Driving me crazy

By | 28 October, 2010
Alison's brand new car

Alison’s brand new car

I try to be positive about the whole pancreas situation. No point in whinging, much better to just get on with it.  There are however  two* occasions when I allow myself a luxurious lament. The first is a short, sharp blast of anger whenever it comes to the laborious task of getting together the ridiculous amount of diabetes junk required whenever I travel.

The second is a three yearly event that invokes an irrationally strong response to something that my logical brain knows is correct. What provokes this fit of fury? The letter from the DVLA informing me that my driving licence is due to expire and I must fill in a million forms to make sure I am still fit to drive.

My logical brain says that this is a very good idea. Of course we don’t want half blind, hypo diabetics careering all over our roads unable to detect how hard they’re pushing the accelerator because the nerves in their feet have gone to sleep and living on the brink of a heart attack in the fast lane of the M6.  I get that. If I worked for the DVLA I would do the same.

Somehow though its different when you’re the one having to reapply for your licence. Then the letter from the DVLA incites lengthy rants to friends, family and the internet about how ridiculous it is that everybody else can hold a driving licence until they’re virtually dead and not have anyone snooping into their medical business.

Nevertheless  a few of weeks ago I got over my little strop and filled in the form. Yes I can see, no I don’t hypo randomly without warning, here is my Dr’s name, address and inside leg measurement etc, etc. And today we celebrate because I have a lovely new driving licence and my next driving related huff is not due until October 2013. Now what else can I get irrationally irritated about in the meantime?

*I’ve just remembered, I also get pretty irritated when my GP gets my repeat prescription wrong. I’m going to stop thinking about this now as I fear this list of gripes and groans is only going to get longer.

15 thoughts on “Driving me crazy

  1. Donald Thomson

    I had to go through this rigmarole last year and for the first time they didn’t take my word for it that I can see (even though I’d filled out the form in my best handwriting) and sent me for an eye test. My question is, why aren’t all drivers eye tested as a matter of routine? Plenty of folk out there on the roads who aren’t diabetic but are as blind as bats – if they can’t see a large red motorbike with its headlight on and a yellow hi-viz-clad rider on board they must be! Will stop now before this turns into a general rant on my favourite subject rather than a considered reply about diabetic matters.

  2. Chris

    If you have background retinopathy will they remove your license? Mine is due for renewal in april so iim a bit worried!

  3. Alison Post author

    @don172 Oh, don’t start me on that rant, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    @cbbc11 From anecdotal experience, I’d say no, but you really need to check with your optician and the DVLA. Much as I hate it, I take the approach of telling them about anything that changes, that way I know everything is out in the open and I’m driving with a valid licence.

  4. Tim

    @don172 – I agree too – there are some bloody awful drivers out there. I’m glad we pootle about in a tank-like Volvo, so we’ll probably be okay if someone crashes into us…!

  5. Rohan

    I’m already annoyed by this – and I’m not even on a full license yet! Still a pain sorting the provisional out, just so I can start learning once I have the cash to… Still, like you say, it’s good to try and make sure there aren’t too many half-blind hypo drivers out there – especially as I’m a cyclist!

    Talking of hi-vis jackets I really should buy one before I get run over…

  6. Annette A

    @cbbc11 – no, as long as the optitian/opthalmologist/whoever they insist on testing you these days says you can see well enough. It depends where the problem is in your field of vision, so only a medical professional would be able to judge.

  7. Heidi

    At least you’re lucky only having to go through this every three years. In Denmark it’s every 2 years – unless you’ve had issues, e.g. serious hypos, in which case you may only get your licence for 1 year at a time – and it has its own set of annoying requirements. While we are not reminded about it, we do have to get new passport photos (typically £10-12), because photos older than 1 year will not be accepted, and since you have to hand in your old licence when applying for the new one, it is unfortunately pretty obvious if you try to use another of the 4 photos you paid for 2 years back :-/ Most important, however, is a visit to the doctor for a number of tests (eyesight, balance, etc.) and paper work – and you have to pay for that (typically around £40). Once you’ve got the statement from the doctor, who also needs to stamp the back of your photo to verify that you are the one this paperwork is all about, you can proceed to the Citizen Service office with everything in a sealed envelope so that you cannot fiddle with it. At CS you’ll often have to spend hours waiting in the queue. Once you finally make it to the counter, they’ll critically assess your photo once again and likely say that it’s actually just boarderline acceptable. You’ll then have to hand in your old licence in exchange for a slap of paper representing your temporary licence. Now, when you’ve spend the better part of a day with photo-taking, doctor’s appointment and queueing at CS, you can just wait for your new licence to be send to you along with a lot of “special instruction for diabetic drivers” if your application is approved.

