Motivation Comes in Many Forms

June 2016. It was an unusually chilly summer night here in Virginia. My family was doing what we do best: hanging out, listening to music, enjoying the little things in life. I was hungry (of course) and found myself wanting a cheeseburger. The big juicy kind that grease and cheese just ooze out of once you take your first bite. I needed a burger. The more I talked about it, the more I was able to convince my mom that she wanted one too. I knew she was tired; she had a long day at work. But...cheeseburger.

Cheeseburgers: The Key to Independence

Reluctantly, my mom got up, grabbed her purse, and was on her way to our local mom-and-pop burger joint. I couldn't wait. Then it hit me: I want to be able to do that. At 22 years old, I want to be able to pick myself up and go if I crave a cheeseburger, or a taco, or sushi. I do not want to be an inconvenience to my parents. They will tell you I am not an inconvenience, but c'mon. Cheeseburgers, late night cheeseburgers!

It was in that moment when I decided it was time. I am ready. I need to learn to drive, not only for the sake of all those wonderful cheeseburgers waiting, but for my own sake. My injury allows me a bit more independence than some, so what is stopping me?

Absolutely nothing.

I purchased my vehicle the next month. Make no mistake, this was not an easy process. Many late nights were spent online doing research. Just because I decided I was ready to start driving did not mean squat. The hard part was just beginning.

For one, money was a challenge. Wheelchair-accessible vehicles are expensive. I don't know about you, but I did not have that kind of money laying around. With the help of my small community and the hard work of my parents, I was able to make a fairly large down payment on Joy, my 2014 Honda Odyssey.

Joy, Alyssa's 2014 Honda Odyssey

Shortly after my beloved Joy came into my life, I had an appointment to get an evaluation. This is where things start to get crazy.

Starting the Process

I had to go to my local DMV to take the learner's permit test since I had never driven before. After I passed that, my doctor had to fill out so much paperwork. She is probably still filling it out as you're reading this. You know the drill: details of my injury, movement in my upper body, and my overall suitability to driving. This may be a stressful process, but just push through it! Trust me on this one. Don't think "What if this doesn't happen?" Tell yourself, "Either way, I will get through this and come out better on the other side."

My doctor then sent all the paperwork to the medical department of my state. Let the waiting game begin! The paperwork was eventually reviewed and accepted. I got a letter from the DMV saying I can now go to a rehab driving specialist to get an evaluation. If I pass the evaluation, I could then start my driving lessons.

The evaluation is a very long process which will test your coordination, reaction time, vision, and reflexes. They don't make it easy, but that's okay because we can do hard things. I did pass the evaluation though! Time to celebrate with cheeseburgers.

I was then scheduled for my first driving lesson which had to be conducted in the typical driver's ed car. Not in my van. Because I want to be as honest as I can about this, you need to know this is not cheap. Everything costs money, and for some reason insurance does not cover much, if anything at all. So please be prepared!

An Unexpected Setback

Now, had I not taken a fall out of my chair, I would be driving already. Yes, you read that correctly. I fell and broke my leg. I have had a few people ask me, "Well your legs don't work, but your hands do. Why do you have to wait?" Because I have a broken leg! The doctor wants me to stay in bed as much I can, not transferring in and out of my wheelchair. Great!

Alyssa with her van

It's somewhat discouraging because now I have to wait longer for something I was so close to finishing. But you want your doctor and your driving instructor to be strict, because eventually you will be out on the open road with the car windows rolled down, some good ol' Lynyrd Skynyrd on the stereo, and a cheeseburger sitting securely on the passenger seat. You want to do this the right way, the long way, the hard way. But it can be done, and it will be done, because...

"We made broken look beautiful
and strong look invincible.
We walked with the Universe
on our shoulders and made it
look like a pair of wings."
– Alyssa Briggs

About the Author

Alyssa Briggs

Alyssa is a 23-year-old from Colorado but now lives in a small town in Virginia. When she was six years old, she and her family drove to Oklahoma from Colorado to visit their family for Thanksgiving. They never made it to their intended destination and were involved in a bad car accident. Alyssa suffered a complete spinal cord injury. Alyssa's favorite motto is, "The only disability in life is a bad attitude." She enjoys going out with friends, being with family, jamming out to music, being with her animals, and eating cheeseburgers! Alyssa is currently in school and is almost done with driving lessons so she be more independent.

Alyssa's ride is a Quickie 2.

Most of the stories here on Live Quickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 8/15/2017 12:00:00 AM

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