Instead of staring, please ask me why I use disabled parking
A little communication goes a long way in furthering understanding
To the lady who glared at me and muttered under her breath as I pulled into a disabled parking spot:
Why not approach me and ask me why I parked there? I’d gladly explain that I have pulmonary hypertension (PH), a rare and progressive disease that affects my heart and lungs. PH symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and swelling, which can make everyday activities like walking challenging.
You see, my disability license plate and placard allow me to park my car near the store entrance for a reason. If you could spare a moment to talk with me instead of gawking, I’d happily share how I use my portable oxygen concentrator to help me breathe and do the things I enjoy. Sometimes, even a short distance requires me to use a wheelchair. But on good days, I can drive myself to the store and feel a sense of independence. Don’t we all yearn for that?
My constant fatigue is something you wouldn’t notice at first glance. Rest alone can’t ease it, and it hinders me from doing simple tasks most people take for granted. While the exhaustion never subsides, my disability placard allows me to live life to the fullest and make the most of my good days.
If you’d approached me, I could’ve also told you about my chronic pain, which never completely goes away. Often, it leaves me curled up on my couch, seeking relief with the help of a heated blanket. But I’ve learned to cope with it and the muscle spasms that sometimes render me immobile.
Those moments when I can venture out and do something, no matter how small, are significant. From grocery shopping to walking a short distance, even basic activities remind me of life’s beauty. Living with a chronic illness isn’t always easy, but I strive to stay positive. I’ve learned to pace myself, prioritize rest, and enjoy the little things.
Any day, I’d trade my disability placard, PH, and other illnesses for a life without constant shortness of breath and pain. Yes, I may appear fine, even with my oxygen concentrator, but my outward appearance doesn’t reflect the actual state of my health. If only you could spend a week in my shoes and feel what I feel, you would gain a deeper understanding.
So next time, please just ask me why I’m using disabled parking instead of staring and muttering. Communication can go a long way in fostering empathy and compassion.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension 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 Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.