Monday, August 25, 2014

Am I Handicapped?

Post Soundtrack:  Lost by Coldplay

I have hit another Lupus milestone, and as is usual, I am entirely at a loss about how to feel about it.  As is the case with almost everything when dealing with Lupus, this has a good side and a bad side.  Mixed blessings are becoming the norm.

At my last appointment, I took in the form for applying for a handicap placard for the car.  I had filled out my half, and was feeling uncertain about how my rheumy would respond.  I hadn't asked him about it before, I simply brought it in this time.  

Something I am learning about him is that he doesn't usually bring things up until I bring them up myself.  He clearly felt strongly about using sunscreen, but didn't address it until I asked about it.  I imagine he has plenty of experience with balky patients like myself who might not be emotionally ready for the kind of changes that need to be made.  Beating a reluctant patient over the head with what he or she needs to change certainly won't help them listen to him when it's vitally important, so I respect his means of dealing with it.

Apparently this placard was one of those issues.

The moment he saw the form, he practically snatched it out of my hand and immediately began scribbling down the required info.  I was hesitant and curious to see what he marked me as... would it be permanent?  Sure enough, it was.  He didn't talk about it (we were discussing something else while he did this), just treated it as fact and given.

I was a little daunted after going home, but I kept the paper where I could see it.  I knew that I would procrastinate mailing it in if I allowed myself the room to do so.  But it was important to get done.  There are several times now when I really could have used a handicap parking spot, when I am creaky or outright painful, but still needed to be involved in going to the store.  So I knew it was for my own good to send it in.

Thankfully I was successful in getting a grip on myself.  I carefully sealed it in an envelope, addressed it properly, and sent it off to the post office with hubby after putting a stamp on it.  I then put the whole matter to the back of my mind, because I knew very well I would have to stare it in the face once the placards actually arrived.

Today was that day.

So here I sit, with the two placards and their accompanying verification letters conspicuously to my left.  I have been looking forward to this, truthfully, but also dreading it.  It is a much needed help for me, but it also is a label I'm not certain I feel ready for.

It seems like, growing up, there were two ways to define someone as handicapped.  The first was the obvious wheelchair or prosthetic.  The second was to have that license plate or placard that declared that this person got special privileges in the parking lot.  Both seemed like very solid, official sorts of ways to define who was and was not handicapped.  Someone on crutches?  Not necessarily handicapped.  A scooter?  Same thing.  But if they had that placard, that sealed the deal.

Am I ready to see myself as handicapped?  Disabled?  And am I ready to accept that this is a lifelong thing?  I'm not really sure I am.

It's hard to see one's self in this sort of light.  Even if I groan going up and down the stairs... even if I hobble down the grocery store aisle... even if I can predict when the next thunderstorm is going to strike because of stabbing pain in my hip/SI joint... to have these placards is to declare publicly and openly that I have greater physical limitations than the average person, and that those limitations aren't likely to ever go away.  Oh, if I'm blessed they will fade, at least for a time, but the threat of pain and disability will never cease.

It's one thing to admit privately to myself that this is so.  It's another to proclaim it and claim certain privileges as my right.  I know it's important to be my own best advocate, but I'm not comfortable putting myself forward in normal situations.  This... this is a whole new ball of wax.

Once I settle into the idea, once I get used to the concept, and once I start finding how thankful I am for the help it provides, I'll be fine with it all.  It will be yet another change that simply becomes part of normal daily life.  But right at this moment, I'm reeling from the necessity and enormity of it.  Another major thing I have to accept and move ahead with.  Another phase of my life left behind forever.  

Even so, I refuse to lose myself in the midst of all this change.  I am still me.  Having this placard doesn't change who I am.  It merely changes my circumstances, and for the better.  Pardon my tears as I continue to remind myself that this is a good, positive thing.  I'll get over it in time.

No comments:

Post a Comment