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Presumptions Can Be a Major Handicap

This happened about 6 months ago. I am 25 years old and suffer from severe fibromyalgia. I do have a disabled parking permit but rarely use it unless I am having a very bad day, due to postnatal depression and pain I am also very overweight which I am trying some way to remedy. This day I had my two boys with me, at the time aged 3 and 4. My husband is in management at a local shopping centre and this day I had to pick him up from work as his car was at the mechanic and also pick up a few things. I was having one of the worst days I had felt in a long time and the kids were fighting, I had been sitting for long periods because I am trying to finish my degree and study for my medical school entrance exams (I want to be a paediatric oncologist) and that had made my pain flare to a major level which had also brought on a terrible headache.

I parked in one of the disable carpark spots which I had not done for about 4-5 months. I got the kids  out of the car and because it was busy I walked as fast as I could manage with the kids to get out of traffic. I was about to enter the shop when a 30ish aged woman tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and was blasted with abuse for where I had parked. I was told that young lazy people should think of themselves more often and not take up spots for people who actually need them, I was told that maybe if was not so selfish I would park as far away as I could and maybe I would lose weight because being fat is not a disability and other people should not have to pay for my gluttony. I was astounded, I just stood there open mouthed with pain searing down my spine and my legs shaking with pain. I could not speak, my sons were upset and my husband came out of the shop as he had finished his shift a few minutes early. He heard the woman berating me and asked what was going on. She assumed a staff member had come to assist her and starting ranting to him about lazy selfish fat people and how I had broken the law and should be asked to leave.

When she finished she fluttered her eyes at him and gave him a grin and me a smug look to say, “Now you’re in for it.” I was in tears and my husband looked shocked. He told her that I did indeed hold a disabled parking permit because of a medical condition, and that he did not appreciate people abusing the store’s customers, even if they were not his wife. It was the woman’s turn to look stunned, she did not suspect this, as I have said I am very overweight and not the prettiest rose on the bush but I was lucky enough to find a great loving man who did not care about my looks, it just so happens that he is very handsome and although he is 32 this year he has often been mistaken for 20-21 (I am 25 but look 35 lol) so this woman refused to believe we were married and thought he was making a joke of her. She insisted on speaking to the manager, he said he was second in charge of the store and as the store manager was on holiday, until the duty manager arrived he was “it” she also refused to believe this and it took several of the staff to convince her she was not the butt of a joke. We forgot our shopping and just left to go home, apparently she did her shopping and left in a huff a bit later.

The thing is you cannot “see” my disability, and although my weight is partly a result of my disability it is not the cause. I have had evil looks from other people before and to a point I can understand because I look young and able bodied it looks as if I am just lazy. The thing is that people should not make assumptions, I may look fine on the outside but people have no idea what goes on inside. Not only was I abused in front of my family for doing something I had a right to do and had to have my medical condition exposed in public to get her to shut up, but I was also insulted because she refused to believe my good-looking husband would be with someone like me. We do laugh about it now but at the time we did not. So can I just ask everyone who sees someone who looks able-bodied park in a disabled zone, not to make assumptions, there are disabilities you cannot see. Perhaps I should have said something that day but with how I felt it really did get to me and I just emotionally gave up. 0629-11

{ 160 comments… add one }
  • The Elf July 21, 2011, 7:21 pm

    L.J. No, not only did the nurse not have a permit but she apologized later saying she was bringing in donuts. That’s why she took the handicapped spot.

  • Noodle July 21, 2011, 7:22 pm

    I have two blind friends and we usually use a handicap placard when I am driving them somewhere depending on the parking. One is technically otherwise able-bodied but the other also has scoliosis. I always felt it was safer to park closer to the doors instead of walking across a parking lot (particularly a grocery store) and have to worry about other drivers barreling around the lot. The ramps are a lot easier for them to navigate as well. Still, when I am out with them, we do get looks even when they have their white canes out.

    In contrast, my mother also uses a handicap placard. She has arthritis, osteoporosis, and has had three joints replaced and uses a cane on her good days and a walker on her worse ones. I also bring a lightweight transport wheelchair for her if we’re going to a place like the mall that doesn’t furnish the scooters. No one seems to bat an eye at her. It seems like the definition that most people have of “disabled” is using a cane (even though that was the case in the Navy vet’s story), a walker, or a wheelchair. I’ve noticed that people also don’t seem to think that being overweight can be an effect of a disabled status and not a cause.

  • Fiona July 21, 2011, 7:25 pm

    My sympathies to the OP and kudos to your husband. The commenter was way out of line to say anything to you and to cause you and your children distress.
    My Mum has fibromyalgia and there are days when our family wishes we could wave a magic wand to get rid of it for her. She has her good days and then she has days when she can’t get out of bed. The nights are the worst because she can’t rest because of the pain. Both my mother and I have another condition that isn’t noticable and is controlable with care and attention. We too have had people say “It’s all in your mind” when they become aware of it. If these people had to live with any “invisible” condition themselves I think they would be a little more understanding.

