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?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (26)
  • bgorlando
    4 years ago

    What is the best way to ask for accommodations while in college?

  • Tammy Rome
    4 years ago

    Most colleges have a designated program for students with disabilities. You just have to ask. The best place to start would be at admissions or the registrar’s office. Typical accommodations in college might include note taking services (for migraine days when you can’t be there or all you can do it sit there) and alternative testing options (quiet room, extra time, etc.). Plus, they can advocate on your behalf with professors who include attendance and/or participation in the calculation of your grade. As a student migraineur, you may be able to show up but not be in any shape to speak up, answer questions, or get involved in a group discussion. There’s no list of set accommodations. It’s just whatever you need in order to be a successful student. So don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. The worst thing that will happen is that they say, “no.”

  • alig0118
    6 years ago

    I asked my HR department to install light filters for the fluorescent lights in my classroom because the white fluorescent (there are white, blue and yellow) trigger my migraines. They were nice enough to buy blue blue, install them in all the lights in my room (36 total) and in a friends’ two offices (she is triggered by the lights too).
    It’s totally worth it to have special accommodations!!!

  • cathleenmacphee
    6 years ago

    Alig0118 – So pleased to hear about an employer who was so willing to accommodate you. How did you figure out it was the white light specifically that was your trigger? I know florescent lights are a trigger for me but I never thought it being a specific component of the light. Thanks!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    That’s wonderful that the school is working with you to help you reduce triggers! Bravo for them, and you!!

  • Chip Dooley
    7 years ago

    It has happen to me several times before and after my kids were born. I used to get so upset that I would give myself a migraine. I’m 6 foot 220lbs and look as healthy as a horse. So about after 10 years or so I found the perfect response ( middle finger) that way my kids don’t hear me or see me get mad. My 13 year old is to smart and he sees that it still bothers me and will come up and hug me and my other 2 follow behind him. Don’t let idiots bother you it is not worth getting sick. Thanks for having this page.

  • Rachael Bryant-Neth
    7 years ago

    I too have a parking tag, I am always worried there will be some old man who can’t walk and I will have taken a spot he needs. Then I think if he needs help people are more likly to respond to him because he is old. people just think I am drunk or hungover. Its a prosses and I am just begining it. Thanks for this post.

  • Donna Green
    7 years ago

    had migraines since was a kid.gfather had them bad too.
    got worse after a car accident-neck injury 23yrs ago.
    endep (amitriptaline) saved me. put on it to prevent them and helps other pain & sleep.
    getting hormonal headaches last few years.
    has anyone found anything to help hormonal headaches?
    very thankful rarely get full blown migraines like i used to-hell.
    be encouraged <3

  • Donna Green
    7 years ago

    who the f thinks they have the right to say re plaques- i dont have a problem if u only use it wen u have a migraine?
    are you a dr?
    people with migraine cant drive while theyre having one!!!
    theres a wide range of symptoms they have.
    i get extreme fatigue after one for days.

    thank f if a dr has approved mobility parking thats all the approval we need!
    i always look well & unless u knew me u wouldnt know i am in constant pain all over from neck & back.
    i function by med 24/7 and exercise.

  • Donna Green
    7 years ago

    makes me angry wen people dont have a plaque & park there!
    i remember driving round & round couldnt get a park in severe pain (before had permit). my kids said “park in disabled mum if anyones disabled its you!’
    i didnt.
    now i can.
    anyone baulking at getting one get one if u need to.

  • Donna Green
    7 years ago

    gd on u!
    if u have an invisible / chronic illness/ health issues its not ur fault!
    you’ve done nothing wrong <3

  • Cathy Ashenfelter Christensen
    7 years ago

    First of all “Hurray for you!” You qualified for disability, which means you have earned the right to that parking permit and that space. Living in an area where it is that high of temps or going from a/c to hot for me at least would trigger migraines all the time. So to have a closer parking space and not be out in the heat for too long is great. Kerrie, it’s no one’s business why you are disabled. There are so many silent/invisible diseases. If they feel the need to judge, you have no obligation to defend yourself, unless you want to. Be grateful for the days that you are able to be out and do not have a migraine. Hang that Disabled Permit proudly proudly for those days that you were in pain and have conquered. I need to get one, although I do not drive due to medications I take to avoid migraines (side effects make me not think as clearly/slow reaction time). Thank you for urging me to get one also.

