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Afraid to Drive

I have been dealing with headaches for most of my 57 years. I have been shuffled from doctor to doctor who haven’t been able to help and I’m just about over it. Anyway, the past couple of weeks I have had an ocular migraine every day. A couple of them seem like hemiplegic migraines and when then hit, I can’t even come close to seeing clearly. I have sat in my car in parking lots for up to an hour until I can see well enough to drive home. I am now afraid to go anywhere.

Has anyone been hit with an aura while driving and what did you do about it? Does anyone have any suggestions regarding dealing with this problem? Thanks.

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Comments

  • ccf23
    2 months ago

    sadbrain1 I understand how you feel. So much we can’t do, so much taken away. I just want to get groceries and run some errands when I am up to it. But I am chronic so always in some stage of migraine. I try to not drive during migraine at all. When I say try, I sometimes have cognitive deficits and confusion before the pain arrives, and I have learned the hard way that I am not aware of these. I was in a parking lot, had a brain freeze and thought I could drive forward to exit my space as there was no car in my way. I totally forgot there was a median strip, complete with curb and trees, and found the front half of car on one side of it and back half on the other side. Couldn’t figure out if I should drive forward over the curb or back it up. It was horrifying. Adrenaline kicked in and I had a short ride home but it was an expensive car repair that I could not afford. I have driven through stop signs and red lights a couple of times in the same condition. It is so frustrating because I am just not aware that I am impaired. I now Uber or walk places. Or I stay home. If I drive it is short distances slowly, talking myself through every stop and turn sometimes. And always on days when I can be reasonably sure I am ok, like on recovery days while I will be tired and forget my shopping list, but ok to drive. No husband or partner so I work it out for myself and just do my best. I guess we all have to work with what we have and what we know about ourselves. You are not alone in this. Wishing you better days and safe travels.

  • Susan
    2 months ago

    In all my years of struggle with migraines I have thankfully not had an aura while driving. I do however refuse to drive during an episode as I have difficulty with depth perception during a migraine and once hit a post when trying to park. I took it as a warning sign to stay away from the wheel when necessary. At the time I was trying to ignore the fact I was in an attack. Never again. I do not want to be responsible for injuries

  • nowIknow
    2 months ago

    I had a strange episode once while shopping out of town. I had several things going on so got a warning that something else was sure to follow. I was correct. I was talking to a salesperson when all of a sudden I could not follow the conversation! It was like they began speaking another language! I knew I had to hurry and get home. I drove the 35 minutes home and when I got out of my car I felt like I was walking bent over sideways. Getting inside all hell broke loose as I had vomiting, D, sight and sound sensitivity, etc and just had to go to bed. My trigger I believe was trying smartwater. I too, have a fear now of driving out of town alone. I don’t have the answer but also want to hear suggestions. It’s scary.

  • kellikens
    3 months ago

    I’ve been hit with aura while driving. I know I have about 25-30 minutes before my migraine kicks in, so I try to get home before then. I have had to pull over and have someone come and get me. Sun coming through the windshield can trigger a migraine as well.

  • DinaMay
    3 months ago

    When I was young and had kids i needed to take to and from school, ocular migraines with occasional hemiplegia made it too scary to drive. For a couple of years, I just didn’t drive. My husband took the brunt of the burden of driving. He took me to and from doctor appointments, took the kids to and from school, did the grocery shopping…you name it, he did it. We tried various other ways of getting around, mainly asking my husband’s parents or a friend to fill in. Mostly I just stayed home, not a solution I recommend. But that was years ago, when we lived in a small town that lacked any form of public transportation (not even a taxi).

    Now we live in Redwood City, a place with good public transportation, not to mention the popular taxi-alternatives Uber and Lyft. Our county also provides paratransit, a type of public transit just for those who have disabilities. This service is called Redi-wheels on this side of the hills, Redi-coast on the Pacific Coast over the hills to the west. My husband and I had to provide a fair amount of medical information and go for an interview to be cleared to use paratransit. It’s a pretty good system: we have to call to set up transportation at least a day ahead of time. We give the address where we are to be picked up, the address of the destination, and the time. Redi-wheels arranges for a driver and vehicle to pick us up and take us where we want to go for a fee of $4.25 per ride. When I am accompanying my hubby to his appointments, I ride free, so we only pay one fare.

    If you have times when it’s dangerous for you to drive, I recommend checking into transportation alternatives. It can be a pain in the neck but you may be saving a life!

    I know I was a danger on the road years ago. Not only could I not see well during ocular migraines, I sometimes lost the ability to interpret road signals and signs (along with aphasia). At times, I would go ahead and drive when I was alone and not far from home. Since we lived in a small town, I could easily stay off major streets and get home in less than ten minutes. But there were times when I went somewhere feeling fine only to develop a monster migraine while I was out. And I would call my husband to come fetch me home. It’s a pain to have to arrange alternative transportation but it sure beats crashing your car. I wish you the best of luck dealing with this issue.

