Adapting to Life Without Driving.
Late in November 2016 I experienced one of the worst events of my life. I blacked out while driving and crashed the car. Luckily, I didn’t kill anyone.
Now, I’ve fainted at the wheel before, but this was different. When you faint you feel it coming on. In my experience a vice tightens around my chest and is coupled with light-headedness and darkening vision. This is warning enough to pull the car over to the side of the road.
But this was an instance of missing time. One moment I was at the beginning of a long dark road. I checked my speed, changed the song, and the next thing I knew I was sailing through a stop sign. I had no idea how I got there, just missing time.
There are some of you who will say I drove on autopilot. We all do at times—drive without paying attention to our surroundings. But in those cases your mind is somewhere else, you’re thinking of other things. In my case there’s nothing. I wasn’t distracted, I didn’t faint, I didn’t fall asleep, and I wasn’t on autopilot—there was nothing. One minute I was at the beginning of the road the next I was crashing the car.
Crazy people might say aliens abducted me. I can’t say for certain this didn’t happen because I have no idea what actually happened, but until a little green man confesses that he stole me from the car I’m going to stick with the logical, earthly explanations.
So either I had a seizure or had some other heart / brain stopping event.
The day after my accident I went to see my doctor who sent me for a CT scan and referred me to a neurologist. The scan was clear and the neurologist was great. He took the time to talk to me and listen to all my concerns. But he did tell me not to drive for the next six months. I’m good with that. I agree—I shouldn’t be driving. I’m lucky I didn’t kill anyone the first time. How would I live with myself if I ignored the warning and killed someone?
To cut a long story short and not bore you with all the irrelevant details, I’ve spent the last few months adapting to my new reality. This has been harder than I thought it would be.
I live in a small town in Northern Alberta. We don’t have a large enough population to support public transport so I walk everywhere. And winter is not the best time to adapt to life without a car. I can honestly tell you walking to the supermarket in minus twenty degree Celsius is not my favorite thing to do, but I have snow gear and dress for the weather.
This week I turned a corner. I’m finally adapting to life without driving. On weekdays I get up early, do my workout, get the kids off to school and then sit down and write. I’m determined to use this experience to focus on my work.
I try and get out of the house everyday and am fortunate enough that I can walk to meet friends for coffee, and the grocery store is a mere fifteen minutes away. I’m finally adapting to life without driving, and am not sure I will ever get behind the wheel again.
3/5/2017 07:20:53 am
Your experience sounds terrifying, Marlow. I've come close to falling asleep driving a few times, but they were cases where I was very sleep-deprived. It must be unnerving to still not know what happened. But good for you for walking everywhere. I'm sure it's been great for your health. And it's a good thing that you live somewhere most services are near by. More and more, communities aren't set up for people to walk to anywhere. I have a friend who lives in a nice suburb of Denver and there are no sidewalks on any of the streets around her house! It's assumed you will drive everywhere. Best wishes on your writing and publishing..
3/5/2017 07:53:11 am
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