Mid February 2015, I had a spectacular physical and mental breakdown. This thrust me into the world of constant rehab to recover the functional movement in the left side of my body. In addition to that I also started rehab for my brain.
The other major impact that this had on my life was that instead of caring for everyone else and being the one that others depended on. I became the person that required caring for and I needed to depend on others for everything. For what I can work out this meant eating, drinking, showering, dressing, thinking, processing you name it I needed help with it.
What this meant for me in practical terms was that I had my drivers licence suspended. So I have been dependent on everyone friends and family for so many things but most of all to get out and about I needed others to help me. I live in an area where public transport is less than ordinary. I am used to trains and can’t read a bus timetable to save myself!
I discovered in the process that I needed to go through to get my licence re-instated that there is in fact a HUGE list of physical and mental ailments that could precluded you from holding an unconditional licence in NSW at least. I bet if I asked most people would know that epilepsy is an automatic from day of diagnosis until you are 6mth seizure free. So each seizure means the count starts again. And pretty much everyone is aware of the older driver regulations that once you get to a certain age then you require annual medicals and after 80 (I think) you require annual testing.
What I didn’t know is how many other conditions you are legally required to notify the RMS (in NSW) about and they then determine if you require a specialist letter or medical or even actual assessment to hold a licence. Some of these conditions are:
- Blackouts (so if you are prone to fainting!) these can also be called syncopes
- A HUGE list of cardiovascular diseases
- Diabetes!!! Your bsl needs to be above 5 to drive.
- Hearing loss and deafness
- Musculoskeletal (so these typically included height, physical issues that might require vehicle modification)
- Neurological (could be anything epilepsy, parkinson’s, MS, dementia etc)
- Psychiatric disorders (including anxiety, PTSD, Depression, Bipolar and personality disorders!)
- Sleep disorders (I guess it is helpful to not fall asleep while driving)
- Substance misuse (seems obvious but if you are say on methadone to get off heroin you shouldn’t drive!)
- And lastly, Vision issues (again I am figuring it is pretty helpful to be able to see when driving.)
Some of these conditions make perfect sense to me. But honestly when you drill down and read the information I actually wonder if anyone should be on the road and if in fact that everyone should be required to have a medical every time they renew their licence.
The long and the short of it all is that yesterday after two trips to the doctor and two trips to the RMS I was given a conditional unconditional licence. Which means that I will require a medical every year to maintain my licence. Edited to add It is really important that if you have any condition that might fall in the above categories that you talk to you drs. There are quite serious potential implications if you don’t disclose medical conditions and drive without a medical clearance to do so. Sure it is a pain in the arse process to go through and I doubt you will be without a licence for nearly 2yrs like me but it could be worse if you drive and don’t declare it. Here is the fitness-to-drive document where you can get more detailed information. It might not be all doom and gloom.
I drove the very tiny 1km home from the RMS and it scared me silly. So I am thinking that while I have the approval to drive the confidence to drive is another thing all together. Plus I am almost at the point where I am certainly not enjoying walking but I do know that it does me good. So for now I have the official say so that I can drive but I am not sure how long it will be before I do it on any regular kind of basis. Though it does absolutely mean that I am dependent no more!
Happy weekend everyone
Ring on my thumb is a specially designed for me Letter Ring by Kate from Uberkate