    Admin congratulations on your Grandchild.

  • Andrea B. July 21, 2011, 7:34 pm

    @ K: “If at your very worst, you’re still able to walk as fast as you can in the parking lot, you don’t need a handicapped spot. There are people who actually ARE handicapped that NEED that spot. You clearly do not. Shame on you.”

    If the OP is “as fast as she can”, that means she’s walking as fast as she is able to at the moment. That might mean that she takes 2 minutes to walk 5 feet, not that she’s walking at any great speed. The OP stated that she was having a bad day of pain and clearly needed that spot. The OP *is* “actually handicapped” as she has fibromylagia, was in awful pain, and was entitled to use that spot.

  • The Elf July 21, 2011, 7:59 pm

    Leslie, I understand the desire to use a handicapped spot when you have something like a sprained ankle that makes it difficult to walk. I get it – after my motorcycle accident, I was in a lot of pain and had difficulty walking. You know, for a few days. Like with a sprained ankle.

    But that does not mean that you get to use the handicapped permit. Tempting as it is, your otherwise healthy body means that you can compensate a little better for that ankle. Park close, by all means. Have a friend drop you off at the curb, sure. Postpone a shopping trip until you feel better. But save the handicapped space for those who need it on a more permanent basis and count your blessings that you are not among them. Same with pregnancy. Unless you are having a particularly nasty pregnancy (in which case, by all means go for a temporary permit) then it doesn’t count.

  • OP July 21, 2011, 8:12 pm

    I just want to ask why you think someone in wheelchair ect. has more right to a handicapped spot than myself or others who can still walk? If you read my post again I said “walk as fast as I could” not “walked fast” I certainly would not have pushed myself so much if my kids had not been with me, the shopping center car ark is not pedestrian friendly and I don’t like my kids walking through moving cars, especially when I don’t have great reaction time. I may be capable of walking (most of the time) but why should I and others like me have to go through extra pain from walking further away? Why should we have to aggravate our condition if there is an alternative. Like I said I don’t use the tag all the time, only when I need it. SOME people in wheelchairs are disabled but not in pain (most are) but SOME are not, and can travel further down a car ark with no worries. Does that make them unentitled to park in a handicapped spot? Of course not! Handicapped spots are for people with reduced mobility, not people who can’t move their legs.
    I a
    Have the sad task of monitoring my youngest son aged now 4, because he is showing signs of fibromyalgia, falling down and screams in pain for no visible reason and though most of the time he is extremely independent he sometimes asks daddy to carry him because his legs hurt, he cries because he can’t play games with his brother because his back hurts ect.
    When my sister and I were younger we were in a study along with our mother to discover if fibromyaglia is genetic (as we all have it, though mum has CFS and a bone condition as well from an accident when she was a nurse ) now we just have to wait any see.
    Admin, congrats on the baby 🙂

  • Sarah Jane July 21, 2011, 8:17 pm

    I think everything I want to say about the barking woman’s rudeness has been said, but I’d like to say this to the OP: please put out of your mind that anyone would think that your husband is so “good-looking” that he wouldn’t be with “someone like (you)”. Just because you are overweight does not mean you are not beautiful, and that others do not find you beautiful, as well.

  • anonymous July 21, 2011, 8:35 pm

    Fibromyalgia, whatever the cause, is absolutely real (or even as one poster said, if it’s a symptom of something else, that doesn’t make it any less real). I once was acquainted with a sufferer of fibromyalgia – a former coworker. She could be a bit of a drama llama but I do not doubt that the pain she felt was real. Even if it is linked to depression or anxiety (I am not a doctor, I can’t claim to say, but many doctors believe it is), that doesn’t make the pain any less real. I suffer from severe headaches that sometimes are just headaches, sometimes are full-on migraines that my doctor believes are stress and unsettled sleeping routine related (I love my job but these are two side effects – a strange schedule that makes a static sleeping routine impossible, and I tend to carry more tension in my shoulders). Sure, my headaches are not a disease and they are caused by something psychological, but the psychological manifests itself physically – if your brain is telling you that you are feeling severe pain, or is contracting your muscles, causing inflammation etc. – but that doesn’t make them any less painful.

    I’m not saying fibromyalgia is psychosomatic, because that’s something I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. But EVEN IF IT IS, it’s still pain. It’s not any less painful. Pain is triggered by what your nerves and brain are telling you, there is no physical abnormality necessary to feel it.

    And yes, so many disabilities are invisible. So many times – so so so many times – I’ve stood with a pounding headache or migraine on the subway and not taken a priority seat because I look (and generally am) young and healthy…and I’ve wanted that seat so bad to give my poor spinning head a chance to rest. Or I’ve gone ahead and sat down – only to get up when someone who more visibly needs the seat comes by, because while I might also “need” the seat, bystanders won’t realize that and they will judge. For awhile I had a severely herniated disc in my back that eventually required surgery (it’s a very long story as to why I didn’t just get bed rest before it got that bad)…again, not a visible disability in a young woman, but one that absolutely caused me intense pain. And yet, I’d get nasty looks when I’d take a priority seat that really, I needed, and I didn’t want to explain to everyone nearby that in fact I was in near constant debilitating pain and yet still needed to work.

