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pete81241pete81241 Posts: 1,194
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Chronic Pain


  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    The best way I can manage is by not driving! lol. I don't drive except when absolutely necessary. I can't turn my head most of the time, hurts to sit, right elbow hurts to change gears, and left foot (had 2 surgeries..still pain) hurts to push the clutch. Oh yeah and my brain is usually foggy from meds. So I don't drive very much. Then after not driving for so long I think that makes it worse when I actually do. I always end up with a throbbing headache afterwards. How's that for complaining?? (I've got lots more where those come from. lol. I may not be good at a lot of things but I'm getting to be very good at complaining!)

  • Oh - Pete - that is a good one. My wife knows when I am in pain, because she gets asked to drive. Thats is when she knows, she has also asked me, "how are you doing,- really" and when I take a second or two, I realize that something is not right, I may ask her to take over.

    As for getting to work - I am lucky, I can still work, a heavily modified schedule. I am on the road early in the morning, before 6 am. I usually have a grace period after sleeping that pain has subsided and I can drive then. I also take my ER med then and it hits the blood stream after I have arrived at work.

    Once I am at work though - pain ramps up and I use everything I can including meds to keep things from getting out of control.

    I try to take time at the end of the day to relax and get ready for the drive home.

    I am overly cautious driver because of this condition and my sweetie watches me as well.

    There are times when I don't want to drive.
  • Not being able to drive or ride my bicycle has been one of the hardest things for me to accept. Because it is so very painful for me to sit, driving and riding my bicycle only makes the pain so much worse. In an emergency, I will drive, but otherwise, I don't.

    Lynn, from Florida
  • I can't drive says the neurologist.. I still have my license though..(one day u never know)
    My Car is turning into my hubbies work car(better on gas he says)
    My plates read PATSY 4 ....hahaha
    hugs Patsy
  • Driving, is something that has to be done. As a single person and not near any public transportation it is a must. I for one have made all the adjustments as possible in the car. I plan my outings around the pain, as well. There are times I get some place and need to just lay in the car before i can continue on. Most ppl have emergency packs in their car, I have my pack to make me comfy while i wait to get the pain under control to continue on (i.e icepacks, heat patches, pillows, blankets). Keep the back seat open so i can get in and lay flat. If I have a appointment and a deadline to meet, it is the only thing planned for that day. I don't use the 5 speed any longer but just the automatic to hard to drive. I tend to make more frequent shorter trips like i go to the grocery store more and get less at a time. Somedays somethings just don't get done and have to wait for another day.
  • That used to be one of my fav things to do, drive along the interstate with my fav tunes blasting, helped me unwind.

    Now, like tam, my car looks like I live in it. My chauffeur(hubby) drives but I have pillows, blanket, reclining seat, instant cold packs, bottle of water for meds, etc. I hate reclining too much because in a wreck, even with seatbelt, I could come out of the seat.

    Luckily, my oldest is 15 HELLO DRIVER'S PERMIT!!!!!
  • I absolutely hate driving, my legs and feet hurt so bad even before I get out of my neighborhood. By the time I get to work I'm miserable. Luckily at 5am there isn't much traffic. Going home from work is worse, much more traffic and I've been at work all day. I can't get home fast enough! It is too bad I have to drive 45 minutes (minimum with no traffic) one way!! When I get home I'm done for the day & have to recover.

    Sometimes it is a safety issue I think, because I get so "antsy" and uncomfortable that I am constantly adjusting my position, it does definitely distract me.
  • ;) I'm fabulously rich and have a private chaffeur to take me anywhere I want to go. Running errands is a breeze with my studly, buff chaffeur :D (who when not running me around and waiting on me hand and foot works his other job - modeling for GQ). I'm met at the door with my favorite Starbucks coffee and my favorite music is playing to soothe away my pain. He won't let me lift a thing :* , the sweetie he is and takes care of loading and unloading all my grocery and shopping bags.

