I Don't Drive Anymore
🎵"Back in the days when I was young,
I'm not a kid anymore
But some days I sit and wish I was a kid again..."🎵
Back in the day
That hook. Right there. Back in the day. The times when my primary responsibilities encompassed getting up and going to school, keeping my grades up and staying out of trouble, household chores, church on Sundays, and keeping gas in the car when I drove it. There were issues to contend with like punishments, parental rules and their yes and no's, intermittent peer drama, and happenstances that were huge at the time, but as I got older, not so much, it seemed.
I wanted to drive everywhere
Specifically, I remember the excitement of turning 16 years old. This was a monumental year, a big deal. There was my 'sweet 16' party. That was great fun indeed, although what I most anticipated awaited me at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). I'd already taken the written and driving portions of my school driver's education course, passed with flying colors, and earned my driving permit. Accompanied by my mother, I excitedly visited the DMV on February 21, 1986 to receive my actual driver's license... the best birthday present ever! I wanted to drive everywhere. I loved everything about it, and my favorite seat from that day on was the driver's seat in whatever vehicle - especially mine once I was able to get my own (a pea-green colored Ford Pinto). Oh, the joy of a simple block or two drive to my grandmother's house, a quick errand for my parents, or even better - to school!
Developing an affinity for the passenger's seat
Fast forward to witnessing my own children living their 'back in the day' - specifically, their 16th year. First, there was my son in 2008 (one year after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis) who had a blast celebrating his 'Super 16' surprise party. However, like his mother, he was most eager to take his trip to the DMV to exchange his temporary permit for his official driver's license. He loved driving also, and it was then that I began to share my favorite seat. In 2010, my driver's area became adorned with hand controls due to the progression of MS, and although I was happy to continue feeding my drive (no pun intended) to do just that, it was around this time that I also developed an affinity for the passenger's seat.
At this juncture, we're preparing the seat for my daughter. In October 2019, she's quite ready for her 'Sweet 16' party but ecstatic to begin her journey towards licensure. She will not have to share my driver's seat with her brother so much, as he has his own now... and after my last visit to the DMV in early 2019, there'll be no need to share it with me - at all.
MS symptoms made driving much more challenging
My multiple sclerosis progressed, and after suffering from multiple bouts of seizures, I had to stop driving. My hopes were to regain licensure at some point, but I was only driving about once or twice a month anyway - on extremely 'good' days for extremely short rides. There were other things that made driving less fun for me. It wasn't like 'back in the day' - or even thereafter - when I could happily, independently and effortlessly get in my driver's seat and drive a couple of blocks around town or travel miles without challenge. Getting in and out of the car because of muscle weakness and leg spasticity and turning the wheel with spastic arms all resulted in one huge ride of fatigue. In fact, I've read that the impact of fatigued driving can be likened to the impairment of driving under the influence. Pretty scary.
I don't drive anymore
Honestly speaking, I miss the old days when I could do this and that. I wish struggles were still 'easy' things like back in the day. But I've accepted that it's a new day and at the end of it…I don't drive anymore.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We want to check in. How are you feeling?