It’s no secret that I have Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve written about it many times, both in the Journal and online, and I always speak freely to anyone who wants to know more.
I’m lucky in that I have the relapsing-remitting type of MS, which means I go through periods of relapses which then get easier.
However, unfortunately there’s also a level of residual pain and symptoms that stay behind after each relapse, and which I have learnt to live with - with some help from a battery of medications.
As a result, I am the owner of a ‘blue badge’. I won’t say proud owner, because I’d really rather not have it.
And I’m finding that having to justify it is becoming an increasing occurrence.
Just last week, I was pulling into a disabled space outside the doctor’s surgery and all the while an elderly lady stood watching as I reversed into the spot, and saw me place the blue badge very prominently on my dashboard.
As I picked up my nine-month-old daughter, for whom the appointment was for, she said, ‘That’s for blue badge people you know’ to which I politely replied, ‘I know. And as you can see I have one.’
Not satisfied she looked me from the feet up, then proclaimed ‘But it’s for disabled people.’
I promptly asked her, ‘Would you like to have MS because if so, you can have the space too.’
‘No, no’ she said ‘but I can never get a space!’
I walked away but I was shaking as I got into the surgery and the more I think about it, I really shouldn’t have to justify a blue badge.
It’s a different story if someone parks in a disabled space with no badge. They are fair game in my book, and if you see anyone doing that then question them for sure.
But someone like me, who HAS a badge, please think twice before accosting me.
There’s a phrase often spoken when you have MS and it’s this - ‘But you look so well.’
In this instance the phrase ‘appearances can be deceptive’ is very apt.
MS is a fairly invisible condition most of the time and I’m so thankful that I’m currently not using my stick, and a wheelchair is not on my radar.
The bottom line is that disabled doesn’t always mean ‘unable to walk’.
On that day last week I actually suffered with incredible pain all day but I got up and got on with things, including taking my daughter to see a doctor - a chore made possible because I have a blue badge.
I shouldn’t have to justify myself to a stranger at the same time.