My path to driving with assisted technology began with a scary event – a traffic accident. Before the accident I compensated for the occasional difficulty easily. I reasoned I needed more strength training. It was working too. I even found myself climbing into the car the typical person way after being at the gym. This was pre-pandemic. Then the gym closed with everything else. Items shopped were then no contact delivered. Driving became a rare activity. Then one day I needed to take my twins for COVID tests because of an exposure.
BAM! I had a MS event. I couldn’t take my foot off the gas. I was driving a push button ignition vehicle. There was no key to take out. I couldn’t turn off the car. I couldn’t shift out of Drive. All I could think to do was scrape the curb to slow down. Eventually, the car stopped with blown tires and ruined wheels. The car engine was still running. Noone was hurt. I eventually calmed down enough to turn off the car. I had the twins get out and move to the sidewalk. My door was stuck. I sat there watching traffic move around me and kept track of my twins. It took a firefighter to open the door. A son then took my wheelchair out of the back. The wheelchair taxi was not available. We had to roll/walk home with a traffic ticket & court date in my pocket.
Soon after I was at a doctor appointment and described the accident. It was suggested I contact my state’s office of assistive technology to explore my options. There I would be evaluated to see what devices might help and I could decide if I could adjust my driving. This sounds like a huge step but fast right? Wrong! This was still early in my long journey.
At this point I was thinking I would add some devices to my stylish SUV that could be ignored by a driver not needing the devices. Then came a 30 minute 28 degree window visit with my dad. I seized up. I was so cold I needed help transferring from my power chair back to my car. I was deposited into the passenger seat with the seat warmer set to high. Eventually I thawed out. However, it was clear I needed a vehicle with a wheelchair ramp. Goodbye mid size SUV. Hello wheelchair minivan.
OK, the emotional hits just kept coming. I needed to be evaluated for driving assistive technology (AT); to be trained on the equipment; and a wheelchair minivan. How long could this possibly take? A few weeks? HAHAHA! No. A month? No. I am 2 ½ months in and have no schedule for my first training session.
Yes, you read that right, I am currently over 2 months from my initial contact with the state AT group and have not been cleared for training. I have checked out some videos on hand controls.
In my next post I will describe wheelchair van shopping. Hopefully soon I will start hand control training so I can describe that as well.