    And what is my means of transportation you might ask? Not a limo, but a custom RV with all the comforts of home, custom made seats with all the bells and whistles (don't need heat and ice packs because with one push of the right button, the seat is toasty hot or icy cold). The seats are high tech
    "transformer-like" and will contort to any position that makes me comfy and pain free.

    The refrigerator is always loaded with my favorite drinks to keep me hydrated while I down my pain pills for the ride. The pantry is stocked with my favorite munchies so that my pain meds don't upset my stomach.

    And, did I mention the bed in the back (just in case I feel a nap coming on/great if there's a traffic jam) which again has a control panel for comfort designed by a NASA engineer.

    And, of course, the private potty.

    Also there's a flag attached to the RV that denotes my "VIP" status. Traffic moves aside and allows my driver to fly down the interstate and city streets getting me where I want to go in mere minutes.

    So, Pete, I hope I've answered your question -- if anyone needs a lift, just give me a call and I'll send my chaffeur right over -- SEE, I share!



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    Ever since my first spinal surgery in 1978 driving is something I need to evaluate each time. I have always been a terrible passenger, so that never cuts it. I want to drive , but I know my limitations. Put aside the medications, because in those situations, its pretty clear that I am not on the road. But all the other times, it hurts.
    My biggest problem is that I can not turn my head to the left to see whats coming. I have one of thoe oversized mirrors which help, but still its a problem.
    I have taken up the tactic.... If I dont get beeped out then I might be ok! So, I will look in the mirror, can turn about 15 degrees and then scoot out.
    No beeping, I did good, Lots of beeping, I just got someone real mad... Quiet and then I am afraid there will be a loud collusion.
    I am happy to report that I have not been in an accident since I've had my first sugery and I believe that I have not caused any person to have an accident. But, Have I gotten some other drivers upset? Oh Yes, I can remember when my kids were young and I didnt see a car coming and they beeped and gave me the good old 1 finger jesture. My son would ask me, "Dad what does that mean"
    Slick as I was and probably as stupid, I said that one finger motion was like 'Good job'.....

    My legs are twitching right now just thinking aboutg driving.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I told my kids that one finger salute is simply
    "half a peace sign" :O
  • Hey Judy,
    I'll be needing your services....My Drs and attorney are all a 170 mile trip(one way) for me.I love to drive,always have,but now my car is like a torcher chamber.Except for my awesome sound system and heated seats (which I use even in summer cuz it feels so good).My jobs have been outside sales in Northern Nevada,so I put on lots of miles...I don't work at this time...and I too dread the neccessary trip to the grocery store.I used to do spontaneous things like jump in the truck and head out to the desert for the day,to pick rocks,hike,run the dogs....I miss me!
    But maybe Mr Studly will take my mind off my troubles,send him on over!!!
    Have a great day Deltalady! Sagehen
  • It hurts, but I manage, because I have to out of necessity. I'm also a much more defensive driver now than ever before.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Kelly that about sums it up, doesn't it!

    As far as meds go, my meds schedule works out that I take them after I arrive at work or home so luckily that hasn't been an issue for me. (I remember the thread a while back about meds & driving.)
  • i have to have a high vehicle as i find getting in and out of a normal car too much like hard work .my own car is a Hyundai Tucson {medium 4x4} and its perfect for me i know MING has the KIA version and she is very happy with it ..i have bought and sold many cars thinking that it would be OK for me but i have to stay with the 4x4 for comfort ..i can only manage about one hour in a car then the back ache start to become unbearable .luckily for me most of my drive are a lot less than an hour in duration
  • is a chore for me too and it always aggravates the pain in my lower back and legs. I drive when absolutely necessary and it's mostly in town. I don't live in a large city so it is a good thing, but I have one doctor in a nearby metro area that is about 30 minutes away with some traffic. I don't go often and it works out for me.