    Like many of the other commenters have stated, it seems ridiculous that we have to go through this so often, when other people, regardless their failing vision or other medical issues popping up, can just keep on driving until they turn 70 (the age in DK for healthy drivers to keep their licence without any reviewing). Obviously there are some things we need to pay attention to as diabetics, and evaluations are okay, just not every second year, when you’re otherwise healthy and your diabetes is well regulated.

  8. Tim

    Hi @heidiro – welcome to Shoot Up! It sounds like a real pain in the bum sorting out you licence in Denmark. More generally what’s diabetes care like there?

    1. Heidi

      Thanks Tim 🙂
      I’d say that diabetes care in DK depends upon where in the country you live and to which hospital you’re affiliated. I’ve tried both provincial hospitals and for the past 9 years a large university hospital, and the opportunities as well as “service” are very different between these extremities. I think that it’s rather safe to say that I wouldn’t be on a pump and have CGMS at my disposal, had I not been affiliated with this university hospital or one of the other major hospitals/diabetes centres.

  9. katherine cromwell

    I agree when I moved to Poole I was told I would be seen at the hospital rather than the gp surgery which I’m really pleased about. They are so up-to-date and thankfully Poole and Bournemouth hosp talk to each other and work to help us as people. I have been really lucky by managing to attend hospital care in Hull, Newport/S. Wales and at St. Thomas London but really its up to you. You have to feel comfortable and should anything go wrong confident in the consultants knowing you to help you. Gp’s unfortunately don’t always have up to date info (WHY??) I have no confidence in mine concerning diabetes.

  10. katherine cromwell

    Oops sorry I’ve ranted there and missed the forum debate! I just fill the form in and thankfully optician shows me any concerns re eye pics. So far so good. (fingers and toes crossed to)

  11. Stephen

    @cbbc11 I can speak from experience here.

    I developed background (non proliferative) retinopathy two years ago. I had some light laser treatment and notified the DVLA. They sent me for what I can only describe as THE SPACE INVADER TEST!!!!!

    This is basically a peripheral vision test where they put you in a big bowl and flash lights all round your vision to see if you have any blind spots. At no point during this did they take my licence off me.

    Now I passed the test and all was well with the DVLA.

    Unfortunately I have found out in the past couple of months I have the beginnings of proliferative retinopathy but still at a very early stage. I can’t comment as yet on what the DVLA will make of that as I’ve not had any treatment yet, but I’m seeing the eye doc in a couple of weeks so until then ….. still got my licence and the DVLA are ok with me 🙂


  12. Mike

    What happens in Spain is really simple, NOT! Administration for anything here is far from simple.

    Basically you go to family doc, get the all clear denoted by nifty piece of A4 plus stamp.

    Next we go to a special medical centre that do medical exams for driving/firearms etc.. This will set you back 50 Euros more or less. Here they do an Eye exam, run through your medical history and ask what they need. Obviously they are specialist diabetes docs as well so they know everything! Not!

    Whilst here you also have the pleasure taking a hand/eye co-ordination test involving a split screen and 2 joysticks. left hand controls the car on the left hand and vice versa. The trick is that they go in different directions.

    Once you pass, you head over to “Trafico” queue forever to get the forms to renew license, making sure all forms are completed, photos and photocopies of everything else you can think of to submit.

    Queue to Pay – 20 Euros then wait your turn submit said paperwork!! Still with me????

    Hand over license, they hand over temp. paper one and wait for new one to arrive via post. They gave me one for 10 years instead of usual 3/4.. Result!!!!!

  13. lady up north

    I live in the UK and I have to renew my driving licence annually.

    This is because about 18 months ago I had a bad hypo while driving, and crashed into a parked car and the British Gas van parked behind it, writing off both those vehicles and my own car (which as sod’s law would have it was the best and most expensive car I have ever owned). Following this DVLA revoked my licence and it was 6 months before I regained it, which involved a helluva lot of hard graft, loads of visits to GP, DSN and hospital consultant. My DSN (bless her forever) queue jumped me up the waiting list for a place on a DAFNE course which helped with things both generally diabetes-wise and specifically in the regaining of my Driving Licence.

    I have recently received the form from DVLA to renew my Licence, and they wrote to my hospital consultant who gave me an appointment within 4 days of him receiving the letter – if only we could always be seen this quickly !

    I am now waiting to hear from DVLA whether I will be able to continue driving after 8th December (the MOT expires Dec 17th so a month for motoring matters !)

    As an additional precaution regarding my safety while driving, I now have two identical meters, one of which is kept in the car at all times, along with Lucozade and enough food to feed a small country for a week.


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