** Due to the increasing severity of MY ILLNESS, it has become impossible for me to continue to post on a regular basis. Unfortunately, as much as I desperately long to, I am also unable to visit each of your blogs often or reciprocate all the loving, supportive comments many of you continue to leave - even though at times it may appear as though you've arrived at some long ago, forsaken blog! With that said, I really want you to know that I miss every single one of you and that I really am still here! I'm just too sick and too weak most days to be able to sit up long enough to create a brand new post...or even read one. However, I absolutely do receive AND read every new encouraging word you leave (and, often, the old ones, again and again!) and I cherish them now more than ever! I truly appreciate your love, support, and, most importantly, your precious time spent on your knees in prayer for my family and me. It ALL means the world to me and I am truly blessed to have friends like you!
~Hugs and Sister Love, Teresa

FYI: All comments come to my email, which I can easily read on my phone. I also enjoy Facebook on my phone because I can catch up on A LOT in a very short time there. Soooo, if you're on Facebook, come 'friend' me there! {{HUGS}} **

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

CAN THOSE WITH AN INVISIBLE ILLNESS
PARK IN A BLUE SPOT
WITHOUT OTHERS SEEING RED??


I saw the following article on the Invisible Illness Awareness Week website over the summer and it really struck a cord with me. The biggest reason is because I used to be extremely passionate about those people who parked in handicapped parking spaces but, in my ever-so-holier-than-thou-professional-medical opinion, surely did not need them! HA! What does that Proverb say?? 'Pride goes before the fall'?? Yeah, that's it.

Since we are right here in the middle of the holiday shopping season, I thought I would post (with permission) this great article for you all. I hope that it will help EVERYONE to think twice the next time you see someone parking in one of those precious parking spaces who may not 'look' as though they 'need' to. Disabilities come in lots of different shapes and forms. Many are invisible to the untrained AND the trained eye. It is simply impossible to know if someone is truly disabled just by looking at them.




“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 annually in September, 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.



To find more articles and overall support while living with a chronic illness and/or pain, please visit The Invisible Illness Awareness Website or Rest Ministries! Lisa Copen is the director of Rest Ministries, author of 'Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend' and founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.

29 comments:

One Cluttered Brain said...

I love this post! Wasn't it you that said you were going to start writing for a newspaper? I think It was you. Congrats if it was.

I also retweeted this post to my followers and I am going to read it to my hubby as well! WAY to GO! I have never parked in a handicapped spot but sometimes I do wonder why people need them. Now I will not judge them...Not every illness is as visible as the next. I can tell that this post was well thought out indeed! THANKS AGAIN!!!

(And psst. Merry Christmas my bloggy friend.)

Casey said...

What a great article. I have felt people staring at me and making comments and I hate it. I wish people wouldn't judge others but sadly they do. Thanks for sharing this article

Judy Harper said...

Boy, this should make us think! My mom and sister deal with pain so much that I know it is hard sometimes to know if the person really needs a handicap card. You don't always see a limp, a walker or wheelchair! You have to go through so much! I sympathize with you! I don't know if you realize how much your posts help others. Again, I thank God that you're posting because that means you're not in the hospital! God Bless!

Nessa said...

Wonderful post! I have several friends and family members who have invisible illnesses and have been verbally attacked for parking in the blue spaces. Thanks for the reminder that you can't see someone else's pain!

I'm a full-time mummy... said...

Thanks for sharing this great post! Merry SITSmas to you!

septembermom said...

Wonderful post! You're so right that we have to be careful not to quickly assume that someone is not ill or taking advantage of the situation. Teresa, I hope you're feeling well today! I have pretty snow to look at from my window this morning :)

Teresha@Marlie and Me said...

great post! thanks for the wake-up call.

Rosie said...

Hi Teresa! You are the grand prize winner of my giveaway! Hooray! I just need your shipping address and your Roc Night Cream will be on its way!

Have a great day!

Rosie at Vinobodega1.blogspot.com

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

Wow, that's a really eye opening post. I was JUST on a blog that was ranting about people parking where they shouldn't be, and I agreed... and then I read this. I too have thrown my hands up in frustration at people who don't seem to have the "credentials" to get a prime parking spot. Now I will think twice before making snap judgments (although I would *never* way anything hurtful, regardless!!!).

~Elizabeth
http://confessionsfromaworkingmom.blogspot.com

Kathryn said...

Thanks I love it too!
I like the PJ's idea, I know a lot of people who do that! :) Love the Happy Birthday Jeusus too, what a great way to start the day!

Great post. And very true. I know my husband sometimes comments on people parking that he thinks shouldn't be. But like you said you never know, what is wrong just because you can't see it doesn't mean anything! Thanks for making us aware! :)

Christy said...

thank you for posting this and making me more aware.
Thank you also for becoming a follower of my blog. I am excited to have a look around yours!
-christy

Rusty Hoe said...

