Linked from Chronically Awesome Bloggers Facebook Page
Original source Fibro-Lupies
“Hi, it’s Anney from Fibro-Lupies! I just wanted to share an experience that I had that many of us have had to deal with in today’s society. Feel free to share this story and help raise awareness for those of us living with invisible diseases. Here is a letter that I wrote to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores about my humiliating experience in one of their stores:
The morning comes. Today isn’t a great day, but it isn’t the worst day either. No, today my pain is more under control. As I arise from my sleep I am immediately welcomed by muscles that contract, as if being attacked. My joints are swollen and don’t want me to use them. I don’t oblige. If I can just get my meds on board and my body to start moving, maybe (just maybe) I can leave the house today.
Success! My body is letting me move with a moderate amount of pain. I still can’t dry myself off from my shower and I need help getting dressed and drying my hair, but I can go to Church! While there, I was even able to kneel (while sitting on the pew at the same time). I thanked the Lord for the ability to worship Him in His house. Today, I was blessed. Today, I even felt up for running errands with my good friends after mass.
I am disabled. I am sick. I will never live a “normal” life. I will never enjoy a morning run again. I won’t be able to chase my niece and nephew or go play soccer. I can’t travel easily, which squashes all of the adventures that I wanted to go on. I won’t be reliable to enjoy volunteering, as I never know how I’m going to feel day to day. I even may not enjoy the rewards of Motherhood. Those are just some of the things that I can’t do. What CAN I do? I can give my waking time to my friends and family. I can listen and support them. We can visit and enrich one-another’s lives. I can support all of my followers on my Facebook page, Fibro-Lupies. Do you know what else I can do? Even with all of the hospitalization s, surgeries and doctor’s visits, and providing my body is letting me do so, I can create. I can create scrapbooks, painted woods, sketches, framing, fabric covered bulletin boards and many, many other things. Crafting is not just a hobby for me. Crafting is my therapy. It keeps me sane in the midst of such a long list of debilitating diseases and conditions. It reminds me that there are still things that I can do, even if only for 15 minutes. I love to create.
Now, imagine my shock when my top choice of stores became a store that I will no longer be a patron of. A store that gave me access to everything that my mind could think of to create with. A store that I went to at least twice a month and spent hundreds of dollars in annually. That store is JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store # 2079 at 16800 W. Bluemound Rd. in Brookfield, WI 53005-5918.
My friends and I had finished finding everything that we needed for our projects and went to check out. There is a counter that has the disability logo on it and I get in line. Immediately the cashier (Pat), in a callus and judgmental tone of voice and disgruntled facial expression, told me that I had to get in the main line. I then stated that I’m disabled and that I got in that particular line because of the handicap logo. She then looked me up and down and told me that it was obvious that I wasn’t disabled and that they stopped using that line as a line for the disabled anyhow. I asked why the sign was still there and she had no response. I then told her that if she’d like, my friend would go get the disability placard from my car to prove that I was disabled. Pat said that didn’t matter because I’m not in a wheelchair. I told her that you didn’t have to be in a wheelchair to be disabled. She then looked me up and down (again) and stated that I could stand there and that she’d be with me as soon as the spot where I would have been in line comes up and that she’d help me then. I then told her that the whole point of the matter is that it’s difficult for me to stand for a long period of time and that I had just spent 15 minutes getting the materials that I needed. Then, in the rudest fashion imaginable, she told me that I could just go get the wheelchair by the door and then get in line. There were 2 customers already in that line that looked at me with just as much judgment and disdain, but most were just staring at Pat. One customer, after checking out in the main line, came back in the store just to give me a hug and tell me that she was appalled at the treatment that I was receiving. That hug helped me gather the strength to talk to a manager and discontinue my conversation with Pat.
As I walked away, Pat was announcing her viewpoint to everyone in line. I had had enough. Another associate was passing by and I gave her all of my items and told her that I will never shop at that store again. My friend then asked for the manager, Venisha. I explained to Venisha what happened, adding that Pat was also discussing me with other customers while I was right there and that she has made a Michael’s customer out of me. Then, in a completely emotionless reply, Venisha said that she would talk to Pat. That’s it. She’d talk to Pat. I kept explaining myself, trying to prompt her to try to win my business back. It didn’t happen. Now, I’m still waiting for a district manager to call me back to discuss this further.
There are thousands upon thousands of people in our nation that share an “invisible disease” like I do. They are called invisible diseases because there is not, visibly, a disability. Diseases that fall into this category, for example, are Lupus, Chrohn’s Disease, PTSD, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Diabetes, MS, Arthritis, Cancer, Liver Disease, Fibromyalgia, and Porphyria. I have 3 of those. We are constantly judged and discriminated upon because people tend to judge what they don’t understand. Ignorance, however, is not an excuse. We that are plagued by these diseases deserve compassion, understanding, and respect. We DO NOT deserve to be humiliated, judged or discriminated upon. Unfortunately, the latter was my experience at Joann’s. My question is simply this: What, corporate Joann’s, are YOU going to do about this so that it never happens in any of your stores ever again?