Why I Decided to Get New Parking Placards

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by Young Lee |

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I got a new handicapped parking placard a few weeks ago. Two, in fact, as the old one had expired. I even splurged on nice plastic covers to protect them.

Why did I feel the need to get new placards? Although I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a condition that greatly affects my gait and the strength in my hands and ankles, most of the time, I feel well enough to walk the length of parking lots if needed. As a result, my placard usually sits beside me in the car instead of hanging on my review mirror.

So, again, why did I choose to get new placards?

This question came up in a conversation I had with a friend a couple weeks ago. At the time, I had trouble articulating why I wanted the placards and why I felt compelled to get them.

Since that conversation, I’ve tried to unpack it a little. My thoughts and opinions about it are still developing.

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Reason 1: At times, I do need it.

Although I genuinely can’t remember the last time I used my handicapped parking placard, the number of times I’ve used it isn’t zero. There are times when my feet swell and ache, and walking short distances can be uncomfortable.

I think it’s better to have a placard ready and available than to have my CMT symptoms completely restrict me until I recover. Furthermore, because depending on an increasing number of aids and benefits seems to be inevitable, familiarizing myself with the process of obtaining a handicapped parking placard is useful — it’s best to be prepared.

Reason 2: I like it as a reminder.

The other reason I wanted to get a handicapped placard is a bit more difficult to explain. It relates to my hope for a more equitable future in which disability is less stigmatized, and accessibility is a priority. Such a future is still a ways away, but to get there, I ought to participate in the programs that do exist.

It’s true that along with many others, I sometimes wonder if we should feel guilty, lazy, or less worthy for using a placard we are qualified to have, as if it were nobler to lie to everyone, and to ourselves, by perpetuating the idea that every illness, chronic condition, and pain can be overcome by denial. And that it is a personal moral failing if we “let our disability get in the way.”

So, in a small way, part of me can’t help but see my handicapped placard as an important step in accepting and celebrating my identity as a member of the disabled community, which like my Asian American identity, reflects a personal need to contribute to a larger movement. In that regard, the placard isn’t just a utilitarian piece of paper, it’s a memento to myself.

In that sense, I feel like I use it every time I get into my car, even if I never hang it on the mirror. It reminds me that it’s OK to be in a disabled body, and I should have the option should I need it, without feeling guilty.

Admittedly, it sounds a bit silly to treat a piece of card stock with such importance. Yet these are the feelings and thoughts that come to me whenever I see that handicapped placard beside me when I’m driving. And I like that reminder.


Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News 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 Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.


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