Many people over the years have asked me if I have thought about driving. They eagerly remind me how hand controls have made this possible for many individuals. My response is that my hand-eye coordination has always been lackluster. I explain that I am really good at Grand Theft Auto. Then I clarify that I am really good at crashing the cars on Grand Theft Auto. I guess that crashing vehicles in real life would be frowned upon.
However, I have recently been contemplating copious cavalcades. I could be making daily trips here and there continuing to master my self-reliance. The goal is to not burden me with needing to count on others. I currently feel enslaved by the absolute dependence on people and not myself. The deprivation of freedom that I feel from the shackles of dependency aggravates me to no end. At this point, I need to start looking at all of the options before me. I need to see what I can be doing differently.
Shortly after my diagnosis, I had to give up driving because my vision went haywire. Sitting at home alone and no way to go anywhere and no one to take me anyplace was disheartening. Several years later I bought a car after being told that my vision had improved. I was informed that I could only drive in the daylight and yet this new found freedom was exciting. I was continually thinking of all of the places that I would go and all of the people that I would see. I did not realize until after I bought my car that I had nowhere to go. I did not consider that I had no one to see. I was disappointed with this new discouraging dilemma.
I mentioned once before that I currently use COTA Mainstream for my transportation. I talked about it being a daunting daily duty that is a considerable strain. Firstly, I am in a non-ADA area meaning that last minute trips are out of the realm of possibilities. Next, plans cannot be made too far in advance either. Each time that I travel the round trip costs me ten dollars. At these prices the pool trips alone cost me thirty dollars per week.
Using this busing system requires significant time and energy. The minutes multiplied by days spent sitting on hold waiting to talk to scheduling. The hours waiting for the bus to arrive-many times late-quickly adds up. To guarantee that I will be delivered to my appointment on time I am picked up exceptionally early. When I told them that my appointment was at ten, they picked me up at seven thirty. After this early pick-up, they deliver me to my final destination two hours early at eight. Ever since the Marine Corps, I would prefer to be early. However, two hours before my gig is quite ridiculous?
As of late, I have been considering my driving options. I see nothing standing in my way now that I have been medically stable for over six years. The Veterans Administration might help in any one of a variety of ways. Of course with the VA it usually comes down to several significant factors. The first is the percentage of disability that you are from ten to one hundred present in multiples of ten. The next is whether your disability is service connected. How many people apply for assistance in your area also affects what you get. Lastly, where you are located geographically plays an essential role.
Every state gets a specific sum of money and a person to control those dollars. This is why I have seen people in Florida, for example, quickly get a lot. I have seen someone specific in FL get a loaded customized handicap adapted van. This gentleman also received the Cadillac of power wheelchairs. On the other hand in Ohio, I have not had the same easy time. The only differences between this Floridian and I are our geographic location and ages.
My next battle with the VA is going to be all of the driving issues. These issues include driving school, testing, and attaining this adapted vehicle to cruise around town. There is a school to make sure that you are not “winging it.” This class will teach you the daily driving skills that you will need not to cause an accident. They want to be sure that you are a safe driver, especially with hand controls. Then the final exam challenges the skills that you learned during the class.
As you can see, there is a lot of red tape that I must navigate through. I am writing this blog in mid-July 2018. My prediction is that it will be at least a year before I receive a response. This application involves a lot of money. The more money that is concerned the longer the wait time. My last application with the VA was approved in two and a half years. This means that I am probably being overly optimistic in my anticipation of accelerated approval. Of course, this is all in hopes of me actually getting approved though I may not.
Having transportation will help in every aspect of my life. I will be able to eliminate the stress of the COTA Mainstream busing system. There will be choices available to me that I did not have when I had no car. The option to go to the grocery store or having the food delivered to my house is a huge benefit. Do I want to rush out of the pool or is there someone that I want to talk to? We often take things like driving for granted until these abilities are taken from us. Be thankful for everything that you have because we are all a mere frogs’ hair away from losing everything.
Some of my recent blogs have not been funny, but that does not mean they are sad they are just facts. At times these blogs come out of me as comical and other times the facts merely flow out and nothing else. Never mistake my lack of humor for sadness. Unhappiness is so far in my rearview mirror that it is a mere blip in my memory bank. Life for us all is about perspective and attitude. I am able to laugh at myself through self-deprecation, and I can see the funny in nearly everything. This ability makes the challenges of life easy to manage.