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Driving with ME/CFS

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by markielock, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    Hi guys,

    I have been weighing up the pros and cons today over whether I should move out of my current, rural, home or simply learn to drive.

    I've always wanted to learn to drive but I have a small fear regarding mental fatigue when driving. I wouldn't want to put others at risk. I know we all experience ME/CFS in subtly different ways but do we have other drivers on here? What are their experiences of driving with this condition?

    I noted from interviewing other drivers that a lot of driving becomes automatic, and you can then just focus on being wary of other drivers/obstacles. I've also heard driving an automatic car may be easier on me than a manual.
     
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  2. Hugo

    Hugo Senior Member

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    I dont have a car but I drive sometimes. It depends on how your health is overall and your health the day you drive, how long and what kind of traffic (rural or city). In my experience its a rather easy activity if its not heavy city traffic, I drive stick aswell and I dont find that hard for me.. but Im so used to it and if you are getting a drivers license I guess automatic could be better.

    But if you for example use your car to work it could possible be to much energy since it will be one of many activities.
     
  3. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    That's a good point. I wouldn't use the vehicle to work.. but to just get around. Maybe go to a library somewhere to study or something! Just to get out the house.
     
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  4. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Revolting Peasant

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    Good question. This depends so much on how ME/CFS affects you individually.

    I learned to drive when my illness was very mild (before I even knew I had it). It's one of the few things that I can still do well and enjoy. You're absolutely right to be concerned about mental fatigue so this needs to be factored into any plans you make. For example, I avoid being put in a situation where I would have to drive early in the morning when I feel like I have a hangover.

    I think that learning on an automatic is the way forward. A rural environment will also make things easier but be aware that you'll be inexperienced in busy traffic.

    If you are able to concentrate intently for up to an hour then why not try a couple of lessons and see how you get on? You'll quickly realise whether or not it's for you. I'd strongly recommend paying for professional lessons if you can afford to. From what I've heard, getting a relative or friend to teach you can be a bit fraught.
     
  5. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    Everyone drives like maniacs around here, it's made me a little unfairly distrusting toward local driving instructors! lol However, yeah that would definitely be the way to go. As stupid as it sounds, I hadn't considered the idea of just trying a couple of lessons just to see if it'd be agreeable with me! Thanks @Scarecrow :).
     
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  6. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Revolting Peasant

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    I know, and that'll be a bit scary for you at first. Just trust them to avoid you.
     
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  7. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    Oh don't worry, I'll let them whizz past me if they insist. I'll just be ready to emergency stop when they decide to do it on the blind corners into an oncoming car! lol
     
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  8. Hugo

    Hugo Senior Member

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    In that case I would think thats a way for you to get more mobility and freedom so I would go for it. Getting a drivers license is in itself kind of a uplifting thing for the harsh life of one with ME.
     
  9. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    I would think so too @Hugo. A golden ticket of independence, ha ha :). Thank you.
     
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  10. charles shepherd

    charles shepherd Senior Member

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    Below is a link to an MEA website survey on the subject of car driving and ME/CFS - along with the usual background information

    Also below is a Q ans A from ME Essential magazine on this subject

    Dr Charles Shepherd
    Hon Medical Adviser, MEA

    A note about this month’s straw poll on car driving and ME/CFS

    Why are we asking about car driving and ME/CFS in our website poll this month?

    http://www.meassociation.org.uk/201...-poll-on-car-driving-and-mecfs-2-august-2015/



    ME ESSENTIAL: QUESTION Fitness to Drive


    Like many people with ME I am still driving a car - but do not do so if I'm feeling unwell. Is there any official guidance on driving in relation to ME that I should be aware of?


    ANSWER


    Firstly, I think it's important to point out that people with ME/CFS have a number of symptoms - muscle fatigue/weakness, cognitive dysfunction and visual disturbances in particular - that can affect the ability to safely drive a car.

    And whilst a significant number do stop driving as a result, there are others who should not be driving - even on an occasional basis.

    So this is clearly an area of personal responsibility where you have to consider not only your own safety but that of people who may be with you in the car, as well as any other road user.

    This is something you should discuss with your GP - who should be used to dealing with queries relating to medical problems and fitness to drive.


    Secondly, in relation to insurance, it's important to check the small print in the policy where it refers to medical conditions.

    You will almost certainly find that you are obliged to inform the insurer of any condition that could affect your ability to drive - or words to that effect.

    This would obviously include ME/CFS. Failure to provide an insurer with this type of information could invalidate your policy, especially if a claim results from something that could be linked to your medical condition.


