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handicap stupidity

I recently wrote about a bad experience involving a dry cleaner, a handicap spot, and a garden hose to be turned on me if I didn’t move my car (it didn’t end well).  Within a very short period of time, I received numerous comments from all over the world, sharing their stories as well.

I think you will find that the lack of awareness and compassion they received from others was pretty mind blowing.

Invisible illnesses are not typically saved for the elderly.  Most diseases are contracted by women during their child bearing years.  Since we have many years ahead of us, we try to live as fully as possible, enjoying life like everyone else.

At least we try too.

Below are just a few stories of everyday life with chronic illness.  Never forget that [bctt tweet=”we are turtles and you are rabbits. We will finish the race, it will just be at a different pace. “] Feel free to slow down.

Have any of these situations happened to you?

**I was walking up a ramp with my cane and was struggling with the incline.  Someone walked up behind me and said, “Could you walk any slower?”

**I was told by a doorman that I couldn’t use the disabled toilet because I wasn’t disabled 

**A woman started shouting at my mum for parking in a disabled bay, even though she was getting my wheelchair out of car at the time

**I had a waitress refuse to bring my coffee over to my table for me. Why?….she said I didn’t look disabled

**I had another handicap person block my car in because she said there weren’t any more spots and she needed to park

**Imagine the scene….your in ” Tesco’s “, buying some drinks for your HOUSEWARMING party and you get the feeling your being watched, its only 11.30am… you get in the queue, which is quite busy. It’s your turn to be served, and the next thing you know, your being told, ” Sorry Madam, I can’t serve you “.  Then a man behind you taps you on the shoulder and says,  “We think you’ve had enough, already”.  So you resort to showing him your disability bus-pass, just to prove you have an illness ( invisible ) and your NOT drunk

**Parked in disabled bay. Have blue badge and crutches. One woman said I was too young to use that space

**I’ve had taxis drive away refusing to take me saying I was drunk

**I am always getting honked at for not walking fast enough in crosswalks. One guy almost ran me over while there was still time on the light

**I was ignored in the emergency room because they said I looked fine – I had a tan.  I couldn’t breathe and was in an autoimmune crisis and almost blacked out before they helped me

**I was asked by a bouncer in a bar what drugs I’d taken because I was dizzy and sleepy. He didn’t believe that I wasn’t high until I showed my disabled bus pass

**When my son was about 4 we went to Petco Stadium’s “Park at the Park”. You pay $5 to watch the baseball game on a screen. The OWNER of the entire San Diego Padres team called twice to send someone over to enforce the NO lawn chairs allowed rule. At that time I could only sit in a low-to-the-ground-style chair, but not get on the ground. I’d already gotten permission before entering, but about 5 staff came over, (and everyone stared at us) while I explained that they had let me in with the chair when we told them of my illness… but after the owner called from the stands again because he still saw me (with his binoculars) we left

**I sat on the bus one day in the disabled seat and an old lady told me that I shouldn’t sit there, it was for the elderly. I pointed out I was disabled. She answered with, “Your not disabled”. I brought up my crutch. She still didn’t believe me because in her mind, I was too young

**I hear that I’m to young to be ill as well yet I have been sick since birth

Have a story?  Please share it in the comment section.  The more awareness there is of the millions of people with an invisible disease, the more compassionate we all can become to our struggle.

About the Author

Lisa Douthit is the author of Wellness Warrior – Fighting for Life in Fabulous Shoes ( and a therapist who is passionate about healing from all perspectives.  After struggling with multiple bouts of cancer and autoimmune disease, no one understands the physical, spiritual, and emotional rollercoaster better than she does and made it her mission to learn how to be well without perfect health. Lisa currently lives in Southern California with her husband and three children.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Claire S

    I’ve been carried almost unconscious out of a nightclub and left unconscious on the pavement, alone, outside.

    This was before I had been diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome alongside Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but I was prone to fainting and I had been stood up too long in a hot club. I passed out, when I came round on the floor there were bouncers around me trying to get me to stand up and leave, when I was unable to sit up without passing out again they got fed up and tried to stand me up themselves, I pleaded with them not to as it would only make me faint yet again, I explained that I was unwell, I showed them my medical alert bracelet saying prone to fainting, I explained that I had only had one alcoholic drink, but they still took me outside whilst I was unconscious after they lifted me to my feet and carried me out.

