The Mighty Logo

What I Wish Those Who Judge Me for Getting 'Special Treatment' Could See

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Have you ever seen someone park in a disability parking spot, get out of the car, and walk to wherever they may be going? Without a wheelchair or someone physically “helping” them?

Have you ever seen a person pre-board a plane with the people with “medical conditions” but not in a wheelchair or otherwise visibly impaired?

Have you ever seen a person “cut” in line in front of you for no apparent reason?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have seen me, and you can thank your lucky stars you are fortunate enough to not need to utilize these “luxuries.” Someday that may change.

I never dreamed I would need to do any of these things. I always took the stairs, I always parked way out in the boonies, and I never minded waiting in line. I have met some fascinating people while waiting in line, and I miss the added exercise I used to build into my everyday life.

I rarely park in a disability spot even now, as I feel there is someone who needs it more than me. But sometimes when I am feeling extra fatigued, or having a hard time breathing, or the nerves on the bottom of my feet are screaming, I assess my situation and give in to the “luxury” of taking fewer steps to accomplish my task.

After standing in many lines at airports and getting woozy to the point of near fainting, I have finally resolved myself to boarding early with the other “medically challenged” people who are usually in wheelchairs. People often stare, and I can only imagine what they are thinking, but while I may be one of the first people on the plane, I am always the last one off!

Flying kicks my butt and it takes my legs almost all of the way to baggage claim to “wake up!” I call them jelly legs, and I am as slow as a snail getting up the gangplank; the people who are quickly disembarking might have a different opinion of me if they saw me getting off the plane.

Woman's leg with a bright red rash.
This is what my legs look like from too much standing or walking.

On long journeys I have even been known to request wheelchair assistance. This is difficult and disappointing for me, but I have to remind myself that I have a limited amount of stamina and energy, and I need to use it wisely. And if it weren’t for disability lines at attractions, museums. and monuments, I would never be able to continue to dream; to dream of going to new lands, to dream of experiencing new things, and to dream of fulfilling my wanderlust spirit.

And if you lose the ability to dream, what would be the point of living?

So the next time you wonder why a person seems to be getting “special attention,” know that it comes with a price — a price that may not be apparent to the naked eye. Know that many people “look fine” on the outside, but without X-ray vision, you have no idea what’s happening on the inside. Know that it is not easy to ask for help, because asking for help tends to make us feel weak. And know that your stares and snickers do nothing more than make an already struggling person feel even worse on the inside than they already do.

Try not to judge when you do not have all the facts, and try instead to give that person a reassuring smile; it may just make their day!

Wouldn’t you rather be a person who brings joy to others, instead of someone who only feels good when looking down on another?

Next time you see a person receiving “special privileges,” instead of judging them, have compassion. You never know when you may be walking in their shoes.

This story originally appeared on Leukemia Fighter.

Getty image by lupashchenkoiryna.

Originally published: October 10, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home