To drive or not to drive? That is the question.

Word of the day. Driving.

A small word however one that nearly half of the adult population choose to do usually more than once a day. Whether you be driving to work, picking the children up from school or driving to some remote area in the countryside driving is usually the quickest method of transport after flying. Within the UK the amount of drivers appears to have doubled in a household; more so since I was a child.

This word is one of the things us epileptics have to consider sacrificing because of our condition.

My parents have always driven and I was usually the one in the passenger seat who thought when she hit 18 she was destined to drive a car of her dreams. I would have loved more than anything to have something that would get me from A to B however when I was diagnosed with Epilepsy that miraculously changed.

Ever since I was young enough to sit in my father’s car and honk the horn I had wanted a car. Like most people part of me wanted to get the reward of walking into a dealership paperwork in hand, purchase a vehicle and have the novelty of having the driving off the forecourt honking that horn before driving into the sunset. Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to undertake that dream.

The rules and regulations of driving in the UK is that you must be seizure free for over a year before you can re-apply for your license. Initially I was one who wanted to feel what it was like to “have my first car” and explain to my children what my reaction was and how it felt to have that independence.

Nowadays after four years seizure free the feeling is completely the opposite. The way I feel towards getting my own vehicle is so far in the other direction that I now have no desire to drive and don’t mind being “chauffeured” around by relatives, public transport and the odd taxi.

“The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook” – William James.

When it comes to driving I am prepared to overlook the problem and accept that I’m one of those people that choose not to drive. Should I be seizure free for another four years then maybe this decision will change; even more so should children come along.

Prior to therapy I would put myself down at the feeling that Epilepsy stole that independence from me; the independence of being in my little motor driving to wherever I liked and ensuring that I got the job done without having to rely on relatives for lifts. Let’s highlight at why the decision NOT to drive took centre stage:

Financially it would cripple me having to pay for a car, lessons, insurance etc so that plays a massive factor in my wanting to drive. Secondly you have the seizures. As mentioned previously I don’t have any warning signs so there is the possibility that I may have one in a car like I have in the past.

Finally there’s the matter of other drivers on the road. Should I have a seizure mid driving mode then I could not only injure myself but others too. This is not a risk I’m prepared to take. I am the sort of person who if anything did happen would never be able to forgive myself therefore I’m choosing to sacrifice one of my passions for my condition.

If you ever get the opportunity to sit in the passenger seat you will see the nutters that take over our roads. Whichever driving instructor passed these people wants shooting or at least a good grilling. Hello.. Anyone listening? These buggers cannot drive. They’re all over the place and have literally no compassion for anyone of anything. The majority probably don’t even have our condition however appear to behave in this fashion. Can they not realise that they could cause an accident?

Some of them have literally no consideration for others. What I’ve noticed is that everyone has to be somewhere yesterday. Why can’t they leave the house 15 minutes earlier? Why do they have to dash at 70 mile an hour down the motorway like mad men? Surely they can drive like civilised human beings in an orderly fashion. No wonder I don’t drive they wind me up as a passenger let alone a driver.

Maybe the following episode helped contribute towards my decision to drive:

At the tender age of 16 my mother and I decided to have a little jaunt to a department store nearby. My mam and I were singing the carpenters song rainy days are Monday’s in the car. It felt like a sodding rainy day because within moments of singing the first verse I started leaning towards my mother and having a full blown seizure in the car. Fortunately my mother is a decent driver and managed to get us both onto the roadside in one piece.

The next moment I am lying by the side of the motorway with scuff marks all down my trousers. I absolutely adored those new trousers. They cost me £24 and I had waited over a week to show them off. Damn seizures. They always came at an inappropriate time. I never got to spend the rest of my birthday money. Instead I sat at the hospital listening to doctors prattling on about how I needed bed rest and plenty of fluids.

Since that frightful day on the motorway the feeling of wanting to drive put the shits up me because at any god given moment the seizures could return only this time I would be the one in the driving seat possibly alone. People could say it’s a trigger to my anxiety while sitting in the car, others may frown and see it as my cop out to not wanting to drive. Either way I’m not prepared to take the risk for my own personal gratification.

That day like many other “seizure days” is one I haven’t forgotten in a hurry more so because my dream trousers had to be thrown away. Nevermind. I best continue before I start reminiscing even more about my favourite trousers.

My parents and I meet up every Saturday for a coffee. Usually the banter consists of me talking about my week and my parents laughing about absolutely nothing. My parents are two of my biggest allies however they have seen the worries I’ve had over the years and because of my Epilepsy have felt that their hands of been tied.

All my parents ever wanted was to yank my Epilepsy from me so I didn’t have that to battle for the rest of my life. They now realise that this is a battle I must stand up to. I’m not the be all and end all. There are some things that I have to come to terms with.

My parents’ words of wisdom usually spur me on to want to live my life and appreciate that I can’t have everything now. Some decisions require advice, others need financial support however the most important are the decisions that require common sense.

I have broken a routine today that I never thought I would break. This morning I intended not to wake up de-motivated. The words “You’re never fully dressed without a smile” came into my head therefore I decided to exercise early before jumping in the shower and dolling myself up for an outing with my dad.

My decision to eat healthier is starting to sink in (the chocolate thoughts have entered and scooched back out again) and I am in the mood to have a positive and carefree weekend. My football bets (soccer to some) are on and I’m destined for my 200th consecutive loss (another £3 down the drain). Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead and give up on the little gambling fix I get of a weekend however enjoy the shouting at the TV too much to give that part of my routine up.

Either way I’m looking forward to this mothering Sunday so we can treat our parents the way they repeatedly treat us… Like rubbish. No I’m only kidding I love my mam to bits and she knows it. Even though I could strangle her at times I’d be lost without my mother.

The conclusion I’ve drawn today is that it’s not an essential to drive. Unless it’s in your job specification or you urgently need a vehicle to get from A to B then why do I have to sit here pondering whether I should be driving or not?

The morale of this story is that we should not be worrying about the things we cannot change. We should be out there having fun, making the most of life and accepting that not everyone’s perfect. So some of us don’t have a car in our lives. As long as you have your health, wellbeing and the love of your support network then that’s the most important.


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