    Once they had dumped me on the ground outside the club they waited for me to come round again, when I did I asked them to call me an ambulance as I was having a particularly bad attack and didn’t know what to do. They said they didn’t call ambulances for drunks and if I wanted one to call one myself. I said I couldn’t because my bag was still inside. They just smirked at one another and left me. I was only ok because a friend came outside looking for me about half an hour later and took care of me.

    Unfortunately, this wasn’t an unusual experience whilst I was at university, in the end I just stopped going out with my friends as I didn’t feel safe.

    • Lisa Douthit

      Hi Claire,
      Your account is horrifying! I’m so sorry you have to endure such lack of compassion. My hope is that by bringing Invisible Illness to light, others are more understanding in the future. Stand strong girlfriend! For every asshole bouncer that treats you poorly, there are twice as many warriors out there who will have your back. Would love for you to join my private FB group, Wellness Warrior Tribe, which is filled with women of strength, just like yourself. I hope you are well now!
      Much Love

  • Michelle Holmes

    I’ve had so many of these encounters myself it’s so sad. I couldn’t attend my oldest sons graduation because they built a huge stadium with very little handicap parking and no way for me to only walk a short distance and even if I had been able to go I couldn’t sit high enough to see and would have had to show up hours in advance to not wait in line and the list goes on. Thankfully they aired it on a local television channel but I still like any parent wanted to be there. I still felt like no one understood why I didn’t attend. Like they thought I didn’t care to attend or was just being lazy

    • Lisa Douthit

      The only one that mattered is your son, Michelle. I’m sure he understood but I can’t imagine how frustrating that experience must have been!

  • Bearoness

    I was once yelled at by a dog trainer. We had gone through 12 weeks of individual lessons, and were now ready to join the group sessions, for which I had paid. We were supposed to weave between the dogs ahead of us in line that had stopped at the end, then stop so the following dogs could do the same. We were about 20th in line, and the trainer, whom I had never met, yelled at me to hurry up. I said I had a bad knee, but I didn’t think he heard me. (I have Ehlers-Danlos, and had blown out my left knee at 14, leaving it very unstable.) I got in line to talk to him afterwards and explain, but as soon as it was my turn, he turned and walked away.

    I never went back. I should have complained, but I was so disgusted that I just couldn’t deal with it. The group class was mostly a bunch of big, macho guys and their big, macho dogs, and my Golden Retriever and I didn’t belong there, anyway. Besides, they encouraged owners of “highly trained” dogs to let then train off-leash, in an unenclosed area, and one guy’s beagle took off across a very busy street, and nearly got killed.

    I have gotten more assertive since then, partially because I blew out my other knee, then had to have a spinal fusion. You folks in the chronic/invisible illness community have really helped in that regard! Thank you!

    • Lisa Douthit

      Thanks for writing your story. The more awareness we bring to invisible awareness, hopefully, the more compassion we can have to each other. I’m glad you left that group! I hope you found another one to train your dog!

  • Beth W

    I’m so grateful that I’m still mobile, and don’t have to deal with as much judgement as others who have commented have dealt with, especially with “looking drunk” because of a disease, or being told they’re too young to be disabled. But I’ve lost countless friends because my disease makes me incapable of having a social life (I have chronic Epstein Barr…basically, it’s like having Mono all the time, and the science and my genetics predict it’ll develop into Chronic Fatigue any day now). Friends who remember me before this disease complained a lot that I’d “changed” (I used to be a very active social butterfly). Now I don’t get invitations to parties anymore, with the exception of a handful of friends who also have invisible diseases. I can’t really blame them- no matter what I say, my frequent declining of their event makes it look like I’m rejecting them. But it still hurts to feel abandoned by people who don’t want to understand. It also makes me constantly afraid that I’ll become a burden on my husband and my family.

    • Lisa Douthit

      I totally get it Beth! I’ve been there and done that. I found that I have had friends on the road, and friends for life. My life friends have always been there and my guess is always will be. The others were fun while it lasted but that was about it. Now that it’s been a few years of autoimmune for me, my group has changed to people with similar things in their lives. If you want to meet a couple, I would love for you to come to my private FaceBook group . It’s a great group of people that also totally get it!

  • Traci

    Ugh. I find this topic so maddening! My mother became wheelchair bound in her 50’s and the rudeness from everyday people was shocking. People seem to believe that disabled people are gaming the system to get ahead. I don’t understand that backward sort of thinking, but it is so hard for me to be patient with this level of ignorance.

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