Parking Placard or Not?

Parking Placard or Not?

Christine Tender Points

I thought long and hard before asking my doctor for an accessible parking placard for my car. I’ve never wanted to be considered different or “handicapped.” And because I look perfectly healthy, it was easy to pretend I was fine when I wasn’t. When fatigue was an issue, I chose to stay home if possible. Plus, I feel better when I walk.

Some days, I’m actually capable of walking a good distance (although what I consider a good distance is merely a short stroll for a healthy walker). Recently, I walked nearly 2 miles with a friend! But here’s the thing: Those 2 miles were way more than I should have walked. It was evidently a mistake in judgment on my part, and I paid the price the next day.

I know I have a limited amount of energy and that I need to pace myself. I clearly did not do that. The problem was that I was walking with a healthy friend who is capable of walking twice that distance. I was also distracted by our lively conversation. Plus, I wasn’t wearing a watch. Not until I got back to my car and collapsed did I realize how much I’d overdone the exercise. Even driving home from that walk was an effort. I could hardly lift my foot to the gas pedal.

So, here’s where the parking placard comes in. If, hypothetically, I needed to make a stop on the way home (say, to pick up a prescription), I would have needed to park close by. I would also have needed an electric scooter at my destination. If one wasn’t available, I would have gone home without what I needed. Once my legs start to wobble, I know it’s time to sit down. After falling a couple of times, I’ve learned that lesson well!

And then there are other days when walking is totally out of the question for me. Days when I awaken with fatigue so severe that I can hardly propel myself out of bed, much less to my car parked in my attached garage. I also have days I start with a decent amount of energy, but it wanes around midday. By early afternoon, I’m napping, sometimes for an hour, sometimes for several hours. I couldn’t stay awake if I tried! (Now that I’m not working, I’ve stopped trying.)

These are my cancellation days. Any nonessential activity gets canceled. But if I happen to have an obligation or a medical appointment on one of those days, that’s when I need a parking placard. And if I ever hope to visit a museum or other entertainment venue where walking is required, all my energy will be used just to see what I’ve come to see. I’m done by the time it’s time to go home. Completely done. I need to be parked close by for when it’s time to drive home.

So, after much deliberation with myself, I came up with a compromise: I requested the parking placard, but only use it when absolutely necessary. I’ve had it for over a month now, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve only used it once. I’ve been diligent about pacing myself, and I’ve been successful on most days. I’ve had a few “stay home” days, as well. But, overall, I’d say I function quite well for a senior citizen with fibromyalgia.

So, I will continue to park where the rest of the world parks, except for the occasional bad day or when I’m attending a special event. On those days, I’ll use my parking placard.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Donna Amato says:

    Yes, many take advantage of all things. I was diagnoised with fibro in 2003, born with scoliosis from birth that has gotten only worse in time. Also , deg disc diorder involving my entire spine. I to had hemmed and howed about getting the card. Thinking of the seniors or wheelchair people. But came to the conclussion just because you cannot see my disability and i look like a healthy woman, inside my body was shattered. I only used it wheb 100% necessary. Do not feel guilty using it and if anyone says anything take them asside and tell them it was recommended and what is wrong. Some will be so apooligetic some are just ignorent.

  2. Mark Grubbs says:

    I have been denied a parking placard. I have not fallen yet. I do not use a cane normally. I do lean heavily on the cart when I get my hands on it. I was asked to take 5 steps in the dr office and then denied. DMV says you must not be able to walk 100ft unassisted.

    • Christine Lynch says:

      If you do fall, or even if you only feel in danger of falling in the future, I would bring the topic up with your doctor again. You might point out that it’s way more than 100 ft. to the milk in the grocery store. It’s a marketing ploy stores use to get customers to walk past many other items they might be tempted to buy. You might also gently remind him/her that severe fatigue can cause wobbly legs which can put us in danger of falling.

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