Carded at Costco

Carded at Costco

You've Got Some Nerves

I was carded while at Costco with my son just before Christmas. Normally, I’m flattered when asked for ID, but this time was different. The request wasn’t from the cashier as my vodka rolled by, snug between the peppermint cocoa and persimmons. No, the request came from a police officer.

As we loaded our bounty into the hatchback, a police car rolled up and parked behind my vehicle. Out hopped an officer, who pleasantly asked, “Does one of you have your card?” as he gesticulated toward the accessible parking sign in front of my car. “Oh,” I replied. My son just stood there, strawberry Special K in hand, looking uncertain. I found myself nervous and stammering, despite his friendliness. It’s not every day that I interact with a policeman.

My mind flipped back to an elderly gentleman with a cane who was getting into his SUV across from us when we pulled in. I saw him give me the stink eye as I hung my handicap placard on the rearview mirror, so I had smiled in a way that I hoped conveyed, “You see me, and I see you seeing me, and I’m smiling.” Apparently, that did not send the “I’m one of you, I’m disabled, too” signal I intended.

I opened my wallet and pulled out my official “You’re a Disabled Person” card from the state of Washington. I then spent what felt like a full minute trying to remove my driver’s license from the little window pocket. My son finally reached over and did it for me, which I think proves some disability on my part. The officer handed them back, with a wink and a nod, and said, “You two have a Merry Christmas.”

Feeling unsettled, my invisible disability and I sat in the car while my son finished loading the groceries. For 14 years, I have lived with a chronic, degenerative, neurological disease, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at me. I drive with hand controls. My body has good days and other days. I don’t always use my disabled placard, but when I need it, I use it. My son has been away at college and is not normally with me. I was berating myself for not thinking to have him drop me off and park further out. Then I was berating myself for berating myself. It was as though eagle-eyed SUV driver and the officer voiced my unwillingness to fully embrace the title of disabled.

A similar incident happened a couple of years ago on a busy work day when I missed lunch and, therefore, my lunchtime meds. On that crisp autumn day, I had been headed toward home when rush hour traffic and a migraine kicked in. I pulled into a busy strip mall to buy some food and water, take my meds, and sit in the car with my eyes closed until my headache (and traffic) eased. I parked in an accessible spot, sighed in relief, and was greeted by the sound of a marching band in full swing at a nearby school.

A pickup truck pulled into the accessible space next to me, and in my “hangry” state, I saw the driver give me the side-eye. To be fair, he had an eyepatch and may have just been looking around, not delivering judgment. I defensively thought, “Yeah, I see your eyepatch.” And as quickly as I recognized my unintended pun, I followed it up with, “And I raise you a migraine and a #&*@#** marching band!” I felt bad before I made it into the store and hoped the man would follow me in so that I could try my ineffective secret signal on him, but he didn’t.

A lesson for all of us: Disability is not always visible. There are hundreds of reasons a person may need a disabled placard, and it is no one’s business. There but for the grace of God, carry on.

A lesson for me: Disability is not a competition. It does not matter if I have a scooter, walker, cane, or an eye-patch (all of which I shall bedazzle, should they come to pass). I am a person with a disability, no justification needed.

After a little reflection, I decided to be grateful that eagle-eyed SUV driver was looking out for the rest of us. But we really need to come up with a secret handshake or something.

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Judy Lynn has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for 13 years. She remains amazed at the array of symptoms that this chronic degenerative disease of the nervous system may cause. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, is reported to have said, “The only thing constant is change.” Judy has found this to be particularly true living with MS. She will explore the varied MS symptoms and manifestations, and most importantly, the rainbow of creative adaptations, coping mechanisms, and remedies available for MS patients to try.
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Judy Lynn has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for 13 years. She remains amazed at the array of symptoms that this chronic degenerative disease of the nervous system may cause. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, is reported to have said, “The only thing constant is change.” Judy has found this to be particularly true living with MS. She will explore the varied MS symptoms and manifestations, and most importantly, the rainbow of creative adaptations, coping mechanisms, and remedies available for MS patients to try.
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58 comments

  1. Another lesson is if you have a handicap parking placard, and you park in a reserved space, you should display the placard, or accept the stink-eyes and police questioning. I’d be happy if more people who parked inappropriately were called on it.

