On a whim, I decided to try to drive myself to PT yesterday. I figured that if I could bend my knee far enough to get into the driver’s seat I should be just fine to drive, since operating the pedals would only require me to move my ankle. So I moved the seat in my car as far back as it could go and I had just enough room to get myself into driving position. Luckily, I have surprisingly long orangutan arms that enabled me to reach the steering wheel, but I felt like one of those idiots who has ape hangers on his Harley, even though there’s no way they can steer with that crap.
I turned the car on, rolled down the windows, cranked some Lupe Fiasco and took a test drive around my neighborhood.
The test drive went just fine, but I realized that it was really difficult to switch between the accelerator and the brake. If faced with a situation where I had to stop suddenly, there would be no way I could go from gas to brake quickly enough to stop myself from hitting whatever was in front of me (hopefully a giant pillow fort) at anything less than full speed. So instead I started using my left foot to work the brake pedal, which provides its own set of challenges. For instance, not stomping down on the brake pedal as you would a clutch. As a former driver of a manual, I’m used to doing one thing and one thing only with my left foot in an automobile, and that is placing it on the clutch and then mashing that bastard down as fast as I can so that I can change gears and get on with my life.
It took me a few go-rounds, but I got the hang of using my left foot to operate the brake pedal fairly quickly. The first few stops I made were of the “unnecessarily abrupt” variety, but it didn’t take me long to get a feel for the finesse required to bring the car to a stop at less than whiplash-inducing speed. As I pulled back into the driveway I felt confident that I could make it to and from PT later that day. When it was time to head to the PT office (I guess it’s an “office”, I don’t really know what else to refer to it as), I hopped into my car, stretched my arms out to reach the steering wheel, and took off down the road. Everything was going just fine, but about halfway there some scuzzbucket came flying up behind me and starting tailgating the crap out of me. That’s when I realized it was time for my final test of left-footed braking: the passive-aggressive “brake check.” Just enough pressure to flash my brake lights and let the guy behind me know that I’m not in the mood for his shenanigans, but not so much that I actually slow down enough to have him mess up my rear bumper. This guy was definitely asking for a hard brake check, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to back down from him just because of a bum knee. I sprung into action, and it went perfectly. I gently pumped the brake pedal just enough to slow the car down a few m.p.h.s and hopefully give that guy a momentary panic attack. He begrudgingly backed off at that point and I savored my small victory. I felt so good about my successful brake check that I even put my arm out the window and gave him the one-finger salute for good measure.
Anyway, that incident solidified my faith in myself to be able to drive effectively with my left foot in charge of brake duty. I got to PT safe and sound, did a few exercises, got a little electrical stimulation, and went on my merry way. I did get some good news from my physical therapist while I was there; she told me that I can start sleeping without my brace on Friday. This is, in fact, fantastic news to me, since I really and truly hate sleeping with that thing on. And while there’s really nothing to stop me from just taking it off and sleeping without it right now, my doctor has made it abundantly clear to me that if I don’t follow his instructions I might need another surgery from messing up my PCL graft. That is not something that I want to participate in, so I’m being very careful about following the recovery protocol to a T. Oh, and if you didn’t click that Lupe Fiasco link up top, shame on you because the guy is a lyrical genius. Here’s another chance to improve your day: