Home » Farmers' Markets »Steve Patterson » Currently Reading:

I Drove My Car Today

July 2, 2008 Farmers' Markets, Steve Patterson 14 Comments

For most people driving a car is no big deal, millions do it everyday. For me, five months to the day after being rushed to the hospital following my stroke, it was a very big deal.

A year ago I was so excited to not own a car, using my 49cc Honda Metropolitan scooter to get around town and to meet with clients. The stroke took out the use of my left limbs. I’ve got decent use of the left leg at this point, but my left arm/hand is still functionally limited. So a couple of weeks ago I sold the scooter (post) and last week bought a used car — a Toyota Corolla.

For obvious reasons I bought one with an automatic transmission — no extra hand to shift with (while keeping the other on the wheel) nor a reliable leg to activate a clutch. I also wanted a vehicle with power windows because trying to use my right hand to roll down the driver’s window would not be easy. The Corolla has an outstanding reliability record and excellent fuel economy. This Corolla, like most, was assembled in the joint venture Toyota/GM plant known as NUMMI in Fremont, CA, located not far from my brother’s office.

Don’t think that I’m just out on the road living it up without any equipment or training. I had a driving evaluator (a licensed occupational therapist) come and give me vision & cognitive testing as well as on on-road driving test. So last week, at age 41 and after driving for 25 years, I was back in driver’s ed.

We drove on the streets and the interstate. He recommended the two vehicle modifications which were the two I had already assumed:


The spinner knob on the steering wheel at 2 O’clock helps me safely turn the wheel with only one hand. The lever you see behind the wheel to the right is a turn signal crossover, helping me use turn signals with my right hand. The spinner knob is illegal for use on the road unless you’ve be determined to need it. Both devices work great.

So now my trick will be to see how seldom I can drive the car. I feel like a failed environmentalist selling the scooter and getting a car. As I start to buy gas I know I will quickly be reminded of just how efficient the scooter was. I’ll still use the wheelchair to get around downtown. I’ll also continue to work on my walking so that some day I’ll be able to stop using the wheelchair, the cane and leg brace.

In the meantime the car will allow me to get to my office on South Kingshighway without having to bum rides from others. This also permits me to once again have the ability to meet clients at properties that are for sale. A paycheck would be nice.

The car will permit me to stop by Local Harvest grocery and various farmers’ markets to get locally grown food. And finally it will allow me to get and and see projects as they are happening so that I can review them here.

To me the car is an important park of my mobility but I’m not going to let it rule my life.


Currently there are "14 comments" on this Article:

  1. Keep it real says:

    You aren’t a ‘failed environmentalist’. You’re a guy who has battled back from a serious brain injury and you’ve taken one more step to regaining your independence and mobility. Cars aren’t inherently evil…our misuse of them and ridiculous dependence on them are the things that can be characterized as evil. You bought a responsible car and I’ve no doubt that you’ll operate it responsibly. So, I say Congratulations–more progress in your recovery!

    [slp — Thanks!  I want to keep some guilt as that will help ensure I do use the car responsibly.] 

  2. john w. says:

    I have a 2007 Corolla and love it. It get’s great mileage, however I mostly ride the Metrolink so it has low miles. It’s my second one, and I would recommend this car to anyone wanting a lot of value for the money, and not bad gas mileage. I will continue to ride the Metrolink as my main mode of transit to and from work, but the Corolla is one of the best vehicle buys out there.

  3. Dionna says:

    Hey, don’t be hard on yourself for needing the car- it’s a big step for you, but will also allow you to really get out and see things whenever you want, and yes- meet clients easily, too!


  4. Brad Mello says:

    You go Steve! I’m trying to think of some bitchy comment to feed your guilt but hell — you bought a fuel efficient compact. I guess I could try to make you feel bad about putting auto workers in Michigan out of work but I don’t have the heart. For my part — I’ve taken a new job that requires me to walk 3 blocks to the metro — take it 4 stops and walk 3 blocks to my office — my 14 year old Saturn (which gets 28 local, 40 highway — why did GM go backwards not forward?) will stay parked for the most part! Which makes me think the key is more about creating rationale choices for folks so having that absurd gas guzzler and driving 30 miles to work each way doesn’t seem like a good idea. I’ll always enjoy a Sunday drive — they are just wonderful — but independence has to come in forms other than simply owning a car.

  5. Omar C says:

    I stumbled on your blog by searching Google ( blue scooter ). Sorry to hear about your stroke but wish you a speedy recovery.
    My uncle suffered a stroke about a year ago and is still paralyzed, so he isn’t able to drive at all. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with strangers.

  6. Margie says:

    Sharp ride, dude. I’m jel of the sissy ball. I could use one of those! Think I could qualify for “need” based on cellphone use and wifi laptop access at 70 mph? I kid … Keep on truckin!

  7. Jim Zavist says:

    I always thought those were called necker knobs. 😉

  8. Max... says:

    Ya got off cheap on those mods Steve :). Try going with over $56K in steering and mechanical mods plus the cost of the van (thank god for Voc Rehab)

    I’d be curious to know who did your driving eval. I know a couple of the driving evaluators in the area due to my wife.

    Should you need more in the way of a conversion make sure you seek out the gang at United Access up in North County. Great dudes and probably some of the best service you will ever encounter.


    [slp — United Access was the company that installed the modifications for me.] 

  9. Max... says:

    Steve, figured it probably was but I know there are a few others in town but no one as good as United Access.


  10. Kathy B. says:

    Steve Great News – Wheels! Sorry you had to sell the scooter, it was sharp. The picture in front of the boat house looks good. Guilt be gone. Kathy

  11. Jane says:

    Congrats on the tricked out ride! Glad everything worked out so well getting back into the grove of work and school.

  12. 63104mom says:

    I was thinking you’d go for the Toyota Sienna Minivan like mine and then hopefully stop making fun of them.

    [slp — sorry, a 41-year old unattached gay man has no use for a minivan  Besides, those van aren’t so mini anymore as reflected by the poor MPG.]

  13. Jesda says:

    Congratulations on your recovery! Friend of mine had a stroke three years ago and she’s doing great. Modern medicine is amazing.

  14. ed hardy clothing says:

    We'r ed hardy outlet one of the most profession
    of the coolest and latest ed hardy apparel, such as
    ed hardy tee ,ed hardy bags,
    ed hardy bathing suits, ed hardy Polos,
    ed hardy board shorts , ed hardy men T-shirt,
    ed hardy swimwearand more,
    ed hardy clothing. We offers a wide selection of fashion
    cheap ed hardyproducts. Welcome to our shop or just enjoy browsing through
    our stunning collection available wholesale ed hardy in our shop.

    our goal is to delight you with our distinctive collection of mindful ed hardy products while providing value and
    excellent service. Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction and we offer only 100% satisfacted service and ed hardy
    products. Please feel free to contact us at any time; we are committed to your 100% customer satisfaction. If you're
    looking for the best service and best selection, stay right where you are and continue shopping at here is your best
    online choice for the reasonable prices. So why not buy your ed hardy now, I am sure they we won’t let you down.


Comment on this Article: