Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Defeating My Driving Anxiety

As mentioned in a past post, I completed the Driver Assessment at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in May 2012.
After the occupational therapists and driving instructor spent an entire day assessing my abilities, they concluded that I would benefit from 4 hours of driving instruction, that I would do fine if I drove for no more than an hour at a time (I become noticeably fatigued, and make silly decisions), a GPS, and an on-road driving test to renew my license.
The driving instruction would build my confidence (it had been more than two and a half years since I drove, plus that whole 'almost-dying thing'), and the GPS would help me find my way (my internal road-mapping was off).
In August 2012, I began my four hours (an hour at a time) of instruction. I learned to correct old, bad habits that I had developed after driving for ten years. It was good. And terrifying.
For my second hour, I had worked myself up so much that I had to cancel. I was having panic attacks just thinking about driving. Not cool.
After I cancelled that lesson, my good friend volunteered to talk on the phone with me prior to each lesson. It helped distract me from the building anxiety.
I practiced with my Dad after the lessons were complete. Like old times.
I did pretty well parallel parking while with the driving instructor, but I could not parallel park with my Dad. It was ridiculous, and very frustrating.

Alas, the test date had come: September 18, 2012. 9am.
The tester was a friendly, and patient woman (can't recall her name). The first thing she had me do was parallel park. Goody
It was a beautiful parallel park. I would've had that parallel parks' babies.
We did some downtown driving on the one-ways. She noticed the vegan buttons I have on my purse. She asked if I was vegan, I happily replied, "Indeed, I am". We talked almost the entire time about veganism. It was really rad. I felt remarkably relaxed.
When the test was about three quarters of the way complete, I shared with her that I had to do this assessment as a result of my severe brain injury.
She was amazed. She never would have guessed that I had a brain injury. I thanked her, and we talked about my brain injury and the experience of my driving anxiety. By this point, we were a block away from the building, and she revealed that she hadn't taken any points. I had passed. With a 100%!!!
I was...astounded! No points deducted?! I did everything correctly?!?!
I asked if it would be inappropriate to hug her, and she replied, "not at all". I was so happy and amazed.
I'm still so happy and amazed.
I had already resigned to the fact that I would probably need to take the test a second time.

I think I want to frame the assessment paper. There are no marks on it. Incredible.