    Anyway, the hardest part is getting in and out of the car. When I have to go somewhere, it is like a big hassle. People with our back problems don't find running errands as simple tasks. It takes more effort and you move slower because of the pain. My "running and grabbing" days have gone so I do the "scooting through the store trying not to run over folks" thing. :D
  • is it true youre trading in the fancy vehicle for a 2000 yellow jeep with 250,000miles on it. i hope its not 5 speed! whatever you do dont trade in the chaffeur!!!
    my vehicle has two speeds...slow and slower!
    My experiences trying to drive have led me to drive without shoes in order to feel the peddles better.
    Also in order to reduce pain i put the backrest way back and sit upright squeezing stomach muscles to hold myself up. i find if i just relax the pain is made worse.
    another trick is to slope seat more forward so theres less pressure on the sciatic nerves.
    the only time crutches and wheelchair in the vehicle have helped was when i got pulled over by chief of police for cutting him off at intersection. he too had bad back so he felt sorry and let me go!!!
  • :O) Well, a girl can dream can't she?!

    What do you mean by slope seat forward? Angle downward? So you're barefoot driver --- with excellent posture -- I'll look for you on the road!

    To answer your question, I haven't driven more than 30 minutes at a stretch in the last almost a year -- wow, I'd hadn't thought of that until now.

    As I've told you before, I have all types of back and seat cushions, towels, etc. to get my body into a position that is as comfy as possible. Start and stop driving is harder than interstate. Moving foot back and forth from brake to accelerator tends to wear on my sciatica.

    Oh my goodness, right after my 3rd epidural, I was driving home from work and the only position I could get into that felt comfy was hiking my left leg up and putting my socked foot out the driver's window. How classy was that? NOT! I think i drove like that the whole week. What we'll do to keep the pain at bay.

    I do feel very badly for everyone who HAS to drive and is in pain -- not fun, that's why I wrote the fantasy answer earlier.

    Start another thread, Pete, this one was good.

  • to take pressure off the back of your thighs where the sciatic is you want to have the back of the seat higher than the front. my van has power adjust that lowers front end of seat. if your fancy vehicle doesnt have this try a towel on the back of seat so front is lower.
    chief of police may not like leg out of window then again he might be appealed to yours...not mine!
  • I wish my car had seats that adjusted more, I cannot adjust them enough to even begin to be comfortable. I just do what I gotta do & hope I can recover. Some days when I'm driving home from work it's like my seat is electrified & I'm almost dancing in the seat -- trying to find a little comfort. I avoid driving as much as I possibly can.
  • Actually, I was talking to my son as we were school shopping today (last few tasks before I schedule surgery) and he (almost 15) was asking about how I will be able to drive later on.
    Ofcourse...I don't know...hopefully will be able to after a month or two post(ACDF C 6-7). Experience w/ this?

    He drives a lot now as we live out in the country...and he was grinning ear to ear telling me how big a help he would be if I would let him get that permit..the joy of spending time with him growing up as ER nurse and paul mentioned above(of course, I would be scared to ride with him, but believe he would do better than me to start :)
    Best to all, Kimber
  • So how many of you have driven to your destination(like home) and sat in the garage in the car still strapped in for a while(like 45 min until the meds you took kicked in) and cried before you could get out? Too many of those for me. Gets bad when you don't even want to move out of the seat and would prefer just to sleep there for a while because you can't facing climbing out.

    I agree, much easier to have a vehicle that you can slide down out of than climb up out of.

    Getting my perm SCS soon, I KNOW I'll get used to it quickly so that I can drive with it on, just as long as I don't change positions no extra stim shocks!
  • pete81241 said:
    Also in order to reduce pain i put the backrest way back and sit upright squeezing stomach muscles to hold myself up. i find if i just relax the pain is made worse.
    another trick is to slope seat more forward so theres less pressure on the sciatic nerves.
    This sounds EXACTLY like me. If anyone has to drive my car after me they can't imagine how I can drive like that. And I get really mad if they move anything because it took me a lot of trying to get it just right.

