Thursday, August 18, 2011

Driving Miss Lazy?

After the stroke my neurologist reported me to the DMV, which resulted in a suspension of my driver’s license. I spent eight months completely dependent on family and friends for transportation.

I have lived in Los Angeles all my life and have ridden public transportation only twice: Once on the new metro system simply for the novelty of it; and once as a teen in a story that ends with the punchline, "Say what?! Youz on da’ wrong bus!” Post stroke, no one, least of all me, thought I should take a bus. One of my regular appointments is a cross-town trek. I was using every ounce of energy I had in therapy sessions. How could I cope with long bus rides, transfers, and walks to and from bus stops?

At the gym where I exercise, the cardio equipment looks out a picture window onto a bus stop. I study its patrons while they wait: Hispanics and African-Americans, students and single parents, the elderly and disabled. I watched last week in wonderment as an oversized woman in an oversized wheelchair made a five-point turn on the sidewalk to back herself onto a platform that the conductor had lowered for her.

The many advantages of my life include having my own transportation and, during that relatively short eight months when I didn’t, knowing so many generous people who were willing to take me a distance along my road to recovery.


  1. Taking a Para-transit bus for a year before I was able to drive again gave me more empathy for able-bodied people who have to use public transportation. I had to wait for up to 80 minutes during each round trip which was tiring when I had to stand. I might have to ride on the Para-transit bus for an hour before I got to my destination. Dealing with these frustrations for an entire adult life boggles my mind.

  2. Oh, I hear you. I too live in LA and never used public transpo. prior to all of this. What a waste of money here!!The system doesn't work at all. Waiting hours prior to and after rehab, just didn't work. Thankfully my husband was my driver most of the time. I'm just 8 months out now and am just getting back to driving...ut out. Just kidding :)Isn't this stroke stuff humbling??

  3. In Mass., anyone who has had a spell of dizziness or unconsciousness must not drive for at least 6 months. The RMV folks think that, as long as you have a valid license, you're driving; they don't trust you not to. So you are required to turn in your license and then take a competency test to get it back. I have gone without mine for nearly 2 years and have depended on selfless friends and neighbors, lots of taxis, and the commuter rail. My car is adapted now but I haven't practiced with it enough to take the test again. Soon, though.

  4. My biggest hangup is that licensing requires me to get a neurologists written report before allowing the actual driving evaluation.

    The problem is that I am seen by a Family Dr and they won't accept his report. The Neurologist I did see once is now living in the State. We have a shortage of Specialists here in Canada.

    Anyway my very good news is that I got a call this week and I now have a Neuro appt end of October. That has been about 15 months of waiting for paper work so far.

    I must admit that it MIGHT have been for the best that I had a forced delay. I think I am a lot more cognitively fit to drive now than I was even 8 months ago.

  5. Hi Marcel,

    Congratulations on driving again- what a feat! Your description of the challenges of people who depend on public transportation help me feel so grateful for the ability to get myself from A to B on my on steam!