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.
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