Drive Me Crazy


I hate driving! (Mind you, I also hate being a passenger with some people, too…but that’s another story!) Even in my cute little car. carDriving can be a major stressor. And we are all very aware that stress is a common trigger of flare ups. As well as being stressful, driving requires you to sit and move in ways that can make your bits hurt more.

Trains, buses and taxis may be options, but public transportation comes with its own stresses and is not always available or affordable. Many people with fibromyalgia cannot walk or bike very far without pain, and getting a ride is not always easy. As a result of all this, you may not be able to avoid driving, especially if you work. But, perhaps, there are a few things you can do to better cope with stressful driving situations.

The Risks of Driving with Fibromyalgia

  • Increased pain – Sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time can cause pain and discomfort. It doesn’t allow for proper blood circulation, and sitting in one spot can pinch nerves in the legs and back, causing more pain.
  • Overstimulation – Any type of overstimulation that comes about from speeding cars, the noise, heavy traffic, and other visual and auditory sensory input can be added stress for us.
  • Fibro fog – Fibro fog, or cognitive troubles associated with fibromyalgia, can make it difficult for you to pay attention to the road. This can make being behind the wheel dangerous not only for you, but other drivers.

Things You Can Do to Help

If you need to drive, you can make some adjustments and improve your experience and make for a safer driving experience.

  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep – It is imperative to sleep well (or as well as can be expected) the night before you are driving, so that you are not exhausted the next day. This will help prevent grogginess, which can cause a safety issue for you and others on the road. If you find you are extremely fatigued, see if you can get another person to drive for you. Check with your doctor about getting medication to help you sleep or try melatonin for a better night’s rest.
  • Plan your route – Figure out where you’re going and plan your route ahead of time. You will want to find the route that is least likely to have traffic or obstacles like construction. If you have GPS, use it, as it removes some of the stress of having to remember where you’re going. Additionally, there are apps for your phone that can tell you how traffic looks on the main highways and interstates so you can avoid traffic jams.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable – Make sure your seat is as comfortable as possible and that your posture is correct while driving – aim to be sitting up straight the same way you would at a desk. You may have to adjust your seat and mirrors to achieve this. If you’re still uncomfortable after making adjustments, try out a different headrest, or use a cushion or back support.
  • Take breaks – If you are driving for an extended period of time, take regular breaks to get out and stretch, and to rest your eyes and brain for a little while.
  • Consider alternatives – If you’re finding that driving causes you too much pain, or you become too disoriented while behind the wheel, look for alternative transport options. You may want to organize a carpool to work, work out how often you can afford to taxi, or, if you don’t have too far to go, consider a mobility scooter.

If you’re not feeling up to driving, DON’T. Your safety, and that of everyone else on the road, is far more important than arriving at your destination. REALLY!

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Pain Pill Mistakes that may lead to a Ketamine Infusion

As regular readers know, about 3 weeks ago, I had a ketamine infusion. Part of the reason for this was I was addicted to codeine-based painkillers. I was unable to go cold-turkey and undertook the infusion to avoid all those horrible withdrawal symptoms.

Basically, this addiction came about because I made some pretty common pain pill mistakes.

Mistake No.1: If 1 Is Good, 2 Must Be Better

Doctors prescribe pain pills at the doses they believe will offer the greatest benefit at the least risk. Doubling or tripling that dose won’t speed relief. But it can easily speed the onset of harmful side effects.

“The first dose of a pain medication may not work in five minutes the way you want. But this does not mean you should take five more,” Kristen A. Binaso, RPh, spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association, says. “With some pain drugs, if you take additional doses, it makes the first dose not work as well. And with others, you end up in the emergency room.”

If you’ve given your pain medication time to work, and it still does not control your pain, don’t double down. See your doctor about why you’re still hurting (and, hopefully, there is something that will help more).

pills“This ‘one is good so two must be better’ thing is a common problem,” says pain specialist Eric R. Haynes, MD, founder of Comprehensive Pain Management Partners in Trinity, Fla. “Patients should follow the instructions their doctor gives. Ask before leaving the office: Can I take an extra pill if I still hurt? What is the upper limit for this medication?”

