I’ve been meaning to write this one for a while…
When I first became ill with PoTS I was just turning 16. In the UK this is the age where you can legally start learning to drive (theory) , which peers of mine started doing during the following years. After managing my condition better by 18 this seemed like the right time to start lessons, before I went off to university.
Naturally I was nervous about starting to learn to drive, but I was honestly more nervous about how my health would be in a situation it had never been in before.
On my second lesson that we went out, I was driving along a long stretch of road, and I started to feel really unwell (a bit dizzy/disorientated) after pulling over and having some water, I managed to drive home, however this experience had a knock on effect to my nerves when I had driving lessons, and it wasn’t until I put 2 and 2 together over a period of time of me feeling unwell whilst driving, to realise what exactly was causing this feeling.
For me, when my blood pools I start to feel quite disorientated and extremely tired, and where I had been keeping my legs still driving down a long road, the blood was just pooling to my legs, as though I were sitting on a chair (I can’t sit on chairs without sitting on my legs otherwise my blood pools fast!) – and so I realised that as I can’t sit down usually for long periods of time 1 or 2 hour driving lessons where I was doing the same was making me feel dizzy and disorientated on long stretches of road!
This caused me to get quite stressed about driving, being too nervous to drive even provisionally with my dad because I was scared what would happen if I felt unwell whilst driving, however taking small thought out steps really helped me:
1) The most important thing for me was wearing compression socks – without these I wouldn’t be driving!! They keep my legs compressed whilst they stay still! I also worse compression leggings too!
2) The second most important thing for me, which played a huge role in calming my nerves was shortening my lessons. And whilst this wasn’t ideal for my instructor (who was so kind enough to understand), it made lessons so much more doable! I’d have 30/45 minute lessons depending on how I felt, and I definitely feel like I made progress so much quicker and my confidence built a lot faster as I was achieving more in shorter spaces of time!
3) I’d always take a huge water bottle (obs) and my instructor was fully aware of my condition and often suggested we take breaks during the lesson so that I could keep going!
And after a year of lessons & passing my theory test…I passed !!!
One of my greatest achievements, because it was a really daunting task to undertake, which I found stressful, tiring & scary, but still managed to accomplish,
& I couldn’t have done it without my amazing dad ❤️
shoutout to my lil Ford fiesta 💗