Community Forum Archive

Afraid of DRIVING

Hi my names Brittney from Arizona im 18 and terrified to drive.

My parents yell at me for not being able to drive or go to college or a job.

I have grand mal seizures and frequent absence seizures but i am on depakote ER.

it works but i still have absence seizures and am scared that i will have a seizure on the road.

what should i do?any advice?

Comments

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by BarbG on Sat, 2010-07-10 - 22:41

Hi Brittany,

I'm BarbG. I am 48 now but had seizures from the time I was 13-17 and was also controlled by Depakote.  While on Depakote, I did not have grand mal seizures. I may have had absence seizures but if I did, I wasn't aware of them. I also was afraid to drive at your age and didn't actually get my license until I was 34, 17 years after my last seizure and only because I had 2 young children, had just left my husband and needed to be able to take care of my children to take them to doctors etc..

You are very responsible with your concern. I would suggest you speak with your neurologist and/or another doctor you have that you trust. My doctor had cleared me to drive by the time I was 17 but I didn't trust myself that things would be safe...17 years long was really too long and sometimes the longer you wait, the more your fear and apprehension increases. Perhaps if you get cleared by your doctor, you can start by getting your learners and just drive close to home and in situations where your absence seizures are less likely to happen...maybe only afternoons if your seizures normally take place in the morning or refrain from driving if you are overtired or stressed. If you have auras or are pretty self aware of the circumstances of your seizures it will be more helpful. If you absolutely don't feel safe than don't let anyone bully you into driving but my guess is that, like me, you may be suffering from a lack of confidence in yourself and you are probably more capable and responsible than most young people your age and that with your conscientious attitude and self awareness you would be fine.  I wish you the very best and hope you post again and let us know how you do.

BarbG

Hi Brittany,

I'm BarbG. I am 48 now but had seizures from the time I was 13-17 and was also controlled by Depakote.  While on Depakote, I did not have grand mal seizures. I may have had absence seizures but if I did, I wasn't aware of them. I also was afraid to drive at your age and didn't actually get my license until I was 34, 17 years after my last seizure and only because I had 2 young children, had just left my husband and needed to be able to take care of my children to take them to doctors etc..

You are very responsible with your concern. I would suggest you speak with your neurologist and/or another doctor you have that you trust. My doctor had cleared me to drive by the time I was 17 but I didn't trust myself that things would be safe...17 years long was really too long and sometimes the longer you wait, the more your fear and apprehension increases. Perhaps if you get cleared by your doctor, you can start by getting your learners and just drive close to home and in situations where your absence seizures are less likely to happen...maybe only afternoons if your seizures normally take place in the morning or refrain from driving if you are overtired or stressed. If you have auras or are pretty self aware of the circumstances of your seizures it will be more helpful. If you absolutely don't feel safe than don't let anyone bully you into driving but my guess is that, like me, you may be suffering from a lack of confidence in yourself and you are probably more capable and responsible than most young people your age and that with your conscientious attitude and self awareness you would be fine.  I wish you the very best and hope you post again and let us know how you do.

BarbG

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by katiekate on Tue, 2010-08-17 - 06:39
It is okay to be concerned and I think you are just being responsible. Because many people aren't really safe drivers which is especially the case for students. You can start driving very slowly and carefully and after some time you'll become more confident about driving: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~bittman/car-insurance/safe-driving.html

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by phylisfjohnson on Sun, 2010-07-11 - 11:02

I think Barb is right on the money.

Don't drive until you feel confident and then, take it easy.  When I was 18, I got my drivers license and proceeded to have 6 accidents in 10 days. (Happily all with inadimate objects.)  On day 10, when I wrapped my mother's car around a cement pillar in the parking garage, I gave her the keys and didn't drive again for 10 years, until I lived in suburbia and had no choice.

I hope you fare better!     Phylis Feiner Johnson   www.epilepsytalk.com

I think Barb is right on the money.

Don't drive until you feel confident and then, take it easy.  When I was 18, I got my drivers license and proceeded to have 6 accidents in 10 days. (Happily all with inadimate objects.)  On day 10, when I wrapped my mother's car around a cement pillar in the parking garage, I gave her the keys and didn't drive again for 10 years, until I lived in suburbia and had no choice.

