Juniper Times

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Handicaps You Can’t See

I’ve had a handicap card for nine years. Sometimes I really need it and other times I don’t. Usually, if I don’t, I don’t use it. Believe me, if I park there, it hurts.

Unfortunately there are people who don’t understand why someone like me would require that little sign that lets me park close to the store I want to visit. My pain isn’t visible. I don’t limp. I’m not “old enough.”

I’m also not alone.

Injuries: Someone who has been seriously injured may look whole on the outside but still have major problems on the inside. Someone in this condition shouldn’t have to look the part. It’s better for us if we don’t limp or favor the injured area. It can take a lot of effort to maintain a good gait. That doesn’t mean we don’t need the card.

Diseases: Heart disease, COPD and other conditions aren’t readily visible. Unless the person is on oxygen and requires a walker they may look just like everyone else. That doesn’t make it easier for them to breathe if they have to walk from the back of the parking lot.

Arthritis: If you think this is a minor problem and the person should suck it up, you might want to try it yourself. This is an extremely painful condition and can put people into a wheelchair, especially if they don’t take care of their joints. They need that parking spot.

Chronic Pain: This can be due to a multitude of problems. It is literally uncontrolled pain that has no relief. It may not be visible. In fact, it usually isn’t. That doesn’t mean they should “get used to it” and “park like the rest of us have to.”

What I’m trying to say is this. Those special places near the front of stores, malls and other parking areas are for those who need them. A doctor has to agree that it is necessary. They don’t fool easily. If you see someone in a spot and you don’t think it’s fair, you may want to adjust your thinking. Not being visible is not the same thing as not being there.