Hindsight is 20/20

Ahh...decisions, decisions, decisions, if only I could see into the future!





Have you ever made a decision that you might have made differently if you would have had  more information before you made your final choice? Well, I have! Today, I would like to share my experience in deciding what type of vehicle to purchase once I began driving after having recovered sufficiently from my stroke to drive a car by myself again.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that information is power. Now, normally I’m not the kind of person who does numerous hours of research before I decide on something. But, I have learned that in some instances that’s actually a good idea! Talk to several different people who have been through the process first. Experience really is priceless!


For example, approximately a year or so after having had my stroke and returning home after being hospitalized for 6 months, I was anxious to get back behind the wheel of my car(an SUV that was too high for me to even climb up into!) and become independent again. I longed for the freedom that driving provides. My then-fiance, Bob, decided to surprise me by taking me to an empty parking lot in his small 2010 Honda Civic hybrid and as we came to a stop, he  announced, “ ok, you’re ready to get in the driver’s seat and drive.” I was pleased and terrified all at the same time. It had been over a year since I had last driven a car! Paula, take it slow.Since the lot is empty how dangerous could it be, I asked myself. Suddenly the only thing I could think of was the Nike tag line, "Just Do It"! So, that’s what I did I got into the driver’s seat. The first thing I discovered was that I could not adjust the seat forward to accommodate my short legs using only one hand as it requires you to hold the handle with your right hand while pulling the seat forward with your left one in this particular late model Civic.. Oops, no left functioning hand to pull myself toward the steering wheel. I tried rocking myself forward using the momentum of my body weight to launch the seat close enough for me to touch the pedals. Nope. Bob had to push my seat forward  while I held the handle with my one working hand. Ok. Problemsolved for now. Next. adjust the mirrors. This I could do! Yay. Now, turn the key, press the gas pedal gently with my right foot and let the car roll slowly forward to get my sense of space and speed back. I felt 16 years old again. I turned off the radio. I was going to have to be completely distraction free since I only had half of my brain in full operation. Lucky thing I believed that the full brain that I had started with was exceptional so, I figured even with only half of a full working brain I would be pretty on par with most of the other drivers on the road, especially if I gave it my full attention.

I began making a mental list of all the features I would need in a car in order for me to drive solo again.Here’s my list:

  • low enough profile for me to get into the driver’s seat without assistance
  • automatic seats/mirrors,
  • Radio and phone controls on the steering wheel
  • Some type of door handle that would allow for me to reach across my body with my right hand to close the car door.
  • Some way to transport my electric scooter and/or travel wheelchair.
Armed with my features list I set out on Memorial Day weekend to buy a new car. It never occurred to me to ask Google about accessibility vehicles! After visiting 6 different dealerships and test driving 9+ different makes and models, I was exhausted. Suddenly , I remembered seeing a Carmax commercial! I insisted that we go home and visit their website, which allows you to enter the features you are looking for in a vehicle hen tells you which cars have those features. Hmm. Lexus or Mercedes were the only ones I had to choose from. Truthfully I had once ridden as a passenger in a Lexus and had secretly wanted to own one someday. So, Lexus it was. Carmax emailed us saying that they had a used  2010 available with low mileage so we drove right over to look at it and it was perfect. Silver with light grey interior and more features than I had ever hoped for. After a test drive I leaned over toward Bob and whispered,”This is the one”I felt like I had just fallen in love again! And so began my 5 year relationship with Lexi, as I had nicknamed her. After making the necessary adjustments like adding a hitch, purchasing a Hamar lift for my scooter to be towed behind her.Oh, and then finally adding beefed up rear springs so she wouldn’t bottom out on speed bumps.We went every where.. Shopping, drive-in movies, lunch at Wendy’s and to the Starbuck’s drive thru window for tea and vanilla scones. Some days were very tough though. Wind, rain and then the day my scooter battery was stolen while I was at an appointment. There was another cost $200 to replace the battery. After that incident our relationship began to wane as I became tired of burning my butt on the hot vinyl seat of the scooter that she towed on the uncovered lift behind her. In March of 2017 after a 5 year relationship with Lexi, I announced to my now, husband, Bob that I needed to break up with her. I simply couldn’t go through another scorching Las Vegas summer with the scooter issues (I had already replaced 2 scooters because they either fell off the lift while I was driving or were stolen, I’m not really positive what happened but when I got home there was just no scooter there any more. Then, like browsing online dating services I received an email advertising mobility accessible vans at what seemed to be pretty reasonable prices. So, I drove to business that was in the ad ...just to look.. What harm would that do, after all? Unfortunately the only ones they had available were brand new models. The ad showed pricing for used later model vans. The brand new models were not in my price range unless I could live in the thing! So, home I went but this time I learned to ask Google for advice. Sure enough., we  found more options.I proceeded to make the following list of all the costs I had incurred trying to make Lexi fit my needs.
Van comparison list

In the long run it was actually only slightly more for the van that was really the right vehicle for me. So, I passed Lexi on to my son, who had coveted her from afar and agreed to take over her remaining payment for me until her loan is paid off.I can’t say enough good things about the dealership we finally bought my used Honda Odyssey mobility accessible van from, complete with a ramp that allows me to drive my scooter right inside and slide right into the driver’s seat without facing the wind, rain, or sun issues. ahh..love again! And off I go to my next fun event and now I can even wear shorts! Because vinyl stays so much cooler when it’s air conditioned and out of the sun! #PSProblemSolved

If this story resonated with you and you'd like to contact the dealership that helped me, then please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Sunday, 25 February 2018

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