I’ve had and used a handicap parking placard over the past few years….but I have a love/loathe relationship with it.
I don’t use it every time. I’m rarely out driving on my own (see 76 things, #2) and I don’t particularly go looking for the handicap spot. If there are any nearby spots I defer to those…and my wife has a placard to use in her car when I’m travelling with her, too.
Some days are better than others with my MS. But maybe it’s a “cane day” (i.e., I need help walking around with my cane) and that makes the decision pretty easy. Or, during the Summer, finding a handicap parking space is almost required. After just a few steps in the San Antonio sun, I feel like I might pass out, so the shorter the distance to where I am going, the better.
But sometimes I simply just can’t stomach taking the spot so, even if it means parking far away, that’s what I’m going to prefer (or, if Angela is driving, plead with her to do J ).
I freely admit it’s mental. I’m not perfect and this is certainly a part of me that needs to grow and/or just get over it. But the moment we pull into a handicap space the cold sweat begins. Are people looking at me?
They are probably thinking “that guy looks fine”. In my head, there are looks of disgust or disapproval at my usage of the handicap space. I want to reassure them that I am worthy…maybe show them a membership card to the “Chronic Diseases Society” or put a bumper sticker on my car that says, “Yes, I have MS”.
And this imaginary projection of other people starts to grow on me. I worry that I’m taking the space from somebody else that might need it more.
If I’m out on a date with my wife, I feel weak. If I’m with my children, I’m worried for the inevitable questions to come about the blue placard or the special sign over the parking space we are in.
I wish it was easier…maybe if I was less stubborn on this issue? Or didn’t view everything as a competition to show that I’m stronger than I really am? Or didn’t let my imagination run wild, creating this parallel universe where the parking space one chooses somehow defines who you are?
These kind of mental challenges aside, my handicap parking permit has been a tremendous help and I thank my wife for pushing me to get it. Multiple sclerosis is a battle on many fronts (physical, emotional and mental to name a few) and I need to adapt (and be more open to solutions) to endure.