Signs it May be Time to Stop Driving if You Suffer from Chronic Illness

Imagine going to buy your first car, giving it a name, keeping it clean, getting used to your independence and then learning you have a chronic illness. Much like getting an initial diagnosis and struggling with denial and acceptance, coming to the conclusion that I would have to sell my car because of my chronic illness did not go over well with the independent woman trait of my personality.

What started as needing more time to get in and out of the car eventually evolved into not be able to safely drive myself around without having to reposition my body, legs and even my foot on the gas peddle without additional help. This month marks the one year anniversary of giving up my car – that’s right I made the decision to stop driving in light of the symptoms of my chronic illness. It wasn’t easy and I’m just now – a year later going through all of the contents of a bag labeled “car,”  with a few tears in my eyes, but I know it was for the best.

Since then, I haven’t really missed driving myself around. I have found public transportation for those with disabilities in my local area and have a team of family, friends and health aids who fill in the gaps of my transportation needs. As I reflect on the last year, I want to share with you three important reasons that really helped me to understand and accept that it was time for me to make a change; and it may be time for you to make a change too.

  1. Driving became a difficult task: As I’ve discussed in other posts, living with Muscular Dystrophy can create physical challenges for ordinary, day-to-day tasks that many able-bodied people my age take for granted. I noticed that getting in and out of the car became troublesome. At red lights, I eventually needed to physically lift my leg from the break to the gas peddle. These were just a few of the signs that confirmed what I already knew to be true: driving myself wasn’t safe anymore for me or others.
  2. Family and friends were concerned: As I took notice of the physical challenges of driving, my family and friends began to notice too. My mom in particular, started to suggest that it may be time to transition to other forms of transportation. I wasn’t open initially, but over time I began to see that she was right. It took some time, but my family continued to softly nudge me in the right direction. Sometimes the hardest truths are shared with us by the ones we love. Don’t ignore their concern.
  3. I was holding on because of fear: I realized that for me, having a car felt like my last leg of independence. I felt like giving up my car was like handing over my mobility; but once I made the transition to a wheelchair, I now experience more freedom than I did before. It may not sound as sexy, but I promise that if you give the right wheelchair a chance, you’ll see for yourself how this new set of wheels can be the difference between barely moving throughout the day to getting where you need to go when you want to be there.
  4. There were better options: While I was in transition, I had the opportunity to test out a few of the many new, innovative approaches to getting around with limited physical mobility. One of the many resources I found included Mobility Works, a company dedicated to creating convenient options for folks with any type of disability. Mobility Works is just one of many resources out there who create custom vehicles and motorized personal transportation options to support the daily challenges many with differing levels of mobility face. No matter what brand you choose, know that there are options! I considered the custom made cars, but realized that I just wasn’t interested in relearning the driving process that was required with the disability-friendly vehicles, but that may not be the case for you. Whatever you choose, know that you have options.

When I opened that bag of items left from my car, I was a little sad, and I can’t say that I don’t think about my car whenever I see a RAV4 pullup beside me in the parking lot. It still stings, but I know I made the right choice. Life is all about learning how to make the decisions that are right for us – even when they are painful or may take time to heal from. Regardless of where you are in your journey, don’t let change slow you down. Your next breakthrough is right behind your biggest obstacle.

