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Fibromyalgia sufferer accused of exploiting disabled parking spots

Lana Bandoim's picture

A woman who suffers from fibromyalgia is being accused of exploiting disabled parking spots at stores. During a recent shopping trip in Australia, she was confronted by an elderly man who stated she did not look sick and accused her of using the disabled park illegally. Although the woman had the proper disabled permit, the man refused to believe her.


Rosemary’s health prevents her from working, and she is forced to use the disabled parking spots at stores and other businesses. The Chronicle reports that she parked in one of these spots before doing her shopping at Dan Murphy's in Australia. Although her shopping trip was quick, she emerged from the store to find an angry elderly man demanding to know why she had taken his spot. Rosemary has the proper disability permits for parking, but the man accused her of not being sick and abusing the system.

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Rosemary did not feel comfortable giving her last name to the Chronicle because of the prejudice she often faces due to her fibromyalgia. The condition makes it impossible for her to work or enjoy many activities with her family. However, she had carefully planned the shopping trip to Dan Murphy's on one of her better days. She claims the old man ruined her Christmas and reminded her of how difficult it is for others to understand the pain from fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, Rosemary’s story is not unique in the fibromyalgia community, and there are ongoing complaints about people being confused about the disorder. Many of them have experienced others stating that they did not look sick, did not deserve disabled parking and did not need sympathy. Fibromyalgia is one of many diseases that often remains hidden beneath the surface while the person who has it is in excruciating pain.

