out of all the things that ms has “taken” from me, i think if i could have one of them back it would be the ability to drive a car. when i could no longer count on my right leg to function on the pedals safely, i invested quite heavily (it seemed) in a left-foot accelerator set up – bought it, had it installed, got certified to drive legally with it, and did just fine with it. until the day i got my left foot tangled between the accelerator and brake and had what could have been – but miraculously wasn’t – a very serious accident. (why that propane tank i knocked over didn’t blow up, i will never know.) at that point, i started looking at hand controls, but also at that point, we were down to one car, and it just didn’t seem practical to go to the expense and trouble of fitting my wife’s car with bulky and in-the-way hand controls. she was, perhaps rightly so, nervous about me driving with them, and i was concerned about the unpredictable reliability of my left hand/arm. so we just decided that i would take myself off the road, and instead rely on her and assorted friends to get me places. there was nowhere, aside from medical appointments, that i really needed to go anyway, so it seemed to make sense.
and it’s worked out fine so far. i have been able, when i really want or need to, to get rides here and there, and most of my friends are ok with picking me up when we want to go places, as opposed to just meeting up. we are now in the process of looking for a driver or two to hire to take me to those appointments, as my wife’s business picks up (which is great, especially in this economy) and she finds it more difficult to devote an hour or more to getting me to infusions and blood draws and mri appointments. hopefully, when we find our driver, he or she will be amenable to delivering me to the library or the mall or just downtown for an afternoon.
but i miss being able to just hop in the car and take off – to go on the spur of the moment to hang out at the ferry terminal (with or without camera) just to people watch, or go down to a bookstore to wander and browse, or a coffee shop to sip and read, or just go somewhere, all without having to rely on someone else to transport me, which means having to do my wandering on a schedule (“can you pick me up at ten, and bring me home at two,” that sort of thing.) it’s one of those things that i took for granted, and never really thought about how it would affect me were it taken away.
a close second is the ability to walk. my desk sits in front of a window that looks out on a gorgeous panorama of the forest behind my house. it is wonderful to watch the slowly changing colors as the season slips from fall into winter. but walking out into the woods, especially in fall and spring, used to be one of my favorite things to do. in a few weeks, my son and a few good friends will be coming out to cut down a few trees to restock our winter fireplace fodder – a job that used to be another of my favorite things to do: working out in the forest, taking down trees, cutting them up and splitting them, being a steward to my little tiny patch of the earth. it was several years ago when i decided that me trying to manage a chainsaw – a dangerous if useful tool at best – was not at all a good idea. it’s usefulness became far outweighed by it’s dangerousness in my unsteady hands.
but if i could drive, at least i could take myself to other locations, and while i might not be able to get out and wander around, at least i’d feel some measure of independence and have access to other views and vistas. i am, in the end, very lucky to be able to look out my window and have the view i have, but sometimes i liken it to being a book lover in a library, not allowed to touch any of the books.