Invisibility Cloak

From my blog, rannygahoots:

Psoriatic arthritis, hypothyroidism, anklylosing spondylitis, celiac disease, depression … none of these have physical manifestations readily recognizable to most passersby. I walk -- or wheel - hand in hand with them every day.
"But you seem happy enough…"
"But you don’t look sick…"
"But you don’t act like you’re in pain…"
Yes, I seem/look/act happy/healthy/fine, but looks can be deceiving. For example – can you tell me how many tattoos I have just by looking at me on any given day? (Some people would be shocked to know I have any!) Just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean that they’re not there.
I’m not a person who moans and complains about my ailments. I may make a general announcement to those in my household that I’m feeling ill, having a crappy day, or just can’t deal with ANYTHING today, but I’m not going to mope about all day or wince every time my foot hits the floor. That would just be too depressing to me and those around me.
A complete stranger yelled at me today for parking in a handicapped parking space, even though my placard was in my window and I emerged from the van using two canes. Apparently I was “taking up a space that could be used by someone who really needs it” and was one of “those people who abuse the system” because I don’t look sick. Apparently people with chronic pain should never act cheerful and people with chronic illness should be disfigured in such a way that our disability is readily seen.
What’s a person to do in this situation?
I could have gotten angry back. But I didn’t.
I could have ignored the person and pressed on. But I didn’t.
I could have made a snarky comment…
But what I did do was smile. I genuinely thanked the person for their concern for people such as myself who have a real need to park in a handicapped space. I explained that I did have a need to park there, as even though I may appear healthy enough, the amount of pain I’m in due to severe arthritis necessitates walking as little as possible today.
And then I asked the person when his baby was due and watched his jaw hit the pavement as I walked away. He had parked his pick-up truck in an “Expectant Mother's Parking” space, and was alone. He sure didn’t LOOK pregnant … but I suppose I could be wrong…
So much for avoiding the snark.

Oh, I love it! (The story about the expectant mother space.) I haven't been fussed at by people, but I have been given many dirty looks. They really don't understand that the people who are driving around with the placard in the window are in the wrong. Just because I whip it out when I pull into the spot doesn't mean I'm somehow doing something wrong! The people driving with it are the incorrect ones. I am actually pleased to be looking middle aged now b/c I don't get nearly as many dirty looks when I am using "just a cane" but parking in the disabled parking spots with my disabled parking permit. People just don't believe that young people who aren't confined to a wheelchair on an everyday basis need those spots. I am thinking of switching to the disabled plates next time just to avoid this. I had hesitated b/c I have read some opinions that it sets you up as more of a target for crime, but I am thinking that is not born out by any kind of study.

i can soooo relate to this and am SO happy you called that man out:)

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, Nym, I LOVE your posts!!! They always make me smile. :)

ROFL right on, Nym! I have very painful feet, and one foot is showing some deformity that is causing the rheumy -- not to mention me! -- some concern. Until I can get into an orthopedic specialist, the doc is saying "stay off it as much as you can". I'm actually thinking about asking my podiatrist about an aircast-like thing that will give my foot all-round support until I can see a specialist. When I showed my husband a picture of the walking cast/brace, he said "oh, that's pretty big and obvious". My response was that big and obvious might be a good thing, at least others will know that my disability isn't sloth.

I was at a holiday party last month. I was in really bad pain, and exhausted. I mentioned to the person who I was talking to that I'm battling erosive arthritis in my feet, and the person got a glazed look in her eye and said "Oh well, we all have our aches and pains!". Invisibility ... yes, a problem.