Disabled parking and me.
I feel your eyes as I pull into the spot.
I’m just ignorant and selfish, doing what I like as I’m in a hurry.
I’m there because I have a kid so I think it’s my right.
I’m smiling as I stand up. I walk to get my bags, my child and off we go.
Ignorant. Selfish. Lazy. You tut in disgust.
When I have my crutches or stick, you wonder, but there’s no clue. It can’t be all that bad. Must be my ankle or something.
You might see me the next time, no crutches. I can’t be all that bad if I’m out without them. I’m playing the game, the system. I’m one of those.
What you don’t see is that I’d love to be invisible. That I don’t want people looking at me. Wondering what’s wrong. You don’t see the pain that I’m smiling through. When it’s been 4 years, you get pretty good at it. My 4 year old son wants to take care of me. Feels he needs to take care of me. I hide as much as I can as I don’t want that for him.
You don’t see the difference in my walk. Look harder and you’ll notice the waddle. You don’t realise that I walk so slow because of me, not my son.
You don’t see me clenching my teeth and holding my breath as I queue at customer services to ask if I may borrow the scooter. You don’t see the embarrassment and the shame as all the store alarms go off, every time, as I pass through the detectors with the scooter key.
You don’t see the customers, almost twice my age, looking at me with pity. The younger ones don’t see me. The mothers smile at my son who sits gleefully on my knee.
You don’t see me deciding not to buy something as its too high or two heavy and there’s no one there to help.
You don’t see my neck with its dried out discs, bulges and osteophytes, shoulders, sternum and clavicle, full of arthritis. Wrists with arthritis and ganglion, fingers that ache.
You don’t see my back with synovial cysts, degeneration and bulging discs, nerve pain radiating down my thighs. My pelvis and hips, arthritis and damage from pregnancy.
You don’t see my swollen and burning knees or the soles of my feet that ache.
You don’t see that I choose. I choose which pain is the worst. Can I lessen the pain in my back and legs by using my crutches today? Can my back take it if I give my shoulders, neck and wrists a break from the crutches and waddle, slowly, on soft feet, side to side, gently.
You don’t see that my stick turns into a seat. How nifty! You don’t see that I need it because I can’t stand still for more than 30 seconds. That’s why I lean, almost double over, on the checkout whilst I pay, or dance and rock, side to side as I wait for my receipt.
You don’t see that I fight. From the moment I wake up. You don’t see that I take all the meds. I mean ALL the meds. Almost 30 pills a day. It used to be more but I can’t be a zombie that doesn’t leave the house. I had that for a year.
You don’t see that I don’t want this. That I want my life back. You don’t see that I worked so hard from being a teenager. That I travelled the world and fell in love with sports and activities that are hardly a memory anymore.
You don’t see that I’m trying to get better. That I ask what more can I do? What more can my Drs do? What other specialities can I see?
You don’t see that sometimes I’d rather take the pain than the drug side effects.
You don’t see that I waited a year, to be finally granted treatment that I can’t ordinarily have because of my postcode. You don’t see that it’s been over year since I was prescribed another treatment that I can’t have because of my address. You don’t see that I’m trying. I’m trying to get better.
You don’t see that the day I got my Blue Badge, my disabled badge that lets me park in the holy grale of parking spots, I cried. No 34 year old wants to be the same as their Grandma.
You don’t see my face or inside my head as I watch my Mum playing more energetically with my son than I have ever been able.
Next time you see me, waiting to turn into that parking spot that you don’t think I deserve, give me a smile. Or if you can’t do that, go and tell someone that I’ve parked in the wrong spot. I’d be more than happy to show you my badge. I just might take a while to get back to you.