You know how people joke that they need to turn down the volume of the radio in the car to see better? I have truly felt that over the past two and a half years. It has been exceptionally difficult for me to focus or comprehend something if there’s background chatter or noise. Even without any background noise, my driving attempts since the beginning of my recovery have been failed attempts.
I woke up today and felt this overwhelming momentum. I felt like this would be a good day to attempt driving again. I am unable to exercise at my Mom’s gym as it is too busy and overwhelming for me inside. So, I go to a recreation center that is calm inside, about one mile up the road. I rode in the car with my Mom to her gym and got into the driver’s seat to drive myself to the rec center. This was a big moment.
Today was a beautiful day of warmth and sunshine. I sat in the driver’s seat for a moment, closed my eyes, grabbed the steering wheel and took a big breath, purely feeling everything as to ground myself. I opened my eyes, then the windows and felt ready. I drove through the parking lot towards the street in silence. I then had this urge and turned on some music and started making my way to the rec center just up the road. I put my hand out the window and felt the sun and warm breeze flowing through my fingers. It was electric.
About two minutes into the drive, I felt it in my being that this time was different. It felt like my eyes would cooperate and that the intricate systems of my brain would communicate. I didn’t feel cross-eyed, dizzy or have a headache like the countless attempts over the past two and a half years.
I couldn’t help but smile big and out of nowhere, tears started streaming down my face. The warmth from the sun and the breeze through my hand felt like it penetrated my soul. I made it to the rec center and started sobbing while simultaneously smiling so big until my face hurt.
I sat there in the parking lot and cried so many happy tears. At that point, I would have already developed a migraine based on my previous driving attempts. Rolling with this energy, I went into the rec center where I completed my PT exercises.
Still smiling, I got back into the car, turned on the music and rolled down the windows. I closed my eyes, again breathing it all in. I started my drive back to my Mom. The entire drive back, I had the biggest smile on my face and again the tears started to flow.
My Mom asked, “So, how did it go?” I looked at her and started sobbing. Naturally, she immediately thought it went very badly. She said, “Oh my gosh, what happened? What’s wrong?” I said, “It was so good and I am so happy. I forgot what that felt like.” That is a moment that will stick with me for a very long time.
There are no words that can fully describe the experience of driving with the windows down, hand out the window, feeling the warm breeze through your fingers while listening to good music. It was so liberating. I didn’t realize just how freeing until I lost the ability to experience that. This was one of the many things in life I took for granted before this injury – a simple drive. Next time you go for a drive, take a moment to really feel it. All of it.
I was on cloud nine and I still am! It made me feel whole. Even though it was a short drive, it was something I haven’t tolerated on many attempts leading up to this point. I will never take even the shortest drive for granted again. One might call this a small victory but I call this a huge victory.
In this moment, I am rolling with the wave of good energy and momentum and hope there are more positive advancements to come! Little by little, I hope to get back to full driving. My goal is to eventually be able to drive myself to future trips out to Pittsburgh. That is a big goal but I am set out to do that. And when that happens, the drive itself will be all the celebration I need.