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What the Staff at the Pool Didn't Realize When They Helped Me Park in the Accessible Spot

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The summer is a tough time for someone with multiple sclerosis, as my symptoms are exacerbated by even a small change in body temperature. This means it’s almost impossible for me to do any kind of outside activities during July and August. The one thing I can still do, though, is go to the pool. A half hour in the cool water each afternoon is a lifesaver. I get into the pool with stiff, weak, painful legs, and get out feeling energetic and pain-free, at least for a few hours. It’s also an activity I can partake in with my two sons (ages 8 and 10) without my MS symptoms holding me back the way they do on dry land.

However, today when I arrived at the pool I found both the accessible parking spots occupied, one of them by a car that did not display a handicap permit. The walk from the (much farther) main lot in the 90+ degree heat was extremely difficult and by the time I arrived at the pool, I was struggling to walk. I was pretty sure I would need to call my husband to leave work and come pick us up later, as there was no way I would be able to manage the walk back.

As I entered the pool area, I mentioned the illegally parked car to one of the attendants (I’m not usually one to tattle tale, but like I said, I barely made it!). I wasn’t expecting the staff to really be able to do anything — they are mostly just college kids working for the summer. But I thought they could at least call a state trooper to come ticket the car (the pool is run by the State Department of Conservation and Recreation), so maybe the culprit would be deterred from parking there again.

But instead of just blowing me off, all of the staff were so keen to help me. They were extremely apologetic about the inconvenience, even though it was in no way their fault. One of them had the lifeguards make an announcement to everyone in the pool requesting the car be moved immediately, or be towed. Once this was done, he then asked if I would like him to move my car into the spot so that I would not need to call my husband.

I am sure the pool staff did not realize what a huge difference they made to my family and me today. Without that accessible parking spot being kept available for those that really need it, I wouldn’t be able to take my kids to the pool and enjoy that short time of feeling like a “normal” mom each day.

Originally published: July 18, 2016
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