Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
I was sitting at a traffic light when it changed from red to green. The cars in the lane beside me started moving forward, but not me. I couldn’t lift my foot to move it from the brake to the gas pedal. When I finally did, I couldn’t feel the accelerator, nor how much pressure I was applying to it. All I felt was tingling, numbness, and pain in my toes and feet. I didn’t mention this to anyone because I was afraid I might lose my driver’s license, my ticket to independence.
If I close my eyes and envision my childhood home, I can vividly recall the rush of personal freedom, control, and independence I felt the day I came home with my license in hand. It was my 16th birthday and I felt like I had been let out of jail. Suddenly, on a moment’s notice, I could go wherever I wanted to, no longer at the mercy of my parents’ availability or willingness to drive me. I had passed a major milepost on the road to adulthood, and my driver’s license proved it.
Now, almost 50 years later, my children, the very people I taught to drive, are urging me to hang up my car keys in the interest of safety – mine and that of everyone else on the road with me. Is it any wonder why I feel like I am being put out to pasture? Nevertheless, I should not have been driving. No one had to tell me this; I figured it out on my own, but I didn’t act on it right away. I had to adjust to the idea that getting from place to place is one more thing I can no longer manage on my own, or is it? A little research revealed many options for getting around other than driving myself. These include public transportation; taxis and taxi alternatives like Uber; and shuttle vans for seniors and people with disabilities. Still, nothing beats having my husband and many good friends volunteer to drive me wherever I need to go.
My doctors tell me that I may well be able to drive again in the not too distant future, as the symptoms of neuropathy do not always last forever. Often they can take as long as 18 months after chemotherapy to disappear. Whatever the end result, knowing that I handled it my way makes the situation easier to accept. On the bright side, I am getting a great low mileage discount on my car insurance, and my husband may get just the excuse he needs to buy a Tesla car with the ability to drive itself.