  • Aje July 21, 2011, 9:19 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful that we live in a country that does something for people with disabilities?

  • bunnyface July 21, 2011, 10:11 pm

    To the poster who drove her grandmother around and felt self-conscious getting out of the car with the handicapped placard in case someone commented- I feel the same way. My mother has very severe arthritis, is getting hip and shoulder replacements this year, and some days can walk from the handicapped space but some days needs to be dropped at the door of wherever we are going. If I park in the spot and she walks in with me, but then on the way out asks me to go get the car for her because she can’t walk that far, I am sometimes worried someone may comment on me ( a healthy-looking 30something who looks much younger) being in the space. I decided if someone ever did ask what my handicap is, I would answer ‘I respond very rudely to people who ask me questions that are none of their business.’ Haven’t had to use it so far. 🙂

  • tara July 21, 2011, 10:13 pm

    I can’t get over how offensive some commenters are. I have to believe the doctors who authorize the distribution of handicapped tags are giving them to those who truly need them. If someone has a tag then they probably have a reason to have it. So keep your stink eye in your head.

    As my mother always says – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  • Insomniac July 21, 2011, 10:24 pm

    I posted earlier today, but I guess I got moderated. No prob.

    I have had a Handicapped Parking Permit for the last 10 years or so. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and beta-thalassemia (a type of anemia) at the same time. That combination alone would be crippling. However, I also have had a failed spinal fusion at 4 levels, and two knee replacements due to rheumatoid arthritis.

    None of these disabilities are readily apparent to the casual observer, unless I am wearing shorts or a skirt. I have some pretty graphic scars on my legs. Oh, and I would be considered overweight by most people.

    I’ve had adults of all ages tell me I don’t deserve my parking privileges. So now, if I am going out somewhere alone, without my husband, I will wear something revealing my leg scars. It’s a shame that I feel I have to do this, but it just cuts down on the drama I receive through the bad manners of others.

    Handicapped parking spaces are very prone to abuse by some individuals because they know they won’t suffer any penalties for parking there with no plate or placard. If I am feeling well or can find a non-permit space, I will use it out of respect for those who are worse off than I am.

    I am so sorry the OP had the experience she did. A lot of people feel they are doing a public service by taking the “undeserving” to task for taking up the space.

  • PrincessSimmi July 21, 2011, 11:34 pm

    I got a filthy look once for parking in a disabled spot, as I’m young, have a fancy car and am not disabled. That was, until I entered the club and collected my very disabled Grandmother who is on a walker permanently, has arthritis and has recently been given the all-clear from cancer. That stopped the nasty old bat in her tracks. People should learn not to judge – it’s not easy for me having to cart her around, but I do it out of love. I hope that people like this will one day realise that anyone who has a disabled marker is given one for a reason, not just for the hell of it.

  • Mavis July 22, 2011, 12:50 am

    I can not believe how the ignorant think they are informed. Fibromyalgia is covered by health insurance, there is no health insurance that would cover a “make beleve” illness. Doctors are also prone to put a womans illness into the “hyterical female syndrome” when it’s something that they can not prove by blood work. It’s only since men have been diagnosed with it that it was taken seriously. I am on Social security disability, anyone who’s tried for it knows how difficult it can be to obtain–they sure won’t give that out for a non-existent illness. I was forced to quit working, not that I was too fat and lazy to work. The worse the fibro got, the less I was able to do, the more weight I gained. Depression does not cause fibro!!!—Fibro (or any condition that causes constant pain) causes depression! People with fibro have a tendency to get depressed because they are in so much pain that sometimes even the strongest of narcs can’t help much, they end up unable to work as they used too or not at all (I was a work-aholic from age 14)–they can not even walk like they used to, they are unable to keep their homes as clean and neat as they used to, they often have trouble sleeping, they can’t play with their kids like they used to, they can’t exercise like they want to, they have family and friends who are ignorant of their condition and have very little emotional support (except from other sufferers), they end up financially strapped because they have to work less, or stop working altogether and many have lost their homes because of it, some are in so much pain that even showering and wearing a bra are painful and end up dressing “loosely”–tight clothing is painful–they have to contend with memory problems, what we call “Fibro fog”–sometimes we can not think of even the simplest of words that are supposed to be said next and we stop in mid sentence trying to think of it, we are (proven by brain imaging,) loosing grey matter–esp in the hypocampus area–we are no longer the strong, high energy, multi-tasking, perfectionists that we used to be–and we have to contend with the ignorant even over our parking spaces–and people think that all this is because we’re depressed!!NO!! WE ARE DEPRESSED BECAUSE OF ALL THIS!! Wouldn’t y0u be??

  • Chicken July 22, 2011, 2:25 am

    Okay, I never meant to start a war. But I still stand by what I said, the woman shouldn’t have chased a stranger down to yell at her. But the OP still shouldn’t have had a handicapped tag.

