priority eating of the handicapped…

priority eating of the handicapped…

Earlier this week I had an appointment with the California DMV to obtain a disabled parking card. I had considered getting one for a while but kept putting it off. Having a disabled parking placard, for me, signifies that I am in fact disabled, and that’s a reality I haven’t been ready to face. But heat exacerbates my symptoms, so summer has been tough. I decided to call my doctor and get his opinion. He recommended the disabled parking card, so I conceded. For those of you with a chronic illness interested in more information about disability parking placards in California, visit this site. You will need to have your doctor fill out a section of the form.

'PRIORITY EATING OF ELDERLY AND HANDICAPPED' photo (c) 2006, Barry M - license: and a good title for a blog post!

I took my form to the DMV and checked in for my 8:30a.m. appointment. I explained to the DMV employee that I was there for a disabled parking card. She gave me a funny look, handed me a number and told me to wait until I was called. I glanced around the waiting area and noticed that all the seats were taken (with the exception of one, which was occupied by a woman’s handbag which apparently was too valuable to touch the ground). So, I walked to the back of the waiting area and stood.

As it was quite warm that morning, I was already very symptomatic. I became dizzy after just standing for a few minutes. I felt the blood pooling in my legs, my head became fuzzy and my vision darkened. Usually these are signs to a POTS patient to sit down, NOW, before you black out. When this happens, my brain tells me (in its best Chuck Norris voice) to sit down, or it will make me sit the (bleep) down. Ordinarily I just kneel or sit on the floor in the back of the room, but I was in a skirt, and I think it might be cleaner to sit on a pile of dirt than the floor at the DMV. So I remained standing and wobbled from side to side.

A very kind gentleman saw me standing at the back of the room and came over to offer his seat. I was very grateful. Because I look normal on the outside, he probably did not know I was in distress, he was just a nice man. One of the frustrations of having POTS is that it is an invisible illness. I don’t look sick. I wear makeup to hide my pale face, I only wear low heels (to minimize the imbalance and wobbling), and I do my best not to grimace when in pain. You would never guess someone has POTS if they didn’t tell you. So, in defense of the other DMV customers, they had no reason to think they should get up and offer me their seat.   Which probably also explains why I received many funny looks when DMV customers saw me carrying a disabled parking card as I exited.

my new disability parking placard

I have not yet used my new parking card. I only intend to use it when absolutely necessary, not as an excuse to be lazy and occupy a parking spot someone else may need more than I. Honestly, I’m not thrilled with needing a disabled parking placard. It’s embarrassing and it feels like I have admitted defeat. I used to park far away from entrances to get a little exercise, and now I can park in handicapped spaces. It’s amazing how fast life changes.

I requested a temporary card, which will expire in 6 months, with the hopes that once summer is over, I won’t need to use it anymore. But I absolutely expect that the first time I do use it, I will get looks from people wondering why this young, visibly healthy person is parking in a handicapped spot.

I will probably fake a limp or something, just to get them to stop looking at me.

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” – Albert Camus

Stay tuned.
– L

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12 thoughts on “priority eating of the handicapped…

  1. Timely article for me. My wife & I were just talking about whether I should get a disabled pass. I walked not even 100 yards from the parking lot to the mall in the heat a couple of weeks ago and had to immediately leave; led to a bad spell for about 5 days. Probably need to go ahead and get that pass at some point. It’s nice to be able to read about others who are bothered by the heat, standing, etc. like I am. Thanks Lindsay!

    1. Hi Shawn, Thanks so much for your comment, I’m glad you found the post helpful. Summer and heat make my symptoms much worse, sounds like the same is true for you. Places like a mall, warehouse store, airport…anyplace with a large parking lot are difficult for me. I’m symptomatic by the time I walk to the entrance, then I still have to walk around IN the building. I would recommend the disability pass – it’s worth it. That way, it’s always there if you need it!

      Hope you’re feeling better after your spell!

