Learning to Overlook Criticism While Using a Disabled Parking Permit

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by Lori Dunham |

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One of the first accommodations we made after our daughter Grace was diagnosed with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) was acquiring a disabled person parking permit. One of the prominent symptoms of LEMS is muscle weakness, which can make walking for any length of time very difficult.

Grace had an especially hard time walking on her own. Her legs were not only weak but also her balance was significantly compromised. We knew we needed to park close to our destination to make her life easier.

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We Have Found Accommodations That Make Life Easier for Our Daughter

At first I resisted this need. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I was in denial about the changes taking place and the seriousness of Grace’s illness. Obtaining a disabled parking permit was one more reminder that our life had changed in a significant way.

I worried Grace would begin seeing herself as different from her friends. I thought it might hurt her to be labeled as disabled. But it didn’t take me long to realize it was in Grace’s best interest to get a permit.

It was, in fact, a great relief for her. She is, after all, disabled, and she didn’t have a problem accepting it like I did. The disabled parking pass provided welcome help.

At first, we didn’t have any problems. Before treatment and medication, Grace moved very slowly. She looked sick. But as treatment began and medication started to help, she looked stronger and was able to move with a bit more ease.

That’s when I began to notice the sideways glances we would occasionally get when we utilized the parking pass. To a stranger, we looked like a healthy teenager and a healthy adult using an accessible parking spot.

At first, I willed some of the onlookers to say something so I could explain our actions. However, it didn’t take me long to ignore the stares and the impatience in people’s eyes when we crossed the street in front of them at a snail’s pace.

We were becoming comfortable in our new skin. The people looking at us critically did not know our story or Grace’s limitations. I encouraged Grace to stand her ground and not allow others’ opinions to infringe upon her right to an accessible parking spot.

I did prepare her for the possibility of someone saying something derogatory to her without us there to defend her. Now that she is driving, she needs to be prepared for these encounters. She needs to feel empowered and be able to stand up for herself.

Her need to apologize when someone has to wait a few seconds longer for her to pass is lessening. She is becoming more confident in who she is and the help she needs to make her life easier.

Our conscience is clear knowing we are using the disabled parking pass for a legitimate reason.

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Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia.

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