  • sadbrain1 author
    3 months ago

    Hi, thank you for your reply. I’m sorry you’ve been through all this, too. Right now I live in a large metro area with very good public transit. Sadly, I also have a knee which gives me problems and unless the bus or subway goes right where I need to go that really isn’t a good option for me. I know the transit company has special transportation for disabled people but I never considered looking into it. I think I will. But we have to move to a much smaller, although not small, city later this year and I would be surprised if they had this service. I will look into it, though. You also hit on the head why I’m so afraid to drive. I can feel fine and within a half an hour be in a store or my car unable to see well, in pain and wondering if I’m having a stroke. I just feel like I may have to give up driving if I’m alone. Thanks again for your reply.

  • Anne
    3 months ago

    I have had migraine with aura which obscures my vision. When it hits, I have to take my abortive meds and get somewhere safe. It subsides in about 20 minutes. I also used to take the train to work so I wouldn’t have to drive with migraine. On my really bad migraine days – when I have full body weakness and dizziness, I call in sick. You probably already have, but wondering if you’ve had an MRI. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this – Aimovig is giving me some reprieve from migraines – don’t know if you’ve tried the CGRP preventative meds yet.

  • sadbrain1 author
    3 months ago

    Hi, the abortive meds did not work very well for me. No one has ever suggested the CGRP meds for me but after reading about them I suspect that has to do with other medical issues I have. I’ve probably had ten MRIs. I’ve been to all kinds of specialists and one of the premier eye clinics in the country and they just refer me around in a circle. I’m sorry you are dealing with these migraines, too. Thanks for the response.

  • glassmind
    3 months ago

    Yes, I have had to sit in parking lots rather than drive. I have been fortunate that either my migraines start at home and if I needed to go someone (very rarely), I called a friend to drive. Those that started while out and were so disabling as to prevent driving occurred within 2 miles of my home, so with some rest and medication I was able to hobble home. I had one strike while cycling and that was the slowest worst ride home!

    I had a disabling migraine strike once when hours away from,home on a day trip to a nearby city. I called a relative. I sat with my head down in a cafe where compassionate staff brpught me water and cool rags until my relative arrived. Not wanting to leave my car so far from home, I had my relative follow behind me. I drove about 30mph on the interstate with my emergency flashers on, pulled over to wait out nausea waves a few times, but finally made it back to my town. I went to the e.r. and picked up mu car there the next day.

    I would not do that again! I should have just gone to an e.r. in the town I was visiting. But, alas, logic usually dissappears when migraine appears.

    I did have the follow car and was willing to pull over and abandon my car if I had to. My vision was okay that day. The pain, photophobia, phonohobia and nausea were the most problematic symptoms for driving that day.

    Do be safe and pull over. Hire a ride or call and friend and go back for your car later. Do not drive hours on the freeway with a migraine! Lol

  • sadbrain1 author
    3 months ago

    Hi, what a scary story. I would be horrified to drive on the interstate with a migraine, especially with vision problems. I am actually afraid to drive on the large, high speed road anymore. If my husband is home, he usually drives. I have called him before when sitting in parking lots just to let him know he might have to come and get me. We live in a large, crowded metro area with bad traffic and it would probably take him as long to get to me as the worst of the aura would last. Thanks for your reply.

  • JanetH
    3 months ago

    I’ve had migraine while driving. Not fun. Since my migraine preventative can also cause dizziness, I only drive on surface roads in my medium sized Midwestern city. I refuse to get on the expressway; hubby takes care of that.

  • Martha Growdon moderator
    3 months ago

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been bounced from doctor to doctor with no relief from your migraines, sadbrain1. You’ve probably seen this before but I’ll share it here again for others who also find your question: we have links for those looking for a migraine specialist in their area here: https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/. New doctors enter the field and new research comes out so it may be helpful to check the list and see if someone new exists near you.

    With respect to the driving, you’re not alone in this fear and you’re doing the absolutely right thing about it. Stop driving until the migraine passes (https://migraine.com/blog/driving-under-the-influence/). That’s not always going to be convenient, but it’s absolutely the safest option. I’m sorry I don’t have a magic answer for this one and I hope it helps to know you’re not the only one who struggles with this.

    Martha
    Migraine.com Team

  • sadbrain1 author
    3 months ago

    Thanks for your reply. I’ve been trying to get in with a headache specialist for years. I had an appointment for almost a year once when it was cancelled two weeks before the date. I haven’t given up on finding a doctor who could help but I don’t feel well enough to get back on that treadmill right now. Thanks again.

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