any ideas on using handicap parking space/ preventing personal attacks

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koi collector
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Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 35
   Posted 11/10/2008 12:12 PM (GMT -7)   
I've had AS for over a year and a half. It took me sixs months of crippling knee pain to ask my doctor for a Handicap parking pass. It took that long to eat my pride and get passed the stigma of using the HC parking spots. i'm on different meds now that help with the knee pain, but it comes and goes. I still use the HC pass on days that are milder to prevent from overworking my knees and having worse days.
today i had the most unpleasant encounter with an older woman with an unknown disablity that required her to use a walker. as i exited my car, tag hanging, she began to question my use of the parking spot and was quite rude and assuming that i didn't have merit for using the spot because i wasn't using some sort of walking assitance that day. i told here i have arthritis and even offered to exchanges spots with her even though she parked much farther away.
has any ever dealt with this kind of attack?
this kind of attack is part of why i refused a HC tag for so long. i would rather never have to use it but why shouldn't i use a tool given to people who can benefit from it?

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Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 315
   Posted 11/10/2008 4:31 PM (GMT -7)   

Oh wow, I'm sorry that happened to you. I can't say that it's happened to me...yet, but perhaps it might in the future, I don't know. However, I do walk with a limp, so it's kind of visible.

I can sort of understand why she thought that way, being how many people abuse handicap spaces (like borrow relatives tags when they themselves don't need it, etc.). But on the other hand, if it were me, I would have been upset to be attacked like that, as well.

It took me several years to ask of a handicap placard. I should have asked for one before my surgery, when I really couldn't walk at all. But like you, I was too stubborn. I did not want to face the fact that I was young and couldn't really walk. I did not even use a cane or walker, either when I should have. Everyone told me I should be using assistance, but I just wouldn't give in. Well, I had surgery and was better for several months, but .....I just keep on getting problems and having problems walking, though not as severe as before. I also have severe ankle arthritis, which causes my limp. And so after some long thought, I finally got the courage to ask for a placard, as I've resigned to the fact that it seems my problems just won't go away.

But even now, I don't usually use walking assistance. I always try my best to manage without. But the handicap parking is definitely a plus, especially when I have such problems getting in and out of my car, as the spaces are so much wider.

I am not sure how I would have handled your situation or what I would have said back, if anything. I probably would have said something like...are you aware that young people get disabilities? And for young people, it is not usual to be needing assistance or handicap plates. It's out of the norm. It's can be depressing and we don't want to give in to the fact that we have a disability because it's "not expected of us at our age". I would have asked her if she knows what it's like to be young and have physical disabilities. I don't know what else I'd have said, but probably would start somewhere along those lines, and perhaps give her an education of how young people have disabilities. I wonder if she is aware that little children can suffer the same? (such as juvenille RA or cancer, etc).

koi collector
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Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 35
   Posted 11/11/2008 9:28 AM (GMT -7)   


Thank you for your reply. it's comforting to know i'm not the only young person who has a disability. it sucks being 29 and needing a cane and HC tag. it was real shocking not having support from another person with a disability. i'll caulk it up to her having a real bad day and i was in her cross hairs.

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Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 315
   Posted 11/11/2008 10:18 AM (GMT -7)   
You're welcome! Yes, definitely try not to take it too personally. And, unfortunately, there are many young people that have all sorts of disabilities. Too bad that many people just don't think about that.

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   Posted 11/11/2008 10:52 AM (GMT -7)   
I just wanted to add....that the woman who berated did she know you didnt suffer from breathing/heart problems, etc.?
I would never say anything to someone who "appeared" ok, because how humliating would it be to find out that person was suffering a less visible disability?...should get a bumper sticker that reads "Never Assume, it could make an "ass" out of you!!
I have a HC, and I darn well use it when I am in pain!!!!!  Maybe the pain makes me look miserable and the doubtful ones are afraid to say much turn    I greatfully dont use it when I am having a good day!
Hope you are having a better day today.
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   Posted 11/11/2008 5:28 PM (GMT -7)   

I don't usually post here.  I couldn't resist this thread though.  I have MS and I actually walk just fine but I have chronic vertigo and it is very difficult for me to walk through a parking lot looking straight down at the ground.  I cannot watch for cars backing out or grocery carts coming at me.

I had the "you don't look very handicapped to me" and my response was, "well you don't look like a person lacking compassion.  I guess if you can hide the fact that you are a mean (blankity blank) then I can hide the fact that I am handicapped.  If you are doubting my placard, please call the police. They can verify that it belongs to me and is being used correctly". 

That shut him up.  I don't know where that response came from but I was pretty proud of myself. 

I am sorry you had to put up with a personal attack.  It is especially hurtful when it comes from another handicapped citizen that should have more empathy to the situation.

