I want to start this blog post with the assertion that I am a nice person (okay a little irritable atm but really who would’t be). Just in case you think otherwise at the end of this wee cautionary tale.
So I went to the Warehouse on my own and as luck would have it I got a park BESIDE the disabled park. Right in front of the shop, really close to the doors. I used my crutches to get in and around the store, making a beeline to the craft section for more scrapbook supplies (now that I have started I want to finish). It is a satisfying task and keeping me off my ankle – so win / win.
I was in the checkout queue when I heard a lady complaining about non – disabled people being in the car parks for the disabled. In this instance (NZ), being disabled and allowed to park in these parks is permitted if you have a disabled card and it is shown in your front window. I had this awful vision that I had accidentally parked in that reserved space and was part of this woman’s problem ( I was in a “normal” park). I never use those parks, even though I have disabilities that would be considered for the card, out of respect for those that really need them.
Let me insert here, that when the store or whatever is busy and the most convenient spot is a disability designated one, it is frigging tempting (especially for me atm, let me tell you that for free). But I resist because the struggle that it is for me in a “normal” park, a distance from the shop is nothing compared to trying to get a wheelchair out of a car in the same spot or trying to negotiate a walker out of this more narrow space. I am exhausted just getting to the store and now I have to negotiate inside to try and get what I came for. SO I respect parking spots reserved for the disabled.
I am less supportive of the parking spots for pregnant women or people with young kids, mainly because they are a choice and being disabled is not. Unless you want to call pregnancy and having children the new disability? They chose to have changes in their body that make it tiring or painful to walk but for many of us it is a daily occurrence that we never would have chosen for ourselves or anyone. We are struggling to bring ourselves into the shop, so emphathise with you and your kids but again you made a choice.
So s back to the shopping incident. The woman, is still ranting (it went for a very long time), loudly but is obviously upset that she can not get her wheel chair ridden passage out of the park she was forced to use. The disabled ones all being blocked by … well … other cars and not all have the card visible. I do have a point to raise here that being in a disabled park would not help her carry the wheelchair from out of her boot. It’s a park not a conveyor belt.
She had, had intentions of using the store provided wheelchair but some inconsiderate person had grabbed it (no not me – but hell I was tempted because carrying small boxes and using crutches is not pretty or easy). So I hear her say over and over again that the person who took the wheelchair and those parked in the disabled car parks did not need them as much as her passenger.
Stupid me, I didn’t realise it was a competition.
At this stage, I am sweating from the exertion, pale from the pain and weaving a little on the crutches (could be what I was carrying unbalancing me as much as losing balance). I am exhausted and now I am angry, not my most stable mix.
I get closer to her and in full view and hearing of those nearby I lose it:
I have fibromyalgia and suffer pain every second of everyday –
but do I LOOK disabled?
I bet if I had a disability card and then got out of my car like this (not when on crutches lol) it would be assumed I was a liar and not disabled, and how easy is the stupid card system if SHE got one.
I have arthritis in both knees and walking is an everlasting road of broken glass and the risk of falling at any moment. I creak like a rusted door in a haunted house and more often than not I am limping or walking slowly to accommodate my knee pain and instability.
I have PTSD which can leave me shaking with fear and a burning, desperate need to escape this place, even if the reality of my fear is in my mind and not the store I am standing in. I am always on edge, waiting for the next disaster.
All my disabilities are constant shadows in my life.
I am not even mentioning the pain I am currently in, using these crutches on my first solo journey. I am just flabbergasted that I have to put up with this bullshit.
I am disabled!!!
I never thought that I would have to say that, let alone announce it loudly in a public place but come on – do we still judge on looks? I nearly went ballistic when the woman, stated that I was not the problem, because I am so obviously disabled.
Oh yay I thought the crutches had become this years fashion trend, but instead they are an acceptable display of disability – whoop lucky me!!
What am I rambling about sums up as:
Don’t judge on appearance and
Don’t park in the disability parks without the card!!!
This story is part truth and part frustration. Sadly situations like this can still happen in 2015.