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I won’t be invisible

I was diagnosed with COPD in 2006 and back then it was easy to see why no one thought of me as ever being sick. I hardly thought so myself at times. I was always very active, doing everything for everyone so when I got hit with the reality of what I had to face, well we all know how that goes.

I still try to stay as active as I can, taking advantage of my good days and wishing I hadn’t overdone it on the bad ones. Maybe that is why my family does not think of me as having an illness that is serious. There have been moments that I’ve felt sorry for myself and thought they just didn’t care but I know that’s not true.

The only time I really got mad about this invisible thing is one day when I came out of the grocery store and found a man that I did not know standing by my car. He yelled, screamed and cursed at me causing quite a scene because I was parked in a handicapped parking spot and I DID NOT LOOK like I needed to be. I yelled right back. Then I had to sit down in my car and grab my rescue inhaler.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • judith
    2 years ago

    In regard to patt1013, I’ve gotten rude looks before at handicapped parking spaces, and just waited for someone to say something so I can yell back like you did. My worst is when I drive to my grandkids school for one of their games and the handicapped parking is full, and I don’t see handicapped plaques on rearview mirrors or special handicapped tags on their cars. I’m going to start writing their tag #’s down and turning them in. I don’t like missing those games. I can relate also to some family members not seeing my handicap and realizing that at times I have trouble getting around. Times have changed, we used to drive to grandma’s house, now grandma has to drive to their house to see them, sigh!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Judith and ‘good for you’ for taking the initiative by ‘turning in’ those who are seemingly parking illegally in handicapped reserved spaces without the proper license plates or rearview mirror plaques. It is truly illegal and there are times when I see public service announcements cautioning the public about doing just that – parking illegally. It is really rude and I commend you for being your own best self advocate!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Erin Rush moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi patt1013! First off, let me say that I appalled that you were accosted by someone over your legal use of a handicapped parking space. That was unnecessary and cruel. I don’t blame you for yelling back!

    Secondly, many of our members have talked about the invisibility of the early stages of COPD. It can be hard for friends and family and especially strangers to understand what you are actually dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Our editorial team compiled some expert answers on the topic of healing loved ones grasp your “invisible illness” — In the comments following the article, one member even mentions worrying about being judged for using a handicapped parking space, so you’re not the only one (unfortunately!) that’s had to deal with this particular problem.

    I hope your loved ones come to understand what you are facing and that they are able to offer support as you need it. It can be hard for people to see that the strong, take-charge, get-everything-done member of the family may be the one needing support!

    Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you are able to stay active (and take it easy on the not-so-good days) for many years to come!

    Best, Erin, Team Member.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi patt1013 and thanks for your post. I will echo everything Erin already said. But, I especially want to ‘tip my hat’ to you for standing up to that stranger who was not only off base, but totally rude. It’s always best to be one’s own advocate, I’m just sorry you had to deal with this and then needed your rescue inhaler.
    Keep up the good work!
    Leon (site moderator)

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