Monday, September 7, 2009

Driver’s license

We come home towards evening of the second day. The next morning I have an appointment with Sandy my speech therapist, again. She gives me an assessment and decides that I don’t need to come more than two days a week. For the rest of the days I can practice on my own she says. I don’t feel ready to act without her guidance, her coaching though… Even the fact that our weekly hours have decreased in number frightens me. I may be physically there but emotionally I am far from ready.
Sandy asks me when I am going to get my driver’s license again. See, when I was discharged from the Suburban hospital, the doctor there revoked my driving rights. Not that he took my driver’s license away or anything, but he gave me a report that said I couldn’t drive, until I had a seizure free period past me and that I took the driving test again. I’m not afraid to drive, in fact I desperately long to drive again. Why? The reasons are multiple:
1) In the US you are stuck at home if you don’t drive.
2) It is utterly inconvenient for my family. I am the one who is mobile in our family. We have only one car, you see. I drive my son to school, to extracurricular activities, I procure food… Whenever there is any driving to do during the week, it used to be my job.
3) At the moment I am dependent on other people to be able to do my job as a home maker.
4) I want my freedom.
Maybe the last one is the most important one of all.
You see, I cannot imagine a life not driving a car. I like driving. I had a car since I was 18 (the legal age in Turkey). It is like a second nature. Mehmet on the other hand never lets me drive when I am with him. Husbands!
So I ask Sandy who I need to call to arrange for the exam and everything, I’m sooo ready.
It turns out that I have to take the exam at a special place, some type of a rehab center, one and a half hours away from where I live. I am exited, I study my facts…On a cold Monday morning, Mehmet drives me to the exam center. With some luck this will be the last time he needs to drive me anywhere. First the written exam on the computer, I pass it. Yippeee! Then the cognitive exam. I bet you have never heard of this before. They ask me problems like: Here is an intersection, 15 feet before the intersection there is a parked car, etc. ….. Given this situation, what would you do?
Then there is the physical exam taken to the extreme: they measure the time it takes me to brake (they flash a light I push a pedal with my foot, they measure the time in between.) They measure how much peripheral vision I have… They measure this and that and then what not before they put themselves into the car with me.
I must have passed these tests with flying colors, because I am invited to my car for the road test. To my surprise, we are not driving on a closed test facility, instead, we are off to the main street of Hagerstown. They want to see some driving in the city, in the suburbs and on the highway. It takes them a good one hour until they are through with everything.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Mehmet is with me, not to hold my hand, mind you, but to see with his own eyes whether he can trust me or not.
Especially because Kaan will be on the back seat, with me all the time.
I pass! I pass! I pass! The main examiner gives me a paper, stating I can drive again. Freedom, here I come!
Mehmet is not impressed at all. He says my driving is as it was before the stroke: Very Bad.

2 comments:

gugge1 said...

Hi - my husband had a stroke 2 years ago and also had to be tested to drive again. I hated the process because I was so afraid that he wouldn't be able to pass the test and he was convinced that he was ready. It's been very hard for me to give up driving him around and feeling like I'm keeping him safe. Now he drives me every day to work and home and to the store. He does really well and I see that it is very important to him to be able to drive. Since I hate to drive and he loves to drive it does work out. He enjoys having the freedom to drive wherever he wants to whenever he wants to.
He also struggled with his speech therapist saying that they had taken him as far as they could. He continues to practice on his own but it still doesn't feel like he had enough therapy. Now we are taking a Tai Chi class together so that he has something else to do. He will never work again because of his right side weakness and the aphasia so as long as he can drive he's a little happy. Keep up your good work on recovery. It's amazing the progress that can be made. We continue to count our blessings for each step in our progress and enjoy life.

Banu Turhan said...

I have four tips for you
1) Find another speech therapist,ask your neurologist first, if no help, you can visit The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)website http://www.asha.org/default.htm
And find a therapist from there.
2) if you live near a town with a big university, they are bound to have researchers in speech pathology your husband can go and participate in their research
3) meanwhile every evening he can read from his favorite - big print - book to you. 40 to 50 minutes. If you persist in just 2 weeks you can see a difference
4) If you have children or grand children he can ask for their help. All they need to do is: sit across him, face to face and pronounce words together in tandem.