The Blue Parking Card

Does this script sound familiar?

Grow older, acquire a cane and progress to a walker.  It happens to everybody.  So do arthritis, broken hips and, unless one is extremely fortunate, final days spent confined to a bed with sides. In a nursing home.

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...

Do you believe that you have a choice in this process?

Most of us are old enough to remember a time that pregnancy and childbirth were treated with attitudes that labeled them a “medical issue,” often requiring a lot of bed rest.  Clearly, the process hasn’t changed – but individually and culturally, we’ve grown to look at it a lot differently.  Perhaps the same can be true of aging.

Several years ago someone close to me was seriously injured in an accident.  It left her in a great deal of pain and severely limited mobility.  But, if you met her today, you’d never know.  Most days she’s physically active and healthier than ever – despite the fact that the calendar pages have continued to turn.

How did this happen?  Although recovery took a long period of hard work, she credits the turn-around to a single decision – “I didn’t accept the blue parking card.”

It’s not that she wasn’t impaired; and the blue spaces would have made her daily life a great deal more manageable.  “It just felt like accepting that label – even for a short period of time – would have been a form of giving up.  I wasn’t sure that, if I accepted the label “handicapped” I would ever be able  to choose  a different reality…. and I desperately needed to believe I wouldn’t feel that way forever.”

The radical act of questioning medical authorities and their “givens” fueled a partial but significant recovery.

What are the acts of ‘civilized disobedience’ we seniors can apply to the process without becoming juvenile caricatures?  Refuse the AARP memberships? Continue to exercise? Refuse to accept “a little sugar” as the natural consequence of our dietary transgressions?

“Aging” and “disability” are not synonymous.

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