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Savoring the Privilege of Walking

Savoring the Privilege of Walking

Do you recognize disability when you see it?

Last week’s post about an able-bodied woman using a handicapped parking space, then suing over the ticket she received, resulted in spirited conversation in the comments section.

It’s an emotional topic for a lot of people, not the least of whom are those who have the legal right to use the specially marked spaces, but who have an invisible disability. Judgments are often made based on nothing more than appearance.

When a person with an invisible disability pulls into a handicapped parking space, even with the appropriate legal tags, they are apt to get stares, glares, and outright anger.

We can try to educate others to understand invisible illness, should the inspiration strike, but we should never apologize for needing or using a handicapped parking placard. We owe no explanations. It stings, but not everyone will get it or care. Such is life.

If you’ve ever observed a seemingly healthy person pull into a handicapped parking space and felt anger toward them, you might want to consider there might be more to the story… and thank your lucky stars for your good fortune.

It could be a heart condition, a neurological condition, or any of a long list of chronic illnesses that affect mobility. Appearances can be mighty deceiving. Not all disabilities require a wheelchair.

Rather than give up and lock themselves away, these folks choose to go out into the world. Bravo! The little extra help from a more convenient parking space makes that less daunting.

While you observe them walk from the parking space, you are not privy to the advance planning that allowed them to get this far on this day. You don’t see added burden when they find that a business has stairs, but no elevator; or a door too heavy to pull; or the long line at the register that will severely test their strength and stamina.

If you don’t need special parking, please don’t resent or judge those who do. It is called a privilege, but no one really wishes for health problems in order to get this privilege. No, people who need it would rather not. Trust me on that.

Daily life is can be a hassle, and wouldn’t it be great if we could all just pull up in the first spot in the lot and get to our business?

That we have the ability to walk and take care of our own errands… that we can climb the stairs and pull the door open and even hold it for the next person… that we do not need the handicapped parking spot… that is the true privilege.

I have relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis, and with that comes constant change. Sometimes I can’t walk more than a few feet at a time, sometimes not at all; much of the time I can walk, and it is a glorious privilege, one I shall not squander or take for granted.

If you can walk without too much difficulty, if you do not require a handicapped parking placard, you are fortunate indeed.

Savor the privilege of walking.

Image credit: PhotoXpress.com

Read more: Blogs, Conditions, Do Good, General Health, Health, Life, Living with MS, Multiple Sclerosis, News & Issues, Transportation, , , , ,

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

93 comments

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8:03AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

This was a good post along with watching the MS video if you happened to see it here.

I sit in my car or mainly at home on the TV and stare at people that can walk . I wonder all the time if they realize walking is a privilege and how lucky they are to be able to walk.. I know many of them still have issues in their life that they may be going through but I would take all those problems and switch lives just to be able to walk again.

TY for the post...

12:39PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

Hands down, this is the absolure best form of exercise, cardio and otherwise with no damage to the body like other forms of exercise...Same for swimming!

3:18AM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Thanks for this. You're right - walking is a privilege, and one we may not fully appreciate until it's (temporarily or permanently) taken away from us. This article has inspired me to be less physically lazy - and to go for a walk!

12:41PM PDT on Jul 27, 2011

I agree, Lu Ann, it's very frustration. However, in the UK our larger supermarkets have now introduced parking spots for families with kids, I think it's a great idea but of course there are not enough of them, and chances are they will be abused also. Sigh!

3:17PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

I don't mind leaving the handicapped spots open for others and wish it would include spots for pregnant women and drivers with infants.

I'll try to be more open minded about non-obvious disabilities, but I gotta tell ya, I know plenty of able-bodied people that take advantage of the spots. And some even flaunt it.

2:00AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Thanks for the article.

1:33PM PDT on Jul 11, 2010

I always loved walking when I was able, and never took it for granted. However, as my illness got worse walking became increasingly harder and more painful and because I didn't always use a stick or speak loudly about my disability I used to get looks when I used my disability pass on the bus etc. Now I'm totally dependant on my wheelchair, but it doesn't get any easier, now all I need is someone to push it for me. LOL Sadly, my Son inherited the same problems, he is only 30 but has been suffering several years with the same problems as myself, most annoyingly the pain. He's never had any understanding about his health and neighbours still don't understand why he can't do everything for me, including the gardening. I wish people asked why instead of assuming we are all lazy. Even better when they see people struggling offer to help, it's a sad and selfish world we live in.

2:00AM PDT on Jul 10, 2010

Walking is fantastic. Thanks for reminding.

5:09PM PDT on Jul 8, 2010

if that nice, convenient spot wasn't reserved for handicapped, YOU wouldn't get it anyway. it would be snapped up early by someone who makes a habit of going there, like the store supervisor. and the handicapped people would be out searching for a space.

8:02AM PDT on Jul 6, 2010

It never occurred to me to think about invisible disabilities. I'll never again complain or criticize when I see someone parking on those spaces with no visible disability.
Thanks for the lesson.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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In this dry climate in the West this might be well worth trying. Thanks

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