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At what point did you self assess yourself as "disabled"

I don’t mean for benefits.

The other day I was filling out a survey, and there was the standard question as to if you belonged to a marginalized segment of society, with one of the options being “disabled”.

Am I “disabled”? My broken pelvis made me temporarily disabled for the purpose of a parking placard, but what about my decreased cognitive function?

I was struggling with this last night: I can’t ride anymore (or shouldn’t), I can’t think straight enough to consider a new job, I CAN teach, but only a couple hours a day, and I have to be careful.

So am I disabled?

Interested to hear if/when others finally described themselves as disabled. Did this change in self description change you in anyway?


It’s a really good question.

I’ve had various injuries that got me a temporary disabled parking pass at work, but I was good and returned it when I didn’t need it.

It’s very context dependent.

Our college has good accomodation for disabilities and I tell my classes to use anything they can rather than have reduced performance because your body is giving you trouble. I wiggle my arthritic hands and say that if I ever needed to write an in class essay exam again I would absolutely have to apply to Student Services for disability status to write it on a computer because my hands would seize up. I don’t even do that good signing a year’s worth of rent cheques in December.

But I have no problem with mobility. And I’m not disabled in any clear way. But if I were to be a student again I would need accomodation for me hands on inclass essay exams for sure

I do have some post chemo cognitive stuff that is improving, so I’m not invested in considering that a permanent disability.

So it’s situational. Is your issue temporary and likely to improve (my chemo brain, my broken foot years ago), is it permanent (my hands), or is it permanent and progressive (maybe my hands too)? Then is it affecting your daily life or work or school? Then, can you get a DX that actually supports your claim with the relevant authorities? It was easy to get a parking pass at work just pointing at my limp. I would imagine student services would be fine with a doctor’s note on my hands. But my extended medical has made it clear they Do Not Want to Know about my lingering chemo brain and are going to make it nearly impossible to pursue a long term disability settlement (which I don’t want. I want to recover).

So, what’s at stake in the claim, and will you be able to support your claim?

My gnarly hands haven’t changed my self image much, but 100 per cent not considering ever wearing nail polish :). My wifty brain is something I’m trying to help heal so I don’t consider it permanent yet.

I don’t think it’s useful to think of yourself as “disabled” as a category. It’s more a question of what your current function is, more descriptive than definitional. How has your functionality changed? And in any given situation what do you need to do to prove your loss of function to the entity that is asking?


Thank you for your experiences.

What triggered this thought was just a questionnaire. The question was just about demographics and no actually that relevant, but it made me start thinking.

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when I found out I am legally blind in my left eye, before being diagnosed I just thought my vision was getting poor but I had been noticing that my perception was getting off

It has made cleaning stalls harder but is manageable. When handling the weanling who can be a ball of fire I have to do everything the same way every time, he has been a good boy not complaining when I get his right ear under the halter


I’ll admit to coveting a Disabled Parking tag.
Bone-on-bone knees make a long walk from anywhere not fun. Add an incline & it’s “Don’t wait for me!”
Doable, but depending on my knees’ disposition on any given day, mildly annoying to downright ouchy.
Still, not enough (yet?) to consider asking PCP for a script for the tag.
So, to my mind, not disabled, but probably in my future.

No mental shortcomings, aside from the normal for my age “Why did I enter this room?” & lately sometimes groping for the correct word.
Which, as a longtime crossworder & Scrabble player, says something ain’t what it was.


Asthma hard to control, hitting a wall at walking 140’ from the house to the barn to feed.
Getting there out of breath, O2 in mid 80% range, needing rescue inhaler.
A definition of disability is 02 under 90%.


Why do you think it’s too soon to get a disabled tag? I would go for it. Around here the disabled parking spots are always empty. It’s not like you are taking away a lifeline from hundreds of wheelchair bound folks who go to Safeway or IKEA every week. With the huge uptick in home delivery and mail order over the past decade I think more and more mobility challenged people opt for that. Along with the rest of the world

If you are in discomfort get the hang tag


I thought I would use my parking permit more, but I only used it when it was icy, or I had a lot to carry (like dog food) and wanted store help. I think better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. One thing that annoyed me is that the cart corrals at the grocery stores are NOT near the handicapped parking. They are also almost always full here in the winter…but maybe that is because I shop at the “old people” stores and at “old people” times…

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Probly my stubborn Brain telling my Body You’re not thatold! :laughing:
Promise, if walking becomes too much, I’ll go for the tag :ok_hand:
:smirk:Not that it will be good for my 3X daily 250’ trek to the barn…


So here’s what I tell my students.

Go get any accomodation you are eligible for. Push to make as case if you need to. That includes anxiety depression etc as well as physical issues.

There is absolutely no reason to do less well in my purely intellectual course because your body gets in the way, whether that’s arthritic hands or a bad back or hearing issues. Or because your emotions get in the way. My course is not about pushing people to their limits and having folks drop out from lack of stamina. That’s pointless. It doesn’t get us anywhere.

Don’t get the idea you need to go it alone now that you’re in college. Accept all the accomodations you qualify for. We are very generous with them because they aren’t onerous on our part. Also I tell them I can’t possibly know what’s going on with them unless they tell me, as far as I’m concerned they pop up 3 hours a week to do my course and have no other responsibilities and I will just assume everyone is a carefree 18 year old even if it turns out they are 29 with 3 kids and 2 jobs.