    • Stacey says:

      We have the placard and always display it correctly. It’s the fact that we get stink eye because internally (sometimes not so internally) others are accusing us of fraudulently displaying a placard and not being disabled because we don’t always “look” disabled. If she didn’t have the placard, she would have received a ticket citation for not displaying her card. Others would have gotten the citation for illegally parking in a reserved disabled parking spot. The point is, we don’t like the stink eye because we don’t fit into a specific definition of what the majority of individuals believe disabled people must look like in order to be disabled.

  2. Sande Hickey says:

    I also have MS and some difficulty walking. I wear two braces on my “weak” leg, both an AFO & a knee cage. If I’m wearing shorts it’s very evident I have a disabiliy but if I’m wearing slacks – not so much…. I do have a handicapped placard for my car. What kind of “card” do you have? I’ve lived in both Texas and Florida and have never been offered a “card” rather than the placard. Seems like it might be a good thing to have…..

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Sande- I have both a placard and a card. In Washington State, we are required to carry a small card with our name and proof of disability, as well as a photo ID. If law enforcement questions my use of the placard, then I am to present them with those two items. The small wallet card comes in handy for other occasions, if one needs to prove their disability.

    • Rita says:

      When I lived in California we were given a receipt that showed placard number and are ID # and name and address and told to keep it with placard..I kept it in glove box and copy in wallet in case I went to airport..now in WA. We get a card .

      • Sofia says:

        In New Hampshire they put the little wheelchair symbol on the driver license, saves having to carry extra documentation. I have not had a police officer question me, but I have been yelled at and a man in one incident was quite threatening. I almost wished I had called the police on him

    • Sheila Boen says:

      My drivers license says I’m disabled, and it gives the placard number I was assigned. I live in Arkansas, & I have been verbally accused of misusing the placard. I have MS also. My standard reply is, “I’m glad you don’t think I look disabled but my legs & my doctor say otherwise.”

  3. Steve says:

    There are many stories such as yours regarding handicap parking. Yes there are many types of disabilities as you mention but the handicap parking spots are for people with impaired mobility.

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Thank you, Steve. Handicap parking spaces may be used by people with heart conditions, respiratory disease, heat sensitivities, disability characterized by extreme fatigue, muscle weakness…the list goes on and on. Impaired mobility is not always visible to the naked eye.

    • Pam says:

      I, too, have MS. I also have a handicap placard. For the most part, I dont have to use it on a regular basis. BUT there are days that my hip and/or legs hurt so bad that I cannot bear to walk the distance of parking halfway down the lot. Also those days, I cannot wait to get to a cart to use as my “crutch” to lean on as i get what was necessary for my trip. So no it isn’t just for the obvious handicapped people. Invisible handicaps are just as real; otherwise we wouldn’t have the disabled placard.

    • Tom says:

      Sorry Steve, you’ve got it wrong. For example, walking will increase the chances I have to pee. If I have to pee, first off, I go to a store that has a public restroom. Then, if I can park close to the entrance, I can get to the restroom sooner and avoid wetting my pants if I forgot wearing my diaper, or mistimed it, or I don’t want to waste another diaper. Sometimes, if I park in the handicap space when there are a lot of other handicap spaces available, that leaves a spot open nearby in a regular space. So a regular driver can park up front instead of in the second or third row, because I didn’t use my handicap card. Maybe the symbol of the blue wheelchair needs an alternative. Wonder what it could be?

