When Pam’s strength and mobility declined, she sought help to regain her independence.
I was diagnosed with PPMS in 2017. It was a shock that words cannot describe. I was a hard working professional and chose to continue to work as the Director of Operations for a local non-profit and push through each day the best I could. Then came Covid. Like many I was forced to work from home and my strength and mobility rapidly declined. I had been driving and used a rollator for work that I kept behind the drivers seat in my van.
One day I was picking my mom up to drive her to an appointment in Boston. I had a panic attack driving. Then a few days later I had two more. With that I pulled myself off the road and sought out the help of a therapist. Many months passed and I realized that the panic attacks were more about losing strength in my right side and being unable to move my foot from the gas to the brake to drive safely. Asking for rides to go everywhere was horrible. I had lost my independence. Never in my life did I have to count on others and it was rough.
Determined best describes what happened next. With the encouragement of family and friends I was fortunate enough to find someone to drive me in and out of PT and OT every week. During my first visit the PT asked what my goal was and I cried. I said that my goal was to regain my independence. He encouraged me to rebuild my strength. The OT worked on my upper body, arm and hand strength. At the end of my PT/OT visits I had to pass a cognitive assessment that said I had the mental ability to make decisions to drive safely.
Next I signed up for adaptive driving lessons where they came to my house and I was taught to use hand controls. I then had to pass a test at the registry and finally received a “prescription” for the specific devices that were needed to modify my van.
The best part of this journey was going to the facility that does modifications. A light bulb went off – I had no idea that there are so many adaptations that can be made to allow someone who is physically disabled to drive. I will never stay home again. If I need more than hand controls some day I know that anything is possible.
I am back driving again after two years. Words cannot express how it feels to be able to do this. Sure I still have all the MS doubts about “what happens when I get there?” I dont have the endurance (yet) for some things but I meet friends for lunch, drive myself to appointments, pickup groceries, go to the bank drive through, etc.
If this post encourages one other person to do find the courage to regain their independence than my goal is achieved. Don’t give up! Find the courage within to know that this is possible. You can do it!