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.
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.
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