Driving a car

Hi I am kind of new around here. I have migraines with vertigo and other wierd symptoms that will last for months at a time. The first time it happened it lasted for 8 months until I tried topamax and it took away the vertigo. This time around the topamax is helping so that I don’t feel ‘dizzy’ exactly but I still have these other symptoms like being extremely noise sensitive, pressure in the face and the worst is having this spacy dreamy feeling like I’m not quite here and might just stop existing any minute. It’s most obvious when I try to drive a car… I try to describe to people why I can’t drive a car but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about driving a car that is so disturbing, overwhelming and ultimately dangerous. I don’t know if it’s that my depth perception is really skewed or something else. It’s not that I’m dizzy exactly. But it’s such an overwhelming experience that I end up in an almost panicked state and scared for my life and everyone elses around me. Does anyone know what I’m talking about and have any ideas of how to explain or describe what is going on?
By the way, I have stopped driving a car for now!

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Some people with MAV say they feel best when driving a car, but I am definitely NOT that way. I hate driving now. I feel like I am looking through a wide angle lens. It’s very overwhelming for me too, and I often have panic attacks while driving. Maybe part of it comes from my fear that I’ll suddenly have spinning vertigo while driving, or maybe it’s all the motion. I’m ok as a passenger usually, but I try to keep my eyes inside the car instead of on everything outside,so that the motion doesn’t bother me too much. I only drive when I have to, and I no longer drive on the highway or during long trips (only my husband does). Sorry I have no advice on making it better.

I also have problems driving. The busier the road the worse it is. I don’t drive unless absolutely necessary right now & I avoid highways if at all possible. In the past when I have been on medicine that was helping, I was able to drive & it didn’t bother me. All the motion makes my eyes get blurry & I find myself squinting. When I start to feel bad, I start getting anxious which only makes things worse.

Hi Cartwheel,

Driving a car is challenging for me as well. The more I drive though, the better I get at it and the less likely I have any trouble. It feels like my brain had to compensate for it. If I’m particularly symptomatic (migraine is active) then driving is much harder and I usually need valium to get the job done. It’s worse for me on the highway at a constant speed with eyes staring forward. I start to lose my stomach and when I get out of the car I’ll feel as though my fingers have been plugged into an electric socket. I usually keep looking around all the time and distract while driving on the highway. This seems to reduce the problem a lot.

Hope that helps.

Scott 8)

Driving usually makes me feel better. But, if there is traffic, it will make me very motion-sick. Watching cars go by rapidly will often make me quite dizzy if it were already a bad day for me. But, in general, if the traffic is flowing, then driving makes me feel better.

Hi Cartwheel,
It seems our migraine brains are oversensitive to stimulus, and so between all the things going on at the same time, it is overwhelming. Plus, I find the more I worry about something, the worse it gets. Like I will set myself up for anxiety by worrying about it ahead of time. Sensory Overload! I have trouble with looking at patterns and stripes…my vision in my catalyst for dizziness/lightheadedness…feel fine with my eyes closed. Thinking if I were blind I would never know I had mav!! But not a trade I’m looking for!!
Are you taking any meds?

Thanks for all the replies on this… it’s interesting that some of us can find that driving makes us feel better and some find that it makes us feel worse! Some interesting things to think about. Although I guess I have to continue to be responsible and keep myself out from behind the driver’s seat :frowning:
I am taking topamax (I think somebody asked), which helped at first, took a break, and now after 3 months may be back from vacation. Not totally certain.
Thanks!

— Begin quote from “rockyksmom”

Hi Cartwheel,
It seems our migraine brains are oversensitive to stimulus, and so between all the things going on at the same time, it is overwhelming. Plus, I find the more I worry about something, the worse it gets. Like I will set myself up for anxiety by worrying about it ahead of time. Sensory Overload! I have trouble with looking at patterns and stripes…my vision in my catalyst for dizziness/lightheadedness…feel fine with my eyes closed. Thinking if I were blind I would never know I had mav!! But not a trade I’m looking for!!
Are you taking any meds?