  4. Brenda Z says:

    Wow! At least its good to know that you are not the only one. Although, I was never carded but I got thousands of stares while parking in a disabled spot with my blue card hanging below the rear view mirror. At that time, I wasnt in a scooter or wheelchair. Nor was I using a cane or a walker. I walked normally but already had this same neurological disease. i also had another invisible disability too, I am deaf since birth and use American Sign Language to communicate.

    Eventually, this disease (MS) progressed, now I am using a heavy duty electric wheelchair, SPC catheter, and living in an assisted living facility where I receive care for my daily needs including use of hoyer lift. At first it was humilating but over time, I became used to having to depend on others to care for me. Other health problems pop up as I get older and older. Your brief blog brings us to the point that society doesnt understand the “invisible disabilities.” That forces me to speak up by writing on a white chalkboard with black marker and state the name of my disabilty so people can stop their staring and let me be me.

    You should see their facial expression after they’ve read that. The color of their faces changes from pink to bright red within an instant and their hand goes to their mouth, shaking their head as they walked away. Others were more kind and blurt out as I lipread “I am so sorry” and put their hand on my shoulder or some will hug me and say “Bless you.” Its weird to see what people reaction will do to to a disabled person. I am like “come on people, hey I dont need your sympathy” but thats how society is. Some people seem to be genuine, others are outright rude and mean. We just have to deal with their ignorance.

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Thank you for sharing, Brenda! You sound like an amazing MS Warrior! I have read about people handing out small business cards that explain their disability to the ‘questioning glances’. I could see the desire to do so, but I probably won’t. Eventually someone would want to get into the debate of “who is more disabled” and I haven’t the strength for it. I appreciate your input and brave chalkboard!

  5. Georgette Culp says:

    I didn’t know you had been carded… wow that must have been nerve wracking. Is that normal protocol, calling the police when one suspects a slacker parking illegally? Perhaps a friendly chat would suffice, rather than calling the police? By the way, love your story telling abilities.

    • Judy Lynn says:

      It was in the harbor, the police there aren’t terribly busy. Had I been in a bigger city, I doubt they would have responded. But again, after some reflection, I was okay with that. It was the holidays and I know there are some who use the placards of others illegally. I think that’s a pretty bold move though, and I don’t think I look that bold!

    • Ronda says:

      In South Carolina our placards have our picture on them. That way we do not have to prove who the placard belongs to or prove that we have a disability. I too have MS and have gotten those stares but I just stare back with a smile. Kindness kills them.

  6. Elle Smith says:

    My partner aka designated driver takes parking to the next level with his German number plates and my Dutch passenger disabled card in the Netherlands. I’m wheelchairbound past 3 years and it’s beenn quite a ride. Most vivid one was being parked at a supermarket handicap spot for a quick grocery tour, so I stayed in the car. Within minutes parking controllers showed up, knocked on the window and informed me I wasn’t allowed to park with a German car on that spot. My first reaction was to ask whether he was a highschool dropout, but I pulled myself together and asked him how many stars he sees on my card and what do they tell him. Next thing I knew I was “educating” him what European Union meant in terms of borders. Had the car been empty, we would’ve received yet another parking ticket.

  7. Lovey Ray says:

    I live in WA state too and was carded once. I had a lady say under her breath to me and my son “which one of you is disabled?” I looked at her and said, “While it is non of your business, I have MS.” Her pink face was awesome. While I “look fine” and like I’m 20yr with 5 kids piling out of my car, I hurt 24/7 from my back to my legs from this awful disease. I wish people would just mind their own business!

  8. Bill Dolighan says:

    Interesting comments. We don’t use ID cards in Ontario, only placards. I wonder if we did have ID cards, would the disabled person have to be the driver or is the ID sufficient to allow parking. Is there a problem when a driver drops off a disabled person and then parks in a designated spot? Just sayin”.

    • Lisa A Gonzales says:

      In the US to use the placard or the license plate designated handicapped the person who is handicapped must be with you. You can drop the person off and then park in a handicapped spot. You get a drivers license and a handicapped ID card that looks similar to a drivers license (at least in Louisiana). You need to present the handicapped ID to police if questioned.

