Halloween in the 60’s

Looking out my window one morning recently, watching the falling leaves fluttering by and waving goodbye to summer, my thoughts turned to Halloween.

Surely most of us have warm memories of Halloween from our childhood. It was the one night when you could be whatever you wanted to be, and be given candy and treats just for asking. I used to ring doorbells and yell “Trick or treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat!”

The phrase “trick or treat” used to be an implied threat: give me candy or I’ll play a trick on you. As young children, we didn’t mean it literally. But eventually, as adolescents, we outgrew trick-or-treating and used Halloween to pull off pranks and light forms of vandalism.

I used to go down Bailey Avenue in Buffalo the day after tricks-or-treats night and see all the store windows waxed and soaped up. I never used wax myself, but I did use soap. There were quite a few raw eggs thrown around, too. In residential areas, homes and trees would get TP’d. This would turn into a real mess when it rained.

Sixty years ago, children dressed like horror legends such as Frankenstein or the Mummy, policemen, soldiers, firemen and sports figures. I had three basic costumes back then.

One was hobo. I’d grab an old, well-worn shirt out of the “rag bag” and maybe shred it a bit more, pair this with a worn pair of dungarees (this is what we called jeans back then) and take scissors to them, maybe sew a patch or two on the pants, and rub burnt cork on my face to simulate whiskers.

My second go-to costume was cowboy. I’d dig into my toy box and pull out my best toy cap gun, holster and a cowboy hat.

Ghost was another. This was the best one because nobody could see your face. I’d get an old sheet from my mother, cut two eye holes in it and voila! Instant costume. None of those store-bought outfits with the plastic masks for me, thanks.

In the 1950s and 1960s, trick-or-treaters took whatever treat they were given. Every neighborhood had a house where a kindly old lady allowed us to pick our treat from a plate full of homemade candies, cakes or cookies. Back then, families would permit their children to go out trick-or-treating with their older brothers, sisters or even the neighbor’s children.

My loot bag was an old pillow case and if I didn’t fill it at least twice, it was a bad night. I donned my costume right after dinner and headed out to pillage the neighborhood in ever increasing circles. Once my bag was filled, I returned home to dump the contents on a newspaper in the dining room, then headed out for another round.

While I was out, my parents would sort my treasure, separating out the fruit and anything homemade or repackaged. I was only allowed to keep individually wrapped, mass-produced candies, and I wasn’t allowed to eat anything until my parents had examined my loot. For some reason, peanut butter cups fell into the “suspicious” category and they were always gone when I returned, never to be seen again.

I read that this was because of paranoia about contaminated treats and was the result of unsubstantiated urban legends involving razor blades in apples or poisoned treats. Wikipedia says that no child has ever been killed by eating Halloween candy from a stranger. Snopes collected an impressive array of rumors about adulterated Halloween treats and found them all to be untrue.

One year I had a Halloween party in my parents’ basement. I produced “touch boxes” where my guests would reach through a hole and feel things while I told a horror story. The few things I remember are a bowl of raw chicken livers, a natural sponge covered with Karo syrup (to simulate a brain covered in blood) and peeled grapes to imitate eyeballs. My guests and I also bobbed for apples and played a few other Halloween-themed games.

I hosted this party when I lived in Buffalo and had to discontinue it once we moved to the country. As people moved to the suburbs, they found that their new neighborhoods weren’t very favorable for trick-or-treating. Sometimes the lack of sidewalks forced children to walk on the street. Many suburban neighborhoods boasted large lots and this caused the kids to walk long distances going from house to house. In rural areas, where the trek between houses is even longer, parents would sometimes pack up their children and head to more urban neighborhoods, where the homeowners might quickly run out of candy. 

Nowadays, children aren’t very familiar with their neighborhoods. Combine that with the dangers of traffic and it is best that parents accompany trick-or-treaters. A fairly recent trend is “trunk or treat” gatherings, in which people hand out candy from their Halloween-decorated cars in parking lots.