— End quote

And has anyone figured out or done research on the fact that most medical offices have crazyily patterned carpets? Seriously. Enquiring minds want to know!!

It sounds like my experience with driving is similar to others out there. I no longer drive for more than about 20 minutes, and don’t go on the freeways. When I drive I have trouble sometimes judging distance and speed of other cars; now I drive very conservatively. My husband says I now drive like a “senior citizen” though I’m only 42. I actually feel like I’m a new driver I get so nervous! I’ve reduced my driving to trips to the doctors and the grocery store.

Wow robbisgraham–you can go to the grocery store?? I can’t step foot in there. I get so dizzy & sick when I try to shop for groceries. I don’t know if it’s the lighting, or the rows & rows of boxes or just all the people but I can’t stand it!

dizzygrl - I think many with this cannot walk in a grocery store. I cannot handle that environment at all. I cannot even hardly walk in my own home, so grocery stores are out of the question. you are not alone on that one.

Dzzygrl, MAVlisa…you two remind me that I should be really thankful for the small things I can still do! If I’m not bed ridden and/or totally out of it, I can do some light shopping. The experience will sometimes overwhelm me—symptoms worsen, but I’m able to hold onto the shopping cart and make it out!

Cartwheel - I can’t explain your sensations when driving, but I have the exact same problem and couldn’t have described it better than you did. This driving difficulty was my first indication of MAV, about 6-7 months ago, before constant vertigo/dizziness became readily apparent about a month thereafter. I still can’t drive most days, and only short trips are possible on my good days. I’m still experimenting with meds without much improvement (current experiment is nortriptyline), but for what it’s worth just wanted to note that these weird sensations aren’t just you.

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Last night when coming home from work I had a terrible bout of vertigo. I had a headache and neck pain all day but the rocking was down a bit. on the way to my car the rocking started to come on a bit, but I’m so used to it I thought nothing of it. While I was driving I felt that " Melting " feeling right before an attack starts. I fought through it and it went away. Then stupid me decided to test myself and I looked down then up and then it began. One of the worst attacks ever and definately the worst while driving. I had to pul over because I was scared I would get into an accident. I’ve been on other forums where people say we should get charged with impared driving because we know it is dangerous with our condition. I disagree because my actual full blown attacks are rare. I would hate to have to explain it to a cop though.

Hi Guys,

I am a cop. I have held off posting anything about the driving issue because a) I’m not a traffic cop b) I’m not a lawyer and c) we have people on this board from all over the world and I could only comment on the Australian environment. But, I have to say, yes, it concerns me that some people on here have significant and known impairments with driving but continue to do so.

I think, in the unfortunate event that anyone were to have an accident that if the driver had a known medical condition which impaired their driving then there could be some serious liability issues. I would suggest that anyone who has concerns about their fitness to drive a motor vehicle discuss this with their doctor and take their advice. This includes any medication, particularly benzos.

Anecdotally, from things I have read from cases in the US, forums such as mvertigo, which are public domain, could be used as evidence in legal proceedings - either civil or criminal. For example (while this particular example is off topic) I have noted a recent case in the US where a police officer charged with police brutality/excessive force had his Facebook postings used as evidence that he had a propensity for violence.

Personally, I am now well enough that my normal day to day life is unaffected, however, my occasional bouts of vertigo have concerned me enough to seek my doctor’s advice regarding my requirement as a police officer to undertake a yearly qualifying shoot and defensive tactics. My doctor has agreed that while I am well enough to “live normally” and do my current desk job, the risk, although small, of me shooting on a range is significant enough (Glock 9m are quite deadly!) that I should be exempt from this and remain on restricted duties for another six months.

I say all this as a lay person (see caveats above) but with some knowledge of road rules, policing etc and yes, this particular thread is worthy of reflection for those who have an issue with driving. I would say, seek and take the advice of your doctor.

Regards
Victoria