Another bad idea is trying to boost the effect of one kind of pain pill by taking another.

“There may be Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, and ibuprofen in the house, and a person may take them all,” Binaso says.

This can escalate into a very bad situation, Haynes says – welcome to a fast-forward approach to end up with a cannula in your arm and a week worth of ketamine!

Mistake No. 2: Duplication Overdose

People often take over-the-counter pain drugs – and even prescription pain drugs – without reading the label. Never a good idea – it means that you often don’t know which drugs you’re taking.

And if you take another over-the-counter drug – for any reason – you could wind up in a hospital ER with an overdose. That’s because many OTC drugs are combination pills that carry a full dose of pain pill ingredients.

Mistake No. 3: Drinking While Taking Pain Drugs

Pain medications and alcohol generally enhance each other’s effect. That’s why many of these prescription medications carry a “no alcohol” sticker.

“A common misperception is people see that sticker and think, ‘I’m OK as long as I don’t drink liquor – I can have a beer.’ But no alcohol means no alcohol,” Binaso says.

“The patient should heed that alcohol warning, because it can be a major problem if they do not,” Haynes says. “Alcohol can make you inebriated, and some pain medications can make you have that feeling as well. You can easily get yourself into trouble.”

Drinking alcohol can be a problem even with over-the-counter pain drugs.

Mistake No. 4: Drug Interactions

PILLSBefore taking any pain pill, think about what other medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements you are taking. Some of these drugs and supplements may interact with pain medications or increase the risk of side effects.

I suggest you try a drug interaction checker, if in doubt; and/or keep an updated list of your medications on your phone or computer so you can give your doctor a complete list of all the drugs, herbs, and supplements you take – before getting any prescription.

If buying over-the-counter medications, Binaso recommends showing a list of everything else you’re taking to the pharmacist.

Mistake No. 5: Drugged Driving

Pain medications can make you drowsy. Different people react differently to different drugs.

“How I react to a pain medication is different from how you react,” Binaso says. “It may not make me drowsy, but may make you drowsy. So I recommend trying it at home first, and see how you feel. Don’t take two pills and go out driving.”

Mistake No. 6: Sharing Prescription Medicines

Unfortunately, it’s very common for people to share prescription medications with friends, relatives, and co-workers. Not smart, Haynes and Binaso say – particularly when it comes to pain medications.

“If a fairly healthy person is taking a medicine because she is in pain, and wants to give some pills to Uncle Joe because he is hurting – well, this is a potential problem,” Haynes says. “Uncle Joe may have a problem that keeps his body from eliminating the drug, or he may have an allergic reaction, or the drug may interact with a medication he is taking, with life-threatening results.”

Mistake No. 7: Not Talking to the Pharmacist

22. pillIt’s not easy to read drug labels, even if you can make out the small print. If you have a question about either a prescription or OTC drug, ask the pharmacist.

“That’s why I’m in the store,” Binaso says. “You may have to wait a couple of minutes for me to finish what I’m doing. But you’ll get the information you need to take the right medicine the right way. Just say, ‘Tell me about this medicine; what should I be on the lookout for?'”

Mistake No. 8: Hoarding Dead Drugs

Pills stored at home start breaking down soon after their expiration date. That’s especially true of drugs kept in the moist environment of the bathroom medicine cabinet.

“People say, “That drug is only a year past its expiration date; isn’t it good?” But if you take a pill that’s broken down, it may not work – or you may end up in the emergency room because of reaction to a breakdown product. That is really common,” Binaso says.

Another reason that it’s dangerous to hoard is that the drugs may tempt someone else (your son or daughter?) into making a very bad choice.

Mistake No. 9: Breaking Unbreakable Pills

Pills are actually little drug-delivery machines. They don’t work the way they’re supposed to when taken apart the wrong way.

“Scored pills should be cut only across the line,” Binaso says. Those without scoring should not be cut at all, unless you’re specifically instructed to do so.