So I would extend this to adults as well. Get the accomodations you can. They still won’t make everything perfect but they can help. I go for Seniors discounts now even though I’m still in my peak earning years because the shops are happy to give them.

Get what you can to make life easier. You’re not taking it away from other people and you don’t need to feel diminished by it

Saving your knees from parking lots may prolong the barn work you love.


Slight sideways hike…when do you consider yourself old?

Answering the disabled part, I had a pass when I was waiting for knee replacement, and was very glad of it, and kind of got used to it, was a little bummed that when it aged out, I had no longer NEED of it.

Ageing though, came to mind when I took the space right by the door, on the icy lot of our local grocery store, next to the disabled space, the one I usually leave for the older folk, when I decided at 66, on a bad day, dammit I’m parking there. When I came out with the groceries. A kind gentlemen even helped me load them into the car.

My thought process then went with the “well we have disabled spaces, mother and child spaces, where are the ‘old codger’ spaces?”

When they re did the local coops parking lot, moving the car parking further away from the store, to allow access to the yard, there is now a disabled and elderly parking area on the store side, never sure if I should park there or not.


Another interesting and related discussion.

I think we all have days we feel “old”. I turn 50 next week, which isn’t really old, but I still took advantage of the seniors hours in grocery stores, because I can’t handle busy.

Cognitively, I am old. I am hoping this is reversible, but I am currently in cognitive decline more typical of someone 30+ years older. Physically, I am on par, or better than my age, even with my broken pelvis.

So I guess my feeling of age really varies depending on the circumstances.


I’ve had my disabled parking tag since the early 2000s. I resisted for a long time, but then I realized I wasn’t going places because of dreading the parking situation. So I got the damned tag. I’ve been disabled since I was 37 or so, which was hard to face. I’m 65 now and have gotten used to it, I guess.

DH and I just spent a night in Denver, and brought my mobility scooter. I haven’t been able to get around Denver like that in so many years. I’m so glad I bought the scooter. The hotel was very helpful, and let me take the scooter into our room.



After I finally saw a doctor for back pain that had plagued me for decades but only got completely disabling when I hit my 40s.
A couple of years later I was diagnosed with central nervous system dysautonomia, which had been pretty disabling all my life but I had kept fighting it because I hadn’t known what it was or that it was real.
Last summer I got a rollator (walker with wheels) because I wanted to keep walking for exercise and I could not without that mobility aid. I still can’t, some days, due to pain, but at least when the physical pain eases off long enough I can get out and walk without having a panic come-apart.
I wish I’d been able to get all these helps done when I was younger (say, 40-something). Because now that I’m 70 I’m using a lot of energy trying to not be afraid to admit to myself it’s OK to not be “perfect.” No one else cares anymore, which should be a huge relief if it didn’t make me so sad.
I’m trying to set my own margins, I guess, against a society that would try to marginalize me and people like me.


Right after I got out of the hospital I knew I’d taken more damage than everyone was telling me I had. They were glossing over my weakness and poor proprioception, as well as holes in my cognition. I scored from 25 rising to 29 after a month at home but holy moly if that’s acceptable it’s pretty sad. I couldn’t even draw a clock face to start with for gosh sakes.
My PCP though, refused to work with me as far as being declared disabled so I just retired at 62. There was no way I was going to be able to manage working.

I don’t drive anywhere I’m not familiar with nowadays and I have to really concentrate. I may have to fly alone in June, at that point I’ll be declaring myself disabled so the aircrew is aware I may be slow and clumsy. It’s a familiar route I’ve flown just about annually so I’m hoping that we don’t have any issues like cancelled flights and I get there on time and can flag down the people mover if I have to. No I’m not looking forward to it. At all.


For a long time I didn’t want a rollator because I thought I would be diminished by it. But when I got it I discovered it was liberating. I could walk again! I actually think of it as I thought of my first 3-speed bicycle (like the bike it is black and has hand brakes with cables). I got that bicycle nearly 60 years ago. I can take this rollator more places.


Sending airport jingles (the original of COTH jingles) and flying jingles as well, for flying changes (not to your familiar route but to ontime flights and smooth people movers).


Formally, 2021. I have a connective tissue disease pretty much from birth as well as suspected autoimmune disease of some sort. I formally filed an ADA accommodation at my job to continue working fully remote once there was chatter about bringing people back into the office for flex days. I did have to advocate for myself up front a bit because people dont get it, but it also helps that one of the other girls in my group has IBS and did the same thing. My boss seemed a little wishy washy about it at first, but she came around and told us both she would continue approving the accommodations so that is great.


Hopefully all goes well with your flight, and if it doesn’t, that you have people that help you. I would find flying a struggle right now too, but maybe thinking about it is harder than doing it.


There are degrees of disability. I prefer to say I have limitations.

I am dependent on 3 l/min supplemental oxygen either from a concentrator or cylinder. I have to be very careful to have a reliable supply because things get ugly if it gets interrupted for more than 3 minutes or so. At home I have the concentrator which is on our back-up generator and never fewer than 5 cylinders with at least one with an extra regulator. I also have a backup cylinder in my bedroom.

I don’t drive though I could in an emergency. If I go anywhere I have at least one spare tank with regulator.

I cough up junk from my lungs. I can’t predict it or control it. Sometimes it makes me gag and vomit which is the main reason I don’t drive.

I visit my horses with a fence between us.

In June I will have another pulmonary function test which hopefully will show that I have improved enough to be able to use a portable concentrator.