Hi Teresa

as promised I'm leaving a comment :)

I think this resonates with all of us in the invisible camp. I am yet to get my parking permit because of just what was described in this article. I need it I know especially of late when things have been worse than normal and my legs can barely hold me up. But I just can't persuade myself to fill in that form. I used to work as a neuropsych in a hospital and it irked me no end when those who appeared "abled" would park in disabled spots.

I know I often look fine on the outside although inside I'm barely holding it together. Combine that with the idiotic idea I can't get rid of that if I get that little tag to put in the car then I am really admitting I am disabled. I think we beat ourselves up more about these issues than anyone else ever could.

Michelle :)

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

K a b l o o e y said...

Terrific post. I honestly didn't know so many people made these comments. Thank you for your perspective. I have to say, the "you don't look stupid" rejoinder is pretty great, but takes guts to say. Thanks for stopping by, by the way, and I just noticed that you have Super Grover as a follower. How cool is that? I love Super Grover.

marfmom said...

SOOOOO true! I don't have a "handicap" permit yet, but there are days the pain is such that I wish I did. I do use other assisted devices though. For instance, as an RA I lived on the 3rd floor and would use the elevator on days with bad pain. People would give me grief all. the. time. (And I got the comments about "you should never have had a baby" too.) Now that I know what it's like, I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. The only thing that still steams me is when people park in the "handicap" parking spots with no tag at all. Maybe they just forgot the tag, but I've seen too many people without tags come peeling into the spot, jump out of their car, and *run* inside the mall and to me that's just showing they wanted a good parking spot.

Christina Lee said...

WOW. Definitely some food for thought!thanks for sharing...

Colleen @ MuralMaker&More said...

It's so true! I was in a car accident 2 yrs ago w/permanent back problems (+fibromyalgia) and there are days when I walk w/a cane.
Hubster always says, "Park in the HC space so you don't have to walk." Or, "get a riding buggy" in the stores.
But I don't. I'm always afraid of what others will say.
After your post, I have some courage now. There are days when it's just too much. It's my body. Only I know how much pain I'm in. And, as they say, you can never please everyone, so why try?

stopping by from SITS, btw.

Aleta said...

This post touched me, because my Mom has one of those permits. She can't drive, because she's legally blind, WITH glasses.. but my Dad drives her and has the right to park in those blue spots. Mom doesn't have sense of depth and because of certain medicines, she has the bones of a 90 year old. She has fallen in pot holes in a parking lot and broken 3 bones. She doesn't LOOK old, nor does she look handicap and she's NEVER said that she is. But those who love her and take care of her, we know what she can and can't do. Having the blue spot allows her to not walk as far and take as many risks. So true - don't judge what you don't understand or know... and be grateful that you don't need the blue spot, instead of seeing red!

2 Toddlers and Me said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It really made me think. I found it so informative and important that I selected this post for my Favorite Post Friday award. Congrats! Stop on by my blog and pick it up when you get a chance.

Aleta said...

(Came back to add that I'm following you now :)

Helene said...

This is such a wonderful post, with an excellent point made! To be honest, I've never questioned why someone is parked in a handicapped space. It never occurred to me to question why someone would be parked there. I hate to think that there are people who take advantage of handicapped parking spots.

No one has the right to judge you!!

Joy said...

This is such a good thing to post. I really appreciate it. So, so true.

Marie said...

Thank you for this post. I am saddened to admit that I have in the past given sideways glances at people parked in those spots and I do many people that use their mother or aunt or uncle's placards for convenience. Such a shame! That is what discredits so many others. BUT none of us none of us knows what goes on in another's life and none of us is in a place to judge. Thank you for the reminder.
Since I don't know those other people, I'm gonna ask you to forgive me for any sideways glances in case you ever one of the unfortunate recipients.

Angelica Bays, TygrLilies.com said...

And then there are people like my dad who wanted *me* to stand in line at the DMV so he could have a placard for the occasional time he has to come into town from Arizona and take my grandmother to a very occassional dr's appointment. No, there's nothing wrong with him. No, I didn't get the placard for him. Grrr.
DOn't let the turkeys get you down!
Merry Christmas!

Yaya said...

Benefit of the doubt.

Sadly there are those who abuse the placard which creates confusion to the public.

Somewhere In Between said...

I really do love this eye opening post! It is disheartening to think that there ARE people who misuse other people's parking privilages.

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!!

Accidental Expert said...

I LOVE this post. I have a son with high functioning autism and there are so many people who to this day doubt the diagnosis because he doesn't "look" disabled.

Thanks for bringing this subject to light.

Jeanne said...

My comment is too long to fit in Blogger with the character count. So this is part 1 of 2.

