Wednesday, August 30, 2017

To drive or not to drive? That really is the question.
Such a simple question, and yet such a difficult answer.

When I developed Meniere's disease in 1992, there was no question that I was not driving any time soon. But as time passed, I went back behind the wheel. It's part of dealing with this disease. You need to reclaim your independence.

Same thing in 2013.

It really becomes another burden you bear when deciding when, or if, it is safe for you to get back behind the wheel of your vehicle.

Some states make that decision easy for you. Maybe even some countries. If you are diagnosed with anything that makes it a possibility that you could endanger yourself or other motorists, it is the responsibility of the medical professional to report it to the Department of motor vehicles and you get your license suspended and until you prove that you are episode free for a certain length of time, you don't drive.

My state is a bit more lenient. They do have a part of the statutes that deal with conditions that may impair your ability to drive, but reporting them to the DMV is voluntary. Expected, but voluntary. Once you do, the same time test comes into play.

But that isn't the real burden. The burden is the fact that the choice to get behind the wheel could cause permanent, or deadly, outcomes.

Oh, I pushed the envelope, but it always hung over your head. "Should I really be driving today?"

From 1993 to 1995, I avoided driving more than I drove. Late 20's and need to be driven around. Humbling and even a bit embarrassing indeed. But it was the right choice on my part. Back then, those duties fell on whoever I could find to haul me around. Since I was single and farmed with my parents, a majority of that driving fell on them. There was also my bowling league teammates that went out of their way-literally-to help me out and attempt to keep me part of life at a young age.

2013 I had a chauffeur. No, not a paid one, but I had a daughter in need of hours for her permit in order to get her license. If needed to go somewhere, she hauled me. And it was one of these trips that proved how this was the best choice at the time. I had a drop attack while riding with her. So violent that I screamed out loud and thought she had rolled the pickup. All I saw was the front of the truck going up in the air, like we were rolling over in a ditch. I must say, she handled like a pro and didn't flinch, or panic. A huge accomplishment for a 15 year old. And at least we were nearly home.

As time rolled along, the attacks became less frequent and less violent and I slowly resumed driving.

That was sometime in 2014.

Now, thanks to being virtually attack free, I drive. And drive. And drive.

Partly due to necessity, with school and work. Partly because I can. It's been a long road.

No, I never did volunteer that I had an illness that caused vertigo to the DMV, but I did take the responsibility of driving very seriously. I still do. I will stop driving again if, or when, the attacks ramp up or return. And it will crimp my lifestyle tremendously. But so would me being responsible for the death of anyone else.

Thankfully, I have had a few good years and I have had enough time that if I needed to give it up again, I could probably work from home, thanks to Internet and things becoming "virtually" possible.

So, to drive, or not to drive? That is the question. And just like nearly everything else with this disease, it all depends.

'til next time


Just a guy trying to live with an invisible, potentially debilitating illness