Wednesday, 31 October 2018

driving, mobility and the 20m rule

I've always loved driving, ever since I passed my test *gasps* over a quarter of a century ago.

When I passed (second attempt, like all the best drivers) I'd always look for a slightly longer route and go for meandering pointless drives for no real reason. Years ago, an ex-girlfriend completed some postgraduate study in York and pretty much every weekend I'd do the 180 mile round trip, returning back home in the Monday morning rush hour. And I liked it.

I've always been a safe driver and my MS hasn't affected my abilities. In actuality, the fact I was able to drive was used as a reason my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application was turned down last year.

See? We're not joking when we say that this system actively penalises people for their independence.

Anyway. Full disclosure: over the last few years there HAVE been a handful of incidents when I've been driving long distances and my left leg has gotten tired. Which could mean that gear changes required careful planning.

Which is all well and good during normal driving. But recently I decided it was time to stop riding my luck.
I've always driven with manual gearboxes but a couple of months ago we got our hands on an automatic car. And it's brilliant.

It's taken so little time getting used to driving without changing gears that I can't imagine going back to a manual car. Aside from anything else I'm not tired when I get to where I'm going. Plus not having to think about gears allows me to concentrate on everything else which is going on.

I personally decided not to explore other adaptations but what is available is staggering.

Help for driving can include hand controls, steering aids, pedal modifications. Transfer plates and swivel seats which help people get into their car.

There are even roof boxes that can pick up and store a wheelchair, like some kind of benign Transformer.

Obviously these things come at a price. If I hadn't got the enhanced mobility part of my PIP award I would probably have had to give up driving - maybe not today but soon.

There are a lot of people with MS who aren't getting the PIP settlement they should be entitled to and the 20 metre rule is the main reason. It's such a cruelly inflexible rule - especially when MS is a condition which fluctuates on a day-by-day (if not hour-by-hour) basis. It demonstrates a complete inability (or unwillingness) to engage with the reality of the condition.

I've grumbled about the MS Society over the years but their ongoing campaign against the 20m rule is one of their best.

No comments: