It might not be safe to drive WITHOUT your pain medicine

Contributed by: Sue
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, July 2012

Sue is a 52-year-old woman who lives in Colorado. She has had chronic pain for 8 years due to fibromyalgia, back pain, neuropathy, and arthritis. She finds every day a challenge.

I learned that a person with chronic pain should not drive when not taking medication to control the pain.

One day I ventured out and decided I didn’t need to take my pain medication. After all I was only planning on being out of the house for 2 hours and wasn’t going to be far from home.

After venturing out for a few hours my pain was beginning to overpower me by the time I was ready to proceed home.
With all the walking I had done to complete my errands I began to have stabbing, burning and shocks in my legs that became excruciating. My back felt like a vise was pressing against it and was not going to let up.

I left my pain medication at home thinking I did not need them and I would take them when I arrived home. At times we pain patients think that our pain is never going to get any worse than we can handle, but not so. At times we live in denial that we have no pain or can live with the pain. When my pain became severe I jumped in my car and began my venture home. While driving, I was only concentrating on my pain so much that I had an accident hitting another driver. I was massaging my legs, my back and proceeded to the wrong side of the road. I was only 1/2 mile from home when my accident occurred. I did not summon anyone to assist me as I thought I could make it home safely.

I know this sounds all so irresponsible and it was irresponsible of me to think I wasn’t going to be in any pain and that I could make it home.

After the crash I checked on the other driver in which was lucky because he only came out with a few minor scratches and I was thankful he was okay. For just being hit by me, the other driver was more concerned about me than himself as he could see pain written all over my face. The driver thought my pain was due to the accident. I informed him that I have chronic pain and was in pain at that present moment but not from the accident. My car got the worst of it as it was totaled. A very expensive accident, all because I didn’t take my medication before leaving home or bringing them with me.

It says on our medication bottle(s) that we should not operate machinery until our bodies have adjusted to medications. Well, this was the opposite. I should have taken my medication to operate machinery safely. I was lucky that day as things could have been worse. Someone could have lost their life.

I learned a lesson that I will never ever leave home without taking my medications or at least taking it with me so that it’s available to me when my pain begins to take control of me. If I were to venture out and know that I was to be gone a long period of time then I would have had my medication with me.

Pain can overpower our thoughts and my thoughts of course were on controlling my pain and not my driving. It’s not a good price to pay to be without medications. I should have known better when living with chronic pain for 8 years. I made it a point to tell my pain physician my story so that other chronic pain sufferers will not do what I did. I know I have to stop denying that I can handle pain. When I left my home that day I should have known better as I was having slight pain and from my years as a chronic pain sufferer knew it was going to escalate. I thought I would arrive home on time to take my medication, but that did not happen. Also, I was in a hurry.

Don’t rush yourself and plan accordingly. That is the first thing a pain patient should do is plan for their pain above anything else so that everything will go smoothly. It only takes a little time to take medications, but takes a great deal of time to deal with the consequences from not taking medications.

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