Thursday 24 November 2011


I've started to learn to drive.

Not a particularly big deal, something that most adults in the UK seem to do and take for granted, but it's a big deal to me. I didn't learn at 17 when my friends did for many reasons - environmental, health, time, terror and lack of need living as I did in an area with amazing public transport provision.

Things have changed though - I'm now a 23 year-old who can't walk without pain and can't wheel herself on cambered pavement (pretty much all pavement) for any distance, who spends money she doesn't have on buses for distances most could walk, or taxis for places that are too far to walk/wheel from the bus stop. This includes most hospitals, even some of those which have a bus stop in the grounds. That's not to mention that getting a bus as a wheelie generally means leaving 3 buses before the one you need to get to get there on time to allow for inaccessible vehicles, broken ramps/bad backs/drivers not stopping - annoying but do-able for routes that run every 10 minutes, but impractical when it would mean leaving the house 3 hours before a 9am ward round.

So I'm learning to drive. In an automatic, because my shoulders/elbows/wrists would give before the gear stick. Luckily my parents are paying (a belated 17th birthday present) because it's anything from £3-5 pounds more expensive per hour to learn.

I thought it would be a disaster. My lack of proprioception makes me ridiculously clumsy, and when I panic I curl up in a ball and put my hands over my ears - not the most useful of defence mechanisms.

But it's going ok. I've had 2 lessons, and the 2nd I was driving for 40 minutes out of the hour, tackling traffic lights, mini roundabouts, turning corners and other bits and pieces. My instructor is lovely - endearingly eccentric - and very encouraging. And I'm really, really enjoying it. Unexpectedly. By the end of today's lesson, my self-confidence which has taken such a knocking again of late was practically singing a little song.

There's a lot more to learn, and then there's decisions to be made over a car, and working out who gets the car when because the mrs is hoping to work in places that need a car to get to so that she's not essentially penalised for staying here with me when all the local hospitals are crap and horribly unsupportive places to start work.

But for now I'm smiling at the memories of the lovely little noise the indicator makes when it clicks off after you turn a corner, and turning on the windscreen wipers, and the way putting the hand brake on at traffic lights makes me feel really grown up.

There's something really soothing about pootling along the road at 25 miles per hour and taking your part in the little dance that is a mini roundabout.

I'm sure I'll get bored of it soon, or come up against all the stressful bits, but for now it's nice, and I feel really good about it.


  1. Hello!

    I've just found your blog and am enjoying reading all the old posts - turning into a right little stalker!

    I have EDS3 (quite recently diagnosed) and was, until a year ago, a med student. I dropped out due to personal / health reasons (I also suffer from OCD) and switched to another course. I haven't ruled out going into grad medicine one day though!

    Anyway, I wish that I'd found this blog back then - in some ways it's a bit like reading my life!

    Keep writing, please! :o)

    Lottie xxxx

  2. Hi Lottie,

    Thanks for commenting =] For a condition that's supposedly so rare, there's lots of us about! It must have been a really difficult decision to switch courses - I hope that you are managing to enjoy your new course and find fulfilment in it. It's quite scary how similar a lot of us bendy's experiences seem to have been...


    Flo x

  3. I've been amazed to find so many bendies around!

    Changing courses was tough, but I love my new course and have made some great friends. I have more time to myself and can actually do the physio, enjoy myself etc. without being totally exhausted all the time.

    My friends call me Bellsie by the way - long story!