“When you start chopping up pills like that, the pill may not work,” she says. “We find more and more people are doing this. And then they say, “Oh, that pill had a really bad taste. That is because they cut away the coating.”

Rollercoaster Rush

My day was an absolute rollercoaster…

Woke up at 9.20am – not that bad, right? Except I had rehab at 10am! Jumped (as much as someone with totally sore bits can jump) out of bed, threw on some clothes and off I went – good thing that I laid out clothing last night!

 

As you know, I have only recently started driving short distances again – well, it started to rain on the way to rehab. Okay, turn on the intermittent wipers…cool. Then, it started to pour, just when I was trying to indicate and change lanes, between two trucks – AAARGH! Too much, too soon! I arrived at rehab in tears.

 

Had a wonderful hydrotherapy session at rehab. (Hmm, notice how short the UP posts are?)

 

 

 

After rehab, I had the all-important meeting at Arthritis Victoria with the General Manager of Development and Business Services.

 

 

Basically after about 45 minutes of talking about what a great job I’m doing at promoting awareness of FM, he suggested that I continue doing what I am doing or set up a peer support group. He cited all the government rigmarole as a giant hurdle plus the fact that I’m doing it all alone. I understand that BUT there is so much I want to do! Have to have a serious sit-down and think about what I’m going to do…especially as there appears to be less support from Victorian sufferers than the international sector (that’s mostly YOU!)

Exhausted after the meeting but have to make a stop at the post office (to send off another order from http://www.freewebstore.org/fibromodem) and supermarket – where a 90 year old lady asked me if I was alright because she thought that I looked like I was about to collapse – VERY SAD!

 

Finally got home and dumped wet towels, folders, notes from the meeting and shopping on the floor so I could just eat something – notice I haven’t eaten anything yet in this post and it’s about 3pm? Then, idiot that I am (sometimes), I turned on my computer and got side-tracked into reading emails and posts. By the time I had finished all of that, I had no time for a lie down before a 7.30 appointment.

 

7.30pm – Shiatsu. Thank you. Time to lay back, be pampered, be quiet and just get over the day.

 

 

 

 

Home

 

 

 

 

Food

 

 

 

 

Now sleep (hopefully!)

 

 

See? Rollercoaster.

It’s All Good News…

Mommy (and Henry) go to China tomorrow.

The calendar for all the grandchildren to count off the days!

Exciting stuff for them – but for me, once again, I have to learn to look after myself (financially and emotionally) again.

Yesterday, I did a test drive by driving my own car to rehab. It’s not very far (about 15 minutes) and we figured that if I had a problem, I could still call Mommy. Well, driving was very distracting – there is no way I can check all my mirrors and my speedometer and where I am going all at once. Something has to give. I arrived at rehab safely after going down the wrong street (despite me repeating Kooyong Road, Kooyong Road, Kooyong Road the entire way). For some reason I turned at Bambra. Doesn’t matter, I still made it.

For all those Melbourne drivers out there, don’t worry, I don’t plan to be driving a lot – just to appointments that I can’t walk to but are still within about 20 minutes from my place. It’s way too exhausting and dangerous for me to be out on those roads. And I won’t be driving at night, because head lights and brake lights hurt my eyes too much for me to handle it.

We have loaded up on all medications so I won’t have to spend too much money, so I should be able to survive while she is away. While we speak (the day before she leaves), Mommy is making chicken soup in single serves for me to freeze.

It sounds like she is going forever, doesn’t it? Mommy is only going for 17 days!

BUT, great news, when she gets back we are (REALLY) thinking about going to Bali. Mommy is determined to work out a way to get us there (using Frequent Flyer miles for me and her benefits from my brother, the pilot). She thinks I need warmth and relaxation – What a good Mommy!

We’ve scoured the internet and this looks like the place. It’s a private 2 bedroom villa, which is almost cheaper than a hotel. Because of the private pool, the villa wins out!

     

And other great news – I don’t have breast cancer!