in it. And it was using two parking spots. AND the door was not even 5 feet from where the car was. I walked in, and she is sitting there, signing her kids up for something, and I’m sitting there biting my tongue, because doing what she did is just flat out RUDE. Click here to see the pic.
It's not like I want to use it
I just don’t understand why people have to stick their noses where they don't belong, I guess. Would I still get ‘discriminated’ against for ‘abusing’ a wheelchair parking spot, if I walked with a cane, walker, etc.? NO ONE should have to ‘prove’ his or her disability to a COMPLETE stranger if you have a parking placard that was issued to YOU! It wasn’t done just for kicks. It’s not like I WANT to use it… I just NEED to at times. I really try not to use it if I don’t have to. If there is a parking space up close that isn’t handicapped, I’ll park there instead.
I don't make assumptions
I do understand that there ARE people out there that abuse the system. There ARE people that abuse the parking pass, etc. But it’s not EVERYONE. I don’t sit there and make assumptions… because you know how that saying goes.
If you really think that someone out there is abusing the parking pass - let the cops handle it if you really feel that the person it was issued to is not using the placard appropriately.
The bottom line here is that you don’t have to be a certain age, weight, race, gender, using an assistive device, to be classified as disabled. I can’t say that I would have had this knowledge about ‘invisible disabilities’, had I not been diagnosed with MS. But I was raised with manners and common courtesy, and I would NEVER speak to a complete stranger about their personal health, making my own assumptions. I will defend myself at times, though I try not to allow the ‘small-minded’ people out there to bother me, but sometimes I can only handle so much at once.
You aren't alone
So if you have ever been discriminated against because of your disability, I’m sorry. But I want you to know that you aren’t alone. It happens WAY too often. We need to educate the public about MS and many other invisible diseases. We didn’t ask for this, and we’re already being punished enough by battling this disease on a daily basis. We don’t need anyone to add to it.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
– Wayne Dyer
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