There are many things that this stroke has taken away from me. My patience ranks in the top 10. One of the things that I miss the most is driving. We always tend to take for granted things we do on a regular basis until we cannot do it anymore. In the rehab hospital, in the thick of the post stroke fog, I was told that my license has been suspended (DMV law). It didn’t really hit me at that time. I made a joke about it: “I’m in rehab, on a bunch of drugs and I got my license suspended, I guess Lindsay Lohan and I now have something in common!”
After my discharge, the reality of losing my license finally dawned on me. I had numerous appointments, places to go etc. etc. I had to depend on Armando for rides.I feel terrible because I could not even drive the boys to school. I cannot even go the salon whenever I need to get a pedicure or to get my eyebrows done. I cannot go the gym or anywhere without adult supervision. It’s been a year and 8 months since I’d last driven a car. The loss of independence is frustrating. I have been lucky that Armando now works from home and is able to drive me around. But he is not always available. I have really good friends who have given me rides to appointments, shopping and of courses races. My oldest son has since gotten his driver’s license, but he has a job with odd hours. It’s summer time and in the past years, I as I have the same time off as the boys, I would gather them up, pack some sandwiches and go to Monterey or Santa Cruz. Or to San Francisco to watch our Giants or to just walk around and hang out. Not being able to do those things anymore breaks my heart. Our car time is our talk time. I learn so much about my boys during those drives.
To get my license back, I would need to get my doctor’s clearance and take a permit test (yikes!) and a behind the wheel test (double yikes)!! But before I even get to that, I have to get clearance from my doctor. She then completes a 5 page document for the DMV.As part of my evaluation, I went to see an occupational therapist. I had to see a new person, since my regular therapist was not available. The OT saw me for 45 minutes, determined I still have minimal use of my left arm and coz of that, I would need a special steering wheel handle a.k.a a suicide knob (ikr?), I have some peripheral vision issues which means I need a special type of rearview mirror. One that extends the entire length of the windshield. She also gave me a short cognitive test. After 45 minutes, she determined me fit to drive.
Now, you might be asking why I have not rushed over to the DMV to get a new drivers license. Frankly, I am scared. I worry that I still have problems with reaction time, my vision changes from day to day, hour to hour. My attention span is short and finicky. having been a passenger for the past two years, I have garnered a different perspective on other drivers. Drivers are very distracted, angry and in a hurry. The roads are congested and people are frustrated. As sad as it is to admit, I do not feel ready to drive. I feel that I would be putting my family and others at risk if I am out there driving. Maybe I am overly cautious, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
For now, I will be patient. I throw myself to the mercy of my friends and family hoping that they will continue to have the patience to have me as a passenger. I am willing to learn how to use public transportation, but my family thinks I still need adult supervision at all times.