    I actually pity people “diagnosed” with this disorder. I hear someone say they have it and I think get a new doctor. And just so people know:

    I know it’s an overused term by MD’s to “diagnose” random complaints instead of finding the real problem.

    I know many MD’s who use this as an alternative diagnosis to hypochondriac/overly dramatic/needy. It’s nicer than saying “there’s nothing wrong with you, go home.”

    I know most ER Docs hear the word and think drug seeker.

    And I am in a position to hear about this on a regular enough basis that I don’t tolerate claims of this supposed disease. I am however willing to hang out long enough to find out if a person claiming fibromyalgia is a whiner or a genuinely ill individual before I pass judgement, and even then I would never say anything directly to them. Except mabe to suggest a new doctor if I think they’re truly in pain.

  • Jai July 22, 2011, 5:35 am

    I’m another one with an invisible disability (HMS in case it matters). It causes frequent joint dislocations (as in several a day) and extreme joint pain. I’m also young(ish), with a young child, and I don’t *appear* in the slightest bit disabled. It’s very difficult to get a handicapped permit in my particular borough (the difficulty varies from area to area in the UK, but it’s never easy). I have had a permit for several years (I’m currently having a good year so I don’t use it at present), and I lost count of the occasions of verbal abuse I received, despite displaying my permit. I’ve been called lazy, a liar, a ‘benefit cheat’, I’ve had people scream abuse at me and physically grab hold of me to yell in my face. I’m always tempted to dislocate my hip (which I can do on demand!) to ‘prove’ my disability. I have found myself not using my permit even when I really, really need to, sometimes to the extent of having to stay home, as I just can’t cope with the abuse. It’s very sad that people find it acceptable to abuse people because they don’t behave how they expect.

    The worst I came across was when I was out shopping with a friend who has the same condition. She’s only 18 but is more badly affected and uses a wheelchair. A boy of about 6 asked his mum ‘Mummy, why is that lady in a wheelchair?’ The mother glared at my friend and replied ‘Because she’s too lazy to walk!’ What is the world coming to?

  • Tarina July 22, 2011, 6:54 am

    OP, I’m sorry you had to go through that and some of the insensitive comments here.

    As for fibromyalgia not being a ‘real’ disease – how the heck do you define ‘real pain’? All pain, regardless of the cause, is really in the sufferer’s head! Though fibromyalgia needn’t be due to depression, depression can cause pain. And if that pain is enough to reduce the patient’s mobility, then they are eligible to use the handicapped parking spot. I don’t know where chicken got that “depression hurts, but you’re not special” line. I’ve searched on the Web, and I can’t find another instance of it.

    OP, fibromyalgia doesn’t make you special, but aspiring to be a paediatric oncologist while bringing up two kids and managing a chronic condition definitely does.

    And, of course, congrats, Admin!

  • majuba July 22, 2011, 8:06 am

    I can sympathise with the whole ‘just because you can’t see the disability doesn’t mean that I don’t have it’. I too have a disability but don’t carry any ooutward symbol of it; cane, wheelchair, brace etc.
    I have a disability but I was lucky that surgery could correct it and I can hide the scars under my clothes. I had a severe (grade 4) spondylolisthesis and severe knock-knees. When I was 11 years old the doctors told my parents I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 2o if I didn’t have urgent surgery. I spent 9 months in a surgical brace, had four operations in the space of three years. I’m still on two feet 20 years later because I’m a stubborn person and refuse to let it get the better of me. I joke to people that I’m worth a fortune with all the titanium that I carry and world precious-metal prices.

  • Just Laura July 22, 2011, 8:23 am

    Certainly I understand the moderation of some comments (Nazi references, swearing, unnecessary name-calling, etc.), but something like “I’ve heard this isn’t real” doesn’t seem like it makes the cut. I didn’t agree with Chicken at all, but there are several people with whom I disagree, and I appreciate that you left the dissenting opinion.

  • Chelle July 22, 2011, 9:19 am

    Ashley – I think your solution is perfect – as an employee of an establishment, you can as a person parked in a H spot if they’ve forgotten to put up their placard. If they don’t have one, you are calling them out and hopefully they will be ashamed (though probably not or they wouldn’t have parked there, right?) But if they do have you, then you’re just reminding them to put it up and saving them from potential situations like the one OP faced. I like your plan.

  • Izzy July 22, 2011, 9:31 am

    I suspect Chicken may be a troll, just seeking the inflammatory response of an otherwise well-tempered forum.
    Part of my old job involved taking older people shopping, many of whom had disability permits they let me use. I don’t know if I ever got any dirty looks because I’m never self-conscious (Hey, I’m working, so my entire focus is on my client and my job!) but I did mentally prepare myself if I was confronted to ask if the rude person has seen “me, myself and Irene”
    (Has anyone seen that movie? Jim Carey sees a young man hop out of his convertible after screeching into the disabled parking spot, he gets angry and trashes the car, throwing rubbish into it and urinating into it until he sees the same young man slowly walk out with an elderly man on his arm…)

  • Insomniac July 22, 2011, 9:38 am

    I’m just curious as to why children seem to be more polite about the disabled than their parents are. When I was in a wheelchair a few years ago, I found that because I was below most adults’ eye level, I was prone to being run over. (How they could not see a big black and silver wheelchair is beyond me.)