Halloween sure has changed since I was a kid.

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Deciding to seize the day

       

October 9, 2019

BY NORBERT RUG

The day I decided to live my life to the fullest, to seize the day, and stop coasting through life was the day I was diagnosed with cancer over ten years ago. When my doctor informed me that I had cancer I told him to “get it the fark out”, although these weren’t the exact words I used (This is a family newspaper after all.) I wasn’t about to let a few rogue cells define me or restrict my joie de vivre.

I feel that time is the greatest gift we will ever receive and waking up each day is a blessing to be cherished.  You can always get more money, you can’t get more time. However receiving this diagnosis is not the only brush with death I have had. In the 60’s I was driving on Niagara Falls Boulevard when a person coming the other way crossed over the yellow line and strafed the entire driver’s side of my car, from bumper to bumper. My car came to rest in a gas station, about three feet from a gas pump where the attendant was filling up a car with gasoline. I had to exit my car via the passenger door as my door would not open.

I should have known then that I was destined to lead a charmed life. I totaled another car several years later by hitting a large tree, head on. In the last ten years, there have been so many times I have eluded Death that I can’t count them all. I don’t think Death wants to see me again for a while. I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolisms.  They were so many that my doctor said he had never seen someone as bad as me that was not the subject of an autopsy. I’ve beat cancer two other times and have been thrown across a room by 440 volts.

I keep checking the bottom of my foot for an expiration date but haven’t found one yet. I really don’t think I want to know though as it might diminish the joy I feel every day just to be alive. 

Knowing that a loved one’s time may be ending soon might actually be a gift that gives us a deeper appreciation for them and the time we have together but I don’t want to know when I am scheduled for my final exit. As research for this article, I recently took an online test (fatefulday.eu) to see when I would die and, God’s honest truth, they told me I died in 2015. Dang, nobody told me!   

Worrying about tomorrow and lamenting the past is a total waste of time. Each day is a gift. Carpe Diem! People don’t call their friends and families or spend time with them anymore, but squander their valuable time looking at Facebook, checking thier messages or watching videos on YouTube. You can hear people mumble I haven’t got the time while they rush home from work to go online. 

I was parked outside the high school recently, waiting to pick up my granddaughter and was watching the children file out of school. Although they were walking in groups, the vast majority had their noses buried in their phones. Here they were, walking with their friends, but no one was talking to each other.

Probably many of our thoughts and worries involve problems and situations in the past or the in the future and the closer we examine them, the more we will realize that only a very small percentage of our thoughts involve the present. 

It takes an honest effort to live your life in the present. This may sound rather simple but not understanding this is the key reason that stops people from living their lives to the fullest. People certainly aren’t lazy or afraid, they are merely trapped in their daily routines. You cannot live your life to the fullest if you don’t dare to try new things or take risks.

Worrying about the past or the future can be a huge problem when it comes to living in the day you have right now. We have to accept that the past is not alterable. Spending a single second regretting your past takes away the chance to enjoy the present. Worrying about the past can be a vicious circle. It not only takes away the time you have to enjoy this moment but it gives you with another reason to be troubled in the future. Thoughts about why did I spend so much time worrying about yesterday in the past. 

Accept the past for what it is. Let bygones be bygones and make the best of your situation today. Don’t lose sleep about the future either, you have little control of it. Deal with life one day at a time. Bottom line is, it depends on you and only you. If you spend your time whining about the past or fretting about the future, you will miss living in the present. Make the best of today. You will never get this day back. One day you want to be able to look back at your life with a smile on your face and recognize that you did the best you could.

My experiences with peripheral neuropathy lead me to CBD oil

https://i1.wp.com/buffalochronicle.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Does-CBD-Oil-have-tHC.jpg?zoom=1.25&resize=676%2C380&ssl=1

BY NOBERT RUG

I have peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy. This is customarily associated with symptoms like numbness pain, and tingling but there are other symptoms as well.

