Monday, September 25, 2006

I Get Around

Last Friday I had a driving lesson/evaluation at my rehab center. I thought the strangest part would be learning to use the hand-controlled vehicle. I really wasn't prepared for how weird it would feel to be driving at all. It's been eight months since I was behind the wheel of a car and it took a while to get used to it.

Part of the purpose of the lesson was to prepare me to take a road test to get a modified license. We started off in a neighborhood and I drove around the block a few times. Suddenly, it looked like a drivers-ed video-- there were construction trucks stopped in the middle of the street, a school bus, people running stop signs... I really expected a ball to come bouncing out onto the road at any moment. The instructor and I joked that she had all these people on her payroll.

Eventually we went through a busy downtown and then on a highway for a few miles. Learning the hand-controls came easy, getting comfortable with driving again also came back quickly but the feeling I couldn't shake was that I was 16 again, learning to drive and being scrutinized at every turn. In the end I got a passing grade and was told I could go right into a license exam. I told them I would feel more comfortable with another practice session, so we're planning on that.

The next step: Get our car outfitted with hand-controls. The problem: After last week's hit-and-run we don't know if the car will be a total loss or not. Consequently, we're on hold for the moment. Still, driving is on the horizon-- something to look forward to. Now I just have to build up the tolerance for it. An hour and a half behind the wheel pretty much wiped me out for the rest of the day.

I'm really looking forward to going to the rehab center today. Last week, I worked with my physical therapist on what they call "gait training" (i.e. walking). I got into a harness which is designed to "unweight" me: I stand on a treadmill and the harness lifts me up a little bit and I walk. I managed to walk at about one and a half miles per hour. A year ago I would have considered that a Sunday-afternoon-no-where-to-go-stroll but it felt more like a get-out-the-way-I'm-in-a-hurry-trot.

It went so well we decided to try it without the harness and, free from the constraints, I actually walked better. It helped, too, to have a mirror in front of me so I could better coordinate the sequence of movements. Anyway, my therapist gave me the go-ahead to use the treadmill as part of my independent work outs at the rehab clinic. Which is where I'm going right now.


jackbear said...

I have only one word to describe this post...awesome!

Lock Wench said...

If it would help, I could run ahead of you with a large door mirror. My prices are negotiable. :)


mimulus said...

i think actually the berkeley rep staged all the obstacles in your traffic driving test. The prop guy forgot the ball..otherwise you woudl have sse that too...oh yes, the child runnign after said ball had a dentist's appointment so they were missing too!

Congratulations, and hope your car can be salvaged.

Anonymous said...

I read about the DMV in California, they actually have a sadist department. They are responsible for putting little remote controlled cars under the pylons in the driving course, so as to mess with you better during your test. ;)


Anonymous said...

GO Johnny Quest!

Anonymous said...

GO Johnny Quest!

Eclipse said...

Great news, great progress, and great spirit. Keep it up!

Best of luck with the car; hope that all gets worked out smoothly.


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