Karen Carlson – Why Being Disabled is Not Awesome

I remember at some point during the course of my life looking at people who parked in the disabled parking spots who would then walk into a store thinking – man, do they have it good!  How can they even drive if they require a disabled parking permit?

Well the truth is – nowadays, that is me, and to go a bit further – I will tell you being disabled is Not Awesome.  Yes, they have those carts you can drive around in once you’re in the stores, but not all stores have them.  Target and Costco in Burbank have them and they’re in good shape, but at Babies R Us in Burbank, there is nothing.  And then, if you are lucky enough to secure a driving cart (there are only 2-3 per store), elderly people stare you down, wondering what you’re doing on those carts (is that girl just taking the cart for a joyride?  Is she just super-lazy?).  Young people look at you, then look away, as if they pity you.  Everyone is curious – and why shouldn’t they be?

The good news for me is that I’m finally able to walk once again after having my hip replaced a few months back – which is weird because I’m not 100… but apparently, the way I was carrying my baby put exceptional pressure on my hip, causing my hip to age prematurely.  I no longer need a cane, but it still hurts getting around.  (Half the time, I still look like Frankenstein when I walk)

I traveled the other week to Wisconsin for work – it was the first time since I’ve gone through security with my new titanium hip and during the security check, the TSA said over the walkie talkies, “We have an abnormal female.  I repeat, an abnormal female!” (how rude!)  A short pat-down later, they realized my leg was not going to be used as a weapon (other than my trademark Carlson Karate Kick!), and I was allowed onto the plane.

In short, while there are some benefits for those with extra needs, I could not feel more blessed being able to walk on both legs — there is nothing like knowing I can someday walk like I used to.  So the next time you see someone in the disabled parking spot – realize that they have that hanging placard on their rearview mirror for a reason (even if they can walk).  And it’s okay to look them in the eye – and smile.

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