I’ve had a really hard day, my joints ache, I’m tired and my headaches. But, I have to go to the grocery store to get something for dinner or lunch for the next day. Yes- I have a job and work full-time.
I pull into the parking lot, park and throw my handicap sign in the window. I get out, in a daze, minding my own business when an old man parked next to me says, “Hey, you’re supposed to have the handicap person with you when you park there.”
I’m instantly furious. I am the handicap person- asshole! I may be younger than him, I might look healthy – he doesn’t know I have an “invisible disease!” Heck, for all he knows, I might even be the next generation-looking of zombies and he shouldn’t even mess with me.
I walked up to the frail, cane-walking man; got a little too close for even my comfort. I looked him straight in the eyes and told him that you don’t have to be old or fat to be handicap. You don’t have to be in a wheelchair or using crutches. I continued to tell him to mind his own business and if he ever questioned someone’s need for a handicap sticker maybe he should think twice. Doctor’s don’t just give these things away for no reason. Then, I turned and walked as straight as I could, without limping or cringing to hold back the tears from the pain of each step.
This isn’t an isolated occurrence, unfortunately. It happens all the time. Sometimes when I’m parking, I get “the look” from someone parked next to me. Or, I get the “you’ve got to be kidding me” comment as they pass me when I’m getting out of the car. WHY?
Lupus is an untreatable condition (managed by medication) where the body attacks a person’s organs and/or joints instead of fighting off a cold or infections. It’s an immune deficiency disorder that can be life threatening and always unpredictable. It’s a nightmare playing around in every atom of the person’s body. So days, a lupus patient feels great. The next, maybe not so great and then the next could possibly be the worst day of their life. It causes extreme fatigue that can last days, weeks, months or more. It can cause vision problems, concentration issues, memory lapses, hot flashes and more. In my case, my lupus is linked to other conditions, making it worse at times.
For whatever the ailment, handicap parking is not a privilege or something people get just because they are lazy – it’s because walking and mobility is a problem. Sure, I could get a cane, walker or a scooter – but I’m too young for that. I’m trying to hang on to the mobility I have- at least for now. So don’t judge me!
Being old doesn’t give you the right to be rude! So, please think before opening your mouth – old man.