Requesting accommodations eases burden of disability

"I'll trade your parking place for my debilitating neurological disease." That's the retort I've been rehearsing in preparation for the day when someone comments on why I "get to" park in a disabled parking spot when I don't look sick.

My first day out with my disabled parking permit, I practiced my line as I drove from place to place. No one said anything, but I want to be sure I don't trip over the words when I finally do say them. (Maybe I'm spending too much time thinking about other people being rude. It isn't that I'm upset by the idea of someone envying my parking place, but that I see it as an opportunity to advocate for those of us with invisible disabilities.)

Knowing that I could use the disabled parking tag filled me with an immense freedom as I ran errands. Though it will be miserably hot in Phoenix in the coming months (Saturday was the first 100 degree day), I am no longer as afraid of the heat. I kept imagining myself in June, going to physical therapy and then to the consignment clothing store I just discovered or to the doctor and the grocery store without feeling like I would combust. Journeying from the car to the store and back again will require exposure, so it isn't like I'll avoid the oven altogether, but there's so much less of it.

I'm proud of myself for admitting that I am disabled enough to need special accommodations and am enjoying how this one has improved my quality of life. Have you requested special accommodations for your illness? How has it affected your life?

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