Read more about fibromyalgia:
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Fibromyalgia is a real condition. My daughter suffers from it and yes she may look like your typical teenager but she cannot attend school due to 24/7 pain. She is up for thirty plus hours at a time from pain. She suffers frequent headaches, back ache, nausea, rib pain, shoulder and back pain. How rude of this man. If someone has the paper work they should keep their thoughts to themselves. You never know what a person is going through. My daughter got this through an accident and it has totally affected her life but to look at her no one would no except her immediate family who see her daily struggles with pain and fatigue. Give the benefit of the doubt, especially when someone has the paperwork.
I am doing this for my mom who can relate to you and your daughter's dilemma. She is a sufferer of fibromyalgia and have been denied a claim she submitted for disability because they don't fell that she is disabled. The family doctor knows the excruciating pain she is enduring, meanwhile a Rheumatologist she saw once in a whole year suggested that she can do sit down or desk jobs. They don't cosider that she cannot sit or stand for long. Her fingers are numb and sored, she literally hurts from head to toes. Me, my dad and my brother have to help her all the time, I am 10 years old.
It's not only the fibro sufferers this happens to. I have severe MS and the day before Christmas I came out of a health food store I'd been in less than 10 minutes to find an angry elderly man standing behind my car which was parked in a handicapped spot displaying all the proper legal identification. He'd called the police to report a non-disabled person was parked in the spot illegally and given them my license plate and vehicle description. He screamed at me angrily how I didn't look sick though I was barely on my feet, visibly limping and staggering toward my car where I'd left my cane due to my fears that using it to cross the icy, snowpacked lot would only have increased my chances of a bad fall. I don't often use it anyway as it's not that helpful since I cannot grip well, have no feeling in one hand at all, and no strength to speak of in my arms. The 24/7 pain in my arms is beyond excruciating and I don't have the energy or space here to list all the other symptoms I struggle with daily, many of them far worse than these and which put me out of work over 7 years ago. And here's this nasty old man, apparently quite strong enough to stand up straight on his two feet unsupported, with the nerve to bellow insults and filthy names at me at the top of his lungs, waving his arms and making obscene gestures. In my observation, it's the elderly themselves who are abusing the handicapped spaces if anyone. More often than not, all the allocated spots are filled with their luxury cars while I circle endlessly for a distant space and watch them hop out spryly as I painfully make my way to the door. I, however, have the grace and sense to remain silent, knowing how many diseases are invisible and more practically, saving my limited energy to shop and return to the car. I do know personally though a number of seniors in perfect health who feel their age alone entitles them to these spaces and whose doctors sign off routinely on the necessary paperwork. But most disturbing to me is the audacity and impertinence of anyone of any age who would attack someone displaying the proper credentials to begin with. Society has definitely lost any semblance of empathy, manners, or common courtesy, replacing it with selfishness, rudeness, cruelty, and cheek.
I know for a fact that a lot of people abuse those spots ,I'm afraid to ask my doctor to help fill this out ,just because I am ashamed and don't feel right ,I di have fibro and many other disabilities,but I worked all my life helping people ,the elderly ,and a lot of them were helping me at the last at my job that I had to quit after all those years of helping them I just couldn't work anymore do to all the chronic joint pain ,and numerous problems with my arms,carpul tunal wrist and upper extremities,chronic pain syndrome ,fibro,cubital tunal ,osteoarthritis in wrists and spine ,neck,knees,all joints ,bone spurs,pinched nerves in my arms loose bone fragments ,scerleosis,tumors,,i want to ask her to fill out the papers I have to rest even at a few feet,and after shopping I'm in so much pain and some times I lose my car and cant remember where I parked,i use to love to walk and I would never take it forgranted ,shame on those people ,they have no idea what fibro can cause and the pain it involves,sometimes I think I would be better off dead ,I get very little help for any of this pain ,even a pain clinic refused me after my neurologist insisted I be on hydrocodone,they said without even taking any of my other disabilities into consideration ,that they don't prescribe hydrocodone for fibro,and I have been thur numerous other meds that don't work,so I am made to suffer with all this pain,do I desrve a handicap sticker ,I believe I do.
This is not the only time things like this happen unfortunately. For example, I'm 41 but have severe chronic pain issues due to a back injury which even after 4 surgeries has led to many other things over the past 7 years and I walk with a cane. Anyhow, I had to do some grocery shopping the other day. I always go up to the service desk and ask for an assistant to help me shop. They push the cart, get the items off the shelves for me etc. and I ride the electric cart. Well the other day when I went up to the service desk and asked I got the nastiest look for the person at the desk. My point in all this is I know how people with unseen disabilities feel when it comes to being judged.
I too have fibromyalgia along with osteo arthritis and many other ailments and people say to me but you dont look sick , it really is frustrating but you just get on with it and try to ignore them, i have had a young chap in a wheelchair who parked next to me both in disabled bays but he took it on himself when he got out of his car to bang on my window and have a go at me saying this is for disabled people only so i took my documents off the dash and just showed him them to which he just huffed and wheeled away without any apology.xx
I too have an illness that isn't obvious, fibromyalgia. I've been knowingly dealing with this for over 13 years. You don't look sick. Your faking it, your lazy. Its not real. To all those people who are quick to judge shame on you. You should get down on your knees if you can and thank God you don't have an illness like ms or fibromyalgia. Even those close to me don't get it. Heh, I wish I didn't have it but I do. Most days you try to do your best based on how you feel. Sometimes its not good enough for some. I lost my job of over 28 years to a narrow minded new owner, who at first said he was fine with it, then decided a month later that I was of no use to him. ... People please try and understand , we are fighters, we want to live our lives as normal as possible, as much as we can . We feel bad enough most days that we don't need some uncaring person judging us by appearance, and bringing narrowmindness to a whole new lower than dirt level. Don't judge me I won't judge you. Stop judging.... Start loving, with trying to understand
Don't judge my need for a handicapped sticker and I won't judge yours. I doubt many handicappers look sick. To negatively judge someone else says to me, this person is having difficulty coping with their own internal anger and depression. Maybe they should do some inner reflection. Treat others as you wish to be treated is a simple rule to live by.
If you have severe pain it will be visible. The source or cause of the pain does not matter, what matters is if the severity of the pain impacts your ability to walk. If taking a step is so painful it severely limits your ability to walk, there will be visible signs. If your not at least limping, walking extremely slowly, or in some way adjusting your gate the pain is not limiting your ability to walk. Even if the source of the limitation is invisible, the function of walking is visible. If your walking normally than you are not limited.
Jack, I have severe RA and on a good day, when going *into* the store, I can walk fairly normally (albeit slower than what was my previous normal) but it only takes about 5-10 minutes before I'm limping and walking at a greatly reduced rate. If you just saw me walk into the store, you might think there's nothing wrong. My point being - if you don't know the person, it's not your business. If you think they're faking, call the authorities and I'm sure the disabled person will show their paperwork.
Most states have a disabled parking permit qualification of cannot walk 200 feet without resting. The qualification is not gets tired or sore after walking 500 feet. It's CANNOT walk 200 feet. Since it only takes a person with a normal gate (no visible impairment) 45 seconds to walk 200 feet. Obviously the 5-10 minutes you can walk with no visible impairment would put you way over the 200 feet qualification.
Well, Jack, your vast medical knowledge is nothing short of astounding. Perhaps you'd care to share with us where you obtained your M.D. degree? That comment was one of the top ten stupidest remarks I have ever seen in my life. I'm guessing "Jack" must be a nickname - you, sir, are a Jackanapes.
So your saying you do have a M.D. degree? If so, what is your medical license number? I'd really like to know the doctor that claims anyone with a normal gate is somehow limited in their ability to walk. In what way are they limited if their gate is normal?
It annoys me how people think you have to be old or in a wheelchair to have a disability. Ive had fibromyalgia for nearly 20 years and people including doctors have said i dont look ill..... sorry im young and try to maintain my appearance but my self respect is about all i have left with constant pain and lack of sleep
Never mind parking problems. Some years ago I worked for the DLA helpline in Blackpool UK and was one of the team who helped customers complete the forms over the 'phone.. A lady called to ask for help completing the application form. She has MS and could not hold a pen to write. She lived in an affluent small town so there was no local help (CAB etc) available and she did not want her family/friends knowing her private business so did not want to ask them or go to her solicitor (as the family would have wanted to know why). Another member of the forms completion team had been asked to help her and refused as he could see no reason for her not asking her family. The unfeeling arrogance of the man astounded me. I, of course, helped her to complete the form. She was a lovely lady to deal with and i was glad she never knew about the other team member. re the consultant who suggested sitting down work it is time they knew that sitting is one of the worst positions for anyone with any kind of back pain. I have previously been diagnosed with FM but do not think I actually have it. I have, however, recently found that I have arthritis from my neck all down my spine which rather fits the bill better. It still hurts though! I am a firm believer in a psychological aspect to all pain problems as well and any stress, like these horrible old men, will only serve to make pain worse. When ever I come across people like this I mentally curse them to stub their toe really hard on the way to bed. I have no idea if the curse works on them but it makes me feel better. Positive thinking and exercise are very good ways to combat pain if difficult to do at times.