Driving and Traveling With Fibromyalgia

Written by Deb Lundquist

July 12, 2017

Before Fibromyalgia, did you used to grab the car keys without any thought and race to the car, start it, put your seat belt on and just take off to wherever you were going? You knew exactly how to get there and so you didn’t even have to think about the route you were taking? It was like the car just automatically knew, so all you had to think about was traffic? You could sing with the radio and it didn’t distract you. You could talk to the person next to you, you could laugh. You could park fairly easily.

You could travel with ease. You enjoyed it. You could go anywhere and often did.

Then you developed Fibromyalgia and probably a few other things as well. At first you didn’t know what it was, but you noticed your concentration was making things difficult, especially things like driving. For another thing, you noticed you were tired all the time, so it was a little scary driving because you never knew when the total exhaustion was going to hit you.

Sometimes your eyes would get blurry. Sometimes your pain would be so bad, you couldn’t push the gas pedal, let alone the break. Sometimes you were just too weak to even get off the couch, so how were you supposed to drive?

Things distracted you so easily now; the radio, someone else’s radio, conversation in the car, the baby’s crying, someone arguing on the street corner. People honking their horns because you didn’t start right away when the light turned green.

You get lost easily because you forget where you are going. You have to really think out a plan of your route now, because otherwise you might not get there as soon as you are supposed to because you get lost.

You are forgetful, so you might not even go where you are supposed to in order to meet someone, or maybe you just don’t feel like going.

Maybe you don’t feel like you aren’t safe driving anymore. I finally got to that point. I finally got to the point where I felt like I might not be seeing other drivers after my last accident, even though the policeman said he almost hit his superior’s car because of all the smoke. He didn’t give me the ticket. He said it wasn’t my fault I didn’t see the car. It was the farmers for starting the fire during unsafe conditions.

I quit driving all together until about 2 months ago. I will drive now because my head is clear, but I would not until then.

Then how do you get comfortable traveling now that you have Fibromyalgia? You feel everything!

What Can You Do To Improve Your Ability To Drive?

Treat Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms.

There is no cure for Fibromyalgia at this time, but who knows what the future might bring. Once they find the cause of Fibromyalgia, it may be closer than we think to a cure. Until then, we can only treat the symptoms.

Proper Nutrition:

High Quality Nutrition, Plus

Extra

– D3, 5,000 mg

– Magnesium Glycinate = the magnesium especially for Fibromyalgia. Take the same amount of this magnesium as you take Calcium

– Calcium, 1,200 mg

– Vitamin C, 1,000 mg

Treat Your Depression:

– see a psychologist for discussion and get rid of stressors and other distractors

– See a psychiatrist to get the right medications you need that can not only help your depression, but help with your nerve endings as well.

Get Good Rest:

– Before you set off to drive someplace, even if it is just to the grocery store or the kids to school, be sure you had a good night’s sleep. If you need to get help from your Doctor do so or you can use holistic methods …

Eyes:

– Get Sunglasses that wrap around your head so the sun can’t blind you from the side.

– Fibromyalgia can cause allergies and dry eyes. My eye Doctor gave me Ketotifen Fumarate Ophthalmic Solution. My eyes were so blurry, it was so hard to see. I put one drop in each eye, morning and night and it is so soothing and really clears my eyes. It makes driving much easier.

– Wear a hat to protect your eyes from the sun as well.

– Try not to drive at night, because it is harder for us to see at this time.

Ears:

– Wear ear plugs to drown out some of the outside noises that bother you, not all the sounds. If you do listen to music, keep one ear plug or bud out of your ear so you can hear sirens and such.

– Don’t use your cell phone, even if you have it tuned in to your car. It is a distraction.

Lips:

– Put on lip balm so that your lips don’t get dry while you are driving causing another distraction.

Back Brace:

– The Physical Therapist said if I was going to be driving or riding for a long period of time to get a well-fitted back brace to wear while traveling. I have found it extremely helpful.

Vibrations:

– If you are driving and the steering wheel vibration bothers you, like it does me, wear soft gloves to help. Plus, with the sun beating on the on the steering wheel it is too hot to handle, gloves will help with that too. Even if you have a sunscreen up, the heat of summer will heat the steering wheel and distract you when driving.

– Pillows to sit on will help vibration from the road on your bottom from bothering you. We had an air coil pillow for this purpose. It was perfect.

– A pillow along the small of your back may help your comfort as you drive.

– You may need a pillow along the whole of your back for vibrations.

– If you are a passenger, you may need to put a pillow on the floor for your feet to sit on for the vibration of the floorboard. I know I did.

Swelling of your Feet & Arms
Feeling of the Air Conditioner Blowing on Your Arms

– Wear Compression socks on your legs to help with swelling. This will also help over sensitize your nerve endings and the pain will probably lessen. That is what it does for my arms.

– Also get smaller compression socks for your arms, cut the feet out of course. This will do the same thing for your arms. I do this all the time and it helps me immensely. The air conditioning or fan doesn’t bother me. The pain eases and my nerves ease as well.

Water:

– Make sure you take water so that your thirst does not cause a distraction. Do not take a drink, however until you are at a stop.

Before You Start Driving:

– Make sure you have make all the seat and mirror adjustments and you are as comfortable as you can be.

– Make sure everyone in the car has their seat belt buckled.

– Make sure everyone in the car knows they have to be quiet and not to become a distraction for you. Be sure that they understand the situation.

Stop Every 2 Hours

– Stop at least every 2 hours if you are taking a long trip and switch drivers if you can. If not, then stop for at least 15 minutes. Stretch, walk a little, get the kinks out, go to the bathroom, do whatever it takes to get you alert. If that means eat a meal, then do so. If that means take a nap then do that. Don’t get back on the road if you are tired and you are alone. Don’t get back on the road if that means you are in a lot of pain because that means that you will be very distracted. Stay on your break until you get everything under control again before you start driving again. Make the road trip safe for yourself and others. Make absolutely sure all of your distractions are under control.

If You Get Leg Cramps When You Are Driving:

– Take some more magnesium glycinate, vitamin D3, potassium, or, if you don’t have a heart problem, lick some salt. If you have some rub some magnesium cream on your leg. Then walk the cramp out. If it is in your foot, stand on your toes, or rub the tendon in the arch of your foot until it goes away and then keep rubbing it. I get these once in a while and I usually end up having to take potassium and salt. I have always had a problem with low salt.

Deb Lundquist
 

After 18 years of living with this as a roommate, I feel I know Fibromyalgia well. Now, it is my passion to help people with Fibromyalgia and chronic pain take back control of their lives.