I hope you fare better!     Phylis Feiner Johnson   www.epilepsytalk.com

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by 3Hours2Live on Sun, 2010-07-11 - 20:48
Hi Brittney, I stopped driving on my own accord when I felt my partial seizures became too intense and too unpredictable to continue to drive regularly and safely. The State Rehabilitation Department and Social Services disagreed with my decision, and Federal Employers, with the EEOC, attempted to exploit my decision. I was also running out of money because employers effectively precluded my employment based on my epilepsy, so, the lack of money was going to reduce my driving irregardless of my concerns for safety. The phrase "Catch-22" was often cited to me by government officials, and this phrase applies to driving and epilepsy, except in the American Classic book "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller, it was more about any medical condition that might (or MIGHT NOT) interfere with piloting an aeroplane. One catch put on me between the State and the Feds, was that I should just drive to any job, and that I should, and would, never be able to make myself transportable to a job. Other sources of transportation other than driving myself were involved in the polemics, and mainly involved compatibilities between "locations" and "schedules", but with driving myself, safety was the pivotal issue. To greatly simplify, the legal court issues were between two jobs: 1) a State backed job scrubbing a Bank's toilet with corrosive chemicals, and 2) a Federal job counting the stacks of money in a Bank's vault. The State was of the opinion that driving my epileptic self to the Bank's toilet job was acceptably safe, while the Feds held driving my epileptic self to the Bank's money job was way too dangerous and was not otherwise available to reasonable accommodation. The direct essential duties of the two jobs had different safety standards also: using corrosive chemicals with epilepsy and alone from other people is safe, while counting stacks of money in a vault with epilepy and other banking employees around is not safe. Since I wanted a career that at least somewhat matched my recent University studies and most compatible with my epilepsy, I disagreed with both the State and the Feds, and I filed suits in Federal Court. The State and the Feds then "flip-flopped", and the State standing decision was that my epilepsy was so severe as to preclude any jobs even with all possible reasonable accommodation, while the Federal Court and EEOC standing decison was that my epilepsy was so slight as to be unprovable and no basis for any illegal discrimination or required reasonable accommodation. The questions about driving were officially left in the lurch. With the legal protections and requirements of the ADA and DMV, I won't be driving into the foreseeable future (which may be short for me, since one seizure resulted in ER telling me I had 3 hours to live without emergency surgery by a neurosurgeon from the results of my so slight or so severe impairements). The extreme results of epilepsy and the USA's Catch-22 with Rights and Obligations under the Social-Contract, are often between choosing to drive over the overpass, or trying to survive living under the overpass, but everyone should be freely "responsible", or Nurse Ratched will offer 'help' when summoned. Tadzio "Yossarian, they can prepare as many official reports as they want and choose whichever ones they need on any occasion. Didn't you know that?" "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller (S&S Classic Ed edition (October 5, 1999)), page 406.

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by amy71 on Tue, 2010-07-13 - 13:19
I can't even believe your parents would want you drive.  I've had petit mal seizures my whole life. I started driving at 19 anyway.  I had about 5 minor accidents, drove the wrong way on the highway once, got lost numerous times... My last straw was when I was 34 and I had to bring my one year old to daycare. I had always refused to drive with him in the car, but his dad was sick so I had to bring him. I ended up hitting a rock two seconds away from our driveway, flipping the car upside down with him in the back seat.( we were ok, thank GOD) This was a sure sign!!!!!    I'll agree this SUCKS not driving!!!!  I am now a single mom, and I don't wish not driving on anyone, but you have to out weigh your options.  You may take your life or someone elses, and thats not fair.  It's very unfortunate, but unless our seizures are fully controlled we really shouldn't be driving..  stinks :(      

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by Misjoey101 on Mon, 2010-08-16 - 22:41
 I am 16 and I do not have my drivers license and do not plan on getting it any time soon. Driving itself without the seizures already scares the crap out of me.

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by maggie17 on Tue, 2010-08-17 - 10:57
I too am scared of driving. I was going down a highway and had my first gran mal seizure while driving and my foot floored on the gas thank god my husband was in the car because he was able to stop the car without hitting anyone or us getting hurt. It is something you defiently can't get out of your mind. It is extremely difficult not to be able to drive though and the thought crosses my mind everyday! I just have to keep in mind that even the simpliest task of going to the store that I could hurt someone or myself. I am 27 and live 30 min from work so it is very difficult to find transportation all the time because we don't have a bus where I live. I am getting depressed from causeing a burden on others and never being able to just jump in the car and go wherever you want! Nothing about E is easy!!

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by michelle41 on Wed, 2010-09-01 - 23:43
i  knowyou feel i could never drive at all do to the samething you have dont give up i seizures to michelle ps get drive at all

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by Masterjen on Thu, 2010-09-02 - 00:30
I have been having seizures for almost 4 months, and I "know" when I am safe to drive and when I am not, based on how I feel at a given time. Having said that, I still keep my driving distances short. I am lucky, because public transit services my area reasonably well: it might take twice as long to get somewhere (on transit), but at least I know that when I am not feeling up to driving and have to be somewhere, I can usually manage to get there.

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by HannahByrd on Sun, 2013-03-17 - 22:07
I respect that you don't drive. I know it sucks tho. I haven't driven in 3 years. I am on medication. I still have the focal seizures as well. I am terrified of driving and having a seizure too. I don't want to die or kill someone else just bc I "think" I'll be okay to drive that day. Don't let your parents stress you out about all of this. Stress and epilepsy don't mix well.