The peripheral nervous system is composed of three different types of nerves. They are the motor, the sensory and the autonomic nerves. Each of these nerve systems controls different functions. I have both sensory and motor peripheral neuropathy. 

Damage to my motor nerves makes walking difficulty. My legs feel heavy like I am trying to move a 25-pound ham and are difficult to move especially on waking up. I sometimes feel off balance.  Since damage to the motor nerves disrupts the signals from your brain and spinal cord to the muscles telling them what to do even something as simple as walking can become a difficult task. I require a cane while walking to maintain my balance. 

Also, I need to see the floor or ground, or I lose my balance. If I shut my eyes, I start waving around like a willow sapling in a wind storm. A doctor tested for this damage using a pin. They repeatedly pushed it against my flesh on my foot and I could not feel anything. 

However sometimes if I step on a coin I swear I can tell if it is heads or tails. Then I have electric shocks. It feels like my toes are getting shocked and the feeling moves across the bottom of my foot.

Because I suffer from symptoms related to this motor nerve damage, I must exercise extra caution when walking on stairs or other areas where my risk of a fall is greater. This is the primary reason I had a first-floor addition put on my house, so I wouldn’t have to climb stairs. Allowing myself extra time and not hurrying can also help me limit my risk of falling. I now walk like a two-year-old. 

I also find it difficult to pick things up off the floor due to a lack of balance. I sometimes try to hook then with my cane or use my cane to push them close to something I can grab on when I bend over. My wife bought me a “Picker Upper” as I call it so I can retrieve things from the floor. 

Because damage to your motor nerves affects the ability of your brain to transmit messages to your muscles I find myself limiting the use of my legs and feet. Unfortunately, this decrease in physical activity results in me having muscle deterioration and weakness. This is often referred to as muscle atrophy and I found it hard to get up from a chair. I had a box built to raise my chair to assist me in getting up. 

Muscle weakness further contributes to my loss of balance and difficulty walking that I previously mentioned. While exercise is often difficult and painful for me there are low-impact exercises that I do to help retain muscle mass and prevent muscle deterioration. I am now attending Physical Therapy to help with this and have exercises I do at home to try and rebuild my strength like stepping on and off a step stool every time I leave the living room to try and build up my muscles.

The disruption of signals from the brain can also lead to cramps, muscle spasms and twitches. Sometimes it feels like my toes are overlapping each other. They aren’t, it’s just my nerves playing tricks on me. Most of the time, the cramping strikes at night and ranges in severity from mild to terribly painful.

While most common symptoms that are associated with peripheral neuropathy are a pain, numbness, burning or tingling they are not the only symptoms. When the motor nerves fall victim to neuropathy the symptoms can go far beyond pain or numbness. They affect my ability to control muscles and perform otherwise simple physical tasks. Though you may not be able to completely reverse these negative effects, alternative therapies like exercise can help you build and maintain muscle mass. This helps to minimize the impact of motor nerve damage.

There are other therapies I use though to help me mitigate the peripheral neuropathy symptoms. I take the controlled drug, Lyrica twice a day. Other things I use are homeopathic treatments. I treat my feet with a Frankincense and Mir oil every morning.  Finally, I use a CBD tincture twice a day. Every time I need a refill, I search the internet for the best price because there are now so many players selling this that pricing is all over the place. I have also moved from 300 MG to 1200 MG and the price increases proportionately. I can buy the 1200 MG for less than some people ask for the 300 MG. 

CBD has been called safe for almost everyone. This is according to a new article from the World Health Organization. But you should check with your own doctor before you begin using any CBD product. Research has shown several CBD oil benefits, ranging from alleviating social anxiety to improving rheumatoid arthritis. CBD could also decrease chronic pain although your mileage may vary.

