Uphill Both Ways: Transportation Challenges With Epilepsy
Last updated: July 2022
Not being able to drive with epilepsy
I was unable to drive until I was about 23 years old. During this time I moved from Minnetonka, Minnesota to Anchorage, Alaska. In Alaska, I had to walk everywhere. When I first moved to Alaska it was winter. However, my employer didn't care that it was winter and I didn't have a license. She only cared that I got to work on time. This is of course completely understandable. As an employee, it was my responsibility to get to work on time. This meant I had to walk 2 miles to work and 2 miles back to my house 5 days a week.
There were some real benefits to walking everywhere.
- This walk really helped me stay in shape. It's hard to walk 20 miles a week and not keep a great waistline.
- Bragging rights for my future children. I can use the saying "I walked uphill both ways" and it be true. Not to mention that in Alaska's winter it is dark and cold.
- I had lots of time to process my day. This means if I had a hard day, I could process the events and come home happy and excited for my afternoon.
- I never drank coffee. The cold was enough to wake me up. (Currently, the amount of creamer I put in my coffee is not ideal to keep the waistline I once had.)
- I saved SO MUCH MONEY! The gas prices might not have been right under $6.00 like they are now, but walking is free. I also didn't need car insurance, new tags, or to have a car payment.
Transportation options for people with epilepsy
One day I decided to get a puppy. He was my baby! He was a precious little Staffordshire Terrier named Chief. As you can imagine, he needed me home more than walking 20 miles and working 40-hour weeks allowed. Caring for Chief the way he deserved was my priority. He didn't ask to be adopted by me. It was my responsibility to give him the love and attention he deserved. For this reason, I researched other transportation options.
Anchorage does have public transportation; however, there are many homeless people that ride the bus in the winter. They want to stay warm and dry, and the bus offers a great solution for this. As I took advantage of public transportation, I looked into additional resources.
Anchorage has a program called People Mover. This is a smaller bus specifically for individuals with medical conditions preventing them from driving. At the time (about 10 years ago) it cost $4 a day. This was an amazing service. Unlike the bus, People Mover brought you directly to the location you wished to go.
As the bus rider, you were required to have your day scheduled at least 3 days ahead of time. The bus drivers needed to know their route. If I was going to cancel my ride, I needed to inform the company 24 hours ahead of time. Personally, I am a planner. That means setting aside a couple of hours a week devoted to planning was my idea of a great time!
Researching transportation programs in your area
I know that you are very proud of my ability to walk 20 miles a week. I am sure you are also completely touched by the fact that my love for Chief "drove" me to find a solution that better fit his needs. You might have a follow-up question to my story. How does this impact you? Fantastic question!!
Alaska has a decent size population. However, there is a pretty solid chance not everyone reading this article is from or living in Alaska. Currently, I live in Arizona. I have exciting news, I have found similar programs here!
Additionally, I did some research and have found that a variation of my local program is very popular. There is an application process. However, it seems if you get your neurologist involved, the process will be much smoother. So it may be worth asking your doctor about at your next visit.
Hopefully, this solution can help another person out there who needs faster transportation turnaround times. Always remember, you are not alone!
Since being diagnosed with epilepsy, has your memory been impacted?