Nearly three months ago I had a car accident. I was driving down a main road on a Friday afternoon heading to a doctor’s appointment. The traffic was heavy and I was a little stressed as I hate running late and I like to be on time for appointments. The traffic was moving but pretty slowly and so the truck in front of me stopped suddenly. Before I had a second to move my foot to the brake, my car rolled forward and hit the truck. Next thing I knew the air bags popped out and I could smell sulphur.
There I was, stuck in the middle of the road, unsure what to do. People ran up to me and as I opened the car door I yelled out that I had a disability. I wasn’t hurt and I didn’t want the people to panic as I stumbled out of the car. Indicating that I had a walking frame in the backseat someone took it out for me and escorted me to the footpath.
I was surrounded by people, including the truck driver who looked worried. One of the people happened to be a nurse and as someone called an ambulance she put her arm around me and tried to calm me down.
The ambulance came. The police came. My parents came too.
I was ok and amazingly calm while the paramedics checked me out. The police asked me a few questions and indicated that they would record the accident as a result of my medical situation. At the time I didn’t hesitate when they told me this and was just relieved that I was ok (as was the truck driver).
Having the accident hadn’t scared me and two days later I was driving my mother’s car with no major issues. Mentally I was fine and I was proud of myself for that. Car accidents are scary and they can turn people off from ever driving again. For me though, driving represented a lot for me and it was something I could never imagine giving up.
I don’t use a wheelchair or a scooter and I can’t walk far distances. My car is my independence. My car is my freedom. I was’t going to give any of that up just because of one car accident.
However, a month later I was reconsidering that. Vicroads informed me that I would have to have a medical test along with an eye test. This is something I have to do every year in order for me to keep my license. Vicroads wants to know that my medical situation hasn’t deteriorated and I understand and respect that. Driving is serious business.
Something changed a month ago. Vicroads wanted me to have a driving assessment with an occupational therapist. They wanted to see if I could actually still drive and if I failed it meant that I would have to stop.
My independence was being threatened and it hit a nerve. They were questioning my ability to drive and I did’t like it.
That letter changed everything and my self-belief was shattered. Driving became scary and driving out of my driveway became this huge hurdle I had to overcome every day. Walking towards my car I could feel my stomach churn and as I crept up the driveway I would quickly step on the brake worried that if I pushed too hard on the accelerator I would end up in the middle of the road killing everyone who got in my way.
Of course I passed the test. Of course I was able to keep on driving but my self-belief is still a mess.
Every morning when I drive up that hill to get out of the garage I freak out. My driveway has become my metaphorical hurdle that I can’t overcome.
We all have one and we all have to push ourselves on a daily basis. I will overcome this hurdle once I start believing in myself again. In the mean time, if you receive a phone call at some random time, don’t speak to me. Just listen quietly because your belief in me is helping me move on.