Invisible disabilities

You know how sometimes when you’re in a parking lot, you see some “jerk” pull into the handicap parking space, hang up their nice blue placard that denotes that they are handicapped and then stroll into the store, seemingly without any type of condition that would constitute a disability? Certain friends of mine gripe about this all the time, and I try to explain to them that not all disabilities are visible.

It’s true, there are probably a good number of people who are working the system and taking advantage of a loophole in the disability system to allow them the up-close parking as well as financial aid if they are unable to work, but many others – myself included – are also disabled, with no outwardly visible signs.

To start, I have extreme arthritis in both my knees, along with bursitis in my right hip, a pinched disc in my lumbar region, and that silly little headache thing. Now, normally, one wouldn’t consider a headache to be a disability, but mine certainly qualifies. If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know the intense pain and suffering it can cause. If you are lucky enough to have never experienced one, ask a friend who has. Once you’ve grasped how much it absolutely sucks, imagine that this headache has been going fairly non-stop for over five years. In the beginning, there were brief lulls where the headache was either completely gone, or low enough that I didn’t feel it at all. As time goes by, it’s getting worse and worse. I’ve reached the point where I can’t look up for more than a few seconds at a time (which kinda sucks when your boyfriend is taller than you and you have to look up to kiss him). Any type of loud noise – especially high pitched sounds like whistling or computer beeping, for example – increase the headache exponentially.

Now of course, you can’t see a headache, or arthritis, or bursitis, so when I complain about being handicapped, I frequently get shot down. I’ve contemplated applying for disability, because my health is dropping so quickly that I don’t honestly know how much longer I’ll be able to work in a productive manner. I don’t want to be a drag on society though, and rely on government handouts, even though I know I’ve been paying into disability for as long as I’ve been working, so it’s really kind of my money anyway. It’s a tough decision, and one I’ve been battling for the past six months or so. At some point, I’m going to have to make up my mind. Is the blow to my pride worth the ability to not end each day in agonizing pain? How much longer do I have before the pain becomes so unbearable that it no longer becomes a choice?

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