I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

I absolutely welcome comments. It's nice to know how people relate to what I'm saying.
To send me a private message, please e-mail me: flylittlewordsfly@gmail.com
Subscription links are at the bottom of the page

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Me, Disabled?

I told my son's stepmom I got a handicap parking pass. She laughed. I laughed with her. The very thought of me, in my cute little blue car, looking as young and healthy as I do pulling into a handicap spot was just funny. Really really funny (perspective: I've been carded 3 times in the last 6 months).

But here's the thing. I do need the permit. And I do use it, when I need to. I don't keep it on the dash - it's hidden away in my purse - and I don't pull it out if there are alternatives. But there are times when using the handicap spot makes the difference between making it home to preemptively rest, and making it home to crash. Which in turn makes the difference between a good couple of days, and a couple of days of immobility.

I may laugh at the fact that I have it, and that I use it, but I have come to understand that there is no shame in seeking any support society is able to offer, even if it is in this form.

It took me about 6 months of this illness to finally ask my doctor to fill out the necessary forms, even though the first book I read recommended getting one as soon as possible. That's how long it took me to accept that I needed the assurance of being able to park reasonably close to my destinations. It took many incomplete trips to the library and a few really difficult afternoons following extra long walks. It took a great big swallow full of pride. I had to change the way I see myself and the seriousness of my illness in order to give in and apply for the pass.

It really does make sense, when you think about it logically. My age, appearance and previous fitness levels have nothing to do with it. My limit for a walk is about 15 minutes. Period. That means 15 minutes from the moment I leave my car to the moment I get back to my car. I can push it, if I'm in a store and stopping every few minutes, leaning on the cart, and have somebody with me to stand in line for the register. But I avoid being in stores altogether whenever possible, because I pay for it dearly later. None of this changes whether I look good or not, whether I look young, or whether I use my cane or forgot it at home because my brain conked out on me. 15 minutes of steady walking is 15 minutes of steady walking.

If you think about it in terms of the marbles, it takes as many marbles to walk across a large parking lot as it does to walk around inside the library or store, or even to get to the dentist's office which is at the far end of a very long hallway. So parking nearby means that those 15 minutes can be spent productively. Otherwise, by the time I get there, I'm already done.

I don't know what people think when they see me pull in, and I have to admit, I do feel a bit weird and very conspicuous. When I get out of the car with the cane, I know there can be no question of my needing the spot. But I still feel like I get funny looks. I don't know if I'm making them up in my head, but hey. Partially, I know, it's me giving myself attitude about needing a handicap pass. There is a big part of me that still doesn't want to believe that this is a serious illness I'm dealing with. It's easier to laugh about it than deal with the fact that, yes, I am disabled enough to need not only a cane, but a parking pass.

Having the parking pass is like yelling out to the world "Hey, I'm disabled! I can't cross the lot!"

It makes me feel far more visible and vulnerable, and weak. Yeah, weak. It makes it palpable and visible, and sometimes it's easier to not be so obviously ill. It is a real, undeniable, confrontation of my situation. It's a badge, quite literally, that declares my inability to function at a "normal" level. That has not been an easy thing to accept. But I'm getting there. And I'm happy to say the one thing I definitely don't feel is shame.

I'm as guilty as the next person of wondering why people need their parking passes. So I don't blame anyone who takes a look as I climb out of my cute little car. But I still feel embarrassed by it.

Really though, the bottom line is that I'm getting to the point that, no matter how challenging or how embarrassing, if it means being able to engage more fully, and saving some marbles, then you bet I'm going to do it!


  1. Worry, whatever it's source, takes away courage, and shortens life.
    ~~~John Lancaster Spalding~~~

  2. Good for you! I took almost two years to apply for one.
    I had a blind friend who used to call it her "handitrapped" pass.