In High School, driving did not come easy to me. It was not natural and I was extremely nervous. But once I got the feel of it, the fear was gone. I would drive anywhere. Weekend trips to the Carolinas , overnight trips to Cooperstown, day trips to southern Vermont.
It now is sometimes difficult for me to get comfortable in a car. What had become instinctive, no longer was. I find that Parkinson's robs me of many of my instinct. I have to think about things that once came naturally.
Now I find that the best time for me to drive is between 12:30 PM and 4 PM. I have the proper balance of medications, hence, I'm comfortable and confident.
On a winterly day, about six months after the diagnosis, I was driving to my dentist. The traffic on the Northern State Parkway was stop and go. While moving along at snail's pace, I was hit from behind. After being hit, for some reason I couldn't get my right foot to move to the brake. Hence I hit a van in front of me. The second collision was so minor that there was no damage to either car. The first collision was clearly not my fault.
The young girl who hit me, sustained the greater damage to her car. My car had a minor dent, that I didn't pursue.
What concerned me then, and concerns me to this day, was my slow reaction time.
I was a Third baseman. I was a Hockey Goaltender. My reactions were terrific. A reaction like that should be instinctive. To this date 5 years later, it was a one time occurrence, that I don't want to test again.
My driving habits have changed considerably. I never drive at night, I try to avoid driving in inclement weather. I clearly am not aggressive on the roads. If I'm being tailgated, I get out of the way. If there is the slightest chance of my having to drive, I won't have as much as one glass of wine.
My car has over 200,000 miles on it. It's the last car that I will ever own. I don't drive that much anymore. Although I had come to enjoy driving, I don't miss driving per se. I miss the freedom that results from having that option. I will never again drive to the Carolinas, with the full Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel collection playing on the CD. I will never again wake up on a Saturday morning and say, "Let's drive up to Newport for dinner."
I also realize that there are far worse problems than not being able to go to Newport for dinner. All in All, I've been lucky. Mass transit in NYC is very convenient.
The subways have signs posted saying, "No spitting, $100.00 fine." Since Parkinson's makes it difficult to spit, look at all the money that I've saved.