Thursday, February 16, 2017

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

     Yeah, it's been a minute. To be completely honest, I'm still feeling overwhelmed by the recent presidential election, and I haven't figured out how to not let the circus in the White House encroach on my days, so I'm a little off-kilter. I'll figure it out, I just haven't quite gotten there yet; it's a terrifying time for those of us in the disabled community, and that's not hyperbole. Still, it's a worry to write about another day, mostly because when I try to get my thoughts in line, it comes out as nothing even close to coherent, so there's that. The more immediate issue is the fact that my husband and I have to replace his car, and it's about the least fun thing I've done in awhile.

     I came into the marriage with a 2007 Mazda6 I named Fancy (don't judge), and I love her dearly to this day. My husband drives her most of the time now, as his Pontiac died in the middle of the highway one July night about five years ago. We replaced that car with my current Mazda3, which is really too small for his 6'5" frame. I mean, he can get in it, but it's not comfortable, and he's almost wrecked it a couple of times, because the pedals in my little car were never meant to accommodate size 17 feet. So, the plan was, we'd just keep Fancy until the wheels fell off, and replace my car with something larger, so that he could drive either car and we wouldn't have to worry about switching cars. Plus, my 3 is a bit temperamental, and it made sense that we would replace that one first when the time came. Shockingly enough, things did not go according to plan.

     As it turns out, we need to replace the 6, and it's proving to be a little more involved a process than I've previously experienced. Obviously, we're looking at another Mazda6, because we're pretty loyal to the brand, and we know the car fits him. Beyond that, though, other little considerations have started cropping up that neither one of us ever considered before now. For example, could the car he drives have any effect on his back, good or bad?

     A Mazda6, while a full-size sedan, does sit lower to the ground than, say, a small SUV. It's no sports car, don't get me wrong, so it's not like he's trying to crawl out of the driver's seat from five inches off the ground. Honestly, though, even I sometimes feel like I need to be hoisted up out of it if I'm really sore from going to the gym or something, so I can only imagine what he feels like. A small SUV, like a Mazda CX-5, might be more suited to him, as the height means he's stepping out of it, not pushing up from the seat. I know this seems like minutiae, but I promise - it's the little things like this that can have a profound effect on someone's life. Anecdotal evidence - my father has a bad back, has for years. My parents bought a new car, one that had an adjustable lumbar support in the driver's seat, and suddenly he was able to go eight months or more between cortisone injections. I have no idea if it was the new car or not, but he swears it was.

     Something else that we're considering, which we both always considered a luxury waste of money, is a back-up camera on the car. Full disclosure - my husband and I were the first ones to lead the charge of, "Why does anyone need a back-camera? If you can't park it with just your mirrors, you don't need to be driving it!" He pointed out though, while we were perusing the dealership's website, that if we had a back up camera on the car, we wouldn't have to switch seats every time we pull our car into the garage, which is what happens now. His spine has a 20-year-old fusion that runs about eighteen inches, and he hasn't been able to turn around since he had it done. So, in our current situation, he pulls up to the garage, switches seats with me, and then I back the car in. I know it seems like a tiny inconvenience to most, but it's again one of those things that could make our lives just a tiny bit easier, and any help is welcome.

     The other thing that's led us to consider a small SUV instead of just another sedan is the fact that we absolutely have to consider what will be easiest to transport a wheelchair in. This is the part of the conversation my husband least likes to have, but it's the most necessary, in my opinion. The truth is, between the breaking down of his ankle tendons and the utter shitshow that is his spine, he can only comfortably walk about 100 yards unassisted on a good day. That means, if we want to go to the zoo, which he dearly loves, or the mall, which he decidedly does not, or any other thing that's not just walking from the house to the car, we need to take a wheelchair. He's finally given in on that point, though he will never accept it, and we're going to purchase a travel chair for him to use so that he can come with on family outings, instead of having to sit somewhere while the rest of us go explore.

     I absolutely hate the car-buying process, as does my husband, and I have to say, the additional considerations he has as a disabled person haven't made me love it any more. I do think, though, that if we're smart about the car we end up with, it could maybe have a trickle-down effect on the rest of our life, however miniscule. 

No comments: