You’d be hard pressed to squeeze more driving related crises into a morning. Anxious, giddy drivers, transporting a relative stranger around the region in the rain.
It started early. Miss Ditzy, a retired genteel sort, is not used to morning traffic. The 15 minute journey to my house took 50 minutes. By the time we gathered up Mr David at 9am, she’d been on the road for an hour and a half, and was past herself. While I was distracted looking up a picture of an MP with a fetching tie, we took a wrong turn or two and headed up the busiest road in town. In the wrong direction. A slip road, another road, a roundabout, more lights, the other slip road and eventually the right way. By 9.15 we all needed a stiff drink. It had already been a long day.
We’d spent the previous day with Mr David also. We’d met a neurologist, and held a huge support group meeting. 25 people in a room designed for 12. Borrowed chairs and big boxes of Swedish biscuits. A walking stick with added laser; sadly not a light sabre. There was only a minor parking incident on that day.
Miss Ditzy and I carry on like family- we giggle, squabble and wind each other up. I felt for Mr David, dropped into the middle of a strange place, with two hyper volunteers he can’t get rid of. Maybe he can commission research, by a mental health professional, on Life After PSP?
The second support group meeting of the week had smaller numbers, powerful stories, and a baby. A cuddly baby who was content enough on my lap to let the group do its thing. Eventually, I gave the baby back, we gathered the light sabre and the biscuits, and hit the road. This time, I was driving.
I have driven Miss Ditzy’s car before. Once I remember about the handbrake, all is well. We knew roughly where we were going. We had plenty of time. What could possibly go wrong?
The sky was low and dark. The rain kept coming. Heavy, wet missle. Grey, splashy roads.
I realised I’d never needed the lights on Miss Ditzy’s car. Where was the switch?
-That’s the wipers.
-No, not there, that’s the indicators.
-To your right!
-This wee twiddly thing?
-No! Turn the thing!
I did. I turned the thing on the right.
Unfortunately, it was the ignition key. In three lanes of traffic, approaching a roundabout (with no lights on), I turned off the engine.
Fearing imminent crash, chaos and injury, Miss Ditzy and Mr David had conniptions.
I turned the not light back the right way, and proceeded round the roundabout while my travelling companions quelled their heart rates and struggled to restore their breathing. When Miss Ditzy could speak again, I pulled over and she pointed me in the direction of the huge big turny knob thing on the dashboard, nowhere near the steering wheel. There was light.
There was only one stall, at a ‘tricky’ roundabout, between us and the afternoon meeting.
There is a moment in every support group meeting when I am reminded why I do this. The hassle and the tiredness fades into the background, and I know that the effort is more than worthwhile. What we do makes a difference. People connect, get and give support, and realise that they are not alone. It is an privilege to be in the room when that happens.
The long journey home was without incident. Mr David avoided further panic by closing his eyes and
praying/ meditating sleeping. Miss Ditzy and I blathered on, as we do.
Next time, we’re taking the bus.
A possible title for this post was ‘Thelma and Louise’, but that may cast Mr David in the Brad Pitt role. Only a young Brad Pitt can do that.