Service animals

Emotional support tarantula

I saw a story on the internet recently about someone who was looking for a pet friendly house or apartment to rent and they were having a hard time. On social media, they posted that they were having difficulty and a person suggested something that seemed a little shady to me. They said to get their dog a vest and tell landlords that he was “A service dog, that way they can’t turn them away. “ I looked it up and found that doing this is a crime. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, to possess an emotional support animal in a rental property, you’re required to have a disability

Effective December 18, 2017, a New York State law makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly affix to an animal any false or improper tag identifying it as a guide, therapy or service animals. Violations of this law might bring about a fine of $100 and 15 days in jail. When a person pretends their pet is a service animal it shows a total lack of respect to all the real service animals out there, and those that need them. Service animals are trained to provide assistance to handicapped people.

Under local, state and federal laws, persons that have disabilities are allowed have service animals in all public areas such as retail stores retail stores and retail stores even though animals are prohibited by local or state health codes. However, I am concerned that people are taking advantage of this and abusing their protections and think that far too many people are abusing these laws. The objective of New York State’s new law is to curtail abuse and to discourage people from taking part in service animal fraud.

the new law is makes it against the law for anyone to make use of fraudulent identification tags, but not all service animals have to wear a patch, identification vest, or harness labeling the animal as a service animal.

I went on the internet and googled “service animal vest”. Google returned 167,000,000 results. Most of these sites did not require any type of documentation and many would also provide an ID card. Some of these vests were priced as low as $5.00.

Service animals include those that have received training to perform tasks that their owners cannot do on their own like Seeing Eye dogs. There are also emotional support animals (ESAs) that may or may not be trained. Their purpose is to soothe someone with a mental health problem.

Therapy animals are usually registered through an agency and their purpose is to provide help to those who need it. Therapy animals have no rights under the ADA, but places that do not usually allow pets, such as hospitals and schools, could allow them to visit. Legally speaking, only miniature horses and dogs are defined as Therapy animals. I wonder why these are the only authorized animals. What about cats or ferrets?

Whether a pet, a therapy animal, an ESA, or a service animal, businesses have the right to expect the animal to be under restraint, typically on a leash except in cases where the person’s disability prevents this and not pose a threat to the health or safety of other people. This includes disruptive behavior, such as growling, jumping up on people and acts that demonstrate the animal is not housetrained.

The National Institute of Health reports that “studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood”, and any person who loves their pet can verify. Having an animal as a companion is one of the best drug free antidotes to loneliness out there.

Meanwhile, anxiety has recently identified as a mental health problem and its reported levels are increasing across the board. The causes are frequently beyond our control, or at the very least they feel like they are. These might include gun violence, climate change and politics. To help us feel better we are instructed to get more exercise, sleep, eat more wisely, and maybe snuggle with a pet.

Maybe that’s why the millennials are the largest and most enthusiastic sector of pet owners in America. A 2018 survey reported that of the 67% of millennials who own a pet think of them as their “fur babies” a label that I hate and consider pretentious.

Deriving comfort from an animal doesn’t give anyone the right to special treatment, particularly when it interferes with the rights of those with real disabilities. And while anxiety sucks, official ESAs are intended to assist those people who suffer from debilitating symptoms.

With stronger rules in position, the days of suspicious ESA certifications could be waning. Until that time, all we have is an inadequate honor system filled with selfishness, and profiteers. You would not claim to be blind just so you could get a reduced fare on the bus or fake being a paraplegic just to be able to use a wheelchair while shopping. So, please don’t lie and say your dog is a service animal. Be considerate toward those people who justifiably need them and leave your pets at home.

 Norb is an animal lover who wouldn’t dream of taking a pet into a restaurant. You can follow his blog at WhyWNY.home.blog

Bugs, the other white meat.

October 14, 2019 is National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day. Who knew there would be a day dedicated to eating bugs?

I have eaten a few bugs in my lifetime and once you get past the creepiness factor that you are eating insects they aren’t all that bad. People living in Oaxaca, Mexico have been eating fried grasshoppers as a snack for centuries. These are partially cooked in water, then seasoned with garlic and lime and toasted in oil. They’re then wrapped up in a tortilla and eaten. I have eaten fried grasshoppers and found them to have a crunchy, nutty flavor.