    I was out shopping one day, and a woman took a step back and almost sat in my lap. She didn’t apologize or acknowledge my presence in any way, but I was secretly thrilled when her young son (about 10) scolded her for not paying attention. I gave him a big smile for that!

    After that, I attached a bicycle bell to my chair arm and used it for traffic purposes.

  • Cosine July 22, 2011, 10:23 am

    @Chicken: 1st off, the reason that some doctors don’t “believe” in fibromyalgia is because there is no easy blood test to make the diagnosis, not because they do not believe that the patient is in severe pain. Some also believe that their pain is a result of some other condition that they cannot determine. I have fibromyalgia as does my mother and a couple of friends, it is a very serious condition that causes debilitating pain and on some days going to the store to get groceries or whatever is only made possible by being able to park close enough to ‘quickly’ get inside out of the sun (heat/cold/sun light among other things cause flare ups) and getting a shopping cart to use as a walker. For you to say that this person and others that share her condition do not deserve to park in those spaces is just plain ignorance. They are reserved for people with disabilities and not as mobile as others, they are not “wheel chair only parking”. I sometimes park in these spots using my legally obtained and doctor certified placard. I do not always use my cane because while it does help my hip/leg pain it increases the pain in my arms and shoulders. It also increases the stares and dirty looks from ignorant people like yourself. I am not a lazy person, I grew up on a farm working manual labor from the time I was 12 years old. I very athletic and played ice-hockey until I was a little over 30 when pushing through my pain was no longer possible. I used to park in the last spot of the parking lot on purpose because I enjoyed being out in the sun and the nice walk into wherever I was going. I now have to make decisions on weather or not I should go shopping and how much pain I will be in afterward in order to make it to work the next day.

    And to your claim that fibromyalgia is simply depression, that is just simply untrue. Some patients have good luck using depression medication for improving the quality of life from fibromyalgia because of the way that these types of drugs interact with the nervous system and increase the serotonin around the nero-transmitters allowing for better nervous system performance which is one of the causes of fibromyalgia. Your “doctor” friends were any good at their job, they would know this.

    @K: Shame on YOU for being judgmental of someone’s medical condition that you know nothing about. “As fast as she could” does not mean that she ran across the parking lot. It simply means that she mustered up all the strength and will power that she had to get her children across the parking lot safely and in a timely manner. So to the judgemental bystander it may look as if she is walking fine, but no one can see her cringe at every step and use all of her strength to keep from crying out in pain.

    You stated: “There are people who actually ARE handicapped that NEED that spot. You clearly do not. Shame on you.” The definition of ‘handicapped is “Having a condition that markedly restricts one’s ability to function physically, mentally, or socially”, she clearly falls into that category and her doctor and state agreed. She and many other fibromyalgia patients NEED that spot in order to live their life the same way you do.

    You then stated: “Of course, if I had been there with a genuinely handicapped person and you just took our spot, you better believe that I’d be in your face, rude or not.” Again, your definition of ‘handicapped’ is not accurate and the fact that you think that one disabled person is more entitled to parking spot than another is simply appalling. It is not ‘YOUR’ spot, it belongs to the owner of the parking lot and is regulated by the state…the same state that granted this person a handicapped placard. Again shame on you for being so judgmental and ignorant of other peoples disabilities.

    @OP: I am sorry that this happened to you, that is horrible. Also please don’t listen to the ignorant responses, they are either completely mis-informed or simple internet trolls.

  • AS July 22, 2011, 10:41 am

    Sorry that you had to face this rude Booron. But on the brighter side, you are a lucky lady to have such a wonderful husband who is not afraid of standing up for you.

    Some of the stories here are disturbing. I don’t understand why so many people take it upon themselves to police whether the other person has a disability or not. Unfortunately, absolutely able people often take up handicap spots in parking lots – they belong to Booron too, but that doesn’t permit the moral police to chastise anyone (especially if they have a disability pass).

  • Michelle P July 22, 2011, 1:07 pm

    Admin, congrats on the beautiful grandbaby!

    OP, you are a courageous and lovely woman. Please don’t allow cruel people to hurt you. God bless you and your family, and your dreams of being a doctor.

  • Peg July 22, 2011, 1:50 pm

    One shouldn’t ‘have’ to do this but I have a friend who found a solution for people who ‘assume’ she does not derserve the handicap parking permit on her car. Her car has several bumper stickers about the medical condition she has and she keeps a couple of flyers in her bag. She said once she put the bumper stickers on her car, the comments all but ceased and the cold silent stare as she handed a flyer to an assuming rube took care of the rest.

    And also to the OP, being fat can be a health issue but it is a non-issue as far as beauty goes!

