For those who don’t know - I’m Gem and I’ve been sharing my experience with driving a Ford Torneo Connect using hand controls. After 1 pandemic and 3 years later - I passed first time! I have been absolutely loving driving and it hasn’t taken me long to get going. I’ve already had a couple of road trips and it’s just the best feeling ever. I thought I’d share just some of the reasons I’m loving driving so much as a disabled driver…
is probably an obvious one but it’s still a ‘pinch me’ moment that I can
spontaneously decide that I want to go out and boom, I’m on the road. Before I
was driving, everything had to be a planned operation. I’d have to plan my
routes, book assistance and be told I “should have booked earlier”. It’s really
hard to feel independent when you’re disabled - and that can have a real knock
on effect. For me it impacted my confidence. I found myself apologising for
just wanting to do something simple. But now, I want to go and get a can of coke
from the shop? No bother let’s just roll in’t car!
that note, this relates to my next point which is wow - I have so much more
energy! Not just physical but mental too. I didn’t realise how much brain space
it takes to travel using trains and taxis. The constant checking, shmoozing
people so they can help you and dealing with bad access in between. With all of
this being taken away, all I have to think about is the road ahead of me -
lovely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m observing a lot of road rage - but that’s
nothing compared to being stuck on a train with no ramp at my
having more energy, this means I now have more time for the fun things too. For
those who don’t know me I’m a MASSIVE extrovert. I love and gain energy from
people. But with having a physical disability - sometimes this means I have to
stagger my activities and pace my week. But now with driving taking up less
energy, this means I can simply meet my friend in town for a coffee and a catch
up! There’s no cold stroll there or cobblestone roads to wobble and cause
aches. Having the freedom to see people in my good bursts of energy is giving
me a much needed mental health boost.
When you’re disabled, it sometimes can take a while to get to know how your body works best in new tasks. This was definitely something I had to work out. For example, when I drove up hill - I realised my core strength wasn’t strong enough and I needed a cushion to keep me upright. I also needed to properly work out how to clamp into my car, adjust my chair height at a level that was comfortable for long journeys. Sometimes it can feel awkward if you take time shuffling and stretching. But, trust me when I say - own it and take that time. It will be so worth it knowing that you’re 100% comfortable and your examiner will want you to be too. If you’re not comfortable mid exam - tell the examiner and you wont be penalised for pulling over and adjusting how you need to.
And finally, as you can probably tell with all the blogs I’ve wrote with Peoples Ford - I genuinely love to tell people about my car. It’s something as a kid I had no idea how I would do it. Driving was something I hoped to do but wasn’t sure how it would all work. Unfortunately, as I’m sharing my story online, I’ve also had the odd negative comments too. There are some people out there who cannot understand the freedom hand control driving gives to a person. So I’m hoping the more I share about my journey (pardon the pun) the more people will it just as positively as I do. On that note - if you’d like a full tour of my car, be sure to check out Peoples Ford’s video !
now, I’m off to plan my next trip!
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