Getting a Driver’s License Via Hell

I never knew that getting a driver’s license would prove to be so difficult. I took two and a half years to get one – two and a half years that I didn’t expect or fathom. Passing the written exam was easy; it was proving to others that I could drive that was the issue. To see if I could even drive legally, I had to first get properly examined at a driving center in a hospital. It required a doctor’s prescription and I tried to convince my neurologist to write me one. I understood the possible dangerous circumstances of allowing someone with a disability to drive; doctors could get their licenses revoked if there were an accident. But it wasn’t like I was going to drive right then and there – I was asking my doctor to allow me to just get examined. After a year of the doctor going back and forth on his decision, he said no. To me, that no meant no in even trying. I never saw him after that. I couldn’t work with a doctor who saw me in a stereotypical lens of what a person with a disability can or can’t do. I eventually found another doctor who wrote up a prescription for me in a matter of seconds. As much as this delighted me, it also hurt me – it was such a simple act yet one that took so long for me to see. And the hospital proved to me that I indeed could drive, a fact that I knew from the very beginning, but what my neurologist denied. I was connected to a driving instructor who informed me that with the right equipment he helped even veterans and quadriplegics drive. I was stunned. He set me up with hand controls: one sling on the driving wheel and another next to the PRNDL bar. I’d slip my forearms in each of those to steer with my left arm while I pushed a stick forward or back to control the speed with my right arm . It. was. so. easy. I wish I could say my arduous journey to get a license stopped there, but disasters kept coming. I’ll refer to my driving instructor as the Grinch because he might as well be one. The Grinch was notorious for being late; even hospitals knew this but no one could do anything because he was the only one who specialized in this area. More than a few times he arrived late or not at all to my appointments. My dad poured so much money in my lessons at $85/hr; I had to complete more than 30 hours before I could even take the behind the wheel test because the Grinch insisted that I wasn’t ready and I believed him. Finally, on September 2011 I passed my behind-the-wheel test in one try, proving him that I was ready the whole time. I was deliriously ecstatic, but life threw me another curveball. Before I began this whole traumatic experience, the Grinch estimated what the prices would be like for me to get hand controls and a lift on my car for my scooter. It was definitely a hefty price but my parents and I knew that it was an investment necessary to make. But everything changed when I finally held my driver’s license in my hands. The Grinch created a list of everything that I needed with skyrocketed prices. I couldn’t believe it. Determined to not give up, especially after I cried at my ex-neurologist’s office, practiced for everlasting hours and gritted my teeth through hell that the Grinch put me through, I researched my own options. I went around for a year to car dealerships, adaptive centers and my physical therapy unit for answers. I did all of this, and yet there came a day when I couldn’t try anymore. College demanded my attention and in the big city that I moved to, I slowly learned to take buses and appreciate being a pedestrian. It’s been so many years and I still don’t have a car to realize the efforts I’ve put in, which sometimes makes me wonder what meaning they have if it’s resulted into nothing. Maybe they don’t have meaning at all. To get around where I live now, you really need a car. But life has shown me that I can survive without it and I know that I don’t want to call this place a home because honestly, if I could, I’d choose to live in a city that doesn’t require a car. Thankfully, I don’t mind the hustle and bustle of a bumbling city. But sometimes like today I still think about it – the pain, the weariness of my journey seemingly meaning nothing, and wondering if I have the courage to face it all again.

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