|OMG! This is my car! (This is really how I felt.)|
As of Monday, I have a car. I can drive, and I have a car.
I'm having an interesting set of feelings emerging from this. I'm excited to be able to drive. I'm excited to have a car, one that's safe and reliable--and these feeling aren't surprising to me. I keep forgetting what I can do with a car, and that's been a sort of repeating delight. For instance, Maybelle had a dentist appointment on Tuesday. On Monday I thought, "Shit! I haven't scheduled anybody to take us there!" Then I realized, "Oh, I have a car! I can take us there!" She was invited to a birthday party in Mount Pleasant on Saturday. The thought of making phone calls to find who we might ride with made my energy level begin to sink. Then I realized, "Oh, I have a car! I can take us there!" Even on a smaller level, Monday I thought, "Shit! I'm going to have to bike to the grocery store! Will I have time for that?" Then I realized, "Oh, I have a car! I can take myself there!" This is happening again and again, and every time I realize that my expectations get to shift, I'm thrilled.
|"Mama's car," says Maybelle happily.|
But one feeling I'm having is surprising me, and at a different level: driving Maybelle to dance class on Tuesday afternoon, I realized that we can go anywhere. I could put gas in the car, and she and I could take off right then for Tennessee, to spend more time with my parents. We could go anywhere. The sense of freedom that swept through me at that moment was not something I'd expected. Yes, a car is incredibly convenient--but this feeling was far more than that. It was elation, openness, like I was able to breathe more easily. I realized that the last three years have been more frightening to me, more constraining, than I'd let myself realize.
For the first year that I couldn't drive, Walter would take me and Maybelle anywhere we needed to go. For the next two years, Trey was available at any time. I could call him from school at 4:30 and say, "It's raining! Can you come take me and Maybelle home?", and he'd say, "I'm on my way." I'd say, "I need to go to my therapist this week," and he'd say, "When? I'll put it in my calendar." Then Trey moved to North Carolina. And that event, among others, allowed me to start experiencing the reality of being a person who can't drive. Not being able to drive dramatically affected my life.
I'm a person with a brain tumor, and because of the brain tumor, I have seizures. This is a pretty common phenomenon: when something messes with your brain, you often start experiencing electrical reactions that cause seizures. In fact, it's a big seizure that allowed us to learn about my brain tumor to begin with. I've had seizures ever since then, and they became large enough--tonic clonic--that I was no longer safe to drive. My neurologist helped me adjust my medications, then adjust them again, and then again. He was successful: my last big seizure was April 9, 2013. So now I'm allowed--legally, and with my neurologist's endorsement--to drive again.
Driving a car doesn't make me think that I don't have a brain tumor. It hasn't allowed me to trick myself into thinking I'm a person who doesn't have seizures--and who might never have big ones again. I'm a person with a disability. I'm a person who has seizures, and a brain tumor. This is something I'm grappling with and that I know I'll be writing more about.
So this is what I think might be happening: I couldn't (can't?) recognize my disabilities. And as a partial result of that, I haven't been able to recognize my fears, my limitations, when I'm in the midst of them. For the last three years I often felt anxious, sad, exhausted being a person who can't do many, many things without the help and support of friends. But I didn't know the depth of those feelings.
Right now the feelings are diminished, and the sense of lightness this brings to my body--like I'm full of oxygen, I'm shining through every pore--is allowing me something new. At some level I'm afraid that this won't last--now that I know what it means, it will be so painful to lose it. But there's no way to know, so I'm trying to be in the present moment.
As I said in the City Paper column, Hello, ugly car. Welcome to the family.