Disabled parking?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 111
   Posted 10/26/2009 10:52 PM (GMT -6)   
I feel almost ashamed to even be asking, but has anyone had experience in trying to get a handicap parking placard?

I live on my college campus, which is on a hillside. My apartment at the top of the hill. It's okay to go down the hill with my rolling backpack, and I know where every elevator is but coming back up the hill at the end of the day is torture. I get intense lower back pain and I have to lay down for several minutes after getting to my room, and sometimes feel faint. It only gets worse over time. It's gotten to the point where I drive my car from the parking lot behind my apartment building to the lot for commuter students halfway down the hill because it cuts out 2/3 of the walk.

I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I'm seriously embarrassed by this. I avoid leaving the parking lot by my apartment when people are looking that might see me park right down the hill and I also try not to leave for my apartment at the same time as anyone that knows I live on campus and would see me get into my car. One other student found out and made fun of me for being so "lazy" and that only justified my secrecy about it.

I want to apply for handicapped parking but I'm not sure that I really qualify. I CAN walk 200 feet without resting, but only if it's level. I can't go up a slope or stairs, and even going down them is hard. I get extreme back pain and become short of breath. I can't carry anything, including groceries so I hate going shopping. I'm also afraid to ask my rheumy because she constantly overestimates my abilities and insists that if I didn't avoid stairs they wouldn't bother me so much, which is completely untrue. If I disagree with her she says I'm being difficult and that I'm depressed.

She's generally a good doctor and the first I've had that believed there was really something wrong with me, but I just don't think she'd recommend me for handicapped parking. Also, I'm only 21 years old and I know she has senior patients with much more serious problems that don't have the placards.

Does anyone know if it would be possible for me to get a placard? I know it's different in every state but I'm just curious what your experiences have been. I'm also worried about being confronted by "but you don't look disabled" people in the parking lot.

Thanks in advance.

Diagnosed with fibromyalgia February 2008, dysthymia January 2009.
Savella, Vitamin D supplements
Provigil and Temazepam when I need them.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 1495
   Posted 10/27/2009 12:00 AM (GMT -6)   
Ask your gp if you have one. I have a temporary placard. That is interesting since fibro is incurable, but whatever. Maybe your doctor is hesitant because the placards are misused. I swear I see people jump out of their cars and practically skip into a building sometimes. Then that leaves others hobbling and limping through the parking lot to get inside.

Funny you would talk about driving around campus. I did the exact same thing!! I would drive from one department to another because it was too hard to walk. One time a professor I know was behind me and I went the opposite way because I didn't want him to think I was lazy!! I have a cane, which actually does take the pressure off my feet and back.

I park in the disabled parking when I need it and park further away when I can. It may seem silly, but whenever I park in the disabled parking, I use my cane. For example, I use the placard when going to the grocery store. I feel ok going in (not skipping, though) :), but know coming out will be a problem. So I use my cane going in because I don't want people giving me funny looks!!

I hope you can get one. Maybe if you explain your situation and promise to use it only when needed?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9090
   Posted 10/27/2009 12:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Sandi!

Like Statgeek said, just ask your doc...that simple. And the other thing...please, please don't be embarrassed. I doubt anyone your age really wants to be thought of as disabled but look at the facts. You live with pain and it's very hard to scale those hills. The rules for getting a placard are guidelines but it's up to the doctor to decide if you need one. Some doctors can be real stinkers because maybe the media or someone has accused him of giving them out way too easy. The good doctors don't care what others say and will give you one if it's reasonable.

Also like Statgeek, I use my placard when I really need it. If I'm feeling better then I leave the spots for someone who needs it worse than I do that day. I agree to tell your doctor to use it when you need it most. Let us know what happens and don't worry about being embarrassed. It sure would be better to not feel miserable if you could park closer to your classes, wouldn't it and well worth any embarrassment you might feel.

Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.
Richard L. Evans

(\o/)Co-Moderator Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Forums

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 2854
   Posted 10/27/2009 8:45 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Sandi...just went through the same dilemma and finally, after falling twice in an icy parking lot with a grocery cart last winter I finally just asked my doctor for a temporay placard for the winter months.  He gave me a permanent one.  I guess it depends on the doctor but mine did it without hesitation.  And...I was embarrassed to use it also because I can look fine getting out of the car but sometimes I can hardly make it back.  If I can walk, I don't use it.  I never abuse it and am glad I have it for those days I just can't 'do it.'
Fibro is a non discriminating, equal opportunity disorder...so don't even think about your age!
fibro, menieres disease, RLS, anxiety disorder, disc compression, scoliosis, spinal stenosis TMJ  Meds: Lexapro and valium

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 10/27/2009 12:21 PM (GMT -6)   
i have one and use it when i need to as well..it is there if you need it so dont feel embarrassed ...tk..lyn

Post Edited (Howlyncat) : 10/27/2009 11:24:31 AM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 48
   Posted 10/27/2009 12:35 PM (GMT -6)   
like vestabula said, your age doesn't matter, i'm only 22 and I know how you feel. I went to a community college for a while and it was on a hill and getting up to my classes every day was a chore. Like the others have said, all you can do is ask your doctor.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested" - Francis Bacon
"I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder" - Unknown

