One-handed OT on the Go
Well, I’m wearing white shoes again. No, I didn’t get a new job as a hospital OT. I didn’t get a job anywhere. The reality is that white was the only color shoes in my size that the Walmart near my house with Velcro closures and decent tread on the sole.
I never was so excited to drive to Walmart this morning. I’m not a big Walmart fan, nor do I enjoy driving. But, if you have been following this blog, then you know that I broke the wrist of my dominant hand. The plaster cast was removed after 4 weeks and 2 days from falling on ice, and this Walmart excursion was my maiden voyage behind the wheel. I donned my removable wrist brace for a sense of security, and drove off, using as many side streets as I could to avoid traffic as much as possible.
To be honest, yesterday I did a short trial run with supervision. My friend, a retired long time bus driver who has presumably trained other drivers, sat in the passenger seat of my Honda Civic, while I did a 15 minute or so drive around the neighborhood. “Kevin” teased that I passed his driving test. That gave me enough confidence to drive solo.
My recent experience with this fractured wrist has given me a new appreciation for the challenges that come with having a disability. Though I still cannot open most containers, cut food, tie shoes, write legibly, use this computer with both hands, nor do various other activities of dialing living for eating, bathing, dressing, and grooming, it’s the lack of mobility that has caused a case of the blues to creep into my psyche since my icy mishap.
Sure I have been able to take walk around the neighborhood most every day, and I have been able to get in and out of cars of generous neighbors and friends to go to doctor appointments, supermarkets, and other necessary errands. But, for me, the freedom to be able to get in and out of my car and go where I want, when I want cannot be understated.
Many of the patients that we see in our clinical and community settings have had to give up driving, either temporarily or permanently, especially some of our older clients. Not being able to drive is a huge sacrifice that can interfere with self-esteem and mood.
As an occupational therapist of over 40 years, I have worked in a wide variety of setting. But I have never been involved with driver evaluation or training for people with disabilities. Those of you OTs who are working in that arena are doing a very valuable service to your patients, more than you might ever imagine.
I would be very eager to hear from readers about your experiences facilitating safe driving for your patients with disabilities, or even your personal experiences that kept you dependent for mobility within your community.