It arrived on Monday, earlier this week. The arrival of our post was heralded by our otherwise gentle, soppy little dogs, Oscar and Digby; snarling and barking like savage ‘Hounds from Hell’ as they launched themselves at our front door in an effort to see-off our friendly Postman. I went outside to our wall mounted post box; installed in a bid to ensure that our sweet, cute little dogs do not have the opportunity to ferociously rip our poor Postman’s fingers off, and inside I found the standard brown envelope I had been waiting for.
My new Driving Licence had arrived. I remember, when I first passed my driving test over twenty years ago, the arrival of my new Driving Licence felt so exciting. It was just the paper version of the Driving Licence, back then, heralding such a wonderful new phase in life; greater independence and freedom. Now, however, the arrival of my new Driving Licence represents quite the opposite. What better way for my future decline to be signposted, than by this arrival?
My new Driving Licence came, for the first time, without a paper counterpart; for the Government has recently ended paper versions of the Driving Licence. It is just the photocard. There I was; the same photo staring back at me and yet the photocard has one major difference. Instead of an expiry date set three decades from now, as it had been, the expiry date is now set at three years from now; 2020.
Unfortunately, being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease means that my Driving Licence is now subject to medical review every three years. Okay, I accept that and I fully understand the reasons why, but it is not until you actually see such physical symbols of your new health status that you fully appreciate the significant impact that the disease is having. This is not the first such symbol; there have been others, such as my walking stick, obtaining a Blue Disabled Badge for my car and all manner of preliminary adaptations at home. You would imagine that another symbol should not matter, yet it does. This one does matter. It is one of the clearest symbols of independence one can achieve in life and, now, this symbol of my independence has limitations and constraints placed upon it.
Being a Driver is also a significant part of my identity; something that I had not really consciously considered before now. I guess for me, as most of us do, being a Driver is something that we just take for granted; until something like this happens and reminds us that being a Driver is actually a privilege. This is a good point at which to feel grateful that I still do, currently at least, enjoy that privilege and that I have done so for over twenty years of my life.
I am not one for dwelling on negatives. I really just wanted to share this experience because I know, through being connected within online groups to others with Parkinson’s, that there are many other people who are going through the same experience. This is a tough disease that impacts on all aspects of life and sometimes just describing new landmarks in this ‘journey’ can help educate and inform those who may otherwise be unaware, or simply let those going through the same know that they are not alone.