      • Jill A says:

        I was told that if the handicapped person is dropped off at the door, or picked up at the door, you can’t use the handicapped placard. In WI I was told to keep the receipt from purchase with the placard number on it, along with the letter from my doctor with the placard.

    • Wilda Graham says:

      In Alberta, the handicapped person needs to be leaving the car. My daughter often takes me out and never uses a handicap spot if I am staying in the car. My pet peeve is–people who hang a pine tree scent thingy on the mirror and use handicap parking!!!

  9. Lynne Roso says:

    Nice job Judy. I too get the look; like I’m not needing handicapped parking. I just smile & keep walking to the closest cart return. I then use the cart as my walker to steady myself as I walk into the store. ☺️

  10. Carrie scott says:

    I’ve experienced “the look” too. I also only use my placard when I need to. As was yesterday. I had to go to two police stations to file a report that my prescription for Concerta was “missing”. (Funny, helps me stay organized and not lose as many things as I would)
    An officer walked up to me as I was parking and asked how I was doing. Feeling shitty with illness and MS I reached for my placard to hang/show him and stuttered “I don’t look disabled, but I am”. He smiled and said “have a great day”. He was extremely nice yet I still felt as if everyone was watching me walk in questioning my disability.

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Oh dear, Carrie, that is an unfortunate irony! Every extra task for things like that takes precious energy for the person with MS.

  11. Margie Livelli says:

    I mentioned on FB that I often get yelled at by people when I use a regular space instead of the handicapped space. They resent my taking their space. you can’t win, smile lol. Margie

    • Twyla says:

      I had a guy yell at me for 5 minutes for using a regular space. Gosh buddy, sorry I felt well enough that day and left the handicapped space for someone not feeling as well as I did! I have had 4 back surgeries, knee surgery, both hips replaced (one done twice) heart disease, COPD, and the list goes on. But, I know walking is good for me, so when I have a good day, I don’t use the handicapped space. Then again, when I do use handicapped, I get the stink-eye anyway! One person said “You don’t look handicapped to me!”. I asked him “So, what does handicapped look like?”. Or I say ‘Thank you! For the past 40 years I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars just so I don’t ‘LOOK’ handicapped. Glad to know it was money well spent”

    • Mario says:

      There are often not enough handicap parking spaces available (here in the US) as the population is aging. I believe the first 5-10 spaces in every row should be accessible spaces.

  12. Melanie says:

    California disabled placards come with a piece of paper identifying the person who owns the placard, and the valid dates of the placard. You are expected to carry a copy of the paper on your person. A copy has the same validity as the original. I keep a copy in my vehicle glovebox and my wallet. This piece of paper does not identify my disability.
    I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome with hypermobilty now compounded by MS.

  13. Mistreated Florida says:

    One of my issues is parking in a perfectly straight line, kinda like walking down the hall without bumping into the wall. At Clearwater Beach in Florida my tire was on the line for the handicap walkway. Just the line not the space. I was parked in the handicapped space due to my MS, and my placard was fully visable. A beach patrol rent a cop wrote me a 375.00 ticket gor my tire being on the line. I found a real police officer who wrote a note for me that I should not have to pay the ticket and I sent pictures as well. I was told if I did not pay it my license would be suspended.Unreal

  14. Rita says:

    Well ive been carded to it’s not fun , I’ve lived with MS 24 years .. and a bunch of other illnesses and but its wrong for people to judge , I once pulled up at Safeway and I have my handicap plate , so I don’t need to display placard , I pulled up and this guy in the car next kept watching me and as I was rolling up my window , he yelled something about a placard, I got my purse and started to get out of car and walk towards shopping carts he said hey B~#<¥ , I’m call the cops if you don’t put the placard up , at this point I was pist , and I said that’s right you call them because I don’t have answer to you ! I would of like to said more but I believe he was drunk . I took a picture of his plate and report him for harassment..I was told I only had to show my Handicap ID to a peace officer .. so they can side eye me and point all they want .. I would trade blue placard for a normal life any day … they don’t know what it’s like , handicap is not just for people in wheelchairs …oh yes I got told that at airport.. 1 more time and I’m take it up to someone with high power ..
    Stand up for yourself ☝🏼

  15. Laurie Smith says:

    I have Lupus. I get the same looks. I’m usually with my husband when out shopping. Everyone thinks it’s so cute because we always hold hand or I hang on to his arm. The main reason for this I have balance problems. I have a handicap license plate. I had a lady come screaming at me because I was in a handicapped parking space and I didn’t have a plaquerd in the window. I was so shocked. I just stood there. My husband said not to kindly. Open your eyes and look at the license plate. There are many times when I don’t need to use the handicap parking. But when I use it, it’s because it is not a good day. People need to be less judgmental. If someone feels that they need question you, just be kind. There are some who abuse the privilege of parking in a handicap parking, but I don’t think there are many.

  16. Mya sterling says:

    I live in SC, I just move here in may & Had to change my License and my plaque over to South Carolina because here the plaque from Puerto Rico is no good here & if I use it I will get a ticket They said that in the DMV when I change my license can‘t use my plaque have to get one from South Carolina and use South Carolina plaque that’s the Law I felt like if they were denying my rights I have MS

  17. Rob McCallum says:

    In WA, you must carry your card if you use the disabled spots.
    I also live in WA and have had my disability tags for about a week. I seem to get the stink eye every time I park. I’m waiting to be asked for my card.

  18. Beverly says:

    In the state of Colorado our plates and placards are registered just like our car are we carry our registration and display our blue Handicap hanger on our rearview mirror I wish more policeman would check it would help get rid of those people that are using grandma‘s old hanger and I know a lot of people do I would welcome them asking I have MS also and I have seen people using the handicap spots and then get out of the car and jog 2 miles around our park and get back in the car and leave! those people need to be stopped so those of us that need it can use it and you don’t need to be embarrassed to be asked handicap parking is a privilege!

  19. Boston Robin says:

    I live in the Boston suburbs, have had MS for 15 years and have a handicapped placard with my picture on it. Strangely enough, I also was carded in a Costco parking lot. I was also carded in the same city’s shopping mall a few months later. I attribute being carded to that I was about 50 years old, don’t use a cane/wheelchair and don’t have an obvious disability.
    I use handicapped spaces most of the time because i never know when I will fatigue while out and about. If there is plenty of handicapped parking, I think that since most people can’t use the handicapped spaces, I won’t use a regular space. However, if there’s limited parking but one handicapped space and one regular space, I’ll take the regular space to keep the handicapped one available for those who may need it more than me.
    And when I’m done with my cart, I try to leave it neatly parked on the edge of the handicapped space in case people parking in those spaces need a cart to use to get from their space to the store.
    There’s no perfect way to decide who’s going to need the space more than the other. We all must try to be aware and choose our parking spaces wisely. I have said over the past 15 years that I will gladly surrender my handicapped placard the day that I no longer live with MS.

  20. LeeAnn says:

    I gave up my placard a long time ago. I didnt use it all the time but summer in North Texas almost kills me. I know I am making my self suffer when I have to walk im the heat but there is not enough room to tell how many times someone feels the need to say something. The last time I got so angry I started yelling at this person in the parking lot. Thats not me so never again

  21. Gail Towe says:

    Second paragraph: “Does one of you have your card?” What card? I have my placard, but no other “card”. I was diagnosed with MS in 1985 and live in TX. I have never been issued a card.

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Hi Gail- in Washington State we are given a small identification card to carry in our wallets. Our placards do not have our photo or name on them, so the ID card is to be presented to an official (not a busybody, lol) if they request verification that we are the owner of the placard.

