Car Travel Woes

I have not tolerated car rides well in the past several years. As a passenger, no matter what I do (or don’t do) during the drive, I inevitably end up feeling queasy and carsick right after the drive—an inconvenience and annoyance, to say the least—and very ill later on before bed, when I’m lying there trying to close my eyes and relax into sleep. This delayed reaction that ensues is so disruptive and severe; it’s a sickening, enveloping feeling like stepping off the Sea Dragon, an amusement park ride designed to disturb the vestibular system and sway riders in a huge arcing motion. Hours after the ride, particularly in the dark (where the absence of visual input must cause my brain to “hear” sensory input from my other systems more readily), I succumb to relentless vertigo, the feeling I’m swaying even when I’m lying still in bed, and a whooshing sound in my ears like rushing wind. These symptoms have only grown in severity in recent years and months. Also, whereas previously, I’d rarely experience a significant bout of such travel repercussions when trying to sleep with a short car ride, I now reliably suffer this plight with even trips I consider insignificant (15 minute drives or so). Thankfully, I seem relatively immune from the issue for drives much briefer than that; therefore, I can do little jaunts around town as long as they occur early in the day. The closer a car trip gets to bedtime, the more disruptive it is to my body’s equilibrium.

Yesterday, we had to go to Connecticut so I could see one of my doctors. It was the longest ride I’ve had to endure for a couple months, so it was no surprise that I felt exhausted and sick both immediately afterwards and before falling asleep. I’m relieved to have the appointment behind me, and I am forging forward with my efforts to move all of my medical care as locally as possible, particularly because it’s so unappealing to fathom going there (between the actual time it takes up for such a long trip and the resultant illness from the travel) that I often forego going, even when doing so would be advisable. For someone with chronic illness, this is clearly not an ideal situation.

Fortunately, I seem mostly over the motion sickness and vestibular disturbances of the long drive today. The aftereffects have been known, occasionally, to last for several days, so this resolution isn’t something I take for granted. With that said, it certainly wasn’t an easy or comfortable night to get through! Sensory processing problems are at the helm of many of the daily functioning problems I experience. I believe this car issue is a product of visual, kinesthetic, proprioceptive, and vestibular system overloads. The vestibular problems and vertigo are much less severe when I’m the driver rather than the passenger, but the trade off in such cases (besides the fact that I hate driving and it makes me feel very anxious!) is that my visual overload increases tenfold or more. For hours and hours after driving, my brain continues to deliver phantom images of approaching road signs, oncoming vehicles, and winding roadways. I see streaking headlights, blurring houses, and moving yellow lines in the remembered road. It’s horribly distracting and can be disconcerting, particularly when it lingers for a day or more or when it seems to increase in intensity over time rather than follow the expected trajectory of gradual improvement.

Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll find a good replacement provider up in my local area so that either of these unpleasant car realities can be minimized.

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