Driving with TED
Last updated: October 2023
Thyroid eye disease (TED) forced me to look at my reality through a new lens. I did not really think about my eyes much before symptoms from this disease came bolting into my life so fast that I never saw it coming. One of the aspects of my life I had a new outlook on was driving.
I would say I am a good driver. I know how to stay in the lane and go just a little over the speed limit. I can stay calm in stressful situations such as heavy wall-to-wall traffic on the highway. But I was not always this way.
I did not get my permit until I was 16. I was scared driving. I did not want to drive. I felt too young and fragile to be able to operate any kind of vehicle. But slowly I was convinced that it would be good for me. It is hilarious to look back on this thinking now knowing the kind of driver I am.
Driving with thyroid eye disease: Being more cautious
Driving with TED caused me to be more cautious. Not in the way that I was when I was first driving, always followed the speed limit and never moved out of the right lane unless I had to turn. You need to have good eyesight to see and the uncertainty of my eyes left me feeling anxious to drive.
It took me months to realize the possibility of getting double vision while driving was highly unlikely. My distance vision became more fuzzy with TED and it was harder to read signs, but I could manage more often than not.
There was one point where I was forced to stop driving altogether for a few months because I was on steroids and my vision had declined to the point where everything would blur within 6 feet in front of me.
Relying on others
Being unable to drive for a while was frustrating. Everything was not only not going the way I thought it would, the steroids were doing more harm than good to my body, brain, and eyes, but now I was also dependent on other people to drive me around.
During those months, I remained inside more often than not. I would get out once a week when my friend wanted to take me someplace or I would go along with my mom to the store. She would drive me to doctors' appointments across town and my TED doctor said to be patient.
I was weaned off the steroids. My eyesight took a while to come back. When it got better, I got some new glasses with a stronger prescription. I still did not feel really comfortable driving. It was a lot of driving around town where I knew the roads. I did not venture out too often.
When the pandemic hit the next year and everyone had to stay at home, I did not drive my car for over a month. I was more than comfortable not driving anywhere because my TED symptoms were still testing my comfort level when it came to driving. It would be another year before I felt comfortable driving anywhere new.
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