April 26, 2008


            Driving is something most of us take for granted.  It’s something we can’t wait  to do.  Later, it’s just part of what  we do.

            Driving makes your life different. 

            When my daughter asked me how I felt about having a driver’s license, I really didn’t have to give it much thought---then I realized something:   When you walk from place to place, you gauge everything in terms of strength and endurance---your own. You get only as much stuff as you can carry.  You make every ounce count.  You never even think  of getting stuff that’s heavier than you can jerk and carry.  You never get things bigger than you are.

            The first time I went to the K-Mart, I got so excited about all the great things and the great prices, I bought a truckload. 

            After I checked out, and pushed my cart outside to the parking lot, I realized I didn’t have a car.  I had walked there.  I also realized I couldn’t carry home the things I just bought.

            I was mortified to have to call a neighbor to come get me---and my stuff.                                   

            Stamina and endurance are re-evaluated once you have a vehicle.  The bigger the car, the more powerful the engine, the more you feel enhanced.  The more you can do.  The more you can buy.

            So, when my daughter asked me about driving, I was quick to say that now I could go back to the K-Mart---and buy things that were too heavy for me to carry home.  And some things that were bigger than me, as well.

However, driving is a serious source of contention among epileptics. There are some who feel it is a privilege, others who feel it is a right. I have read in sociological studies, that driving is a normalizing act that makes us feel socially equal, if only by having the driving license---whether or not we use it behind the wheel.

Life without a license can be full of added obstacles, of the kind you might never consider. For example, ever been turned down as a job applicant because you had no driving license? I have. I have been told that taking public transportation or depending on a ride from someone else would make me unreliable in the work place. 

Ever try boarding an airplane without a driving license? Forget state-issued identification, because there are still many people who question the validity of the state I.D.---but no one questions a driving license!

If you have E. and want to drive, there are circumstances under which it is perfectly legal for you to do so. These conditions are not the same, state to state, but many of us can drive, legally.

Driving is a key to many things in life, but most especially, it can be key to the way we see ourselves as individuated parts of our society's whole. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is a really important issue and I'm glad you brought it up. I think a lot of us are nervous about even mentioning seizures when it comes to the DMV, which is probably not good, but one is afraid they'll take away your license and if you've been seizure free, then it's like jumping through hoops to prove this and you're always being watched. Did you disclose them? What where the regulations in your state? Do you know them for other states or where one can find out? I'm very nervous about letting the DMV know, and I've been seizure free, but I"m still scared to say anything and I don't know the legalities of it, but as I said, I've been seizure-free so I"m not concerned about hurting anyone or myself (also, I have a warning before my seizures, so I can pull over if need be.) Still, I'm really torn about this and I've hard more than a few people tell me, rather unsensitively, that I should not be driving at all!! As you point out, this is very limiting and would change my life, making it impossible for me to do my job and so many other things. I would be utterly dependent on other people. I can't imagine that. If I had been having seizures or when I have hd them, I never drive - I'm not a fool and wouldn't risk hurting anyone. I find that most people, alas, remain vastly ignorant and fail to understand how limiting this would be and all under the pretense of "I care".

I also found and find constantly epilepsy listed as a "mental illness" (this makes me furious, not because I feel there is something "wrong" with being mentally ill or manic depressive and so forth, not at all) But because it is so grossly ignorant and adds yet a further, or continues the myth and stigma, that epilepsy already has.

The other day someone told me I had the "Witche's Disease". I felt like, Why don't we go all out and just call it "St. Vituses' Dance"! And again, this under the "I care about you" factor, as if mentioning publicly that I have epilepsy (or even worse, to some, that I would call myself epileptic is somehow more shameful than cancer and so forth.

I really appreciate your site. You obviously devote a great deal of your time to this matter and as an epileptic myself, I absolutely applaud you for this.

Thank you for all that you do here.