Friday, October 7, 2011

Marking Time with Parking Permits

As is true for many who are newly-diagnosed, my first year after diagnosis was full of learning experiences. I had a significant relapse that created a need for months of occupational therapy to regain use of my fingers on my left hand. I had another relapse only months after diagnosis and underwent the 5-day Solumedrol treatment twice in one year.

Another thing which happened only one year after I first joined the neurology clinic was that I began tripping. I fell on our stairs a number of times, leaving bruises on my shins. I fell on the sidewalk outside. I was having doubts as to my ability to walk any distance at all, for good reason.

It was early October and the weather was turning wet and chilly. My neurologist suggested that I get a handicapped placard. (Actually I had asked him about getting a placard during our previous appointment, but that was before I told him that I had fallen several times.) He wanted me to be safe. He didn't want me walking on cold, wet (and soon to be icy) sidewalks while tired. That last thing we both wanted was for me to slip in a crosswalk and be hit by a car.

So in October 2006, I applied for my very own disabled handicapped parking permit. In the state of Virginia, these permits are valid for five years. This past week I received my renewed parking permit. Somehow seeing the new expiration date (October 2016) on this valuable piece of plastic makes me realize how long I've been living with MS already.

On one hand, not very long at all. On the other hand, the next time I have to renew my parking permit, it will have been more than 16 years since I first went blind. Just made me stop and think.


  1. Wow, 5 years disabled parking permit, fantastic. I'm going for my replacement of my first permit on Monday, but I think I can only get one for one year. Different countries, different states, different rules. But it's all the same disease we're dealing with...

  2. "it will have been more than 16 years since I first went blind"

    That is one of those shocking statements that reminds one of what is at stake with this disease. And yet here you are now, creating great moments and contributions. Which becomes a reminder of what one can do with this MS-troubled life. Truly, I think that the measure of a person is how that person acts in times of heightened challenge. And by that measure alone, you are a great person.


  3. Our permits here are also valid for 5 years. Mine expires in 2014. I am hoping I won't have to renew it! Yep, I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one. I think there's a song in that ;)

  4. Ours are only good for a year, but renew easily. I'm curious if you or anyone else here has experienced hostility when using one. The first time it happened to me, it left me surprisingly shaken. Fortunately it hasn't happened often. But I'm curious how other people deal with such encounters.

    It is shocking sometimes to look at the expiration date and the word "permanent" on it.

  5. I got my license plate because of the summer heat...a walk across the parking lot in 95+ degrees could easily spin me into a "pseudo-episode." (and it doesn't feel so pseudo when you can't see and are tripping back to the car...)

    I've had a few folks make comments but I've also had folks offer to help me load my groceries or return a cart to the store for me!

  6. Hi-
    In CT our handicap permit is good for 2 years. It initially was "life-time" but no more. I have had mine since 2008.One of the perks huh?
    Love Gail

  7. Ohio also have five year hang-tags, unless you are just on temporary disability. MS immediately takes us to the "always gonna need one" category. Even more than the snow I was sure glad to have it during this hot summer - those fewer steps made a difference.

  8. Great blog post Lisa! I just applied for mine a couple of weeks ago, "just in case". It was a hard decision and I suspect there will be days when I'm glad to have done so. Be well, Christie

  9. In NY, my first permit was given to me i n 2007. I got my new one this year, and it is good until 2015. I just moved to NJ this year, and I don't know what their time frame is yet.
    It is true, how we measure how long we have been sick by the number of parking permits we get. I also measure my time by how far I could walk each year we went on vacation. It started that I could walk all day, then it got less and less. THis summer, I had to have my husband wheel me around in a wheelchair. These "milestones" really show how awful this diseae is, I think.
    Best of luck to you!!

  10. Thank you all for the wonderful comments!!

    It's wonderful to have the tags for five years. Even better is that renewal is simple and can be done online. No new doctor's signature required.

    I haven't really encountered hostility, or if I did, I was oblivious. I agree that it's the heat of the summer which seems to be even more detrimental. Those legs become noodles. :)

    I wonder if there is any 'typical' pattern to how long it is between diagnosis and first parking permit for any given MS patient.

    For me it was one year. How about you guys?

  11. In June, because I couldn't walk due to a fractured pelvis, I got a temporary handicapped parking permit. I live in Florida and had very little trouble getting it. (A note from my MD and a trip to a privately owned license bureau) The only problem is that there are rarely any blue spaces available. I once parked in a space at Walmart and found that someone, undoubtedly very frustrated, had parked, sticker in tact, between spaces.

    Is this situation unique to South Florida?