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Driving With NMO

Driving, for me, is an essential part of life–especially where I live. It’s how I transport my kids to and from school, activities, my medical appointments, work and more. I don’t live in a city, so public transit isn’t viable for me, but I also don’t live in the suburbs. I live in a town where everything is about 10 minutes away by car but too far for a walk. As my diagnoses of NMO progressed, so did my symptoms, and it became more exhausting and dangerous for me to drive.

Driving fatigue

Driving fatigued me and would cause me to get sleepy behind the wheel. It was a tiring task for me. On my 1-to-2-hour commute to and from work I would do many things to keep me alert. I would do things like blast the music in my car or buy a cold/warm drink to keep me awake. I would listen to audible books. Sometimes I would even stop for an unnecessary Target store run to just get my body moving. I was willing to do anything to awaken my spirits and give me more energy.

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Spasms with NMO

I was also experiencing spontaneous spasms in my legs accompany by hurtful pins and needles feelings. The feeling was so sharp I’d roll my knuckles on my thigh while I was driving to try and control the pain. There were scary moments because it would happen at any time. I’ve had to pull over on the side of the road with my children in the car until the pain subsidized. There were some scary moments.

During this time is when I also got my Baclofen pump surgery and completely stopped driving after that. I needed time to recover, and it was a snowy winter, so I didn’t drive for weeks, then it became months, then it turned into a 3 years to be exact. I was so used to driving and being so independent that not driving and was making me go crazy. That is until I started researching other ways to drive, adaptive driving to be exact.

Hand control with NMO

I found an option of hand control driving and thought to myself, freedom! I quickly started Googling adaptive driving schools near me but unfortunately there none within 100 miles of me. It was quickly becoming clear this new venture was not going to be an easy one.

I kept researching until I found an adaptive driving school in another that I was able to work with. Since I still have a valid driver’s license, I was able to bypass the study/permit section and go straight to practice. On my first day of practice, I was very nervous because I had never driven with hand controls. But after my first practice it was clear this was my next step into getting my freedom back. I had 5 on-the-road practice before my on the road test. I passed with flying colors! It took me less than 4 months to complete and get my current diver's license updated with the correct driving codes.

I was one step closer to being an independent driver. Excited to get my own coffee, shop at Target, take my kids to extracurricular activities, just do regular things. But before I started daydreaming of the independence of driving on my own that I was long dreaming of, I must purchase a handicap accessible vehicle. So, car shopping it is!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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