  • Yvonne July 22, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Terrible! My mother has fibromyalgia as well, and it’s some of the worst pain I’ve seen someone go through. She’s suffered with it for years. my heart goes out to you!

  • Yvonne July 22, 2011, 2:14 pm

    I’d also like to mention that at 8 months pregnant I couldnt find an empty expectant mother spot at the mall, so I parked a good distance away and waddled to the mall, passing one of the spots as a teenaged boy walked out and got into his car and drove off. I was furious. My husband is tempted sometimes to park in the expectant mother spots when we have our baby girl with us, but I always remind him of that time and the fact that there’s a mum out there that needs that spot!

  • Another Laura July 22, 2011, 2:34 pm

    @ Jai-is it awful that I think it’s pretty cool you can dislocate your hip at will? If it doesn’t hurt too much to do that,, I can see where it could come in handy for dealing with the rude, self-imposed parking Nazis

  • Miss Raven July 22, 2011, 4:34 pm

    A couple points: Hang in there, OP. My boyfriend has fibromyalgia and for years we had no idea why he was constantly exhausted, achy, headachy, and why it got worse with the rain even at his tender young age. Even my own parents still think it’s in his head, as many people do with fibromyalgia. It’s real, and it hurts, and there are a lot of us who understand. That woman was a complete witch and I guarantee you this was not an isolated incident. Although, since she got her own back a bit this time, maybe you succeeded in humbling her or at least convincing her to keep her horrid trap shut in the future.

    My cousin was 12 when she broke her leg badly, and even after she got the cast off, she had to wear a brace for weeks and was on crutches. My aunt got a temp handicapped permit, and they were accosted one day when coming out of the grocery by a similar busybody witch of a woman. She berated the two of them for using a handicapped spot, despite the fact that three other handicapped spots in the immediate vicinity were open, and despite that they had a permit and a visibly injured child. She accused my aunt of exploiting her children for the permit, and convinced herself that my cousin’s brace was a ruse since she did not have a real cast or a wheelchair (anymore.) She parked her car behind theirs, blocking them in, and CALLED THE POLICE.

    Aside from being rude, her little “citizen’s arrest” was jaw-droppingly out of line, and she was told as much by the police. No doubt she also thought they were in on the “scheme.” Some people have too much time on their hands and anger in their hearts. Couple that with a few heaping tablespoons of crazy and you have a right menace who can ruin your day. OP, I hope you’ve had enough time and space from the whole fiasco to heal and start to see the absurdity in it.

  • NS July 22, 2011, 5:21 pm

    I have faced this myself across the years, but my favorite comeback came from my now-deceased father (he had multiple health conditions and died at 52). Myself, my 3 year old son, and my dad were walking slowly towards the store entrance and a man who was in his car waiting for the pedestrians to walk into the store became very angry at how slow my father walked and began yelling and cussing at him. My dad and I ignored him and continued on towards the store entrance. On the inside I was furious as I knew that my dad was dying and even getting out of the house was a big deal and to have someone treat him that way was hard to swallow, but this man wasn’t worth engaging in any type of dialogue and why let him ruin our great day anyway? After shopping, we headed to the car, parked in the Handicap space (with the placard properly displayed) and guess who is getting into the car next to us? Now the man sees my dad and does attempt an apology by stating, “Sorry I yelled, I didn’t realize you were handicapped, you don’t look sick, it’s not really my fault for thinking otherwise.” I think the fact that he decided that he can determine who is sick by “looking” at them pushed my dad to finally respond to this man. With a gentle smile and nice voice, my father replied, “No problem, it only took one look at you for me to decide your parents raised a rude, inconsiderate person. I cannot change being handicapped physically, but you can change being handicapped socially.” Many years later, while I was confined to a wheelchair and dealing with stares, presumptions, and the same types of treatment, I always remember who the true “handicapped” person is.

  • Lynne July 22, 2011, 7:14 pm

    I wonder how much of people’s expectations about what the “truly” physically disabled should “look like” is reinforced by our country’s “sign language” of a wheelchair icon. I was thinking of that today when looking for the elevator in a museum with my friend’s grandmother. Instead a sign that said “elevator”, there was just the wheelchair symbol and an arrow.

  • Lisa July 22, 2011, 8:23 pm

    OP, I am so sorry that this happened to you. I too am very disturbed by people who park in handicapped spaces that they are not entitled to, but bringing your weight into it was horrible.

    I have a friend who has one leg, and I can’t count the number of times we have pulled into a handicapped space and gotten dirty looks until she steps out of the car. And her handicap is obviously more visible than yours.

