Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mobility Parking...a perk you don't really want!

This is not my first experience and I know it will not be my last.....

Yes I know I am young and to you look perfectly healthy sitting inside my car. I can see it in your eyes you have already judged me before I have even attempted to move.

I bet you didn't know that as I pull into that park I still to this day get nervous butterflies. I question myself should I park further away; cause more pain but avoid people's awkward stares? I question will someone need this park more than me? Am I in enough pain to use it? Do I have the emotional capacity to deal with the stares and side glances? Because let's be honest I know sometimes you don't mean to stare or judge but I know you are. I can feel your eyes on me. What is possibly wrong with that girl?  

You want the truth...parking close is not a perk and it's not something I enjoy. To me it means that today is a day I cannot blend in...that I blatantly cannot walk far and I'm usually already pushing my boundaries by being out. 

So random stranger just for the record I was not 'abusing' the use of my permit like I could tell you initially thought. Just so you know I saw you lingering around your car. I could almost hear your words even before I had a chance to open my car door.  I felt your eyes on me. I felt them disappear off me once you saw my noticeable limp and the effort I had getting out of the car. I know once you could visibly see me struggling to walk you got into your car. It was like I suddenly got the approval once you saw my limp. We got into the lift and Dan states 'did you see that lady staring?'...Yet again I was judged. 

Do you know what made it worse this were parked in the disability car park next to me!! Were you in pain? Had you just had an operation? What struggle did you have to leave the house? Not that any of those questions are my business! Why did you think it was okay to look at me with judging eyes when you were needing the very same park? My permit was visible so surely that should have been enough...but I know it isn't sadly. 

You know you saw me for a tiny snippet of my day. I know I do not have to justify myself but you didn't see me struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
You didn't see me to make the decision to push through this pain and go to the movies. You didn't know that I had to choose between either more pain but the enjoyment of getting out of the house and spending time with Dan or staying at home and missing out on yet another activity. You didn't see the medication I had to take to ensure I could remain as comfortable as possible. You didn't hear me ask Dan if I should use my disability permit today and you didn't feel my stomach drop as you came out and stared.

In New Zealand to get a mobility parking permit you need to fit the following criteria and have it signed off by a doctor:

  1. You are unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair, or
  2. Your ability to walk distances is severely restricted by a medical condition or disability. If for example, you require the use of mobility aids, experience severe pain, or breathlessness, or
  3. You have a medical condition or disability that requires you to have physical contact or close supervision to safely get around and cannot be left unattended. For example, if you experience disorientation, confusion, or severe anxiety. Sourced from CCS Disability
     I think generally people have the understanding that in order to use the park you need to be in a wheelchair and are not aware of the other two criteria. I have found even on crutches I have been questioned about my eligibility to park there.   

     Of course I have my own personal rules as well: I will not park in the parks that are bigger as these are for people who need the extra room to get equipment or wheel chairs out. I will always see if there is a close park that is not a mobility park first and use this first. Lastly I will only use the park when I feel I 'really' need it because of my limited mobility. It is never my first option.  

     I think I need to make to following statement very clear; please remember that not all disabilities are visible and that young people are not immune to the effects of ill health. Sadly you don't have to look far to find stories of people with chronic illnesses being questioned or abused for parking in mobility parks. The following story is of a young women with Lupus who parks in a mobility park and comes back to find this letter on her dash board "You should be ashamed!! When you take a handicap spot an actual disabled person suffers. You were not raised as you should have been.". This needs to STOP!!!

I think it's great if you question people parked there without their permit on display but I really think you cross the line if you start questioning someone if they are eligible to park there if they have a clear permit on display. It's not your place to judge! I might look healthy to you but you do not know the pain that I am feeling inside. Also I do not have to disclose my health condition to you so you can determine whether or not I can park there I have already done this with my doctor. The mere effort of getting out of the house is hard enough so please don't make it any harder! 

So instead of those blatant stares can I please just have a smile to celebrate that fact that I made it out of the house!!!