Thanks everyone for your very interesting replies.
In answer to Simon, the MCIBS is because I am a member of the Chartered Banking Institute in Edinburgh, currently of Drumsheugh Gardens and formerly at Rutland Square. I am retired from a bank that I better not mention, but suffice to say that my employer was and is very caring of its staff.
I don’t want to bore you all by going on and on, but there is some irony in this short story. In December 2016, the former Chairman of my motorcycle club died after having a stroke. I wanted to show respect for my former friend, so I decided to drive to his funeral in Buckie. I have never driven during winter, other than the central belt, but I actually drove north through Aviemore, Elgin and eventually getting to Buckie. His family and friends offered accomodation to me and I stayed 2 days, but coming back I went from Buckie to Aberdeen and then Dundee, mostly motorways, which I actually loved, especially in a sleety December.
To get to the point, that round trip of a few hundred miles was the last time I actually had a long-distance drive, because just a few weeks later, at the end of January, into the start of February, I had my own stroke, as mentioned in my first post. It is ironic that I should have had a stroke just a few weeks after I had driven through Scotland in winter, to attend the funeral of a friend who had actually died from his stroke at the age of 79. My stroke was when I wasn’t quite 64.
Between 1984-2017 I had done over 50 trips with my motorcycle club, throughout Europe, and eventually by car to visit my many friends, particularly in Eastern and central Europe.
That’s why I have a chip on my shoulder regarding losing my personal transportation and therefore independence. Since 2017, I understand fully how 100-year-old drivers feel when they are told by their doctors that they must surrender their driving licences, as seen in a couple of TV documentaries.
Those of you who live in Edinburgh shall know Morningside Road and in particular the Grange nearby. That is where the Astley Ainslie NHS rehabilitation is located. They deal mostly with various adaptations to cars etc. but also have tests for stroke survivors who have visual deficits.
Within the DVLA rules, they having something called the Special Criteria, and if someone satisfies those rules, a driving assessment is permitted, after doing tests on a static ‘‘rig’’ with flashing lights etc, within the hospital buildings. After that there is a driving assessment on ordinary roads and I had to drive through the hospital grounds a few times and then out on to Morning side Road and residential roads off there.
My own automatic car was sold in February 2017 since I was told there was virtually no hope of any visual improvement. Therefore I used the hospital’s little automatic, but I was too heavy on the pedals and kept exceeding the 20MPH signs. My point is that I was put into a strange car, after having not touched any vehicle for 27 months from February 2017 until the assessment drive on 2nd May 2019.
How someone is expected to perform well in a strange car after 27 months of not driving, I don’t know. There isn’t even a re-test allowed. One drive and you’re finished. Also, no other driving is allowed before the assessment using for example a qualified driving instructor. There is a special one-off licence that is only allowed during the assessment then handed back.
I have to be grateful that the paralysis I experienced before one of my hospital presentations went away after a few minutes, otherwise my left arm and leg would have been non-functional.
The TV presenter also had a stroke, as many of you will know, but luckily his deficit was not in his occipital lobe ; it was a motor function deficit, and Andrew did an interesting program about his disability. He has a leather strap device between his waist and his left foot and that helps him to walk, reasonably well but he had a lot of guts to persevere with it, not unlike the great Douglas Bader who was depicted in the film ‘‘Reach for the Sky’’ with Kenneth More…a masterpiece in dealing with having no legs at all.
And of course, since Andrew’s left arm is ‘‘dead’’ his automatic car had to have control knobs on the steering wheel so that he could control the steering etc. with just his right arm, and being an automatic the left foot just sits on a plate and only the right foot is used on the 2 pedals. I wish Andrew many happy years of driving.
I have been trying to think positively since my Ischaemic stroke over 6 and and half years ago, and am grateful I am lucky to be able to walk about and use buses 90% of the time with the occasional tax. Being older, I have a free bus pass so I don’t pay a penny for transport in the whole of Scotland, if I wanted to do a tour of my own country, since I can no longer drive to my various friends in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Eastern Germany along with other European countries.
The only good thing about 2nd May 2017, was the lovely number 900 bus, I think it was, from Edinburgh to Glasgow. I had been given a lift to Edinburgh in a car by a former colleague who still works in a bank in Edinburgh.
Hopefully, I shall get to my finishing points. I have been subscribing to various universities newsletters here and especially in the USA, in particular MIT…Massachusetts Institute of Technology, though to be the greatest university on planet earth, because of their innovations in the medical world, amongst others.
I am hoping MIT come up with creating artificial neurons (brain cells) that can be used to replace the function of my own dead brain cells in the occipital lobe, thus reconnecting the brain via the optic nerve to the eyes. Many of you will know the term neuroplasticity. That is when live neurons adjacent to the dead cells, take over their function by by-passing the dead ones to create a new route to the eyes. Natural neuroplasticity is most likely to occur within the first 4 weeks after an Ischaemic stroke. After that, there is less than a 1% chance of vision being re-connected.
Finally, I have also been obsessed by fully self-driving cars. These autonomous cars shall probably not be available to just anyone until I am dead, and at the moment the main place that they are used as robo taxis is in Phoenix Arizona. But world utilisation depends on Infrastructure. THe main rules are in the American standard and is known as the S.A.E.Level 5 to be truly autonomous. I other words, I want the car to take me to ANYWHERE at ANYTIME in ANY WEATHER, and the car to be either purchased or rented long term. It won’t be cheap but I am obsessed with totally independent personal transportation.
In the USA, ‘‘ride-hailing’’ or ‘‘ride-sharing’’ seems to be predominant. I do not want that ; I want the car for me, my family and friends and neighbours etc and be available to me 24/7.
I even tried EAPC’s’''electrically-assisted pedal cycles but that did not prove useful. When you have peripheral vision loss, left or right, the rule is that you are not allowed to drive or ride ANY vehicle that is self-propelling. So that just leaves an EAPC. As-long-as there are pedals, it is legal, if no pedals, forbidden. And also it must not be capable of exceeding 15.5 mph with the battery-assist.
I hope I have not bored you all too much.
After over 6 years, I am now an expert on bus timetables and weather forecasts, having to use both of them when I am planning on going anywhere. Of course, if hospital appointments are involved, such as for pacemaker or prostate tests, then I just have to put up with the weather that day. I am now on my 5th black shopping trolley since 2017 and it’s amazing what you can carry in these things.
Thanks again and please excuse any typing errors, although I try to proof-read… it’s the habit of typing a letter to the right or left of the key I want, because my eyes don’t notice it.
I failed the driving assessment of course and one reason was ‘‘drifting’’ within my lane, but not actually straddling another lane while going along the Edinburgh bypass. That was not a good sign. I was told to give a running commentary while driving, regarding my road positioning and passing other cars, when parked, for example. The physiotherapist Alison said very kindly and logically, when I said that I didn’t know that I was doing that, she said…‘‘Mr Anderson, the reason you didn’t know that you were doing that, was because you couldn’t SEE that you were doing it.’’
Anyway, I’ll close now and just have to realise that what is going on in Ukraine over the past 16 months is absolute hell compared to my problems. Compared to them, where I am living is like Monaco compared to Mariupol where people had to spend several weeks in cellars with little water, food, electricity, light or important medication supplies and if they were lucky, they were not killed or lost various limbs. My friends who live in Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia are only a couple of hundred miles from the misery.
David R. Anderson