Sunday, May 14, 2006

Giving up my license

When I went in to renew my license a while back, the lady behind the desk noticed how cripped I am and issued me a temporary permit while saying I'd have to get paperwork from my doctor and possibly have a driving test.

I made an appointment with my local neurologist to check me out, and though I drive a lot less these days, when I did, I practiced driving safely in a way that would conceal the extent of my disability from the future driving tester.

It's hard for me to extend my left arm, and uncurl the fingers on that hand to grip the wheel. When cornering, my left hand tends to slip off the wheel. My right arm and leg are capable enough and have good enough reaction time for emergencies, but I think good driving requires two hands on the wheel.

I drove to the doctor's office and arrived at the address two minutes late. The usual parking lot was closed for street construction and the disabled parking spaces were filled, as was all the street parking, as usual. I saw a spot, and had to execute a t-turn to get to it. The driveway I pulled into was another entrance to the parking lot. But the little wooden gate arm was tagged "Physician Entrance Only." Undeterred, I executed my turn and pulled into the space, which said "Taxi Stand -- No Parking." I also noticed that I was using my right hand only during much of the turn. It made my execution clumsy and, had there been an emergency, inadequate. That's when I decided to give up my license.

It may seem like a very big deal to you, but I spent many years proudly not owning a car, riding my bike or public transportation. I reluctantly bought my first car at the age of 32. Now I have a wheelchair that gets me to local destinations. I don't need a car, but I worried, as I drove home, about the added burden on my sexy wife, as I had not discussed this with her.

I have a new crutch with a cuff brace for the wrist. I had taken this with me on the trip. Coming back into the house, I tripped on the rug in the study and fell (how ironic) onto the crutch, giving myself an owie but emerging uninjured. I was hard to untangle myself from the crutch because it has all these rubbery, hinged parts on it.

I figured that my deserving wife can drive the fancy new Subaru all the time instead of just sometimes. However when I talked to her, she said I could get the car modified with special equipment that makes driving easier for the disabled. So, OK, we decided to explore that.

But then when I went to see my doctor, he examined my arms and said "No, I don't want you driving when I'm on the road. Uh-unh, I can't do that."

So my last legal experience driving, ever, may have been the drive back from the doctor's office.

Or I may gradually get better and obtain a new license.
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