How I Learned to Love My Handicap Placard - A Guest Blog
Another wonderful blog post from our friend, Caroline Kyriakou:
This past November at the age of 32 I bought my first car. I absolutely love having a car and am so thankful that I am able to drive.
That being said, since being diagnosed with MS walking and balance has been an issue, especially in the extreme weather, whether it’s very cold or hot. I’ve had some trouble walking to and from my car. Because of this I inquired at the office I work in if I would be able to park in their very small garage. I have been working there for 9 years but am still considered a newbie as most of my coworkers have been there for more than 20 years! So, there were people ahead of me to get the space that had newly become available. My boss suggested to me to apply for a handicap placard. It had not occurred to me before to apply for one, but followed his suggestion. I easily found the form online and had my neurologist fill out the appropriate information. Shortly afterwards I received my placard in the mail. I never had paid much attention to placards, so it was a surprise to find my license photo on the front. Lucky for me, that photo turned out really good, but I use the sleeve that was sent with the placard to cover the photo when I have it hung up in my car.
At first I felt uncomfortable using the placard. I felt like since I “look so good” other people walking by may make comments to me about why I would have it.There is a handicap space across the street from my office where I park everyday. After expressing some concern to a friend and coworker of mine about using the placard, she made me realize that I had no business feeling uncomfortable. Abe, my husband, also helped me understand that I needed to use it, for my own safety. After repetitive motion, my legs and arms get tingly and numb and walking even a short distance can make me feel fatigued, not to mention a handful of other symptoms. I started to feel more confident and started using the placard outside of parking at work.
One day not too long ago I was walking from my car back to my office after my lunch break and fell down. I wasn’t badly hurt but twisted my ankle and called my office (thank goodness for cell phones!) to have a couple of the girls come out to help me get back inside. It was sort of wake up call for me that I not only need to move a little slower (though that may not prevent the fall as all of us MSers know) and that in fact, I do have MS and need a little help.
I now have no problem using my placard whenever I need to. I am so thankful that my boss suggested this to me. No one has ever made comments to me, but if they do I am ready for them. I have started to notice other people who have placards who “look good” and realize that disability (I don’t really like that word) comes in all shapes and sizes. This one happens to be 5 feet and Greek!
Caroline Kyriakou was diagnosed with MS in 2006. She enjoys reading, blogging, and is working on her first book. Caroline volunteers as a mentor through MS ActiveSource. Find her Facebook MS Support group Friends Against the MonSter here and you also can ‘like’ Caroline’s page on Facebook by clicking here! You can find additional blogs by Caroline on MS Relief. Caroline lives in Boston with her husband, Abe.
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