After enduring another person, shaking their head at me disapprovingly for parking at a handicap parking spot at the grocery store today, I have decided to write a letter to the editor of perhaps the Toronto Star, Sun, Mirror, or anyone else who will publish it.
Letter to the Editor
You don’t know me. I’m the young lady with the two small children in tow who frequently uses the handicap parking spots at the shopping malls. You give me the evil eye, mutter under your breath, and generally scorn me because I park my car as close to the doors as I can.
Although I do not “look” handicapped, the last 2 -3 years of my life have been a challenge. It started with breast cancer. I had to have a radical mastectomy and have a scar from under my left arm to the center of my chest. However, with my clothes on, you can’t see it, or the breast prosthetic I must wear to look “normal”. I was left with the inability to lift more than 5 pounds. Shopping and getting groceries took on a whole new meaning for me after this surgery.
After six months of chemotherapy, I experienced heart failure. Although I was only 45 years old, I had a heart of an 85 year old. Six months after that, I had a stroke (TIA), because of the medication I was on to stop the spread of cancer. I was tired all the time because my heart wasn’t pumping adequately, yet I still managed to look “normal”. I was grateful I didn’t have to walk far to get to the places I needed to go because of my handicapped parking permit.
Just recently, the cancer spread to a bone in my spine. In January I had yet another surgery. This time it was to put two metal rods in my back or I would have become a paraplegic. The pain in my back since that surgery, and the radiation that followed is, quite frankly, indescribable. Lifting anything, like groceries, is quite painful for me. And so is turning my back to get out of parking spots. If I didn’t have the extra space that the handicapped parking spot allows, it would be torture for me to back my car out of a parking space.
So the next time you see me in a handicap parking spot, instead of giving me your disdain, just thank your lucky stars that your heart is healthy, and that you have two feet that can get you to the door, two arms and a strong back in which you can carry your groceries, and the ability to drive your car backwards without being in excruciating pain. I’d be happy to trade in my handicapped parking permit, but unfortunately, I am not well enough to do so. So please, do me and the many other people who have handicapped parking permits, a favour, and don’t judge us on appearances. Please do not assume that all handicapped people are elderly and have difficulty walking. Some of us are handicapped in ways you cannot see.