Posts Tagged ‘placard’

Disabled, Mobility Aid, and Chronic Illness

August 6th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

When I was younger I didn’t give much thought to things like the meaning of disability, mobility devices, or a chronic invisible illness. To me disabled meant something clear, something visible. Mobility devices were things like wheelchairs, for those undeniable and clearly disabled people, or maybe a cane or walker for some who needed stability. I would have assumed the stability was needed because of age or maybe some accident.  Again, these weren’t well thought out opinions just an assumption at a moments glance.

If you’ve followed for a while you’ll know many women in my family suffer with a chronic invisible illness called Dysautonomia, but we didn’t always. I didn’t grow up thinking that something inside of me would someday change, I never thought I would slowly become disabled.

I am now much more familiar with what disabled means, what mobility aids are used for, and what a chronic invisible illness is. Though my personal awareness has changed I am forced to relive my old assumptions through others, some parts because of the assumptions they have and others because of my own fear of being judged.


These are some very recent photos that I have seen online. I know the people who posted them believe that they are defending the “truly” disabled, you know, the definition a person may have of disabled before being thrust into the world of invisible illnesses.

Some of you may know me personally or follow my blog regularly and think that no one would think this of me, but each of these photos could easily be someone’s impression of me. I have been blasted with a series of questions about my illness in an interrogation style, I have darted from my wheelchair to get in the car because I felt someone was watching, and I have had my use of mobility aids discussed without my being there and heard about it through the grapevine.

Yes, I’ll stand up to reach something if there isn’t anyone there to ask… and yes it may be for some Skinny Girl. Yes, I can walk and I use a wheelchair.

Though I like the idea of you defending the disabled, a sign like the one below confirms that you have a specific idea of what disabled looks like. A person with a disability that is not so clearly seen may be concerned about meeting your definition of disabled. Your intent of defending may in fact look like a judgment of the very group of people you think you are defending.



The fact of the matter is I am permanently disabled, after many tests and many doctors weighing in I am listed as being “unable to ambulate or walk 50 feet without stopping to rest due to a disabling neurological condition.” This is not a fact I have come to accept easily.

Now for my own personal reasons I do not receive SSI disability, mostly because I can only tackle one beast at a time. I have started the process with my insurance for my power wheelchair and have been using a power and manual wheelchair regularly for months. I will pick up my placard Thursday. I have put off getting the placard for some time, let’s just say I’ve had more than 2 forms expire while making excuses.

So yes, I’ll use the disabled parking placard even though you might not look at me and be able to tell why. Fact of the matter is on a good day many people will look at me and assume I am abusing it. Sometimes I use a cane, sometimes a wheelchair, and sometimes I may just walk in. People will see me walk from the passenger door to a wheelchair, or may see me in a wheelchair one day and not the next. A wheelchair is a mobility aid, I personally use one to help stabilize my blood pressure and heart rate as postural changes cause drastic instabilities for me.

I understand how confusing it may be, and I know when you see someone using a handicapped parking spot and walk in to the location looking “fine” you may want to give a look, leave a note, or even confront them. I ask you to come away from reading this knowing that neurological, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, along with many other invisible illnesses, do warrant these accommodations. A doctor must grant these accommodations and the doctor will benefit in absolutely no way from doing so.

JMM gal in wheelchair


The Just Mildly Medicated gal