Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I have a car! The personal reflections, with pictures

OMG!  This is my car!  (This is really how I felt.)
I suggest that you read my City Paper column, which is funny and far less personal.  Then read this post if you want more of my own reflections about my life.

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.


  1. First of all I love The Eggplant (there now your car has a name and is much more attractive)! Secondly, every time I fill up with gas I get a momentary thrill thinking "I could drive ANYWHERE!" then I go on to work, errands, etc. but that momentary thrill happens every time as if some day I will fill up on gas and take an epic spur-of-the-moment road trip.

    1. I love love love The Eggplant! That's it: the car's name.

      And that's really interesting that you have the "anywhere" thought too!

  2. Oh and I meant to say CONGRATS ON YOUR NEWWWWW CAAAAAAAR! (read in Bob Barker's voice for full effectiveness.)

  3. This is so exciting -- and to tell you the truth, given what your disability is, I think I know -- a tiny bit -- about what you've felt and the elation you feel now. The heaviness of disability, the perpetuity of it, is something that I wrestle with, and anything that lightens the load, however periodically or temporarily -- is cause for great celebration.

    Plus, I love the eggplant color and wonder if it calls for an Italian name as well? How about Melanzane?

    1. you think that's too fancy for this car? Is there an Italian name that means goofy?

  4. Reading this makes me ridiculously happy. And that's not solely because I know you. :)

  5. Not sure if you saw my FB, but we just got a new car as well. Husband rides a motorcycle now to campus, so we don't need two cars. So we decided to get something that mainly worked *for me.* We got something I could move in. It isn't a struggle to get in and out of. It doesn't hurt my back to be in and out of it all day from struggling with the doors or height. I can pull down the seats myself. The doors aren't too heavy. I CAN SEE. When those of us with disabilities find something that makes things easier, it's such a feeling of lightness. Especially when we didn't even realize how stressed how we were to begin with! I appreciate the help I get and having wonderful people in my life that don't mind helping, but I also highly value being able to do for myself. Congrats on the ride!