Since my diagnosis a year ago, I applied for a disability parking pass as my knees are affected by RD and I have difficulties walking. The purpose of the disability pass is to provide access to a car parking bay as close as possible to the entrance of a building, to make life that little easier. I have been formally diagnosed by two different doctors and three specialists that have all determined that I have a debilitating disease, so legally I am entitled to the pass. So why do I get gazed upon when I get out of my car?
I’ve seen firsthand a 70-year-old man driving to a shopping center and parking in a disability bay, when he exits the vehicle people don’t stare and when they do take notice they all express a gentle smile. I on the other hand am a 29-year-old female parking in a disability bay, as I exit the vehicle people look intently, facial expressions of confusion are displayed and at times even death stares. It’s not difficult to work out what they are thinking in their minds.
How can you judge me when you know nothing about me and what has happened in my life that has led for me to even have a disability pass? Just because you can’t see anything wrong with me doesn’t me that there isn’t!
Recently I learnt what it feels like to have a disability that physically shows as opposed to one that is invisible. A few weeks ago I had surgery on my left knee and was on crutches. When I’d drive to a center and park in the disability bay, as I slowly lifted myself out of the vehicle and you see the crutches, out come the warm gentle smiles from the public, silly enough you get a quick second thought of “finally I fit in”.
It’s not every day we are able to find some advantage of living with this disease, so when we actually do why are we judged for it?