    Thirdly, the DLVA produces very comprehensive guidance on medical conditions and fitness to drive. Ordinary UK driving licenses issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) state: 'You are required by law to inform Drivers Medical Branch, DVLA, Swansea SA99 1AT at once if you have any disability (either physical or medical condition) which is, or may become, likely to affect your fitness as a driver, unless you do not expect it to last more than three months.'


    It is the responsibility of the driver to inform the DVLA. It is also the responsibility of doctors to advise patients that medical conditions (and drugs) may affect their ability to drive and for which conditions patients should inform the DVLA.


    The DVLA issues very specific guidance on a large number of named conditions and in some situations (eg epilepsy) includes restrictions on the ability to drive.

    Interestingly, ME/CFS is not included in this list.

    However, problems such as excessive sleepiness, cognitive dysfunction (eg where this is affecting visual attention, easy distractability, ability to multitask) and medication (eg antidepressants) are covered.


    Detailed information on fitness to drive from the DLVA can be downloaded from the DVLA website:

    https://www.gov.uk/driving-medical-conditions


    ·Please let us know if you have encountered any problems with either the DVLA, or an insurance company, in relation to 'fitness to drive'

    Ends
     
  11. Skycloud

    Skycloud Senior Member

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    I have driven manual cars for decades, it's second nature, Iwasn't aware of it being more taxing ME wise. However, a couple of years ago I had an automatic for a while and was struck by how relaxing it was. I now have use of both a manual and an automatic, and the automatic uses less energy. It's not much, but every little helps so I'm glad of it. I'm basically just using 1 leg instead of 2, my left is relaxed. I'm not having to move my hand across to the gear shift - you get the picture

    I think it's still the case that if you learn to drive in an automatic you don't have a license for manual cars - I guess most driving instructors have manual cars anyway.


    I would add that I live in a small rural town and at times stopped driving altogether due to ME.
     
  12. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    Thanks @charles shepherd , the MEA really do think of everything don't they? ha ha. I hadn't even considered insurance implications. That'd be something to explore in the decision process. Thanks very much!

    I'm glad driving an automatic has helped @Skycloud ! Regarding licenses, I do believe that is the case. I was thinking of learning manual, so I had all options available to me.
     
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  13. Hugo

    Hugo Senior Member

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    Interesting, I would guess it could be somewhat less energy used in automatic. Ive only driven a manual when I had ME but I would like to try a automatic.

    Well if one would like to wait a while I guess we soon will have cars that drives for us. That would be something ;-)
     
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  14. slysaint

    slysaint Senior Member

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    I had to give up driving when I fell ill..........I just don't think it would be safe; on a par with drink driving, not so much because of 'the fatigue' side but of cognitive and sight problems that can come on very quickly out of the blue.
     
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  15. Skycloud

    Skycloud Senior Member

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    This is a really important point. I'm not driving now because of cognitive dysfunction. It's always best to be cautious
     
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  16. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    I'm sorry you had to give it up @slysaint . That's how I pictured it too , akin to drink driving. I guess I won't know until I try a few lessons and see. Luckily my symptoms aren't always so mentally impairing - I just don't know how consistent I could be whilst driving.
     
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  17. maccas dad

    maccas dad

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    Hi, I agree with all that has been said on this thread. I have always driven a manual car until my severe ME crash. I then found pushing the clutch in on a journey or holding it in in a jam became too exhausting so I have not looked back since changing to an automatic. That said, my wife and I regularly drive to our caravan around 100 miles away and where as once upon a time I could do the whole journey no problem we have to swap over at half way mark. Concentration etc just induces brain fog. Our next door neighbors have just driven down to Spain from the UK, wow how I envy them, in my dreams!
    I would be interested to hear what the insurance company say if you tell them about your condition, another reason to hike the premiums if you ask me.
     
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  18. liverock

    liverock Senior Member

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    Although I could drive fairly long distances safely I have restricted my driving to urban shopping, hospital and doctors appointments, as well as visiting friends and relatives. The motorways in the UK are vastly congested and require constant vigilant driving and lane changing, so I avoid wherever possible.
    One other thing I have found to avoid if possible is driving at night, The street lighting in most UK towns and cities has been noticeably dimmed over the past few years to cut local authority electricity bills, and therefore there is a corresponding need for better attention spans which
    some PWME drivers will need to take into account when deciding about driving at night.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
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  19. Hugo

    Hugo Senior Member

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    Thats a good point and Im sorry you had to give it up. Drinking and driving could be even worse though than cognitive impairments since I would guess that your judgement regarding risk when driving (like speed, overtaking etc) when your drunk isnt to good.

    Also I wonder how many have your good judgement when it goes to driving. Like other illnesses, mental problems or just old age. A scary thought.
     
  20. wastwater

    wastwater Senior Member

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    Maybe an electric bike
     

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