Giving Up Driving
Last updated: December 2021
I touched on this topic a little in my article “How Expensive Is That Minivan.” I drove without any driving adaptations for 24 years.
Driving gave me freedom, an opportunity to feel “normal.” I have always been a really social person. I was never a homebody.
Losing strength with age
I was losing strength throughout my 20’s where I needed to use a scooter and would need help getting up from a seat. I never felt any issues behind the wheel though.
I was able to drive for long distances too. I made a few trips where I was driving for 12+ hours in one day.
After I turned 30 I started having small issues while driving. I found it more frustrating and sometimes I felt like I was exerting more energy than I had in the past.
Becoming more cautious about driving
I still didn’t feel unsafe though. Around the age of 33, I had a few “close calls.” I really started changing my driving style. I became very cautious giving myself extra space between me and the car in front of me.
Also around this time, I was having a lot of difficulty with my arm strength. Turning the wheel to make a right or left turn became a real struggle.
I started planning my routes where I would drive on more rural roads with less traffic. I knew in the back of my mind that my driving days were numbered. However, I wasn’t ready to lose this freedom altogether.
My last long drive that I took
I still remember the last long drive I took. I was 36 and I met my friends at a Phillies game. The stadium was about an hour away. This was a day game.
I had some trouble driving down to the ballpark. I actually pulled over a few times to rest.
I had to get on a few interstate highways. This gave me a lot of anxiety. I really felt unsafe. I was also wondering how I would make the drive home.
The game was over right around rush hour. Rush hour in Philadelphia can usually mean a standstill. I was actually happy about this.
Being able to crawl along the interstate at slow speeds felt safer for me. I actually got behind a driver who was having car issues and had their blinkers on. This was great, slow, and steady.
I actually didn’t make it home that evening. I hit a wall and had to call my parents to come to pick me up.
Driving became much more difficult
After that event, I only drove close to my house. Over the next 4 years, driving was becoming much more difficult. There were more “close calls.”
I would never drive with someone else in the car. Finally, the fear of hurting or God forbid killing someone got to me.
I knew it was time. It was too dangerous for other drivers and myself.
I miss the freedom and independence
Obviously, I miss the independence and freedom that driving gave me. I hope one day I can afford an adapted electric driving system.
Until then I have learned to accept these circumstances. I am lucky that I have my girlfriend to take me where I need to go.
Has anyone else given up driving? How have you adjusted?
Have you shared your SMA diagnosis story with us yet?