    Regarding the comment about your husband being better looking… I suspect you look much better than you think you do 🙂

  • kitty-cat July 22, 2011, 8:39 pm

    I am just now to the point to where I don’t need to use my temp placard anymore. I broke my right leg in a car accident and was in a chair/on crutches for 2-2 and a half months. I went shopping with one of my friends about halfway into it (not much, just going to the craft stores to get me something to keep me occupied; love that friend BTW)

    We kept getting dirty looks when we parked. Until my friend walked around to the other side of the car to get my crutches and me out of the car. Still- having people give you the stink eye sucks. I wore shorts all the time when I was on crutches to shut people up (okay, that and jeans wouldn’t fit over the boot…)

  • Kittymama July 22, 2011, 10:50 pm

    I have a problem with my back that sometimes causes me to be in a lot of pain. I was in constant pain for about two years, and now it’s quite a bit better thanks to my chiropractor. However, I still can’t lift anything heavy or awkward. Even if it’s something light, but possibly awkward, I can’t lift it. Because of this, many people think I’m just lazy and “faking” it, and I’ve been berated for it. It is very hurtful.

  • Leslie Holman-Anderson July 23, 2011, 12:13 am

    @ The Elf — I did acknowledge that I should not have parked in the handicapped space. The rest of the story, though, is that there were no other close spaces except several other handicapped spots, I was on my home from working all day on my feet with the sprained ankle, and had to hit the market real quick for some, er, feminine supplies. So I still contend that it was a far less egregious transgression than the woman crooning judgmentalism to her baby.

  • Rebecca July 23, 2011, 1:48 am

    I used to work in a store and on nice days we’d sit outside to eat lunch right near the handicapped stalls. On those days we always saw a steady stream of people with no disabled permits leap effortlessly out of their cars and dash into the store with a spritely gait. If confronted, they always said, “oh, but I’ll just be a moment.” Yeah but if there’s a constant stream of people just parking there for a “moment” (it was usually more than a moment) the result is those stalls are constantly occupied and people who are legitimately disabled can’t park there.

    However, I would never presume to second-guess someone’s permit (you need a doctor’s signature to get those) and regardless of anything, the abuse hurled at the OP was appalling.

  • chicken July 23, 2011, 8:06 am

    Just wanted to go on record that I am not the same poster as Chicken (with a capital C). I considered using a different name when I posted earlier to avoid confusion, but chicken (lowercase) is the name I already use on the forum (and on many other forums). I realized even if I didn’t use it, people might think it was me.

    Chicken is the one who denies the existence of fibromyalgia. I (lowercase chicken) am the one with the disabled daughter. I don’t really know anything about fibromyalgia, so it’s not my place to attempt to inform or convince someone about it. But I will say that just because a term is overused or because something is overdiagnosed doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    And I maintain that the real issue here was the behavior of the woman who made an assumption about the OP. Arguing about who does and does not deserve handicapped parking and what is a real disability is a distraction from the real issue.

  • Stace July 23, 2011, 9:08 am

    —I actually pity people “diagnosed” with this disorder. I hear someone say they have it and I think get a new doctor. And just so people know:—

    I pity the self-righteous who think they are in the ‘know’, when in fact they are proudly displaying their ignorance for all to see.

    Once doctors didn’t believe in: Schizophrenia, PTSD, MS, BiPolar Disorder, etc… Time has moved on. Competent doctors have also moved on.

  • Lily G July 23, 2011, 11:03 am

    According to the AMA and the NLN: Pain is whatever the patient says it is. Period.

  • Cat July 23, 2011, 12:19 pm

    I have able bodied friends who hold handicapped signs because a member of the family is handicapped. They cannot understand why I won’t use their sign when the two of us are out sans the handicapped person. They think it’s all right to to take a space they don’t need because they happen to have the sign with them.

    I thank God that I don’t need to use that spot. Even if the sign gives us permission to use it, why take what someone else truly needs? I cannot understand their position.

    This lady needed the spot, used it, and no one had the right to say anything.

  • Jennifer July 23, 2011, 9:42 pm

    I’ll admit, when I first heard about fibromyalgia I was skeptical. But I’ve read more studies on it and now am less so.

    Let’s be honest, do you know any better than the doctor who diagnosed it? No? Are you a doctor? No? Then stop judging other people’s medical conditions.

  • Stepmomster July 23, 2011, 11:21 pm

    People are just beyond rude sometimes. I had a neighbor with cancer; instead of taking chemo, she went on a series of drugs that were less scary to her children than being constantly weak and sick. The side effects are ugly however; her body became covered in sores from her skin unable to handle the drug. They covered her face and all her extremities, and were somewhat shocking.
    She was in the grocery store, and this little boy asked his mother what was wrong with her. Loud enough for my neighbor to hear, the mother told her son that my neighbor was “what a meth addict looked like”, right in front of her two sons and God and everybody. Her sons were really upset she was called an addict, but she blew the rude woman off with a comment of her own, “that is what a judgmental cow looks like.”

    I have been judged as well, I have colitis, and a nosy co-worker for awhile started keeping track of how often I used the restroom, she made snide comments, but when I didn’t rise to the bait or justify myself (blank stares and blinking works wonders for rude people) she actually kept a log, and presented to my boss. He wrote her up for harassment and told her to mind her own business, and told her to stop wasting company time on personal vendettas. I still smile when I think about it. (He has no idea why I use the bathroom that often, and has never asked; such a nice man.)

