You might remember that a few months ago I was having a proper grumble about my driving licence (and if we're friends on Facebook, you'll probably remember because I was ranting about it only yesterday). You know how it goes: legally obliged to tell the DVLA about my MS in 2009; they asked me to fill out a detailed medical questionnaire; they checked my health with my neurologist; he said I was fine; they stripped me back to a three year licence anyway... blah, blah, blah.
Fast forward to November 2012 and it was time to renew my licence: the forms duly arrived in the post. Well, at least they remembered to do that bit. It was, however, the same set of detailed forms that I filled in last time (quite why they need me to tell them the date I first experienced symptoms again I have no idea... but apparently they do and I have no option but to guess the dates again and to hope they're either the same as the dates I guessed last time or that they never check. My money is on that they never check).
I sent the forms back in the same week that I received them, mindful that my licence was due to expire at the beginning of January and I was worried that this might take some time. Even so, at the end of November, the DVLA wrote to me to tell me that they hadn't heard anything from my neurologist. Quite why they were telling me this rather than just ringing my neurologist themselves, I don't know.
So I rang my neurologist. His secretary thought that, because my records weren't out, then the request must have been fulfilled and they'd been filed back again. Er.... right. I wasn't filled with confidence, and sure enough, by 7th January my licence duly expired without any sign of a new one.
I was cross. If the DVLA arbitrarily insist that I have to have a reduced licence, then you would have thought that they would put the processes in place to make sure that they can issue the new licences before the old ones expire. Mind you, I would also have thought that neurologists - busy people though I'm sure they are - get this kind of request fairly regularly and should be able to turn around their end of the equation too. Well, between the two of them, they'd conspired to let my driving licence expire.
So, obviously I wasn't going to stop driving. How many times has someone ever checked the date on your licence? Still, I thought I'd ring the DVLA and get all righteous on their asses. Well, or ask them politely where they were with my new licence.
They were very nice. It's not ready yet, but they have received all the forms from my neurologist. They can't say when it will be ready, but they did want to tell me that there is an exemption in the law that allows me to drive legally after the expiry of my licence whilst my application was being processed.
Right. So NOW they mention that.
MS is rubbish enough as it is, but sometimes it's all the associated inconvenience that goes alongside it that gets me down: bleeding out when I stab a vein in my leg when I inject into my thigh; the muscle bruising the injection causes that I can feel in my leg all week when I run; the numb feet; remembering to ring airlines to tell them I'll be carrying needles whenever I book a flight; trying to find the letter from the neurologist to show to customs at the airport so they don't hold me up when passing through the security checks; ringing the insurance company every year to remind them that I need my MS covering on my travel insurance because they always forget and leave it off my quote; declaring the condition to my car insurer each year; declaring it to my travel agent so that I know if I'll need to get any additional covering information from my doctor before I'll be allowed to go diving; the uncertainty, never really knowing if this is fluctuation in existing symptoms or the start of something new. This week: all of the above.
Yeah. You're right. Now that I write that all down, it does sound a bit whiny. I have MS and I wish I didn't... but things could be a lot worse than being slightly inconvenienced from time to time, right? Worse things happen at sea.