    Also, it's funny what you said about squeezing your stomach muscles. When they told in therapy about "strengthening your core" I told them the pain makes me suck my stomach in all day long for some reason - you'd think I'd have abs of steel by now!

    I've got lumber issues, but I've always felt so bad for people with neck problems who have to drive. I'm so defensive driving I'm always twisting my neck around.

  • I really get scared when I lose feeling in my legs, and wonder whether I can move. I pull over then and get sweetie to drive.

    I was drving home this weekend past and it took conscious thought to move my leg up to hit the clutch. That was a first and I had been drving a couple hours. Did not TENS myself beforehand, my normal driving tactic.

    Sitting at work, waiting for the meds to hit, and figuring out that I hurt myself somehow. And now, how doI get through the day or do I just head to ER and say uncle.

    Crap - I wish this was easier to navigate sometimes.
  • And I MISS driving! I was always the driver!My husband was the navigator because of my love to drive! I was the one that would jump in to drive my family, friends, anywhere, anytime, any place until my first surgery 4 years ago. Then I would hee-haw and hmmmm about how far, when, time to rest before/during/after for a short trip let alone going on the highway. There was no comfortable position, getting in/out of my van, the pain, sciatica, etc. made me think before commiting. It was like a part of me died but I wanted to be the same me so sometimes I did it for family, friends, and esp. the kids and HS band! It was worth the pain!

    But my last time behind the wheel was 10/2/08 :(
    The pain was too unbearable to do anything until my fusion on the 16th....and since the fusion my Dr. hasn't wanted me to drive. I am feeling stronger and even with pain as it is I am getting anxious to drive! I can't get in my van w/o a stool (I'm short) but I can slide out easily now. I hope my dr. gives me the ok in August! I love my van! I would rather drive it than the car if I can but I'll take what I can get! And just a few miles to start to see how it goes.... I have high hopes!

    Roll your windows down, turn the music up and enjoy the open road and adventures ahead of you!

  • Ha driving...I can manage quick trips to the store, the store is like a mile from where I live. Anything more than that and it sucks. I decided to take a road trip a little over a month ago. 260 miles one way, leave home Sat morning and come home Monday afternoon. Boy was that stupid. I spent the entire time there in so much pain plus days when I got home. I cried on the way home because my gps took me a way that added 30 min to my driving time. My husband told me it was JUST 30 min. I told him there is no JUST when you hurt that bad. A 5 hour trip is horrible and I am done making trips like that. I also LOVE my car because of how high it sits, getting into regular cars feels like trying to sit on the floor.
  • {Soapbox On}
    If you are medicated and cause an accident, or are just involved in an accident, on meds. The officer makes you get a blood test. You maybe in deep doo-doo. Even if it wasn't your fault. You'll get blamed as "contributing" by the other drivers insurance. It's an easy out for them. If you actually caused it. You can face criminal charges. Just a reminder. I lost my SIL to be, because of a medicated driver with crap reflexes.
    {Soapbox Off}

    That said. I sympathize with those of you who are in a position where you have no choice but to drive. You still have a responsibility to the rest of us to not be heavily medicated and a rolling danger.

    If you drive a stick. It would be best to just convert to an automatic. Way less lower back movement. The hip movement no doubt is painful.

    If you drive an automatic. You might want to consider learning how to left foot brake. Especially is you have numbness issues and they are in your right leg. You can practice this in a large parking lot when no one is around.

    If you have to drop the back of the seat way back in order to drive. You are crazy. That is a horrible position to control a vehicle. The teenagers like to do that. The "Detroit Shuffle". Even if you are a passenger it is dangerous. I know we all do it on trips. Just keep in mind. In a collision you are so much more at risk. The lap belt portion will not lock properly around your abdominal/hip region. You could get yanked across your stomach. You can also submarine and go right under the lap belt. The upper portion of the belt can hang you. Your neck is not a good place for the belt to stop you. If any of this occurs you're going to hurt badly or worse. The air bag will not save you either. It only works well if you are at the proper angle. Which is fairly upright and about 2 feet from the airbag. Not a position that feels good for a spiney.

