To Drive or Not to Drive
During the second week of September (right after my first neuro-ophthalmology appointment), I was driving to work, which was only about a mile away, on a three lane road. I was in the middle lane and was paying extra attention due to my visual issues. I ended up slamming my brakes because I thought the car on my left was merging into my lane and was going to sideswipe my vehicle. Once I slowed to almost a stop, I noticed that the person was 100% in their lane. Luckily for me and everyone else, there was no one directly behind me.
What probably actually happened is they were coming up on the left and I was unable to see them approach. When I noticed them, they suddenly appeared from my blind spot thus they appeared to be moving to the right. Everyone was fortunate that day that I didn't harm anyone by suddenly braking on a normally busy road.
I am able to legally drive since my visual acuity is still good (multiple doctors have confirmed); however, the visual disturbances and blind spots make me hesitant to drive and are the reason since that day, I have chosen not to drive. Did I ever expect that at the age of 36 I would forgo my right to drive? Never. Was it an easy decision? Absolutely not; however, I was not willing to put others at risk due to my ego and desires.
Giving up the freedom to go where you want, need or to respond to situations is extremely difficult and aggravating. You can ask any elderly person who refuses to give up their license. Furthermore, if you have been to Las Vegas, you are probably aware that we are a completely car centric city. It is a sprawling metropolitan city with limited public transportation. Crossing the city using public transportation can take 2+ hours in one direction. Furthermore, we have limited bike lanes which are often shared-use with car traffic. With or without limited vision, biking for daily transportation is probably not the safest mode of transportation in Las Vegas.
In the first few months of not driving, I had moments of anger, despair, and frustration. When my husband didn't arrive when I thought he should, I would dissolve into anger instead of gratitude that he was willing to rearrange his schedule to help. To this day, 8 months later, I still struggle with this at times probably because I have always hated asking for help for any reason. Additionally, I have been driving since I was 14 years old (grew up in ND and it was legal at that time to get a license with special driving classes) and have always been on the go.
Will I ever fully accept this is my new normal? I don't know and the unknown can be scary. I renewed my drivers license so I could get the real ID and honestly, I will probably continue to renew it as long as I am able to pass the vision test just in case there is an emergency and I absolutely need to drive. Despite renewing my license, I rely on my husband, friends, family when they are in town, and Lyft or Uber when none of the aforementioned are available. Being reliant on others for daily transportation is a new experience that will likely continue to evolve.
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Describing vision loss from my perspective. Providing basic information about eye disorders & diagnostics.