There used to be a program on TV called Fear Factor where the participants would have to eat bugs as a challenge. Bugs are deemed highly nutritional and most of them contain a lot of protein. They also contain healthy fats, calcium and iron, are low in carbohydrates and cholesterol. I’ve never heard about an anteater with a cholesterol problem.

The eggs, larvae and adults of selected bugs, including tarantulas and centipedes have been eaten by human beings from prehistoric times to the present day. Eating bugs is common to cultures in most parts of the world. The meal worms I ate were rather bland but because of their size and shape would mix well with wild or brown rice to add protein to your diet. A meal worm is the larva of a Meal worm Beetle not an actual worm at all.

As challenges in food production loom, some adults think that an increase in eating bugs is highly likely. The estimated proportion of bugs to humans is around 200 million to one, say Iowa State University entomologists Larry Pedigo and Marlin Rice in their textbook, Entomology and Pest Management.

***If you are squeamish, you may want to stop here and go right to the last paragraph.***

You may think this is disgusting but you have probably eaten bugs already. The FDA, yes that FDA, the people assigned to protect your food source, allow a certain number of bug parts in many foods. Ground cinnamon, for example, can contain up to an average of 227 bug fragments per ounce.

Bug body parts are also permitted in both ground and crushed oregano. If you choose ground oregano, you might find up to 3,750 bug fragments per ounce. Crushed oregano is allowed to contain 900 bug fragments per ounce.

Chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate. Chocolate is permitted to contain 60 or more bug fragments per 100 grams

Maggots are permitted in a bunch of tomato products, including canned tomatoes, up to one maggot per 18 ounces of tomato juice and tomato sauce. This gives a whole new meaning to “Meat Sauce”

Canned citrus fruit juices are permitted to contain one maggot per 17 fluid ounces, but the good news is that juice that does contain a maggot cannot also have more than four fly eggs.

Canned mushrooms are a very good place to find maggots. If there are “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams” the FDA will take a look. If not, gobble them up.

Meat provides a good amount of protein, but most meats contain many more unhealthy fats when compared to bugs besides that bugs contain fiber. Edible bugs have more nutrients and they can taste way better than meat. Many years ago I had chocolate covered ants. For this out of the ordinary snack, ants are first roasted and then they are coated in chocolate. I thought they tasted like chocolate covered raisins.

If two billion people eat bugs for dinner, it shouldn’t be too outlandish for you to include some edible bugs in your diet. In many parts of the world, eating bugs is commonplace and in fact some bugs are considered delicacies.

Men are more likely than women to eat bugs and younger people are more likely to see the potential of eating bugs. The chocolate covered crickets I ate tasted just like crunchy chocolate covered popcorn.

In some countries, like China and Thailand, chocolate-covered bugs are considered a delicacy. In Southern Africa, caterpillars are a significant supply of protein for some native groups and who among us hasn’t eaten the agave worm from the bottom of a bottle of Mezcal tequila on a drunken Saturday night?

Bugs are perfectly safe to eat just as long as you are buying them from a trustworthy source or even raising them yourself. You don’t want to collect bugs from the wild to eat because you don’t know what pesticides or other substances they may have had contact with. Another excellent rule of thumb to follow is not to eat any brightly colored, hairy or spiny bugs, as they are apt to be poisonous. As in all circumstances, maintaining a safe, reliable food source means a safe and healthy diet.

Bugs might not be for everyone, but they just might become a very important addition to the global food supply. They’re sustainable, green, and nutritious.

To purchase edible bugs go to Western New York Herpetological Society: http://www.wnyherp.org/buy-crickets.php Norb is an independent journalist from Lockport, New York.