Diagnosed with: ADHD, Raynaud's Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Hypoglycemia, heart murmur, knee caps that are too high, reoccurring kidney stones, multiple food allergies, multiple drug allergies, multiple environmental allergies, possible underlying arthritis

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 17057
   Posted 10/27/2009 5:11 PM (GMT -6)   
I've had handicapped parking for years.  We have good days and bad days.  Our bad days are really bad and our doctors do understand that.  So, just ask.  You most likely will get one and they really do help.
Forum Moderator/ Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia, Crohn's Disease, Ostomy, Diabetes, Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease, Osteoporosis
God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.    2 Timothy 1:7

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 1176
   Posted 10/27/2009 6:10 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Sandi,

First of all, do NOT be ashamed, and yes, you do definitely deserve a handicapped placard! I'm going to share my story in case it helps you to know you're not alone, and also to let you know that you need to stand up for yourself and do whatever it takes to get some relief from the pain! No one can be at their peak level of performance as a human being in severe pain...you are a college student; you must be at your best! Those of us with fibro must find ways to deal with and reduce the pain, even if we cannot eliminate it.

My experience is that it does depend on the doctor. In early 2008 I was having exactly the same severe back pain after walking from my office to the parking garage at my day job, and from the classroom where I taught to the parking lot at my part-time job. I would get to my car and get in and just sit there and cry, because I was in such agony. It sometimes took 10-20 minutes of recovery before I could drive.

My primary care physician seemed to believe me to a certain extent, but she also seemed to think I was exaggerating. She refused to give me a handicapped placard because they x-rayed my back and couldn't find anything wrong with me!

My only known health issues at that point in time were Hashimoto's thyroiditis, asthma, and mild plaque psoriasis. This was prior to an avalanche of diagnoses that began in late spring 2008 with autoimmune hepatitis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis, and continued into fall 2008 with celiac disease and more recently (last week) a firm dx of SLE (lupus).

Along the way I have acquired a LOT more doctors, including a neurologist, rheumatologist, gastroenterologist, and hepatologist. I'm actually on my 3rd rheumy because the first two didn't listen to me very well. Are you able to change doctors? It sounds like you might need a new one too!

In my case, I ended up needing a wheelchair because my back pain became so intense that after a while I was only able to stand and walk for very short times/distances. I couldn't even cook for my family because I couldn't stand long enough. Again my PCP was very unhelpful....she got me a manual chair that I could not use because of the pain in my hands, arms and shoulders. She merely shrugged and said that "as long as you can walk around in your house even a little bit, your insurance will NOT pay for a power chair".

So I bought myself a power chair, plus had a lift installed on the back of my Ford Escape Hybrid....$6000 out of pocket! Fortunately my neurologist was very sympathetic and immediately helped me get a permanent handicapped placard.

I now have a new PCP, who is very good at listening; it's much less stressful now going to my appointments, knowing that all of my doctors believe what I'm telling them!

I hope you can get this worked out....you need that placard!

Good luck!!
Autoimmune hepatitis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, psoriasis, Raynaud's syndrome, hypertension, osteopenia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, GERD.

Prednisone, Imuran, Plaquenil, Lyrica, Cymbalta, Levothyroxine, Atenolol, Cozaar, Mirapex, Zyrtec, Fosamax, Albuterol, Prilosec, CPAP


Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 111
   Posted 10/28/2009 1:18 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you everyone for your encouragement. I don't currently have a primary but I've been sick lately (for other reasons) so I might have to get one sooner than I anticipated. And maybe I will look into a different rheumatologist if my current one continues to underestimate my pain. The reason I see her is actually because she's the only one near my house that's female and I have an inexplicable aversion to male physicians.

Hopefully I can convince someone that I really need a placard before next semester, when campus will be snowy and icy. Lots of healthy students skip class on days that they don't feel they can safely navigate the hills and stairways so I've never felt bad about doing it, but I hate falling behind.

Diagnosed with fibromyalgia February 2008, dysthymia January 2009.
Savella, Vitamin D supplements
Provigil and Temazepam when I need them.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 599
   Posted 10/29/2009 5:41 AM (GMT -6)   
Sandi, thanks for posting your question, I was going to post something about the same. After I had knee surgery I had a temporary one and one of the people processing my request at the doc's made me feel so bad when I was getting the placard. She said they don't encourage people to get them because "it encourages laziness.' I was using a cane on good days and crutches on bad, and I was so ashamed I thought I would cry. I am still going to go back and get another one because I am starting to have really bad days with the cold weather changing, and am having trouble walking 200' to the grocery store entrance. I have to put on my Fierce and Determined Hat though when I go back and get the placard because I am so tired of people making me feel bad for having fibro. I struggle with that sometimes when I'm overtired. I know exactly how you feel.

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 11/21/2009 10:51 AM (GMT -6)   
Iam so sorry you had to deal with sich a closed mined and apathetic person hun....encourages laziness...my blank...go back n demand another processing form btw did u mention this person to your doc....i wish you all the best plz keep us posted....lyn
..                          Co Moderator for Crohns , Anxiety/Panic ,Alzheimers....
           Crohns,Pyoderma Gangrenosum ,Seizures ,Fibro ,completely Deaf ,Anxiety/Panic,Neuropathy..
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