    If you can afford it. There are aftermarket seats that are very well designed for support. They install in most vehicles. With really good support for your back, abdominal, hip, seating angle. They can unload a lot of that weight off your lower spine.

    For those of you who lay the seat back. You might want to consider a seat belt latch. It connects above the loop where the belt goes from lap to upper. CG-Lock is a very popular brand with autocrossers and casual track day drivers. It is used with children, adults, and handicap people. It will help control the seat belt so you don't submarine in an accident, amongst other things.

    You can look at several vendors for custom seats that provide far better support than what came from the factory. Corbeau, Sparco, Recarro, Carravaggio etc. While many are noted for making race seats. They also make some really good seats for daily driving and distance driving.

    Using different styles of mirrors can be handy for people with limited head/neck movement. If you can barely rotate your head a few degrees. You should not be driving. 90 degrees may not be necessary, but something like 15 degrees is not good enough. You have blind spots a tractor trailer could hide in.

    All that said. There are plenty of dangerous drivers on the road who aren't medicated or have spinal problems. Between the ones putting on their makeup, shaving, reading a book or newspaper, yapping on a cell phone, driving reckless, etc. Please don't add to the already large group of idiots on the road.

    PS: After all your preparations. Duck when you see FedEx trucks. lol.

  • thanks for sobering thoughts on safety. and i'm sorry you lost your sister in law to overmedicated driver. safety should be our number one concern. you gave some excellent ideas for saving lives. we all have to make sensible choices . just like people who aren't in pain we need to make sure we are in a sober and capable condition to drive.
    we usually know when we arent in control...thats the time to stop and get away from the wheel....
  • Wow, I couldn't even imagine driving a manual anymore! All of my sciatica issues are in my left leg, there is absolutely no way I could work the clutch. I must be lucky!

    And I second Graham's warning about Fed-Ex trucks, one of their drivers wasn't paying attention and crashed into my sister-in-law's house. Damage included a messed up foundation, that was an expensive mistake!
  • I found that as things "progressed", I had to change out vehicles. Initially after all my lower back surgery I had to find a vehicle where my knees were no longer at a higher level than my hips. A few years later I had to get another vehicle that allowed me to view traffic lights and signs without leaning forward or sideways to see them. Our most recent vehicle was difficult to find, because it had to accommodate lower back and c-spine issues. Also getting in and out of the vehicle has to be considered. I had to find a vehicle that I could get in and out of without the need to lean my head over to one side or climb down into a small vehicle.

    So my point being, rather than modifying how I sit in a vehicle, I traded in the problem vehicle for one that would allow me the most comfort while driving. I did my homework each time and "tried on" several vehicles before finding the right one.

    The issue of driving while medicated or impaired by pain or range of motion is a complex one. I don't believe that there is any "right" answer. We all have to do what we have to do and that's the gamble we take each time we get into a vehicle, whether we are the driver or passenger.

    Happy trails.

  • I wish I wasn't SO alert when I drive. I have to be aware of every crack, bump, and warps in the road, that would make the engine bounce. Like stopping!
    I noticed timely tapping the brake with left foot can smooth my approach at a light. I see most others lurch at the last minute. Like my lady. Passenger me not! I knew I would drive better after symp. block.
    They said it was a liability for them, that I hadn't a driver with me. They didn't tell me to bring a human with me. So, when they tried to reschedule for a week out, I said I would wait there. Do they know anyone!?! Got the shot, and didn't sign release either. In short, I would prefer pills to road rage.
    Painfully aware can really hurt. Don't honk at me:)
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