When you are diagnosed with a chronic disease you are given a label. That label puts you in a certain category of illness, which then entitles you to certain treatments. You then begin your life sentence, that not only affects you, but it also affects those close to you.
I am 6 years into my life sentence. The only good thing about my disease is that for the most part it’s hidden. Unless you see me struggle, or you know what I have, you will know no different. I’m just another person on the street, a mum picking her kids up, or doing the grocery shopping. I go about my daily business in some discomfort, & sometimes a lot of pain, and I almost over compensate on polishing my exterior so as not to alert the world to my suffering interior. If there is something or someone that would be of great benefit to making my life easier, I still often need to be persuaded or encouraged to come around to the idea before I finally give in. For example, it took me a while to come around to having a cleaner. I don’t work so how can I justify that? Well, now I couldn’t live without her, she saves my body from extra physical stress that it really doesn’t need.
A cleaner is fair enough, many of us employ one, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. So what about being persuaded by your arthritis counsellor, your rheumatologist, & your husband to actually wear a label that shouts out to the world there is something wrong with you? I’m talking about a disabled parking permit, & it’s taken 9 months to year for me to come around to the idea that it might be of some benefit to have one. Honestly, I didn’t want to be parking right outside the grocery store & then find out that a person in a wheelchair couldn’t because I’d taken the spot. But then again, I really struggle to push a full grocery cart down the hill that all grocery stores seem to be built on. In the end it was the situation with my knee that finally made me realize that although there are people who may have more obvious legitimate reasons to be closer to certain facilities, I too have good reason. So, I agreed to being given that label, which arrived today.
The thing is, you also realize that the label can be optional. It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing that hangs from my mirror, I can chose when to use it – most likely when grocery shopping, & occasionally when I’m having a bad day & walking an extra block to school is brutal. As I am a very honest person, I hope not to fall into the trap of ‘oh I’ll just park here because I can use my permit’, but I’m sure there will be the odd occasion when I do, I’m sure a lot of people abuse it far more than that. I think it will take some time for me to feel comfortable about using it, but at least I now have the option, & I’m sure my body will thank me for it in time.