Tuesday, May 18, 2010

THE DRIVING DEBACLE

Not all old people decline in the same way. The lucky ones stay healthy and active right up to the end. The ones who have life threatening illnesses usually suffer from depression on top of everything else. And then we have the "empty pods"... These pods have varying degrees of emptiness for various reasons. Some reasons are not organic in nature, but are due to having poor coping skills centered around accepting their own morality. At 20, we all are immortal, but at 82, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

One of my mother's doctor's is also a family friend. He would always inquire about her whenever I would run into him. One such time, when asked how she was doing I answered him by asking him a question. "Dr. Feelgood, would you rather be told you could never drive again or would you rather be told you had cancer?" He had trouble concealing his reaction, but finally understood her state of mind. The "pod" accepted having breast cancer much easier than when it came time to stop driving. My step father fought it right up until the bitter end when his driver's license was just about ripped out of his stubborn Sicilian hands.

Okay, there comes a time in every person's life when certain things like driving become a safety issue. I certainly can appreciate the fact that when this happens it means becoming less independent and who really wants that? But on the other hand, who wants to be responsible for maiming or killing innocent people?

When my stepfather was still alive, his biological daughter would come once a year to visit her father and usually create problems while she was visiting. How the family had decided to handle the issue of him driving was to just let his driver's licence expire knowing that he would never be able to pass a road test again. HOWEVER, little Miss Control Freak, took him and got his licensed renewed without asking anyone if that would be okay. At that time, all he had to do was pass the vision part of the test to have it renewed. Okay, so his macular degeneration hadn't progressed to the point of not being able to see, but his vision had declined to the point where he accepted that some day he would be blind.

We (the people who took care of him on a daily basis) all knew his driving skills were horrible. In fact, he hadn't driven in almost 2 years when MCF (Miss Control Freak) did her "good deed" and then went back to Colorado to pat herself on the back. She left the aftermath for the rest of us to handle. (Good job, Betty!) Because he got his license renewed he also thought that meant he should drive again. We all begged him not to because he was also a dialysis patient with episodes of low blood pressure. Many times, while driving him home from dialysis, he would start bleeding out in the car. You can imagine the mess that made and how dangerous it would be if it happened while he was driving. Finally, my angel of a daughter took it upon herself to go to the DMV to see what could be done.

The outcome was a simple form anyone could fill out and submit it back to the DMV to request a person's driving license be revoked due to health issues. This process could be done anonymously. What happened next was that the person would receive notification asking for medical proof from their doctor saying it was safe for them to drive. If such a letter was obtained, then the person would have to take a full driver's test to keep their current licence. Needless to say, when he received the letter from the DMV, he voluntarily turned in his license and stopped driving.

My mother's issue was entirely different. My mother has ALWAYS been a horrible driver! In fact, her driving skills were so bad that for the last 30 years whenever she and I would go anywhere together, I would drive. After a hospitalization about 4 years ago, it was obvious something was going on with her, but no one could quite pinpoint the problem. I took her to a neurologist who suggested that she be evaluated at one of the local hospitals. The 3-hour evaluation tested her eyesight, motor skills and then they would take her out driving for 1 hour to evaluate her driving skills. (Now, there's a job I would never want to have! That's worse than being a school bus driver.)

It came as no surprise when the lady told me how poorly my mother did, yet my mother was not willing to admit at that time she shouldn't drive. She blamed the car, she blamed the lady, she blamed everything, but herself for crossing over the center line more than 20 times and for almost pulling out into oncoming traffic twice. The evaluation was turned into the DMV and from there her drivers license was revoked. However, she still has physical possession of her license and still claims it's valid, but she no longer possesses a set of car keys.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the services available to help caregivers like myself through these trying times and for my 3 wonderful children who are always there for me when I need it most.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

2 comments:

  1. Miss Control Freak sounds exactly like one of my sisters. This entry hits way too close to home.

    After reading this, I need some comfort. Southern Comfort.

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  2. I will sooo take your driver's license when the time comes.... remember I am gonna be the one who changes your diapers and feeds you baby food!!! Some day I will have stories to tell about you... oh wait you're telling them all now. Good job Mom... all I will need to do is just copy and paste!!

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