August 2013, age 67, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Quite a surprise since there were no pre-existing circumstances. I am one of the 60% of all people with the diagnosis of epilepsy for whom there is just no cause found.
In the state of Arizona one must be seizure free for 90 days before being able to drive legally. Many times these almost three years I would approach 90 days and then have another seizure. There was one time I was able to drive for several months, and then lost my privilege again.
Quite coincidentally my bike was stolen just a couple of days before I reached being seizure free for 90 days.
I credit cycling on Tucson's deadly roads1,000+ miles per month before, during, and after my diagnosis with my being able to return to driving with nary a hitch. As a cyclist who shares the roads with motorized vehicles who travel 45 mph or more, one becomes hyper alert to traffic behavior. One becomes skilled at sharing the road with behemoths who are sometimes thoughtless or worse.
And so today, June 21, 2016 was my first day to drive since my perfect storm of flu, pneumonia, and seizures mid-March.
What I noticed:
- I felt no leaping for joy;
- I felt grateful to not have to ask Kirk to drive me to where I needed to be by 7:30 this morning.
- I felt grateful I didn't need to leave the house by 5:30 on my bike to get to where I needed to be by 7:30 a.m.
- We've had temperatures that have averaged 107 the last couple of weeks and are forecasted to continue. When bike commuting at those temps you do what you need to do, get home ASAP, and stay home.
- But today, since I could drive, I did multiple errands on my way home from that 7:30 a.m. event.
- I was surprised at the freedom I felt to go into places for my errand shopping and not have the nagging angst whether I'd have a bike when I exited the store. And of course, a week ago today when I came out of the optical store I did NOT have a bike. GONE.
- Most of the time I take my bike, now trike, into the store with me. But there is no way to trike it down the isles of grocery stores. So, it is still left vulnerable within the vestibule of Safeway, or the like.
When I get my new bike in a week or so I will gladly return to bike commuting nearly 100% of the time.
I will be continue to grateful for the privilege of driving if there are times I must; but if I have to surrender the privilege again, so be it.
I will continue to share the road with great respect for all users whether I'm driving or biking. All of us are vulnerable road users at one time or another. We are all mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, husbands. wives, partners. All of us want to come home safely each day.