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by jfilush on Wed, 2013-03-27 - 15:52
I feel guilty leaning on others for the driving, but not as guilty as I'd feel hurting my wife or two sons

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by jfilush on Wed, 2013-03-27 - 15:47
I'm 31, and I spent several years driving with epilepsy.  I have only partial complex, and I was being treated, so it was no big deal, despite bumping into a few things, such as other cars. But I was always by myself, so I wrote them off as no big deal.  As I got older, I started to almost get into much more serious accidents usually while my girlfriend (now wife) was in the car.   The ultimate incident came about seven years ago.  I was on the highway driving home from work one night.  This was a two lane highway with no lights.  I was probably going about 70, in the left lane, and then I was on the side of the road.  I had had a seizure, blacked out for I'm not sure how long, drifted across the highway, somehow not hit anyone else, and ended up on the side of the road, mercifully still facing the right direction.  I was still shaking and wondering what the hell had just happened, and scared out of my mind.  After a few minutes I managed to calm down enough to drive to the next exit and pull into a closed gas station so I could see if there was any damage to the car my wife and I had purchased a few months before.  Since God takes care of fools, drunks, and Irishmen, the only damage was a deep scratch all the way down the passenger side where I had apparently run up against the guardrail for who knows how far.  I called my wife, told her what happened, drove very slowly home, feeling very guity for the damage to the car and still just a trifle freaked out.  Except for emergencies (hospital runs, etc), I have not driven since. 

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by tbaldwin on Thu, 2013-03-28 - 10:05

jfilush,

Dianosed at 17yo in '74 and drove till '98 when 41yo. Having tried over 25 AEDs and had an unsucessful removal of my l. temporal lobe in '96. No reduction to seizure frequency or medications, I did receive verbal-memory loss from it. The last time I drove I crashed and almost bit my tongue off, but it was sutered back and healed fine. I'm so glad that never did I hit another car, the cops always assumed that I'd just fallen asleep. If I hit an oncoming car in that one, the driver would have seen me leaning on my steering wheel with my tongue out and if they told their attorney that, after looking at my medical records. He'd decide to sue the he?l out of me. After deciding that I shouldn't have been driving in the first place.     

Timothy Baldwin

jfilush,

Dianosed at 17yo in '74 and drove till '98 when 41yo. Having tried over 25 AEDs and had an unsucessful removal of my l. temporal lobe in '96. No reduction to seizure frequency or medications, I did receive verbal-memory loss from it. The last time I drove I crashed and almost bit my tongue off, but it was sutered back and healed fine. I'm so glad that never did I hit another car, the cops always assumed that I'd just fallen asleep. If I hit an oncoming car in that one, the driver would have seen me leaning on my steering wheel with my tongue out and if they told their attorney that, after looking at my medical records. He'd decide to sue the he?l out of me. After deciding that I shouldn't have been driving in the first place.     

Timothy Baldwin

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by babzy on Wed, 2013-03-27 - 20:58

Hi Brittney,

I think your fear is responsible & intelligent under your circumstanes.Your parents should be proud of you & of who you are with the limitations at hand.. I know 1rst hand how difficult life can be. Dont let your seizures control your life & Dont let parental thoughts interfere in your being you.  Rather ask yourself if this is what you want in life,if you find you want more out of life, speak with your dr. about improving your quality of life. I stress this as i am proof there is hope for those with limited capabilities.

I drove my 1rst car 7 months before i drove it into a stone wall. I had a partial complex seizure while driving and smash! Luckily I did not hurt anyone but myself and my car was totalled.I spent the next 20yrs using public transportation & a bicycle. My life actually turned around when i got a new dr. who was persistant enough to get me into drug trials and eventually surgery. Im very thankful to this day as i am able to drive love to drive and want to drive with no fear of hurting myself or others.. Dont be afraid, be responsible and brave in your search for a better life with epilepsy good luck to you brittney

Hi Brittney,

I think your fear is responsible & intelligent under your circumstanes.Your parents should be proud of you & of who you are with the limitations at hand.. I know 1rst hand how difficult life can be. Dont let your seizures control your life & Dont let parental thoughts interfere in your being you.  Rather ask yourself if this is what you want in life,if you find you want more out of life, speak with your dr. about improving your quality of life. I stress this as i am proof there is hope for those with limited capabilities.

I drove my 1rst car 7 months before i drove it into a stone wall. I had a partial complex seizure while driving and smash! Luckily I did not hurt anyone but myself and my car was totalled.I spent the next 20yrs using public transportation & a bicycle. My life actually turned around when i got a new dr. who was persistant enough to get me into drug trials and eventually surgery. Im very thankful to this day as i am able to drive love to drive and want to drive with no fear of hurting myself or others.. Dont be afraid, be responsible and brave in your search for a better life with epilepsy good luck to you brittney

Re: Afraid of DRIVING

Submitted by phylisfjohnson on Thu, 2013-03-28 - 11:17
Self-Driving Cars — The License to Drive? It’s not a dream. It’s a reality that could happen in as little as five years. After losing his best friend to a car accident at age 18, Sebastian Thrun vowed that he would find a way to prevent fatal crashes caused by human error. Now a professor of computer science at Stanford University, Thrun joined forces with Google in 2007 to develop cars that drive on autopilot. For full info go to: http://epilepsytalk.com/2012/10/02/self-driving-cars-the-license-to-drive/ Phylis Feiner Johnson www.epilepsytalk.com

Join Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest epilepsy news and stories from the community.