One of the most difficult things about developing a chronic health condition is that in many subtle ways over time, it changes who you are. I fought so many lifestyle changes for so many years claiming I couldn’t slow down because that’s not who I am, or I couldn’t be patient because that’s not who I am, or I couldn’t lose control because that’s not who I am.
I didn’t for one moment think that I would have to alter who I was.
But, in the past six years I have made small changes to my life. I have learnt new behaviours and changed my routines, and I have realised that those changes have impacted the way I think about things and the way I view the world. Without realising it, my pain has changed me.
Last week I did something that makes me realise just how much I’ve changed and how far I’ve come in accepting my health for what it is. I bought an automatic car.
For years I ave been contemplating it. Every time I sat in a traffic jam and felt the sharp pain in my knees and the shaking in my thighs, I cursed myself for buying manual after manual. Last year, stuck in London rush hour and in agony, I promised myself I’d get an automatic next time round but, when the opportunity came, I couldn’t do it. I love driving; I always have. I love feeling in complete control of my car and the road and I love how natural it feels to change gears and respond to the road and its drivers.
Unfortunately, in recent months things have started to get worse. My commute to work was causing me more pain than usual and I was starting to drive less and less. Eventually I gave in and called my garage to see what they could do. My poor little silver VW Polo was going to have to go and in it’s place I was going to have to settle for a smaller car. A red car. A Toyota.
Or so I thought. When I got in the Toyoto Aygo I was amazed at how spacious it was. It’s cute and bubbly and I feel about 19 in it – it’s the perfect first car – and I loved it instantly. The dashboard is full of plastic and to be honest, it’s pretty cheap looking but it makes the whole experience feel quite fun.
However, all of this is kind of irrelevant. The focus of the car is the automatic transmission. The question is: is it any good? Well, it’s flipping amazing!
THIS CAR HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.
The car is responsive, I still feel like I have complete control and, even better, it has positively impacted my pain levels. I can drive for longer, sitting in traffic doesn’t bother me as much and I am a much, much happier driver.
One of the best things about it is the manual shift. You can flick the car from Easy Mode (E) which is the traditional automatic mode in to Manual Mode (M) where you can override the automatic gear choice by changing gears manually, either by using the gear stick or by using the paddle buttons on the steering wheel. Either way, there’s no clutch. How amazing is that?! I do realise that this is a ridiculous review for anyone who knows anything about cars, but, if you’re considering changing to automatic I recommend you read actual reviews for car people rather than my blog about cute red bubbles!
This little car is a big deal. It is the first major decision I’ve made based on my health. I put my own desires aside and did something necessary, and that’s a pretty important step in the life of a chronic pain patient. The fact that it’s making such a difference makes me realise I should have made this change a long time ago.
Plus, it’s making me think. What else needs changing?