One of the small humiliations that comes along with MS is the fact that the DVLA force me to renew my driving licence every three years. Until I reported my condition to them - as I'm legally obliged to do - I think my licence was due to expire when I hit 65 years old. Like any good citizen, almost as soon as I was formally diagnosed in 2009, I let them know. My ability to drive has not been affected by my condition, but they stripped back the number of categories of vehicle that my licence entitled me to drive and they set the renewal date for January 2013 (it took them a while to process my report).
It's not entirely unreasonable to have them check that I'm fit to drive, but I was forced to fill out a number of very detailed forms that detailed how often I visit the doctor and authorised them to check my medical records with both my GP and with my neurologist. The result of all this carefully supplied medical information? They applied the same restriction to my licence as they apply to everyone else with MS.
Um. So what was the point of all those forms? Do people with short-sight have to get their medical records checked to see if their ability to drive has changed every few years? No they don't. Instead, the DVLA expect people whose condition changes to report that themselves. I'm sure lots of people don't (and to be honest, given that I was told that I was legal to drive by my surgeon about six hours after eye-surgery when everything was a blur, it seems the eyesight bar isn't set all that high in the first place. Maybe that explains a lot).
So why is MS treated differently? My condition hasn't changed in the last three years, but I am still forced to renew my licence as my old one will expire if I don't. You relied on my honesty to report my condition in the first place, so I don't get why you don't trust me now. Everyone experiences MS differently anyway, so why the blanket rule?
It wouldn't be so bad, but the forms I have to fill in are an absolute nightmare of pointless bureaucracy: duplicated fields, poorly worded and confusing questions, seemingly pointless requests to confirm the exact date - to the day - when I first saw my doctor about MS (2005), when I last saw him about MS (2005) and when my next appointment to see him about MS is scheduled (TBC).... and the same questions for about my appointments with my neurologist. I even have to send them the original copy of my birth certificate, even though on another of their forms (to renew my photo) they seem able to confirm my identity using the number from my chipped passport. What gives?
It's infuriating and, I think, unnecessary.
My health is fortunately still pretty good. I injected myself in the thigh with beta-interferon 1a this evening in the hope that this will remain true for the foreseeable future. I don't need this shit.
The slow walk home
3 days ago