Published by girlschronicallyrock

I was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My personality is friendly, strong work ethic, and great professional skills that makes her the hustler she is today. I graduated from Framingham State University with Bachelor’s in Fashion Design and Merchandising, a year after I graduated from Cambridge College with a Master’s degree in Business Management. While earning my degree I gained invaluable experience in the business/financial and Fashion Industry with working at different departments at Cambridge Savings Bank and many merchandising companies such as Motherhood Maternity, Tommy John, Spanx, Echo Design and Fossil Group. While in Framingham State University, I was in the Fashion Club and Black Student Union Club where I was able to meet new people and gain and learn a new experience in both groups with a different diverse of people. I knew I always had a passion for fashion from in middle school and new I wanted to be a Fashion Designer. I looked up to Fashion Designers like Kimora Lee Simmons and Betsey Johnson. I love their unique different styles and just two successful entrepreneurs who are making it in the fashion world and continuing to grow. My dream is to possibly meet both of them one day, even maybe do some business together. At the present time, I am working as a Merchandise Coordinator for Tommy John inside of Macy’s and Nordstrom within the Boston Area. I also owned my own t-shirt line business called Girls Chronically Rock which was inspired by myself because I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy back in graduate school so I wanted to make something inspirational, motivating for people who may have a chronic illness like myself or may be battling anything in their life, to let them know that they rock no matter what. With the wonderful work experiences over the years, I am really just an easy-going person where sometimes I love to be at home watching lifetime movies or many of my tv shows that I love to watch on a daily basis. I like spending time with family and friends whether its traveling, going out to eat and going to special events. Through my education and work experience, I have gained the knowledge and skills necessary to excel as a Fashion Designer and Visual Merchandiser. I am both qualified and eager to strive at my business Girls Chronically Rock and continue with dedication, and I know my hard work will pay off and I will reach my goals. I will soon hope to have my t-shirt line sold in department stores such as: local boutique stores, Macy’s, Karmaloop Foot Locker and many more. Here is a little more in depth detail about how I was diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy: I have Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (MD); I was diagnosed at the age 24. I was born and raised in Cambridge, MA and went to high school in Cambridge. I received my bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising and then furthered my education in getting my Master’s degree in Business. When I first discovered my symptoms of my MD, it was crazy to me because I started to get symptoms around 2009. While in graduate school I began to repeatedly fall, and my leg would just give out on me without notice. I would fall to the ground and not be able to pick myself back up, I would need assistance from someone to lift me up with all their might, because it was something I just wasn’t capable of doing on my own. I also began notice when I tried to reach for certain things in the kitchen cabinets or try to exercise I was unable to lift my right arm up all the way. I kind of just thought to myself maybe I need to go on a diet and lose weight, but in the back of my mind I knew it something more. So I went to see an orthopedic, but I was told that this was more of a neuro-muscular issue, so I then went to see a Neurologist. Once I saw the Neurologist, she then tested me and gave me muscle biopsy, MRI, an EMG and every other test you can think of. So after multiple tests, I was finally diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. Limb-Girdle is a form of MD that affects the limb of the shoulders all the way down to the legs, which progressively over time eventually gets worse. The first thing I thought was how long am I going to live will I be in a wheelchair soon, and what is my life going to be like from now on. I knew I had to be strong and continue to do what I have to do so I started doing some research on it and read what eating healthy and exercising would help. I joined weight watchers with my cousin and I lost over 36 pounds and I felt great. I’ve able to keep half the weight still off, and I am still determined to lose more. They have multiple types of Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, and 5 years later my doctor’s are still trying to figure which type I have exactly. The only thing they know at this point is from the types I may have can affect my heart which is why I often have to go get a echo-cardiogram test that tests my heart to make sure everything is ok. Living with Limb-Girdle Muscular dystrophy is still new to me every day. I wake up every day not knowing how my legs are going to feel or what pain I may have when leaving my house. I try to be very careful when walking because I don’t want to fall, because I won’t be able to pick myself back up. Although I am on my feet a lot for work, after a certain amount of hours, my legs start to weaken. I am currently a visual merchandiser at different locations a very popular clothing store. I enjoy my job because it keeps me and my legs active and I enjoy traveling to the different store locations and doing what I love and my part in the fashion industry. I have the wonderful support from my family and friends but at the ending of the day, they have NO IDEA what I go through on daily basis or what I’m feeling. I try to explain to them how my legs feel, but it’s just so hard to explain. I still go out and enjoy my life as normal, but sometimes I always have certain things in the back of my mind. When going out I find myself researching about where I am going first, like does this place have stairs?, does it have an elevator?, do they accommodate handicap people? So all of these things I worry about when I go out and my friends and family have no idea. Living with MD has made me realize how strong I am and knowing I have no choice but to deal with this. I sometimes get stares because people wonder what a young girl like me is doing either walking with a limp, with a cane, or parking in a handicap parking spot. But I don’t mind because they just don’t know me or know what I have. Although my MD has progressed over the years and getting worse, I have learned to except it and make certain changes in to my life such as now walking with a cane in order to keep my balance and helping me not to fall. At this point I am just taking everything day by day and staying strong. But there is one thing I want people to know by reading this quote. "There’s no “cure” or a pill will “fix it”, but at one point I thought it may help. And I thought the same with therapy and food. But it’s my endless support from family and friend that helps. It is hardest thing that I have ever done, and I found myself much stronger for doing it. Never, ever underestimate the power of your desire. If you want to live badly enough, you can live. The greater question, at least for me was: How do I decide I want to live? That is the question I’m still working on?" AS SEEN IN...

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