Monday, February 09, 2009

Officially Disabled

I’m a card-carrying disabled person as far as the state of Virginia is concerned. I’ve always derided many of the seemingly healthy looking people who have such a placard and who park in handicapped spaces, but I now have a new appreciation for the power of that emblem.

I look at this as the first step in increasing my mobility. I hope to soon follow it with driving once again.

It’s amazing what resources are there for disabled persons if they just ask. I called the Church of the Epiphany, the site of tomorrow’s lunchtime concert, to find out if they have any handicapped parking, since it is located in the heart of downtown DC, where people kill for parking spaces. Sure enough, there are two such spaces to the left of the church and they have an arrangement with the neighboring garage (which has an elevator) whereby the church validates your parking. Very accommodating, I would say.

It is somewhat interesting to see the world from the eyes of a disabled person. When we are healthy, we take so much for granted.

My little placard is good until the end of July. I plan to use it judiciously, putting it aside when I feel 100% back to normal. But for now, it is a comfort to know that parking will be less of an issue than it would be otherwise.

Want to park close? Just give me a ride!


Blogger e said...

Glad to see you are becoming more "sensitive" on this issue. I guess I don't need to say that there are many situations in which a person is disabled without the disability being obvious to onlookers, and to deride people when one does not have all the facts and should not be making a value judgement in the first place is not a wonderful thing to do to anyone. It is a shame that it takes personal experience before so-called "able-bodied" persons begin to realize this. I give you credit for valuing your realization.

As for your point about a dearth of resources being available to people with disabilities, I can tell you from my own experience and that of others that I know that there are not enough, what there are are scattered and it is highly difficult to navigate and find them. Some of them, in fact, plainly suck, as is the case with the public transportation system where I live. Additionally, the biggest obstacle to successfully living with a disability of any kind is often not the disability itself, but the ignorance of others. If you are ever inspired to learn more beyond what is temporary for you, I would be glad to point you in the direction of some interesting books and other resources. When I asked whether your congregation was doing anything for Jewish Disability Awareness Month, you did not reply. It seems the Jewish community is making an inter-congregational attempt to raise awareness in our own community, an effort I applaud and would happily support with whatever time and effort I can make available.

I hope you enjoy the concert, but two parking spaces is rarely enough in places like that. Really. I hope your recovery and new-found awareness continues and that both bring you wonderful things.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

E -- As with anything, there are in fact people who cheat, probably not too many, but definitely some. I will from now on, assume legitimate disability if a placard is displayed.

I know of nothing our congregation is doing to recognize Jewish Disability Awareness Month. Maybe in honor of my current status, I should be proactive and start something.

I can appreciate the fact that many "systems", including your local public transportation are simply inadequate. It would almost be good training if people without disabilities could experience that a blind person, a deaf person, a person with mobility issues, and many others face as they go about the business of living.

I will guarantee you that my own experience will have a life-long effect on making me more sympathetic to the plight of others.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm am glad that you're finding resources to accommodate your current condition and that your current condition is a temporary one. The awareness you're gaining - and sharing - is invaluable. I know I'll think more about access for others because of it.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

I got a temporary permit when I broke my foot last fall. I felt undeserving in a way, but it enabled me to hobble in to school more easily and with less pain. And I was able to use my bass on its wheel as a "crutch" so that helped too. I am very grateful that I no longer need special parking and I also have an increased appreciation for how helpful those spaces are to those who really do need them.

2:07 AM  
Blogger karen said...

wow, barbara - you are teaching us all a lot, with this experience of yours, thanks for sharing your journey! x

6:55 AM  
Blogger e said...

"the plight of others" suggests that you view the difference of disability which many of us term "differently-abled" as some sort of victimization or something to be pitied.

You may not realize that many of us do not see ourselves that way. Making accommodation in the public realm helps assure that everyone who is a part of a society can take part and contribute. While we are still a very long way from where we all need to be in that regard, one of the first and most respectful things we everyone can do is notice their language and how they speak about differences.

My life on a daily basis is different from yours, particularly with regard to movement, and other issues, but I do not see myself as "plighted." I am a person, a woman and a citizen, just as you are, and I deserve to be treated as a human being, not pitied. Accommodation is not about pity.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

E -- The real point I was trying to make is how important understanding is. Truthfully I felt sorry for myself when I woke up sore and stiff today, but I will try to keep my pity to myself!

Please don't slam me on language. I'm still learning and the last thing I want to do is offend anyone as I describe my personal saga.

8:57 AM  
Blogger e said...

I was not "slamming" you, merely making a legitimate set of points. If you want to throw a pity party, you certainly have the right to do so. Your original comment was about the so-called "plight" of others, and as one of them reading this, I felt the point was important to make, particularly since people who are regarded differently in any way by their larger society tend to bump up against issues and ignorance related to how they are perceived.

I will not bother any longer in trying to communicate about this issue with you, since you seem upset by it or disinterested. I am not the first to point out your language regarding this issue.

Your card will be mailed at the end of the week and contains the donation for Karen.

I wish you continued success in your recovery. I hope you can learn to be patient with the process as that will help you really see how strong you are and that this is a temporary situation that will be resolved with time. I hope you will also continue to grow and be well, as you have much to offer the world.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

E -- I suggest we continue any further discussion of this in e-mail.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Barbara, I think it's awesome that you're able to take advantage of these resources, and thanks so much for bringing us all along on this very personal journey. It's a learning experience for many of us, I'm sure. :)

4:56 PM  
Blogger Squirrel said...

Yes, you must get resources as Steve says--my husband is having surgery scheduled soon, and the docs tells him he'll be unable to do much at all for 4-6 weeks, beyond that he'll need a handicapped sticker once he begins walking again.
I wish I was your neighbor so I could pop in amd bring you a fancy vegan lunch from my favorite Nyack eatery.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being injured certainly can open one's mind and heart more fully to the experience of others who are differently-abled. Like most "big" events in life, it sounds like your hip injury is stimulating growth in a variety of areas...I'm so glad you're healing as well as you are! Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Barbara!!



3:15 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Hi Barbara, I love to take my friend, Bonnie places, because we get the BEST parking spaces. Sometimes people might look at her and think that she gets around pretty well for a "disabled" person, but the fact is that Bonnie has MS and has a limited amount of energy that she can spend in a day. She can spend that energy getting out to the car, or doing her chores. When we go to big ticket items like quilt shows, she uses her scooter and then we park out in the vast parking lots because she wants to keep close parking spaces for others.

My mom reminds me that many of the changes that have been made for people with disabilities (the APA correct reference) have benifitted many people without disabilities, such as corner cuts (which help out people with baby carriers and my own slightly arthritic knees).

10:31 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Squirrel -- I too wish you were my neighbor for many reasons!

Kelly -- I have a great respect for those corner cuts. I never paid much attention to them before unless I was riding my bicycle!

10:59 PM  

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