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I felt defeated but I know this setback will help me in the end

My RA recently took a turn for the worse in my knee, but I am still fine. The only real impact is that I can no longer walk very far without experiencing pain, so being in college and having to walk across campus to class was no longer an option. So I started the very emotional process of talking with my doctor about obtaining a disability parking placard. Sure I had casually mention to my mother on several occasions that I could technically get one, but I am 21 and I knew in my heart that it would be devastating if I actually needed it. So when I did need it, I cried, I cried for days. I wanted to drop out of school instead of having to deal with getting disability parking. It was not that the process was difficult or stressful. It was that I felt that if I got the placard I was accepting defeat, and that my disease had finally won.

But I can now say that after having my placard for only a week, I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. Sure people give me funny looks, but now that I am being good to my knee my body is thanking my for it. My knee pain has lessened and I now have so much less anxiety about making it to and from class. I know that what feels like a step backward is actually a step forward in my treatment, and that I cannot let my worries or the concerns of others get in the way of my health.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Tegan
    4 years ago

    Hi Nicole
    I am also 21 and completing my tertiary education and battling as I try to cope.
    I find it difficult to even ask for special considerations with exams, and feel like I am copping out when I do, because I need extra help just to get by.
    Thank you for posting this. It encourages me to seek the help I need.

  • Carla Kienast
    4 years ago

    Hi Nicole: Asking for any kind of help — especially the kind that people can see like a parking sticker — can be really tough. I’m glad that parking closer is helping and I’m glad this experience has helped your realize that asking for help when you need it is a good thing. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Nicole~
    I completely understand the emotional issues attached to asking for a handicapped placard – I went through them myself. But though it may feel like you are accepting defeat, I think what is really happening is that you are gaining strength. It takes strength to admit to a weakness and ask for help, and I am so glad that you were able to do so and move forward with your college career.
    Have you talked to your college’s office of disability? That was another thing that was difficult for me to do – but turned out to be so worthwhile in the end! Depending on what you are struggling with, in your particular case, you may be entitled to someone to help you take notes in class or extra time on exams. I had trouble accepting these accommodations myself, but I knew in the end that it was the right thing to do so that I could succeed in school.
    Best of luck to you! Please remember that we are here to support you!
    ~Mariah~ (Site Moderator)

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