Teresa,

Thanks for posting this. I’d seen the original when first posted but it was clearly worth re-printing. I have such a hang-tag. My many chronic illnesses are invisible. When I first got it, I was nervous about what reactions I might get. You see, I had read posts like this (& others) on the topic and wasn't too keen on strangers harassing me! With the nature of so many of my illnesses consisting of a series of flare-ups (which can be quite debilitating!) interspersed w/relatively less painful times (which are still painful... as I have lived with chronic pain for almost 28 years now), I save my hang-tag for when I am really, really desperate. Why? After all, I could use it more often and minimize the pain I experience, right? Why do I save the tag for dire emergencies? The truth of the matter is because I am afraid one of these strangers will have the audacity to approach me someday. If they did this, it would really upset me --- but especially if it happened in front of my daughter.

The choice words I would have for strangers nosing into my business/health condition and the tone of voice with which I'm sure I would deliver them (no matter how hard I tried to stay calm) are not something I wish my daughter to witness. Yes, I have read about this being a teachable moment and how I can carry brochures with me on this illness or that to hand the person harassing me. However, quite honestly, I seriously doubt if such an individual would listen to me, read the brochure, or believe me. My way of dealing w/this is to save my tag for absolute dire emergencies... Then, once I hang that tag on the rear-view mirror, I grab my daughter's hand while locking the car door & get to my destination building ASAP... working hard not to make eye contact with anyone. Why? Frankly, because if anyone dared give me "the look" or dared say something inappropriate to me because I made a nanosecond of eye contact, I'm afraid I'd go a bit ballistic on them.

I'm afraid I'd skip past the quick attempt to educate them and launch into tales of how we've almost lost our house three times due to medical bills, of how my career went up in smoke because of my illnesses, of the immense medical debt I have racked up, of the nearly 28 years of chronic pain I have lived with, of the 7 surgeries I've had, of how I had cancer removed, etc...

In short, I am afraid I would lose my temper and be a bad role model for my child. I’m not a person with a short fuse. However, a stranger daring to imply I'm a faker/liar about a parking tag could really push my buttons. I've had the tag a couple of years now. So far, this method has worked well for me. Not one single person has left a note on my car, yelled at me, called me names, etc. (No doubt nasty looks are shot my way but this is part of my no eye contact method. I do not want to see them).

To be continued...

Jeanne

Jeanne said...

Teresa,

Part 2 of my comment about "parking in a blue spot":

I know of people (online & off) who have been harassed over the parking tag issue. One friend's husband uses a wheelchair for a very serious and sometimes fatal neurological disorder that is very visible. She was driving one day for groceries; he was riding. This is a young couple. She got out to walk around & get his wheelchair out of the van's trunk. Immediately, strangers yelled at her for parking there (legally) & called her nasty names! This woman is NOT a shrinking violet. She quickly opened the passenger door and maneuvered her husband into the wheelchair, to allow the nasty strangers to see with their own eyes that, NO, they were not "fakers" stealing the parking spot. She then really let them have it for being so ignorant. Stories like that are why I "keep my head down" and avoid eye contact on the relatively infrequent occasions where I 'cave' and use my tag. Heaven forbid if some stranger made a rude remark to me like these people did to my friend, it would probably get ugly.

Now that my daughter is older (and wise for her age), I also fear that she would get involved in the "discussion". She’d probably tell the stranger, in no uncertain terms, that her mother IS very sick & that just because they can't see my illnesses doesn't mean they aren't real. Knowing her, she'd start lecturing them about my various symptoms/limitations. I’d just as soon not enter this zone. It does not escape me, though, that every time I do use that tag & she is present... we run the risk of a parking lot showdown w/the ignorant. My daughter is sweet, kind, and respectful. She is also very smart. If she saw me under attack, she WOULD rise to my defense. Trust me when I tell you, by the time she got done talking w/the person or persons, they would never, ever make such a mistake again. For now, I'm sticking w/the "no eye contact" method. It’s worked so far. If you ever hear a story about a young girl lecturing a nasty stranger regarding parking hang-tags someday, think of my daughter... because I can totally see this happening someday. For now, I'm just trying to keep her innocence as long as possible & try to avoid such a moment.

Jeanne

P.S. I apologize for the length of this comment. "Blue parking" is a sensitive topic for me. No one wants to be sick enough to qualify for "blue parking". Anyone who looks at a hang-tag as a "perk" has obviously never been sick enough to fully appreciate that this is not for fun. Hang-tags aren't issued out by doctors like candy. They are given when they are appropriate. (The "permission slip" from the doctor for the hang-tag is followed by a trip to the police station to obtain the hang-tag). Having read the preceding comments, I am fully aware that (like anything) they are some "bad apples" out there... people who use others' tags would be one example. The fact that such "bad apples" exist should not mean that those who need these parking tags should have to worry about being harassed with yells, nasty comments, dirty looks, etc.

Christy said...

Teresa,

Thank you for posting this article. I suffer from chronic low back pain and was laid off from my job in Sept. Silent disabilities are very misunderstood. I applaud you for writing this article, I tried to get my placard, but my dr is hesitant because I still can walk. Yet, it is painful some days to walk.

Linkwithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails