Ticket to Ride



Rummaging through my wallet the other day, it occurred to me that out of all the cards I’ve managed to accumulate through the years, only three made any kind of impact. The first was the library card, which became my gateway to knowledge. The second was the driver’s license, which became my gateway to freedom. Finally I became a mover, a shaker and a captain of industry with the American Express card. OK, I may be exaggerating, but it did help pay off those speeding tickets and overdue book fines.

But none of them could match the impact of the Holy Grail of disability: The Handicap Parking Permit. It was like the State of New York handing me the keys to a luxury high-rise condo. Even Derek Jeter didn’t have this. I’m “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” That blue and white guy in the wheelchair is the Beverly Hills of parking lot real estate where the three most important words are “location, location, location.” And that’s what the handicap spot is all about. No middle class here. There are the Fortunate ones … me … who have access to all the important stuff like … The Entrance. And then there are the Unfortunates … them … who have to trudge across miles of macadam to reach it.

The day it arrived I was more excited than when I got my Flash Gordon decoder ring. Marilyn and I hopped into the Civic, hit the road and headed to the nearest Stop & Shop ready to hang our elite membership over the rearview mirror and slip into our rightful place. We could have, if we were driving a shopping cart. Apparently “HANDICAP PARKING ONLY” really means “SHOPPING CART STORAGE AREA.” These things were all over the place.It was like a demolition derby gone wild. C’mon guys! You’re right at the door.

We may be relatively inexperienced living at these rarified heights, but I bet the word “defeat” isn’t in Jeter’s vocabulary, and it’s not in ours either. We enacted Plan B and headed to a matinee screening of “Batman Begins” thinking we would have the theater, and parking lot, to ourselves. Wrong! The place was packed. Every handicap spot was taken. I had a stroke to qualify but I guess all you need now is a hangnail. I’m surprised we didn’t see the Batmobile in a handicap spot.

“Holy packed parking lot, Batman!”

“Not to worry, Boy Wonder. I have a handicap parking permit here on my toolbelt.”

“Holy scam the system, Batman! How did you get that?”

“Commissioner Gordon owed me a favor, Robin.”

There were handicap spots at the drugstore next to the theater, but they were filled with … shopping carts. We circled the lot like a 747 waiting for the OK from the tower. Sure, there were regular spots, but I ignored them. I had the Holy Grail, and I was on a mission. Finally, we located a handicap spot across the street and pulled in. As we were savoring the moment a woman, who must have deputized herself the Handicap Police, circled us, leaned on her horn, and pointed furiously at the restricted sign. Defiant, I held the permit up, channeled my best Schwarzenegger and said, “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Adapted from Life at the Curb in the November/December 2007 issue of Stroke Connection magazine. 

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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear. We have trained several members of ASA's national call

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

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Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

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Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

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Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!