Vaping

Even though it was said that vaping products presented fewer health risks than regular cigarettes, there is not any evidence that they are in fact safer. The first e-cigarettes arrived on the scene about 15 years ago. This technology was invented in China in 2004 and then popularized worldwide.

considerable amount of research shows that vaping might in reality lead to undesirable health effects much like smoking including include brain, heart and lung damage, cancer, early deliveries and stillbirths and adverse consequences on brain and lung development when used during pregnancy or during the teenage years

E-juice, as it is called, contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug with known health risks. Vaping products contain nicotine, according to The National Center for Health. The nicotine in cigarettes makes smoking very addictive and this is also true for vaping.

The use of nicotine, no matter how it is supplied will increase the risk of addiction. Addiction to nicotine is as hard to quit as cocaine or heroin addiction and the use of e-cigarettes often leads to the use of other nicotine based products like cigarettes or cigars.

Vaping devices such as E-cigarettes appeared to be a safe alternative to cigarettes when used primarily as a replacement to smoking. However, there is little evidence that they actually reduce tobacco smoking. As a matter of fact, the nicotine content in e-cigarettes and vaping products may actually lead to increased addiction which could make it even harder to quit smoking.

However, E-cigarettes and other vaping gadgets are not just used by people who are trying to quit smoking. Instead they are more and more trendy and likely to be used by today’s youth, including people who never smoked cigarettes and never wanted to. Research has shown that some people begin to smoke cigarettes only after they use e-cigarettes.

Smokers will be inclined to use these products along with traditional cigarettes, often when smoking is not allowed. The result is an increase in an individual’s exposure to nicotine and its harmful effects.

When I was the safety director I banned smoking in the plant in compliance to New State Law. When people tried to circumvent this rule by buying e-cigarettes. I had to add them to the no smoking rule.

Vaping devices and E-cigarettesdo not need approval by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), in fact, until quite recently, the producers and sellers of these devices weren’t even required to comply with the FDA standards that they set for smoked tobacco products. In spite of the new regulations, e-cigarette manufacturers are still able to advertise them as risk free. They also offer appealing, tastes that attract children, adolescents and young adults alike. They have flavors like banana and strawberry, cinnamon, mint (or menthol), buttered popcorn and vanilla that are listed as among the most toxic vaping flavors according to bustle.com. These remind me of Lucky Strike cigarettes that had a large amount of licorice flavoring in thier cigarettes.

There is a sizeable variation in the type and strength of the vaping fluids. This, includes nicotine among other things.

There is no proof that these products are safe. As a matter of fact, there is an increasing concern about the possible long-term health effects of the vaporization of the chemicals in e-cigarettes like nicotine, heavy metals and the other ingredients like toxins and possible carcinogens.

This uptick in the popularity of smokeless nicotine devices and their widespread accessibility is undoing the decades of progress made to reduce cigarette smoking, especially among young people. I have smelled the odor of increased smoking myself, like people, including staff, standing outside of the Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport smoking.

Electronic cigarettes were theoretically able to give smokers a dependable way to fight their addiction in a comparatively easy way. Since they were introduced, the smokeless devices have turn out to very popular. By 2016, around 3.2% of adults in the US were already using electronic cigarettes on a regular basis according to the centers for disease control and prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm).

The problem is that not only adults have adopted the new technology. The devices have become all the rage with minors. Between 2011 and 2015, the attractiveness of e-cigarettes amongst younger people in the United States has increased by an unbelievable 900 percent according to the American Lung Association. Electronic cigarettes are now more fashionable with youth than regular tobacco cigarettes.

The result of all this is that if you have been a long time smoker and are having a hard time cutting back or quitting smoking by using the accepted ways to quit, vaping devices like e-cigarettes appear to me to be a safer choice to cigarette smoking, even if they don’t reduce your nicotine intake. But and this is a big but, if you never have smoked or used tobacco or nicotine in other ways, stay away from e-cigarettes and vaping devices. The possible hazards to your health could outweigh any enjoyment you might have.