  • Elaine Axten
    7 years ago

    chronic. neurological. condition. stickers or t shirt? what do you think?

  • Elaine Axten
    7 years ago

    i wasn’t being entirely serious, but maybe i SHOULD do that!

  • Donna Green
    7 years ago

    both?

  • Douglas L. Saunders
    7 years ago

    T shirt

  • Kimberly Klein
    7 years ago

    T-shirts!!

  • Elaine Gross
    7 years ago

    In our local paper someone wrote a letter to the editor complaining about the people with disabled parking permits getting out of their vehicles with seemingly no disability. Boy, did that ever get a rebuttal of angry responses of folks like us with not so noticeable disabilities. I feel uncomfortable when people look at me suspiciously, feeling as if I have to explain myself. I want to say “You really don’t want me to park next to you in the regular spaces because you’ll probably end up with the side of your car bashed in. I was so embarrassed when I asked someone to back my car up for me one time. I really don’t even drive much any more out of fear.

  • Jimmie Mac
    7 years ago

    As long as you only use it when you have a migraine and have to go somewhere, I’m all in… Good luck…

  • Jon Gabney
    7 years ago

    Jimmie Mac “You know what will happen?” Come on now. Don’t bait people. We’re all supposed to be on the same side here.

  • Jimmie Mac
    7 years ago

    Easy there fella, was just say’n…Don’t want you to get to excited cause you know what will happen…An I don’t know her or what she would do, otherwise I wouldn’t have commented… FYI

  • Dan Levesque
    7 years ago

    That is exactly what she is talking about.!!!! It’s no one’s business but hers to use it when she needs it. As a migraineur you would know that she would not use it unless she needed to. I don’t know her, but we are all alike, caring for others cause we feel like aliens on this planet.

  • Andrea Kayy
    7 years ago

    I have a temporary plaque for a muscle injury in my foot. I also suffer (though perhaps not nearly as much as you) from migraines almost daily. I recall when I received the plaque feeling that I was not quite “disabled” enough to receive it and at the same time so very happy to have it. I have been primarily sitting in my home for months, not leaving due to the injury. It throbs and when the migraine is throbbing too – forget it. I recall having a sense of – what if someone else more disabled needs this spot (feeling guilty). However I have to say that I have now enjoyed being not so dependent on others. I think that is the point – so you can be free and “able” like everyone else to move about in society. I worried when I got out of the parking spot, limped into the store and sat on an electric cart, someone would say or think something negative when I look pretty healthy too. I just try to block it out and smile, I have found people are very accomodating and helpful. I have a renewed appreciation for those in wheelchairs, etc. It is still difficult to do most anything the way I used to – I am thankful for it (when there is a spot available). =)

  • Linda Castellano
    7 years ago

    I totally agree with this article and that a parking pass should NEVER be questioned by anyone, but I must say I have never had to run errands with a migraine.I just don’t have the strength. But a parking pass would help especially at the E.R. I always get dropped off at the front enternce and then who ever drove me there’, I know I am there for hours I show the hospital I have a ride (because they will not treat you without it) but after those hours spent in the E.R. Icannot wait to go home, but my ride seems to have parked in a different county not there fault I just forgot to please ask to get the car so I walk to the parking lot feeling awful and it feels like a mile because I am so drained.

  • Barbara Johansen
    7 years ago

    I do not have a disabled parking plaque, although I have a sister who has a disabling disease which forced her into needing a double lung transplant, but before she was instantly noticeable that she was seriously ill, people would give her evil eye and question her needs. People can be ignot=rant of things sometimes. Just because in your eyes someone doesn’t look ill, doesn’t mean they don’t have a debilitating disease. Also must add there are an enormous anmount of people who have or miss use the parking for disabled.

  • Lyndal Hill
    7 years ago

    that happenned to me once and I got so upset. I didnt say any response. I try to remind myself that from her petspective she was trying to defend people with disbilites. It was her ignorance that made her not think about invisible illnesses. her exact words yelled was..you dont look like you hve a disability to me! If only she had seen me later that night with a vomiting migraine on the bathroom floor.

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