Disabled parking permit harassment

Parking with Disabilites

 I have written about this before but I think it’s a good time for a refresher. All too often I see things from the disabled community about how a local “hero” has left a note shunning them for not being disabled and parking in a disabled spot; or, they even go a step further and resort to verbal harassment (like one of my experiences here). Let’s get this out of the way: I know the sign has a wheelchair on it but that, in no way, represents the entire disabled community. Many disabilities, mine included, are not visible (minus the apparent drunken stupor that MS has gifted me). So I thought I would share what actually qualifies a person for a disabled parking pass in Washington state. You might be surprised.

Who is eligible?

Washington State Disabled Parking qualifications:
  • Can’t walk 200 ft without stopping
  • Walking is limited by arthritis, neurological or orthopedic condition
  • Can’t walk without the use of or assistance from a brace, cane, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • You use portable oxygen
  • You’re restricted by lung disease
  • You’re impaired by cardiovascular disease or cardiac condition
  • You have a disability resulting from an acute sensitivity to automobile emissions which limits or impairs your ability to walk
  • You’re legally blind and have limited mobility
  • You have acute sensitivity to light associated with a form of porphyria that would significantly benefit from a decrease in exposure to light

(source)

Disabilities manifest in so many different ways that it’s nearly impossible to determine whether someone is or isn’t disabled by just looking at them. You can’t know a person’s medical or history or physical abilities by simply looking at them; it doesn’t matter how young or old someone looks, what they dress like, or whether they can walk without assistive devices. Rest assured, a qualified doctor is required to sign off on the application for a disabled placard or license plate, and the placard or license plate themselves are issued by the Department of Licensing.

Still think they are faking it?

So what should you do if you suspect a fraudulent disabled parker? Report it to the local police. Yes, call 911 to report them. Please do not yell, comment, leave nasty notes for us, or otherwise harass us. We are required to carry documentation for our pass, but we only have to furnish it to police.

As frustrating as it can be not having access to a disabled parking spot, it is much worse to be judged and side-eyed for using it. I guess what i’m getting at is: please don’t harass others in the name of sticking up for me. In my experience, you end up harming more than you’re helping.

If you do want to do something constructive for the community, shoot us a smile every once in awhile. You might be surprised…we don’t get them often.

 

Congrats on Your Struggle

This week Ted Cruz recently congratulated a woman on her struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. My first reaction was “That’s a weird choice of words…”,  and the more I thought about it the more I started to think the congrats wasn’t too far off. We should get this out of the way now, I don’t agree with Ted Cruz on many things. Especially cutting programs like Medicare and Medicaid but let’s save that for another post.

Was Ted Cruz right to congratulate that woman on her struggle with MS? Maybe…not like a robot alien who just learned English though.

I often tell people my MS has been an amazing experience. The perspective gained is worth everything I have lost. My struggle with MS has been overwhelmingly positive despite the hardships. Everything out of Ted’s mouth is awkward, maybe he has been reading a lot about Nietzsche and the Philosophy of the struggle.

“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation,nietzsche sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures.”

Or simply

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

I guess what I’m trying to get at is, I would rather be congratulated for my struggle than told “I’m so sorry…”. You didn’t do anything to me, why are you sorry? The funny part is, I get way more people telling me sorry. It seems to be much more of a societal norm. Next time you want to apologize for someone’s disease or disability, just don’t. For that matter don’t congratulate them either. We don’t need value judgments on our struggles, we just need understanding.

It’s more telling that the biggest news about this gaffe wasn’t his thoughts on Medicare and Medicaid but how he addressed her struggle. There are 14 million people on disability under the age of 65, we want to know how your going to make medicare better?

National Caregiver Month

With November being National Caregiver Month, I wanted to say thank you to everyone out there helping people like me. I especially want to thank my wife Meg for the unwavering support. I can’t imagine this journey without you!

While all caregivers may do similar tasks, what they mean to the people they care for is very personal. So I wanted to share not only a glimpse of what caregivers do, but what mine means to me. 

Having someone to help you with things (and admitting you need the help), is tough at first. In the beginning, I felt totally helpless. I’ve learned that it’s actually quite the opposite, though. I’ve had help with everything from driving, buttoning my shirt and pants, to even getting helped into the bathroom. Helping with my meds meant giving me an intramuscular injection that would wipe me out for the next 36 hours. I am not sure what was harder, doing it myself or watching her do it. Either way she stuck me like a champ! At least until the blood squirting episode…

At first there was a lot of resentment about all the things I couldn’t do for myself. I have regained some things and lost others over the years, but help is there. With time embarrassment has turned in to humbleness. I still struggle with asking for help, but having a person who puts up with my bullshit and is still ride or die, means the world. I can no longer measure my worth off of the activities I can or cannot do. Because of this my compassion for others has grown immensely. 

Meg and I have gone through a lot together, and I’m so thankful that this crazy MS adventure has only made us stronger. 

Wheels and Red National Caregiver Month multiple sclerosis

Thanks to all who support others through our toughest times.

 

P.S. My caregiver is also the best Copy Editor.

 

Thanks For The Support

Thank you all so much!

I am now over 3 weeks into detox and feeling better. Check out my update from last week! I Just wanted to take some time to say Thank You to the best group of people I could surround myself with! 

 

Momentum Magazine

Hey, look, it’s Wheels & Red on the cover of Momentum Magazine! This issue focuses on disability and desire, which is a cringeworthy yet very important subject for so many people.

Meg and I have always been very honest about our relationship and share our struggles openly. We understand as much as anyone that it’s really easy for intimacy to dwindle as married life goes on; kids, jobs, stress, and chronic illness have a tendency to push it even further to the back burner. But when Momentum approached me about doing an interview for the article they were writing, I paused and thought to myself, “Should I really put this out there?” And that pause is exactly why I decided to go through with sharing some of the most intimate details of our relationship. 

Did you know that a whopping 75% of people diagnosed with MS have some sort of sexual dysfunction? That’s too big of a topic to be ignored, or paused, or glazed over to keep people from cringing. Struggling in the bedroom is no walk in the park for a relationship; it can cause a dangerous cycle of stress, frustration and disappointment when the subject is approached without love or compassion. 

Since the magazine has been published, a lot of my ultra supportive friends and family have called me brave for putting it out there; but really, I just want to break down that stigma of sexual dysfunction and the harm it can cause. For anyone struggling with this, creativity is key. Open hearts, open minds and understanding for each other are also very important. 

Mostly, just remember: this doesn’t automatically make you unworthy, this doesn’t make you less than, this doesn’t make you undesirable. This is just another speed bump that you might need to slow down and take your time with. 

Check out the article!

Wheels and red on the cover of Momentum Magazine, PNW