This afternoon, after travels (hers then mine), progression (hers), stupid chemo side effects (hers), and colds (mine), Lori and I finally managed to get our schedules lined up for a hike. We hike for a variety of reasons. We both enjoy it. Hiking helps Lori feel better when she is having a crappy day (or week or month), and helps replenish her energy when it is running low. It is especially important this week, as she prepares for radiation treatment for a tumor in her spine (which will hopefully mean she is in less pain, and up for more wonderful hikes).
It has been a while, since we last hiked. Lori’s latest progression means she is taking a higher dose of the chemotherapy she is on. One of the side effects is that it makes the skin on her hands and feet really thin (she no longer has fingerprints, and informs me that one reason we have prints in the skin on our feet is so that we don’t slip on wet surfaces – one of those things you don’t realize until you no longer have the prints). The thin skin on her feet has led to cracking and bleeding. This has made it difficult for her to walk without pain – that and a particular “hot” tumor in her spine. With this in mind, we opted for the easier hike. One that involves parking in the lower free parking lot, and follows the creek on a well established trail. This trail also has lots of benches, strategically placed, which made it the ideal hike for me when I was recovering from breast cancer surgery and chemotherapy. The lower parking lot is almost always full, however there are a couple of handicap spots which are often open. I used to park there all the time when I had a permit. Being able to park there meant that I could walk/hike. Otherwise, I would not have been able to do it. I no longer have a permit, but Lori has one. It means that we can hike places that otherwise we could not – for lack of a parking spot.
I like hiking with Lori because I enjoy her company. We both seem to hike at about the same pace. We spend the entire time chatting away, and often don’t notice how far we hiked. Today was one of those days. We ended up hiking 5 miles (8.5 km) and forgot to take a selfie at the top of the trail – so we took one at the bottom.
As we were driving out of the parking lot, we noticed that someone (Carlos the Ass) left a message, tucked in on the wiper of Lori’s car. We can only guess that it was written as we were heading out for our hike, as it is the only time people would associate us with the car. Anyways, Carlos the Ass writes “Hello, We are impressed with your hiking skills. Not too shabby for being ‘handicapped’ and all. Best Carlos [the Ass]”.
Lori gets this a lot. She doesn’t always “look” sick. At our other favorite hiking place, we have gotten dirty looks, and sometimes even snarky comments made under someones breath – intentionally just loud enough for us to hear. Usually when that happens Lori blurts out something that hopefully makes the person feel like sh## for being so insensitive. For example “I’d gladly trade in the terminal cancer for the parking spot”. Fortunately, she no longer cares. She doesn’t take sh## from anyone anymore. Her life is going to be too short to deal with assholes.
It still annoys me. It annoys me enough that I had to write this post. Disability is not something that is clearly visible. Interestingly, one of our many discussions on our walk was the challenge with how dealing with airports when standing in line is excruciatingly painful – and not in the annoying sense, in the physical sense. There is a lot of ‘but you don’t look sick’. There is a huge misperception of what sickness looks like. People seem to like judging others.
Anyways, back to my rant about Carlos the Ass. It seems that he felt it necessary to find a pen and a scrap of paper (it was written on the back of a grocery store receipt that he clearly had hanging around his car). It extra pisses me off because it was Lori’s permit – Lori has terminal cancer and no clue if she will be alive in 3-6 months. Every cancer patient I know (terminal or otherwise) would gladly trade in the handicapped permit if it meant they didn’t have to deal with cancer, treatment, and its aftermath.
So please, don’t be an ass. There are way too many of them in this world already!