handicap parkingThere was an article recently of a woman who has lupus, which makes her eligible to apply for a handicap parking tag/spot. She received a nasty letter on her windshield from someone who, thinking they were a good citizen, shamed her for stealing handicap spots from people who need them. The woman who received this note and her mother were good-natured about the situation and  took the opportunity to educate people about lupus and why it is important not to judge people who may not look sick, but really are!

When I applied for and received my handicap parking tag, I worried about what people would think about me putting my tag up and walking into the grocery store. I’ve even set myself up for failure when I wasn’t feeling well, but wanted to ‘save space’ and ‘save face’ by not using my tag. I’d been in pain and exhausted and fully aware that my short grocery trip might end with me unable to walk, but, for pride or fear (or both), I didn’t use my tag. I suffered for it. I barely made it to my car. I needed to be able to sit down. Pushing the cart was hard enough, but to keep pushing and not be any where near a place to sit made me realise that I had the tag for a reason and that I should use it regardless of what people might think.

When I am well, I don’t use my tag. Perhaps there is another lupus patient who needs the spot that day, but I always remind myself that I have it for a reason and that I should use it.

So, if you have lupus, or another invisible disease, apply for a handicap tag if you think you need it. And if you have it and need it, use it.