In the interest of full disclosure, I started smoking at 16 and quit after 45 years. I now suffer from COPD due to this I rue the day I started, I spent thousands of dollars on cigarettes so I could ruin my health. I now need to use a nebulizer a few times a day to deliver a bronchial dilator to my lungs. Norb is a freelance journalist and blogger from Lockport.

Handicapped parking

On a Facebook group I am in, “Buffalo & WNY seniors group 55 and older” there was a debate going on about Handicapped parking places.The story started with a post by someone that said “I went shopping yesterday at a local produce market. I witnessed a SUV parked on the diagonal lines between the handicapped spaces. There was a sign stating No Parking Anytime. No sticker in the window either. I asked in the store if I could speak to a manager. The cashier asked if she could help so I indicated that maybe they should phone the police. The poor girl gave me a sheepish grin & confessed that the vehicle belonged to her manager…  I was so stunned I just left.”

The post garnered 215 comments in the first 24 hours. One of the first comments was by someone named Rocky who said  ”Nevermind , it’s not your business !!” and somebody else said “I think your a busy body who is just itching for trouble. I agree with Rocky mind your business. Most who have legal handicap stickers do not really need them. This is one of the most abused privileges ever.” (Misspelling is the way they were posted)

I take offense to this. In the interest of transparency, I have a handicapped parking tag due to multiple health problems. Two of which are COPD and Peripheral Neropathy. I am mostly limited to the first floor of my house and rarely get to go out, usually only going out to doctor’s appointments. If it is too hot or too humid, I normally don’t leave the safety of my home that has the air conditioner running because I can’t breathe. If it is snowy or icy I stay home for fear I am going to fall down breaking something. I have fallen or slipped on several occasions, one time breaking my leg.

Someone stated “(This) Frustrates me, too, when someone sits in the car in a handicap spot!! Very inconsiderate of those of us who truly need the handicap spot and one isn’t available.” A person who responded wrote “I’m sure it was only for a very brief time. Maybe (they were) making a bank run or whatever.”

This is frustrating for me also. One of the times I collapsed, I was going to a medical appointment in a building on a main street. All the street parking, handicapped spots in front of the building were taken so I went to the side parking lot.

All the handicapped spots were taken there also, some of them by handicapped mini busses. They were there because the company that owns them was also in the same building. That is where the busses are parked when they were not in use. Because of this I had to park at one of the farthest spots in the lot.

After I had parked, I had to take a long walk across the sun baked, blacktop parking lot causing me to overheat. I had walked within 10 feet of my destination when my body gave out and I collapsed. This necessitated a call for a very expensive ambulance trip to the hospital.  If I was able to get a handicapped spot, I would have made it to my destination without a problem.

For some of us it is the whole difference between being able to shop and not being able to shop. I head out on a “good” day at a time the stores are less likely to be busy, only to find someone parking in the diagonal line area. This prevents me from getting in and out of my car because I need to be able to open the car door wide.

And yes, sometimes it is necessary for me to be out even on a bad day. People only see the cane I use. I see people thinking as I walk by, that I don’t look like I need a handicapped parking permit. But handicapped people are not all in wheelchairs.

According to the ADA, private businesses and public agencies must make available a stipulated number of handicapped parking spaces. They must be a minimum size and have the proper signs. The specified spaces can be used only by people with a handicap windshield placard or license plate that was issued by the state. Handicapped spaces must be located at a location that affords the shortest and most trouble-free route to an entrance of the building that is handicap-accessible.

I had discussions with my doctor about getting a handicapped hang tag for over a year.  He felt I should have one but I saw it as giving in so I told him I didn’t want one. I knew in my heart I needed one but my mind was just not ready to accept that. Finally I broke down and had him fill out the paper work. I then took it to the city clerk who issued a permit.

By the way, if a doctor signs those forms without a viable medical diagnosis to back it up or just to collect payments from Medicare or Medicaid, it is called fraud. A doctor who commits fraud can lose his or her license.

Norb is an independent journalist and blogger from Lockport, New York.