I am no longer fit to drive a car and no amount of stroke recovery is likely to change that because some of the damage caused by the stroke is permanent.
And so, I have decided to give up driving. The decision came after a Sunday afternoon spent driving around a mostly vacant parking lot. Our car is electric, making it the simplest of cars to drive—you only need one pedal and the steering wheel to drive it.
But my right leg remains partially paralyzed, and my right foot and ankle occasionally go into spasms both of which impact my ability to control the car. You may only need one pedal to drive the car, but you’d better be able to control that pedal.
And my right arm also remains partly paralyzed so it cannot extend far enough to reach the steering wheel making one-handed steering necessary. I got a friend to install a spinner knob on the wheel but believe me when I tell you that one-handed steering is not a comfortable or safe way to control a car—especially if you’ve had race car training, as I have.
I didn’t understand how much eight months of not driving would impact my perspective of the car. Pulling into parking spaces left the car three feet or so to the left or right or ahead or behind of where it should have been. I could only imagine if that was traffic and not just some lines painted on the ground.
And then there is simply my age. My reflexes are not what they once were and I cannot imagine driving safely in even light traffic, never mind freeway traffic. Just thinking about it made me uncomfortable to the point of being scared.
So, it was a relief when I sat down with Nancy to tell her that I wouldn’t be driving, but I must say that it also makes me sad. From the time I was 4 or 5 years old and sat in the back seat of my parents’ Chevy identifying the make and year of all the cars we passed, cars have been a big part of my life.
I have owned over 35 of them from sedans to sports cars, from clunkers to luxury sedans, and I have loved them all. In fact, the last thing I did before the stroke was to drive my Ford Mustang Mach-E electric car.
Oh well, it’s Nancy’s to drive now!
8 thoughts on “DRIVING”
From one car enthusiast to another…….I feel your pain my friend. Get well soon!
Couldn’t help remembering the Legendary Silver Flash, and the Beemer that inspired BM Duck. I admire your ability to make this decision, knowing from my experience that you will, somehow, turn this setback into an asset going forward.
John Hard decision. Reminds me of when my father, a very smart man, just gave me the keys and said it was time.
I was just in Ireland, where I was surprised to find out that when you are over 80 they will not sell you car insurance, therefore you cannot rent a car. If you cannot rent a car, you are not allowed to drive, therefore Joan had to drive for two weeks on the wrong side of the road. It was awful being a passenger dragging my feet against the yellow line and kicking the hedgerows. Next time I will hire a driver.
Bummers, John. It’s gonna happen to all of us eventually. You’re brave and helpful to write about it leading us into the future as you often do with such eloquence. So glad you have Nancy.
John, How brave and wise you are!
You haven’t lost your ability for critical thinking that is for sure. Tough decision I am sure, but a good one. Ever need a ride … call 831.345.9016 …
With respect and admiration.
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