THE ODDS (Debbie Does ALS)


No comments from the peanut gallery, please

When I revealed my secret to Mel and Suzanne, they shook their heads and laughed. When I told Jenny, she put her hand over her eyes and thanked me for not telling her earlier. I have waited to disclose this little bit of information because I am somewhat ashamed and embarrassed. All I can say is do not judge me, just be glad I no longer have to resort to this adaptation.

I can still drive. Up until April, I was driving to and from work five days a week -- a little over 500 miles. I can still shift gears (yes, recall I drive a stick shift) but shifting into fifth gear and reverse became problematic because the position of these gears is the farthest right, one up, one down. It got to the point where I had to use both hands to put the car in reverse, which I did twice each day: once in the garage and once at home. Not a problem since the car is not moving. Fifth gear presented more of a challenge because one shifts into fifth while driving at a high rate of speed. I overcame my inability to shift with my right hand/arm by performing this maneuver with my left. I held the steering wheel firmly (using the yet to be revealed secret) with my right hand, and leaning slightly to the right, pushed the gearshift into position with my left hand. The first time I did this I was surprised at how easy it was. In the back of my mind I knew what I was doing was not something I could share with anyone, particularly those who did not want me to be driving in the first place. So I remained mum.

In addition to the problem I was having shifting gears, I found that my grip on the steering wheel and gear shift lacked substance. I decided the best way to resolve this was to improve the traction between them and my hands.

Here, now, my secret revealed: After much consideration and experimentation with various household products, I discovered a little dab of honey, worked into my palms as well as the gear shift knob and the steering wheel, made everything wonderfully sticky. Each morning a little spot was dropped into my waiting hand and away I went, happily and stickily steering and shifting, fifth gearing and reversing. I knew the clock was ticking and I was determined to eke out just a few more days behind the wheel.

I know. Very risky, very inconsiderate, totally loopy. When I pulled into the driveway tonight (forward facing instead of backing in) I let out a huge sigh of relief that I was finally finished with driving. Then I went in the house and washed my hands.

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