When Handicapped Parking Becomes the Norm - MS A Lifetime of Firsts
Strangely enough, I was more willing to use a cane than I was to take advantage of handicapped parking. For one, I felt I didn’t look like I needed to be taking up a handicapped spot. I also thought about the fact that I already wasn’t walking much. The few extra steps I used to get to and from various stores and restaurants would work to my advantage. I didn’t want to get spoiled, I told myself.
In retrospect, I suppose the most valid reason was the last one mentioned above. Now that I am not able to walk as much as I did when I first started using my handicapped parking permit, I think it was a good decision to squeeze every last footstep out of my legs while I could still appreciate the freedom of movement.
The least valid reason I had for not getting the placard sooner, was thinking I didn’t look handicapped enough to legitimately “take” one of the parking spots. Back then, I wasn’t walking with a cane, for at least 90 percent of my outside ventures. Even though I walked slowly, I didn’t feel that in itself justified using a parking permit.
I imagined others being offended by my outward appearance, concluding that I was a cheater, perhaps using the placard of a real handicapped person that happened to be left in the car. That particular line of reasoning was quite amazing, given that I rarely thought that way when I saw someone who appeared healthy using a parking space designated for the handicapped. Why did I suddenly worry that others would think I was parking illegally and had a major character flaw which made me view handicapped parking as a scam that I could run on the department of transportation?
Others have expressed concerns about not wanting to appear lazy to onlookers. I suppose our concerns just goes to show that we all put more credence into how a person looks than how they may be feeling on the inside.
Why I Changed My Mind
In a word, FATIGUE.
It is amazing what mental adjustments you will force your mind to make if you get tired enough. As walking became more and more exhausting, it seemed like I had to mentally will myself to my car. I was discovering however, that will power was not enough.
I remember I began my adjustment process by slowing down as I drove past designated handicapped parking spaces. Eye-balling the spot, the sign, and the cars with handicapped parking plates, I told myself I should be parking there too. Spotting the permits hanging from the front windshield I thought how convenient it would be if I could one day park as close to the entrance as other handicapped persons were doing. Soon after those mental observations, and encouragement from family and friends I decided it was time to make the switch from an average car parker, to a handicapped car parker.
- Handicapped Parking - How to Obtain a Handicapped Parking Permit
People with chronic disabilities often wait too long before getting a handicapped parking permit. People think they don't qualify or its too much trouble, but it's not. Here's how to obtain a handicapped parking permit.
Once the Mental Decision Had Been Made
The next step I took was to talk to my doctor. I used my primary physician since I saw him more often. I told him I needed him to certify that I have a need for the permit, which he was happy to do. The procedure doesn’t take long and within a month I received a disabled card and a handicapped parking placard. My application went to my State’s motor vehicle agency in charge of such things. An agency can quickly be found by googling the name of the state and the words, “parking permit” or “handicapped placard” behind it. There was no fee in the State of New Jersey for the permit, although there was a fee for the handicapped parking license plates. The permit needs to be renewed every 2-3 years if memory serves. I just received my new card a month or so ago.
You can also click on the link about handicapped parking, to find your state's requirements for obtaining a parking permit.
Ease With Use
I have to say, it didn’t take long for me to adjust to the convenience and energy savings of parking permits. Exhaustion on a daily basis makes you learn to appreciate anything that saves you extra steps. I am not hesitant in the least to whip out my placard whenever I am in a car, whether it be my car or not. It is viewed as a cool perk with my friends and family, since they are not accustomed to the quick access that parking near the entrance provides.
I find the biggest annoyance these days is when there aren’t enough empty spaces when I arrive at a particular location. Talk about a sharp change of direction. I chuckle at myself thinking about what bothers me now, compared to the angst I felt before getting the permit.
So if you find yourself thinking about getting a handicapped parking permit, that no doubt means you need it NOW, but you are uncomfortable about it. After all, who thinks about getting a handicapped parking permit, as one of the plush items they must possess. We think about it because our mind is telling us we need it.
It is hard to deny a placard will set you apart from the average driver. But then again, the average driver doesn't have MS, so don't let that stop you from taking advantage of an aid that can really help your mobility and stamina.
Don't let your outward appearance prevent you from getting what you need either. Sure you may "look so good" but no one knows how it feels to walk around with MS fatigue saddled on your back but the person with MS. We never look like we feel, so that ship has sailed anyway. Might as well forget about appearances and take care of the person on the inside, the one that needs the placard.
Now if you are like me, then you have adjusted to using a cane, and parking in the designated handicapped parking areas. What's left? How about using a wheelchair?
I finally experienced this, my toughest mental obstacle and I will conclude this series about monumental firsts, with that experience, next.