After my 15th birthday, all I could think about was turning 15 years and 8 months old—the age at which I could obtain my learner’s permit to drive a car. I grew up on a 56-acre horse farm and had been driving around the farm for some time. We had a driveway that was a quarter-mile long, so I was allowed to drive to the end to get the mail.
I couldn’t wait to get out on the road, though, and began marking my calendar, counting down to the 15-year, 8-month mark. I don’t think my parents were as excited as I was, but I’m the youngest of four children, so they’d already been through this three times. Plus, I was a good driver.
When I finally hit the age mark, I passed my test. My parents felt everyone should know how to drive a car with a manual transmission, so my father turned me loose in the fields in his pickup truck, which had a 5-speed transmission. After some jerky starts and some stalling out, I quickly got the hang of using the clutch. However, it would be a while before I drove a vehicle with a manual transmission on the road or with regularity.
Despite my hopes, I didn’t get a car for my 16th birthday, only a cake with a car on it. After I got my license, I would drive my mom’s car or use one of the other family vehicles. My dad had kept my mom’s old car, a 1978 Oldsmobile 98 Regency. It was creamy yellow, so I called it the Banana Boat. Mom and Dad decided I’d proven my capabilities as a driver, so they decided to give me the “boat” to drive as my own.
There were three things I remember most about the Banana Boat:
- It was a gas-guzzler.
- The radio didn’t work. (It was the ’80s, so I drove around with my boom box on the front seat!)
- It often didn’t start due to a problem with the carburetor.
While I enjoyed having my own vehicle, it was sometimes a pain in the butt. My sister had a fun sporty car and my dad had a cool pickup truck. Both had manual transmissions.
The Pain Begins
One day, I had to go to band practice and my car wouldn’t start, AGAIN! My sister was home, so she let me take her car. I picked up my neighbor, and we headed to band practice at my high school. Afterward, I dropped her off and headed home.
That night, in the middle of the night, I started having the most indescribable, excruciating pain in my left hip. Growing up with hemophilia, I’d dealt with many types of pain, but nothing ever like this.
The next day, the pain was worse, so my mom took me to the hospital. It appeared I was having a major bleed in my left hip. The doctor, of course, asked if there was a particular activity that could have caused this bleed. I didn’t think of anything I had done differently, aside from driving my sister’s car, but we didn’t think this could be the cause of the bleeding. I mean, when you drive a car with a clutch, your knee is what gets the most movement, right?
They gave me several transfusions of cryoprecipitate to resolve the hip bleed, and my life went back to normal. My dad did some work on my car, and I drove it for the next several months. But I really loved my sister’s car, so I borrowed it again to go to the mall with some friends. The next day, I woke up to excruciating pain in my left hip! I went to the hospital, and it was confirmed I was having another bleed in my left hip. Could it be that driving a car with a clutch was making my hip bleed after all?
Join me next time to learn what happened next!