  • Edhla July 23, 2011, 11:45 pm

    OP, it doesn’t matter how you felt, whether you were tired or having a bad day or how good looking your husband is or whatever. If you have a disabled parking placard and had it displayed (if this is the law where you are, as it is the law where I am) you were entitled to park there. There’s no need to excuse yourself. You were entitled to park there.

    I have Spina Bifida. I can walk, but dead set you would have to be BLIND not to notice it. I remember when I was a little girl, my mother took me shopping and parked in a disabled spot. Some elderly men who were loitering nearby made a remark. I didn’t hear it, but what I DID hear is my mother go APE in response. I was so embarrassed. Now, it’s all “GO Mum! Etiquette hell be damned!” 😀

    On the odd occasions that I have used my placard in a different car (not often, as I’m a disabled driver and use a modified car) I’ve sometimes forgot to put it back in my own car. On those occasions, I don’t use disabled parking- shame on me for forgetting.

  • DocCAC July 24, 2011, 12:34 pm

    @ Chicken
    Just so you know, people with fibromyalgia don’t respond well to opiate pain meds, However, many docs who diagnose people with this disease who don’t really have it (won’t take the time to further your medcial education here with all the other possible diagnoses) or are behind in their own education on how to treat the disease properly do give opiates, which is a pity, because they don’t work for the pain of fibromyalgia; they simply give a dulling of the overall senses and create addictions without helping the root cause. That’s why some people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are drug seekers…they are either being improperly treated or it isn’t what they have but is the latest and greatest thing to tell people when the doc doesn’t know what is really going
    on. Don’t label everyone by some misdiagnosed/ improperly treated patients. Women having panic attacks used to be told (20 to 25 years ago) they were just being hysterical. We know better now. In the same analogy, let some more time go by and more docs will see how wrong they were about fibromyalgia too. You are right about one thing though…just as all headaches are not migraines, all vague muscle pain is not fibromyalgia. But some of those headaches *are* true migraines, and some of those vague muscle pains *are* fibromyalgia. Don’t decide someone belongs in eHell because you personally don’t understand/believe in the disease. Like I said earlier though, don’t paint everyone with the same brush that you see in the ER population…seeing people in an office setting is a lot different. Been both places, done both things, gave the Tshirts back.

  • JolieFille July 25, 2011, 2:02 am

    @ chicken : if you knew someone who has the disease you wouldn’t be so openly judgemental and cruel. My mother has it. And she had handicapped license plates. Obviously real doctors know it’s real and while you can have your own beliefs, perhaps you shouldnt say anything if it discredits something real and painful and makes you no better then the woman in the story.

  • Enna July 27, 2011, 12:44 pm

    @ Chicken, yes you can stand by what you say but what happens if someone (heaven forbid) or yourself gets diagnosed? You might think a bit differently. Another condition that some Drs don’t recognise is ADHD – some say it’s just bad parenting but others say that as it can be controlled by certain medicaiton and certain therapies do work then clearly there is a condition there. It may not be understood fully currently but that might change in the future.

    It’s important not to judge. As for people who are blind but otherwise able bodied I’d much rather they park in a disabled place and get on the path. I don’t drive but as they have limited or no visability then it’s not safe for them to walk on the road. Some carparks don’t have paths located at each row or inbetween two rows of car parking spaces.

  • Caper July 27, 2011, 9:14 pm

    All of these comments reminded me of a story of my own from when a friend and I were about 13/14…

    A girl I had been best friends with from age 4 had a condition since birth. She was born with a twisted foot, causing all sorts of complications – the main one being that one leg was shorter than the other after the doctors fixed her foot. For her entire life she had either used a walker, cane, crutches or a wheelchair depending on how she was feeling that day, or if she recently had another surgery, etc.

    Whenever we went to the mall, she always uses a wheelchair because it becomes painful for her to walk for so long simply using a cane or crutches. This time we went there was a few of us – a girls day out, kind of. We were near the food court area and we were all sitting there giggling and joking around and sat on her lap (the things we thought were cool as teens *eyeroll*)

    Anyway, and elderly man comes up and looks at friend and says “you need to stop playing around and give me that chair, now. my wife needs it” or something to that effect. Friend just stares at him and pulls out her cane and lets him know that she does, in fact, need this chair. He grumbles and walks away.

  • Allie July 28, 2011, 4:00 pm

    There’s nothing worse than self-righteous indignation, and that goes for the rude people who make assumptions about people who park in handicapped spots with valid permits as well as all the Chicken-haters too.

  • Barry July 28, 2011, 4:29 pm

    I have a friend who went to pick up her mother at the hospital having chemotherapy. They had a handicap placard because her mother had a broken leg (from the chemo). As she got out of the car to go in to collect her mother, a very rude old man told her if she didn’t get out of the handicapped spot he would call the cops. What could she say – “Go ahead.” He must have because when she came out pushing her mother in a wheelchair, a police officer was there. He took one look at her and her mother, got in his patrol car and drove off.

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