Thursday, June 28, 2012
Driven (Living With Cogan's Syndrome)
“Do you want to drive?” Sarah asked as we sat around her parent’s kitchen table. “It would just be around the block; hardly any traffic.”
Rose, my physical therapist, had asked me recently if I had tried driving yet and I told her that I hadn’t. I didn’t think I was ready to take that step; however, she suggested that maybe I try practicing in an empty parking lot, like I used to do when I was first learning how to drive. I took it into consideration at the time, but hadn’t really given it much thought until now.
“Umm…maybe. Do you think I should?” I replied.
“That’s entirely up to you, sweetie. I just thought since we have the time, you might want to give a try.”
I thought about it for a moment. This would be a huge milestone in my recovery process, but I was unsure if I was completely ready. I don’t know, I thought. I’m not sure I can do it. Oh, just do it. Stop being such a wimp.
“Okay, yeah.” I said with an ever-growing smile. “I want to try.”
Sarah stood up, walked into the kitchen, grabbed the keys from the hook and handed them to me.
“We don’t have to go too far. If it’s too much, just let me know and we’ll pull over and switch,” she said.
“Okay. Thanks, baby.”
We walked outside toward the car. Sarah grabbed my shoulder and looked me in the eyes, speaking as
clearly as possible.
“Why don’t I back the car out of the driveway and then we’ll switch,” she said.
“You don’t think I’ll be able to do it?”
“One thing at a time, Max.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” I smiled at her.
I waited in the driveway, standing straight, trying not to sway. When Sarah parked the car on the side of the road, she got out, and motioned for me to come over. She walked around to the passenger’s side and got in, while I made my way to the driver’s side door. I took a moment to do everything I was taught when learning how to drive: put on my seatbelt; adjust the mirrors; adjust the seat; make sure Sarah had her seatbelt on.
When I was all set—my heart beating at a rapid pace—I took a deep breath, put the car in “D” and began to roll.
My nerves were kicking in as I looked out ahead, but to my relief, there were no cars on the road. My heart slowed its swift movement. I could tell that I was dizzy from the way the sky and the land bounced up and down, but I focused in; I wanted to make this happen, so I continued on, turning right at the next side street.
As I drove, I heard Sarah’s voice, but didn’t dare to take my eyes off the road.
“How are you doing?” she asked loud enough for me to hear.
“I’m good,” I said, turning onto another road. “It’s weird. I feel dizzy but driving just feels so natural.”
“It’s like second nature. Do you feel like you are picking it up without any trouble?”
“Yeah. It’s great. I feel great,” I said with a smile.
I continued to drive at a snail’s pace—I was glad the roads were deserted and I didn’t have to worry about any cars getting stuck behind me. I squinted as I honed in on the white and yellow lines. This was huge. My emotions were all over the place: exhilarated, anxious, scared, happy, and satisfied.
I drove the same route two times before we finally closed in on the house. I parked the car and Sarah and I got out. She walked around the car toward me and wrapped her arms around me.
“I am so proud of you,” she said as she gave me a kiss.
“Thanks, baby! I feel great. A little tired, but great.”
I made progress today. My sense of independence was reawakened, and I am remembering how good it feels.