  22. Bob Fate says:

    Be thankful they still asked to verify you have a disability. They don’t ask us anymore be cause it is obvious.

  23. maureen king says:

    Recently, a man in another handicap space yelled at my husband for taking a handicap space. My husband didn’t hear him, but I did. The tag is mine. My husband was going ahead of me to get a motorized chair for me. As I got out of the passenger side of my car, with difficulty, I just stared at the “parking space spy.” I was furious, but the man saw me exit the car and never made eye contact with me. He had no obvious disability and was loading very many bags into his vehicle, by himself. I took the high road and said nothing.

  24. Ed King says:

    Thanks for writing this Judy,
    I also live in Washington, I’ve been carded a few times by the Police. I’ve had MS for ten years and I’m Diabetic.
    The last time was funny, right after I parked as I was getting out of the car I was being approached by the officer with a harsh look on his face, he stopped when he saw me pulling my cane out of the car and just stared at me.
    Then he approached and said that I needed to place my placard in the window. I told him that I have the plates. He walked around my car to look, then asked to see my card.
    I pulled my wallet out of my medicine bag (I carry my diabetes supplies everywhere) to get and show him. He looked everything over and paused looking very confused, I’m not sure whether he wanted to ask about my disability or was thinking about what else he could ask me for.
    When we were finally done, he handed everything back and walked away shaking his head looking very perturbed.

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Hey Ed- thanks for sharing, how odd! I wonder what he was hoping for next? Glad you had your card on you!

  25. Norma Davis says:

    The issue here is the handicapped person must have a permit (dispayed properly), must be present and must be going in the store. Failure to do so can result in a hefty fine. I certainly do not mind being carded because that is their way of assuring next time I need a space, it will likely be there and no filled by someone using grandma’s placard.

  26. T says:

    I live in SE Georgia, and have MS. I have a placard, but have never heard of a “disability card.” Can someone please explain?

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Hi T- our placards do not have a picture or identifier, so we are also given a wallet card that says the placard is ours and we must show that card with a photo ID if an officer asks. I wasn’t really mad, just caught off guard.

  27. Barbara says:

    In Arizona, you can get one placard or a placard and a plate. I chose the latter. I have MS and Fibromyalgia, along with neck issues that I just had surgery to hopefully correct. Sometimes I can get out of the car and walk into the store OK but can’t really make it back out to the car if a walk is involved. This was my biggest issue. Other days, I don’t have the capability to make eye contact and unfold myself from the seat to stand and steady myself. My husband walks with a limp, sometimes more pronounced than others. My husband has Ankylosing Spondylitis and some days can’t walk over 10 feet. He had the one placard. After I got my plate, he went and got the plate for himself. I have had noone ask me about handicapped plate and if it is mine. According to the day and how I feel, they might not ever want to ask anyone again. We don’t have any ID cards, so they can radio in and find out that these are our plates.

  28. Linda Fisher says:

    I have MS and I have handicapped plates on my vehicle. When I was younger I was yelled at before even getting out of my car! This used to really upset me, now I just ignore it.
    What is hard to ignore is the people who think it’s ok to take up handicapped spaces while they are waiting for someone with no placard. Or parking in between spots in the loading space for ramps or wheelchairs. That has happened to my sister (also with MS) several times, causing her to have wait or have her husband back out so they can lower the ramp. One time the illegally parked person came out to her car and my sister and brother-in-law had her blocked in. As they took their time getting my sister on the ramp and loaded, a cop showed up and wrote her a ticket.

