Monday, April 18, 2016

I Stopped Driving … Again!

About two years ago I started to feel uncomfortable and not in very good control of driving my van. I knew something had to be changed or I was not going to be safe on the road anymore. It started to scare me that I might cause an accident and hurt or even kill someone else or myself on the road.

It has been a difficult decision since I have been driving fully-modified vans since 1974 in Berkeley. I ordered my first van from a brochure at a medical equipment company in Minneapolis called Redi-Care. I did not know if I would be able to drive it or not and it was a tremendous leap of faith for us to order what was called a Med-Van. I was going to spend $13,000 on the vehicle I was not sure I would be able to drive!

In the winter of 1972 my father, my little brother, Rick and I went to Minneapolis to get tested at a driving school to see if I could drive a car. The instructor quickly found out I would not be able to drive a car, but with the right modifications I might be able to drive a van. That is when he gave me the address for Redi-Care. Fortunately, the owner of the company was in the store that Saturday morning and introduced me to my first van.

The first picture I want to show you is my current van of me driving two years ago. There are several more photographs of me driving and various parts of the van on my website.

Click on the image to make it larger:

There are many stories I would like to share and pictures to show of all six vans I have owned or leased; however, this post is not long enough to show them all! Suffice it to say, I have driven about 500,000 miles in six vehicles, three full-size vans and three minivans.

I want to show you another picture of me driving my first van in 1977 when my mom, dad, were on our way for me to speak at the athletic banquet in McLaughlin, South Dakota. It was a real honor for me to be asked to speak at their banquet since I only went to first and second grade in McLaughlin! Fourteen years later, I was asked to come back and address many people I had known from our three years in McLaughlin.

This picture shows my little brother, Chad watching me as I drove across the plains of Minnesota to drop him off at our uncle's farm so he could play with his cousin. I love the look of concentration on Chad's face! Of course, my mom took that picture!

When he was not standing behind me, he had two beanbag chairs to lounge on unrestricted in the back of the van. No child restraints for us in 1977. I am excited to tell you Chad is quite the entrepreneur and loving life in Southern California trying to get his patented Drum Wallet sold, among other adventures he is always pursuing. He and I are very much alike and communicate with cell phones, Facebook and keeping track of each other's activities.

The reason I wanted to put this post up is to show how my life has changed dramatically since my ability to drive has been lost. There have been a couple other times when I was unable to drive for extended periods of time. However, I eventually got my strength back and the stamina to drive several hundred miles at a time, speak for a day and drive home that night. Now, I need to take an attendant with me to do all of my personal cares and that can be a problem on occasion when I go for extended periods of time. I hope to make it back to Worthington in September for their annual Turkey Day celebration. It is always fun to be in Worthington during those couple of days.

I often get speaking engagements and book sales from people who constantly come up to me all day long. 

The reason I have not been posted since last November is I have not been able to sit up long enough during the day to work on putting up a good post. We tried something new today and after my acupuncture appointment this morning, my morning attendant laid me down and my evening attendant got me back up so I could write this post. So far, my sitting tolerance is good and I feel fine. Hopefully, I will do this more often and post on a more regular basis.

I want to close this post with one last picture of me riding as a passenger in my van.

As always, click on the photo to make it larger:

I know driving is a privilege and I was privileged enough to have driven for almost forty years. I have friends and relatives who have never been able to drive since their injury onset or their entire lives. I am not complaining about losing this privilege; I just want you to know how our lives change and how it can affect people around them. The loss of some independence is difficult for all of us to deal with. As we grow older and start to lose some of our faculties we may all come to the conclusion it is time to turn over our keys to someone else!

As always, I look forward to your comments.




Colleen M. Patrick said...

Great blog, Mike! Glad you were able to split your time up today and get it posted!

thedrumwallet said...

Good one brother. Tons of great memories were made in those vans for our family and friends.

Mary said...

Great article, as you know I am always interested in personal mobility and ensuring access to destinations!! I am happy to hear you are writing again!

Steve Slone said...

Bless you Mike; its been one hell of a journey!

Steve Slone

Bruce said...

Mike, you are a wise man to recognize it was time to give up driving. I'm sure that was a difficult decision but very brave on your part. Keep your spirits up and hang in there.


Ms Sparrow said...

I hope you make it back to Worthington for Turkey Day! Someone posted photos of the abandoned mall being torn down. It was nearly defunct when I saw it at my class reunion in 2008. (It's great to drive but there is a lot to be said for "passenging"!)

Carlye Peterson said...

If we are lucky we will all get to the point where we can make these decisions---difficult though they are---for ourselves. thank you for reminding us that perhaps that time will come and we need to heed our inner voices for the safety of all around us. And it is so like you to reflect back on this privilege with awe and appreciation for the freedom it provided you. I think of you often, my friend. A sense of humor and laugh that is memorable. I keep thinking I might see you at a Twins game or a Gopher basketball game sometime; I know you are there is spirit!