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January 25, 2009

Handicap Parking, use it and be judged.

I have some muscle atrophy in the outermost parts of my arms and legs. As far as neurological disorders go, it's a blessing. It's not going to kill me and it progresses at a glacial rate. I won't be a marathoner, but I hate running. I've never seen anyone who looked happy running. I digress.

I do use heavy plastic leg braces that run up the back of my legs and into my shoes. With these miraculous bits of thermo-extruded plastic, I am Superman compared to not using them. I can walk many miles a day, chase my kid, pretty much anything that isn't too jarring.

Somedays, however, because the body continuously changes with age, with season, with effort exerted the previous day, the braces are intermittently uncomfortable and my legs will occasionally hurt. I'll keep the activity down on those days and even venture into, the handicap parking area. I hate it.

If you park in one of these spaces, you better be tough. If you don't fall out of your car - devoid of arms and legs - and shimmy to your destination using only your chin to drag yourself along, you have not earned that privilege. I'm the first to admit I'm "too sensitive," but it's tough when people pause as they walk by, give you a full body visual inspection, and walk away with a confused look. It happens all the time.

If Frankie isn't around, I ask them if I passed inspection. This raises their consciousness a bit and they quickly walk away, hopefully introspective. I only do this when it is REALLY obvious.

When I wear shorts and the braces are visible, they are comforted knowing I have earned my BMV-granted perk. In those instances, they practically throw me a few nickels. It's great.

It gets a little easier to tolerate the judgement with age, but it never gets easy.


Not Important said...

There's a lady (I use that word very carefully.) at work who comes across as sort of "country glamorous." She's just a great person, and is very fit. She also has a prosthetic leg from the knee down, but for distances under a half mile, you'd never know it.

One time, she fell behind in a small crowd of people going to lunch, and someone new to the group said something like, "Hurry up! What's wrong? Got a wooden leg?"

She laughed, and knocked loudly on the plastic of her prosthetic. The guy went pale and attempted to stammer an apology. She let him off the hook, but she's less charitable with the parking spot self-appointed monitors.

Dave said...

That's pretty cool.

When cleaning the snow of the car (when it snows) I often take the brush and bang off the snow on the back of my calf for dramatic effect. Makes their head turn back to their business fast.

Anonymous said...

At Christmas, the only spot available at the post office was a handicap space. This idiot guy walked by, gave me the once over and said loudly "YEAH YOU LOOK HANDICAPPED". I snapped. I'm not proud of it, but like you I have the same braces on my legs, and I was sick of this crap. I yelled out "DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE BRACES ON MY LEGS?" He proceeded to mumble something under his breathe and then I said "Next time try minding your own business old man"(He wasn't old, but he was nasty and I knew it would make him feel bad). Ma knew a woman who lost her leg from diabetes and used to hang it out the window when someone gave her a hard time. Why don't people just mind their own business? (I'll get off my soapbox now ;D).

Dave said...

Hi Denise, that's just horrible. It's incidents like that that make me not want to ever use it. It's too many bad feelings.

Betty said...

Ray has seen heated debates among leg amputees about who should and shouldn't use the handicap spaces, some saying that only those without a prosthetic are entitled to. It's crazy the way people like to get on a high horse about the issue. I'm sorry it makes you uncomfortable using your placard when it benefits you to do so. Tell yourself they are a dumb ass when they do that.

Dave said...

Thanks for the comment Betty. It's an interesting phenomena to watch the world become the jury in these instances. I should just take off my glasses at the point I put it in park and put them on when I get in the store. What I can't see can't bother me.?

donatelife said...

I would go from a dialysis treatment to the grocery store and I would park in the prime spots. I used to get looks all the time. I would feel like death was knockin on my door 98% of the time. It is best to just limp and no one will say a thing. I used to do it so no one would bother me. Sad but it works. ha!

Dave said...

Hey DL, I'm sorry for your hardship. On top of all that, to limp to escape the judging is really sad. I must admit, I've done the same thing. Although, I didn't realize it, but my wife said I actually have a real limp anyway. I never knew.

Anonymous said...

It's not really a limp, more like a roll to your walk - what you see in someone using his leg muscles differently.