Gretchen       co-moderator MS board       diagnosed with MS July 2006
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   Posted 11/11/2008 6:08 PM (GMT -7)   
I have had the van plates & also a hanger in case we take the truck......I've had a few rude comments but i just tell them it's Dr ordered.You own no explanations period!


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   Posted 11/11/2008 6:18 PM (GMT -7)   
Tis thread caught my eye,and hit home.Your encounter shows that there is no shortage of uninformed people.i did struggle not to call them ignorant.i believe that many uninformed people feel that if you aren't in a wheelchair you aren't handicapped.To the few that have approached me i ask do you want to try my handicap for a day?That usually shuts them up.I actually had an individual follow me into the library,and tell the librarian that I shouldn't be in a handicapped parking space because "afterall i walked up the stairs.With that stress extreme tremors set in,and the librarian had to call my wife to come ,and get takes a doctors authorization,as you know,to get a handicapped permit,and they don't just pass them out.Wish you the best Ed

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koi collector
Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 35
   Posted 11/12/2008 7:50 AM (GMT -7)   
thank you everyone for you kind words and stories. it helps me feel better. at the same time i feeol a little sorry for all of us for having to go through our respective problems then add these inconsiderate people on top of that. it's good to know that there are more people who care than not. i would like to suggest to everyone to do at least one kind think for a total stranger every day. it really will make everyone feel better. for example, when on the highway, if a semi truck needs to switch lanes and is signaling, slow down a little and let them in.
Thank you.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 315
   Posted 11/12/2008 8:16 AM (GMT -7)   
That's a great idea, Koi. I try to do that myself every day. Even though I have trouble many times opening a door and holding it open for someone, I do it anyway. Also, another great thing to do, which anyone can do, is just to smile at people. I do this all the time, no matter where I am, I just give a little smile and people always smile back. I think some people are a little surprised that a stranger is smiling at them, but like I said, I always get a smile back. And at my usual convenience store, I walk in and smile and/or say hi to the cashiers and they always smile back. Especially for them, who put up with all kinds of people all day, I am sure it makes them feel a little better. It's amazing sometimes, how a simple smile can make someone's day and maybe they will smile at someone else.

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   Posted 12/19/2008 10:31 AM (GMT -7)   
I also have a handicapped pass (and I'm 27) and also think people are staring at me when I use it, if I don't have my cane that day.  I was walking in Walmart one day and saw a guy younger than me get on one of the handicapped carts that are automatic - where you sit down and ride - and the greeter asked him if he was handicapped!  He said yes.  I was so mad at the greeter that I almost went and's people like her that make us feel so bad about having to use the parking passes and accommodations. 

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Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 12/21/2008 2:55 PM (GMT -7)   
I have not asked for a pass yet. I suffer from psoriatic arthritis and for the most part, I am fine and really do not require a handicap pass. I've been suffering with PsA for 6 years and haven't had any issues until a recent flare up where I actually consider asking for one because my ankle hurt me so bad that I could barely walk. By the way, I'm 27 now. I never really thought about handicap parking spaces or if there are jerks that park there who dont need them, etc. But you are right, for those of us who "appear" healthy and are suffering from arthritis, or could be any form of heart condition, etc. Its not fair to haggled by others about our condition. We just wanna go on and try to appear normal in everyway. I know i try so hard to not walk with a limp sometimes. But seriously, we have legislation that protects us just like anyone else that is handicapped. Unfortunately, most people are naive and dont realize that there are young people who suffer from chronic illnesses. It took the doctors a whole year to finally pin down my diagnoses as PsA since I was so young and "appeared" healthy. I had so little psoriasis involvement on my skin that I truly didn't know it was there. And the docs didn't either. I'm lucky on that note, but not the arthritis side. My recent flare has added my knees and other shoulder to the mix of affected joints. Not fun at all.

I feel your pain with this. We try so hard to feel normal and not think about illness, but on the other hand, we are entitled to extra help and or assistance, especially when we really do need it to go about our daily lives. And I do think in all honesty, people are naive when it comes to younger people like us.

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   Posted 12/21/2008 8:15 PM (GMT -7)   
I have a steel plate in my left leg and a right knee that needs replacement. Most of the time I can walk short distances without limping; if I walk long distances, I'll start limping, my knee will swell and my hip will also start to hurt from the unnatural gait. If possible, I use regular parking spots, but sometimes I do need the handicap spot.

A woman said something about it to me one day. I looked her straight in the eye and asked her what medical school she graduated from. When she stuttered that she hadn't gone to medical school, I asked her then how she could think she knew what was or was not wrong with me.
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Pamela Neckpain
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   Posted 12/28/2008 1:08 AM (GMT -7)   
I'm glad to just have the warning!

I have chronic pain and rarely leave my house but when I am driven somewhere
I always hang the placard.

I don't limp and my disability is pretty much hidden. I'm in my middle 50's so that
may "help" my situation.

Pamela Neckpain

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