    1. Thank you for your comment. In the weeks since getting my placard, I have found that I am happy that I have it. Exactly as you said, if I need it it is there. Even just the comfort of knowing that has been helpful!

  2. I’ve been contemplating getting one of these and I think you’ve inspired me to finally do it. I always put it off and then when I have to park at the back of the lot, I curse myself for not filling out a simple form. Part of the reason I have been putting it off is a fear of standing at the DMV and then being out for the count the rest of the day, so it was pretty funny to read that is exactly what happened to you!

    1. The thing that chaps my hide is that when I’ve complained to the store who has the HP seacps that there are cars without HP plates/placards parked in them, they refuse to call the police to have them ticketed/towed because they don’t want to offend customers. What about me? I have HP plates, I’m a customer, and I’m offended because I can’t park in the space reserved for me. Obviously, you don’t care if you offend me, though. And calling the police myself does no good they say it’s private property and they can’t do anything unless the store calls. So why do they even bother with HP parking seacps if they aren’t going to enforce them? Makes me want to take a baseball bat to those cars parked illegally (you know, hit the bumper hard enough to deploy their airbags, can’t drive the sucker till it’s fixed, and that’s expensive). But I’m nice, I don’t do that, I just steam and cuss and drive away and refuse to do business with places that won’t enforce their HP parking rules (and I let them know that they’ve lost my business and why).

  3. It’s several months later, but I live in Florida and the summer heat is starting to set in (also the humidity). My POTS onset was in October, and it was really bad until the “winter” arrived in January (or really bad for me – I’m not as bad off as others) – even when it was cooler, if it was humid enough, I couldn’t walk even one block without being near fainting. I’m terrified of the heat + humidity returning!

    I visit my cardiologist tomorrow and plan to ask for a handicap placard so that when the heat comes, I’m ready, but I’m so afraid that I’m not severe enough…

    Anyway, I appreciate this post of yours for helping me feel less greedy. I’ve almost doubted that I still suffer that much as this month has been so mild! I don’t plan to use it unless I absolutely need it, but it’s so hard to be able to predict. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a week because I haven’t been up to walking across a crowded parking lot and then also shopping + standing in line, and I don’t want to regret it if the summer comes and I have a lot more bad days than good days.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Keri,

      Thanks for visiting my blog! I understand how you feel – it’s hard not to feel guilty getting a handicap placard. But they are there for people who need them, and sometimes those of us with POTS do need them! I only use mine when necessary. If I’m just making a quick trip into a store, I’m usually fine. But with large stores or malls, I’m ready to lie down by the time I walk from the parking lot to the entrance. The handicap placard allows me to stand long enough to walk around inside the store.

      It’s a tough decision to make, but if you feel you need a placard, then you DO. Hopefully your doctor sees it the same way.

      Let me know how it goes!

  4. So much of this post resonated with me. I went through a similar should I / shouldn’t I debate with myself over whether to buy a wheelchair. It felt to me like admitting defeat too. But was such a good thing when I did get one. Also having an invisible illness is really hard. People have no idea how much you’re suffering. I was on a busy train with my mum and a guy offered mum his seat. She declined but said my daughter will have it as she’s ill. I got a lot of strange looks as I the young seemingly healthy one took the seat and my grey haired mum had to stand!

  5. Thanks for this topic, will be following for future posts 😉 I too have that evil word pots! And the worst part I don’t like to be told I can’t do something (even if it’s my own body) I guess I just hate disappointing people, or people thinking I do this on purpose! Most of the time now my standard response is “would you like to pick me up off the floor?” It’s amaising how much people don’t understand unless they experince it! To those who give you dirty looks for parking in the handicap spot…. Think to yourself “yep they look like someone who wants to pick me up off the floor” or just say something to yourself about the situation that brings a smile to your face and has you laughing on the inside 🙂 it’s amazing how humor changes how we feel about things 😉

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