There’s gotta be a bright side to this

It all started when someone told my friend, “You’re so lucky to have a disabled permit. You must save so much on parking!” Understandably, she really let fly. But it got me thinking – I do love my disabled parking permit. And so the challenge was on. The benefits of having MS? Everyone’s different but here are my personal top ten.

  1. OK, the permit. Gotta love it. Even if NSW has reduced our eminently reasonable, unlimited parking limits to line up with Victoria’s draconian double-time-only policy. And even if, in the beginning, I felt the need to affect a pronounced limp when departing my car, and again on the re-approach, in case anyone was watching. But if you’re able-bodied, don’t try telling me I’m lucky. Just warning you.
  2. Getting lifts. Whether it’s 15 minutes to Cobargo for my talking points on solving the superannuation standoff or an hour to Merimbula for my thesis on the current crisis in the institution of democracy, I have a captive audience.
  3. Short-term memory loss. Insults, slights, my own social gaffes – gone, like a stagnant puddle on a summer’s day.
  4. My newfound Lady Muck status. At social gatherings, I get to sit in comfort while others run around fetching me coffee, cakes, peeled grapes, candied quail eggs…
  5. Freedom from expectations. No-one seems to expect anything at all of me anymore. And the other side of it: I achieve the smallest thing, and they’re all like, “Aw, did you do that? All by yourself?” Case in point: at lunch the other day, I stood up from my seat (probably to go to the toilet – see point 8). A triumphant cry from a fellow diner, “She’s up!” Yay. Gold star for me.
  6. The end of ear-strain. I don’t have to listen hard anymore, because since I got a walking stick people speak REALLY LOUDLY and veeerrryyy sloooowly.
  7. Occupational safety benefits. Little known fact: people with MS very rarely fall off roofs. Check the statistics.
  8. Weak bladder. You know those people who think that because you’re disabled you’re going to appreciate whatever attention you can get? I was once cornered at a party by a woman who seemed to think I’d be riveted by her thought processes in choosing the fabric for her new bathroom blinds. Happily, I was struck by the need to visit the loo. And on the way back, sadly, I was waylaid by another guest. Incontinence. No-one’s gonna argue with you.
  9. Short-term memory loss. Insults, slights, my own … oops.
  10. Instant red carpet. Try walking through a crowd with a stick, and watch the multitudes part before you, leaving a clear, uncluttered walkway. They’re worried you’re going to fall on them. Whatever. Hold your head up, smile beneficently, and swan on through.

Any I’ve missed? Fee free to add them below.

18 thoughts on “There’s gotta be a bright side to this”

  1. Short term memory is one I rave about. Pretty well for one reason – but use with caution.

    Sometimes I receive a surprise parcel! Like a book – and it is the exact right book I would pick.

    So I know that I shop online in moments of retail therapy despair, or just because. Unless I leave myself a billion reminders, the moment just goes… and I get cool books.

    The caution is that I’m now on a pension, so I’m trying to find the balance of ‘Surprise!!’ vs ‘need money for food’.

  2. Oh, here’s a couple more.:
    Now that I use a walking stick, I no longer get accused of being drunk due to my wobbly legs!
    I now have the Centrelink Mobility Allowance which includes a Health Care Card. That means DISCOUNTS! On utility bills, on movie tickets, on car registration, on entry to our local swimming/hydrotherapy pool, and of course, on chemist prescriptions.

    1. Oh, MS Olive, I like your attitude! You’ll have ten of your own bright-sides soon.

      I agree, when I first got a stick part of my thinking was that I would no longer look drunk at 10am. And those lovely discounts…

  3. Another couple of benefits when travelling:
    Priority boarding on aircraft. Yes, even ahead of the business class travelers! Just ask at the boarding gate. The visibility of my walking stick helps, & I just explain that I don’t want to hold others up whilst boarding. Also I can ask for a airport buggy to collect me when I arrive at my destination. When going on a cruise, I get priority boarding too.

    1. Yep, framing it as a benefit to other passengers would make them think twice… and don’t we love those buggies! It would be better if you could face forwards though, instead of backwards like coachmen or grooms on the back of a carriage πŸ™‚

  4. When catching public transport most people will move out of a seat in a crowded train, bus or tram to give you the seat

    1. Hey Olive, you have public transport where you live! Where I am, there’s no trains but a bus to Bega twice a day (and back) and they’re usually so empty that no-one has to give up a seat for anyone. Of course, we’re always worried that they’ll close down the service completely.

      1. Sorry Mick, I mixed you up with the other commenter, Olive. I blame MS cognitive dysfunction. Hey, another benefit! An excuse for any mix-up.

  5. Hi just read this after seeing the link in MS InTouch … thanks for doing this, I enjoyed it … I am walking pretty well now but certainly have spent times in a scooter and wheelchair … one place I have had mixed reactions with is at art exhibitions … sometimes I can get in front of the crowd and get a close up look … and then if I am a bit back to get an overall look at a painting I invariably get people ‘bumping’ into me!

  6. G’day Jen,
    Since I was diagnosed, whenever I find myself in a conversation and someone is saying “Oh that must be hard/ awful/ terrible for you…” I say ” But there is one good thing about it. (pause for effect) It gives me something to grizzle about, you’d be stuffed without that.” It usually gets a laugh.

  7. Hi Jen, its Tina down the street absolutely love your description of all the positives of M.S. You are an inspiration to those who suffer with this condition with your candid and honest approach from someone who knows, keepup the fine work.

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