Monday, September 26, 2011

When is it Time to Get the Blue Placard?

I knew it was only a matter of time before I made a very important decision. To do the handicap placard or to not do the handicap placard. That is the question. I have been wrangling with this one for some time, always coming up with reasons as to why my perfectly (dis)abled body does not need to be rescued by a privileged parking space. That’s how I see it.  Here’s why.

First, my symptoms are never that bad. At least that’s what I’ve always told myself. I can park in any spot in the parking lot of Bed, Bath and Beyond and capably walk to the front door. This always leads me to my second point, which is that I really do not want to take a handicapped spot away from someone who needs it more than me. How on earth would I be able to live with myself if I drove my car atop the asphalt spot painted with the universal disabled symbol and actually took it from someone else? I am not sure I could live with the guilt of stealing a spot when I feel perfectly fine. This line of thinking always ends with the forever silent, unmentionable realization that I am a disabled person who might need assistance one day too. 

Nope. Not this MSer. My third point I always think is a strong one. I need the exercise. Walking. Walking is good exercise. The farther out I park the car, the more exercise I will get. I often reason with myself. I do not need to shrink my already limited exercise routine by decreasing the steps per minute that would come from parking so close to the entrance of the mall. Ha, ha! Good one.

Lastly, the place where I need assistance the most is at work yet I adamantly tell myself that I am not ready to come out with my diagnosis to my office mates. Parking in the handicapped area will clearly force me out of the MS closet. I know what you’re thinking, ‘o readers of mine. How much of a secret could it really be if I write publicly on this blog? Minor detail. I remain inflexible. I cannot get a handicapped placard. Everyone will notice me stepping out of my car parked in the blue zone right in front of the office building entrance. It will be so immediately obvious. There is no way to avoid it. Everyone knows what kind of car I drive and they do not have a clue that I live with MS. I always ask myself questions. How is this going to work? Am I ready for this or should I dream up a story that I am recovering from a very serious bike accident? People will believe me, right? Yes I realize that keeping up with a story like this will be difficult and has the potential of getting completely out of hand as I will be forced to describe every elaborate detail of my crash. Besides, I can’t wear a fake cast forever. On the other hand, parking is so limited at my office that many of us are forced to park on a dauntingly steep hill that is an exercise routine all in itself. 300+ steps from the office front door to the top. I counted one day. I still conclude and tell myself: more points to add to my third reason above if I don’t get the placard, right?

This all changed with my recent relapse. Just last week my MS took me by surprise and rewarded me with new numbness, from my waist down. Not full numbness but enough to give the impression that I should probably stop drinking at noon. This is when I decided it was time. I wrote it down on my task list: fill out DMV form for disability placard.  I will let you know how my first parking experience goes when my pretty blue placard arrives in the mail. Stay tuned.

In the meanwhile, I am sure many of you have had similar experiences. I would love to hear from you, to hear your story. How was your experience in getting the disability placard?

P.S. If you live in California, you can fill out the “Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plates” through this link:  Application for Placard.

Best always,


  1. I got my disabled parking permit about a month after I was diagnosed. I have difficulty walking and use a cane. I use the permit on days I need it, and on better days, I pull into a "regular" parking spot.

    Here in Canada, the doctor fills out your form, you go to the DMV and get the permit.

    It was a difficult experience for can read my story here.

  2. I had MS for about 20 years before I broke down and got the permit. And I resisted for many of the same reasons you have. Well, now I get the best parking spots, even if the cost is a high one. I still would rather walk from the far end of the parking lot but ... hey, I'll just look at this as an example of membership has its privileges.

  3. Hi Karen: I just read your story. It certainly is hard coming to the realization that our MS is with us forever. I went through similar emotions when I had my recent relapse and during my inner battles of deciding when to get the placard. Thanks so much for writing that post and for stopping by. Be well. Best, Christie

    Hi Judy: I love thinking about this as a membership privilege! Great way to think about it. Thanks so much for popping in to visit! Hope all is good. Best, Christie

  4. i have to admit that it wasn't that much of a struggle for me...i'd been thinking about it all along but what eventually made me take the plunge was that, one day i was in the mall shopping and decided it was time for me to struggle back to the car. As i was taking one step today the other tomorrow, a security guard whizzed past on her segway and i got so mad! i was mad at her for being able to go by so fast, mad at the MS for doing a number on me and mad at the fact that i couldn't park in a the "blue zone" and had to walk that much further to get to my car!!! I went to my doctor's office soon after and got the application for the permit :-)

  5. Hey Stax! Thanks for stopping by. And, I am glad to hear that you got your permit, it's probably making life a bit better. Now keep an eye out for those segways! Take care and be well. Best, Christie

  6. Hi Christie,
    It's funny because I haven't ever written about this on my blog. I've had MS for 23 years.. and I got my HC placard pretty early. Way back then, there wasn't any DMDs and my version of MS albeit invisible didn't allow me to walk too far. Although I didn't need ti to get in to the store, it's fairly safe to say I would need it when I left. About two years ago, my symptoms became more, shall we say pronounced. At this time, I have to decide what I want to spend my energy on. I've become quite comfortable with my cluttered house - allowing me more active time with my daughter and husband. That isn't always easy to get past. I can say for sure.. that I don't want to waste any energy running to the CVS or the grocery store.

    Now I use a walking stick to compensate from my serious lack of balance and it's easier to get out of the car and feel justified. While I wish my limitations didn't have me so "out"... I'm glad that I can take advantage of the privileges membership offers. Hey, they are everywhere you want to be! ;) Thanks for making me think about this Christie~

  7. I love you! You are inspiring and brave everyday.


  8. Amy: thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story. Saving our energy for the important things in life is most crucial. Be well, Christie

  9. Swiss: I love you for being strong, beautiful and brave. I want to give you the biggest hug in the world right now...see you in 2 days!

  10. Hi Christie!
    My name is Daniella and I've just started an MS blog. I have been searching, as best as i can because I am computer stupid, for other ms blogs. I am finding them, slowly but surely!!
    That is how I found you!!
    Your blog is awesome and so are you!! I love reading your entries, you crack me up!! I also read your about me.
    My new blog is
    I hope you can stop by!!
    Have an awesome day!!

  11. Hi Daniella, it's a pleasure to meet you! I checked out your blog, very cool that you do art journaling around your life with MS. I will keep watching for new posts! Thanks so much for the nice words. Be well, Christie

  12. Hey Jackass! I told you to get it ages ago. Just because its in your glovebox doesnt mean you will use it. Its only there IF you need it.
    Im also glad you finally took my advice about applying with the utility company.
    Now you know what a smart(ass)I am!

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