  29. DD says:

    My dad was diagnosed with MS by in the mid 1950s (same year I was born) when no one, at least around here, had ever even heard of MS. He was once pulled over and when he got out of the car he stumbled a bit. The policeman thought he was drunk, but he explained that he had MS. The policeman, of course, had never heard of it and my dad explained that MS stood for Multiple Sclerosis. To which the police responded, “spell it for me,” as he was taking notes. My dad in turn said, “It’s bad enough I have to have it, I’m sure as hell not going to learn how to spell it.” (He was never a good speller) 🙂

    In any case, our car had a handicapped license plate and hand controls in the 60s/70s that at that time was so rare that we often had to explain what the plate was and what it meant. Of course, this was long before handicapped parking spaces were common like they are today.

    Now handicapped parking spaces are common, but there’s still abuse and misunderstanding. Everything is a process. If you need a handicapped space and have the proper credentials, whatever that might be for your state, then I say forget about the sideways glances and suspicious looks. You know you need it and you’re legit, so forget about the doubters – they’re the ones with the problem!

    A good next step would be to figure out how to put cart stalls near handicapped parking so it’s easy for someone using a handicapped space to return their carts without extra effort or needing to leave them scattered about because there’s not a place for them. It never ceases to amaze me that the cart returns are always so far away and inconvenient for handicapped parkers.

    I had a temporary handicapped placard in GA during recovery from knee replacement and my mom was in a wheelchair for the last few years before she died. It was always a head shaker to be parked so close and then have to walk extra far to return my cart!

  30. Kay Day says:

    I have severe osteoarthritis with scoliosis and vertebrae impinging on my spinal canal causing leg weakness, fibromyalgia that causes severe fatigue and difficulty walking, asthma and seasonal allergies that cause shortness of breath, and the list goes on. I have been yelled at for parking in a handicapped space because I don’t look disabled. Usually I just ignore it. However, one day a man harassed me from the time I got out of my car, followed me into the post office, and continued yelling at me while I was standing in line at the post office. I asked him to show me his medical degree. He yelled at me for “pretending” to be disabled. I showed him my letter from my doctor that states I am permanently disabled with spondylolisthesis (the medical term for the vertebrae impinging on my spinal canal). He accused me of carrying a fake letter. The postmaster came out and asked what the problem was. The harasser continued his diatribe. I showed the postmaster my letter, and he kicked the harasser out and apologized to me. I told him that, unfortunately, it happens a lot to me. I’m slowly learning to ignore that type of person. They will continue to think what they think is right no matter what I say or do. I know my reality and they do not.

  31. Linda Olson says:

    Those with MS ABSOLUTELY need a handicapped spot. You never know when you will lose ALL energy and have severe difficulty getting back to the car, even if you are doing pretty well when you arrive. I know soooooo many people who had temporary issues with their legs, etc. and kept the handicapped sticker just to save a few steps after they have recovered. Give them the stink eye!

  32. Ronald Moll says:

    I have a placard in PA. I don’t have MS, but I do have degenerative neuropathy as a result of diabetes. It affects both of my legs and left arm. I got the placard primarily for things like concerts and sporting events where you sometimes end up parking 1/2 mile from the venue if you don’t have it. I rarely use it at any other time.

    On occasion, however, when I’m having a bad day, or a large store is extremely busy, I use it. On those days, I always feel self-conscious because I know I don’t “look” disabled. The truth is… most days… I don’t feel disabled unless I try to walk a long distance. And on those days, I always feel like people are giving me the stink-eye… the disabled and non-disabled alike (I feel like the latter feel like I’m cheating). I even find myself thinking about making up some tragic disability so I don’t have to admit that I’m disabled because I didn’t watch what ate when I was younger.

    But that sense of guilt, that belief that I am somehow not disabled enough to deserve a closer parking space because I don’t look disabled, is my problem, not anyone else’s. At those moments I repeat a little joke… a little word play that helps me…

    I look at the people around and say to myself, “If you could walk a mile in my shoes… tell me how you did it, because I haven’t been able to walk a mile in years.”

    I guess my point is two-fold:

    1) That stink-eye is more often in my mind than on the faces of others.

    2) We really shouldn’t care what other people think anyway… we can only walk in our own shoes.

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