Ever since developing cardiac sarcoidosis and getting my AICD implanted, I dreaded that one day it would affect my ability to get my driver’s permit. I love to drive, even in traffic. In summer my job requires that I drive an average of 4,000 miles in that time, and sometimes a 2 1/2 hour trip can take more than 4 hours in heavy traffic. I don’t get frustrated though. I use that time to catch up on my audio books.
Since living in NY from 1996 (with a two-year break in between), I have always renewed my driver’s permit by mail and more recently, online. This year my permit is due to be renewed, and now NY state requires that all renewals have an eye exam. This means that either I go to an authorized eye test center (a pharmacy usually), get the eye test and then renew online, or go into the DMV itself.
I opted for the DMV as the one closest to me is always pretty empty. When I filled out the form, on the second page was the question that stopped me in my tracks:
“Have you had, or are you currently receiving treatment or taking medication for any condition which causes unconsciousness or unawareness such as … heart ailment?”
I literally exclaimed “shit” out loud and other people filling out forms next to me stopped and looked up. Do I tick yes, or do I tick no? My meds don’t cause unconsciousness, do they? They cause dizziness, but not unconsciousness. At least so I thought, but decided to look up my meds side effects right there.
Coreg: Dizziness, Unconsciousness.
“Shit!” I exclaimed again. This time no one looked up. I could just tick off “No” and no one would be none the wiser, right? The thing is, I really do not like to lie. I dislike dishonesty intensely, but if I tick yes, there is a chance this would jeopardize my chances with a driver’s permit. Then I thought maybe I should contact my cardiologist and ask him what he thought. I was sure that he must come across this often. Maybe he would say don’t worry about it, just check off “No”. I wrote him an email right there and sent it off, folded the form and left. (Always get your doctor’s direct email. If they don’t want to give you, then move on. Don’t abuse the privilege though)
When I got back home I told my wife about it and she looked at the form.
“Did you see the part underneath the question?” she asked as she showed me the form.
If “Yes”, your doctor must complete form …
“Shit” I exclaimed again. This was getting worse by the minute! I again contemplated just ticking off “no”, but decided to see what the consequences were. I looked up some info on law sites and the DMV and basically if I declare “No” and it is later discovered that I am on meds and I get involved with some accident that requires a blood test, then I can be heavily fined and have my license taken away for five years.
Everything was pointing to the fact that my not wanting the “man” to know about my ailments, it was going to happen whether or not I liked it. I took of my coat and as I plugged my phone into the charger my cardiologist replied to my email.
You have to check yes. There is a form that I have filled out and am having my nurse mail it out to you. You have to fill in your info and submit it to the DMV.
“Shit! Shit! Shit and double shit!”
Now I wait for the form which should be here tomorrow and then I go into the DMV and let them know that I am an impaired driver and hope that the law does not change in the future to bar medicated people like me from driving.