The first in a series of short blogs sharing some insights into the trials and tribulations of driving with Parkinson’s.
Back in the Day
I’m driving down a narrow, single track country lane with occasional passing places when I meet another car coming from the opposite direction. My friendly self smiles. I signal to my fellow driver that I will reverse to let them pass. My friendly self reverses smoothly, accurately and without hesitation around the slight bend to the passing place a few yards behind me. I smile and wave graciously at my fellow driver as they drive past and signal their thanks to me. A perfectly pleasant and courteous exchange.
I’m driving down a narrow, single track country lane with occasional passing places when I meet another car coming from the opposite direction. My friendly self attempts a smile but my facial muscles have a mind of their own and my ‘smile’ could very easily be mistaken for a scowl. I signal to my fellow driver that I will reverse to let them pass but my hand also has a will of its own and my signal could be interpreted in any number of different ways. My fellow driver can’t tell that I am my friendly self because they’ve interpreted my smile as a scowl and my hand gesture as a ‘why can’t you be the one to reverse’? My fellow driver has already made a judgement about me that in no way accurately reflects my friendly self. My ability to reverse swiftly, confidently and accurately is somewhat impaired by my Parkinson’s. I can do swift or accurate but am not confident that I can pull the two off at the same time. I feel slightly anxious about being watched while I reverse around the bend and even this hint of anxiety makes makes my symptoms worse. So……..
I put the car into reverse at the third attempt and as predicted, my slightly wonky brain struggles to reverse with any accuracy around the slight bend. It takes me a few painfully slow and awkward attempts by which time my fellow driver is gesticulating aggressively at me. My face is now well and truly frozen, I could be mistaken for being belligerent or angry but in truth I am mortified. To add to my stress levels, there are now cars waiting behind me. These other drivers sit patiently but I feel under pressure from them just being there. I do eventually manage to reverse successfully but at snail’s pace. My fellow driver honks their horn and shouts something loudly at me. ‘Thank you’, I thought they were saying, for a split second, before realising they were actually shouting ‘W*****’. My slightly wonky brain flipped into overdrive at this point, and before I knew it, my right hand that was usually slow to move and wobbly, moved faster than the speed of light to make a gesture which there can be no mistaking, was neither in the least bit pleasant nor the least bit courteous. It seems, I may no longer be my friendly self……..
Or maybe, this scenario is nothing much to do with Parkinson’s and there are just some drivers who have no patience and are neither pleasant nor courteous.