Migraines and driving

On the topic of driving and migraines. And whether we are liable if in an accident with an untreated migraine or treated migraines.

Driving and migraines...

Yep, always a concern for the chronic migraine sufferer.  I admit it is extremely difficult to work with chronic migraines.  We all know migraines can make us incapable of doing anything, but we also know that treated migraines, or half treated migraines, or mild migraines or silent migraines… are an entirely different story.  We are expected to function with these.

Expected to because no one says we can’t and does not offer us any better solution, so we do the best we can.  Likewise, with a full-blown migraine, driving is impossible, but in those other cases not impossible, but obviously affected.  For example, my most predominate visual aura is visual snow, and it is always there, but sometimes more extreme… so I see billions of little sparks of light zigzagging, flashing and darting around in my field of vision and it makes everything rather like a Monet painting and distorted.  To drive at all, I need to wear sunglasses, as this dims the visual snow.  Other most obscuring auras can be worse.  That is just on the purely visual side of things.

Pain, of course, is a distraction, but pain is something I have to deal with all the time, you can’t rightly say I cannot in one situation and expect me to in other situations.  The migraine fog through is the worst…

My response to the forum topic on this is:

I agree we should not drive when having a migraine. However, as I get migraines all the time, it would be hard not to when I have to get to work. I also consider myself impaired at work, but I still go. The fact is that if I am considered impaired by a migraine or migraine treatment, which I am, and therefore should not drive, then it only seems logical that if I have chronic migraines I am impaired most of the time.

Yet, it is difficult to get leave from work, or get full disability for migraines, when it seems people do not consider it to be all that serious. If it is not considered a serious disability, with serious impairments, then I myself will try to ‘get through’ things when the migraine is not killer, or I am taking a treatment for it. If it becomes a habit for me to try and function through the pain, the sensory problems, and the migraine mental fog, then it would not be any different for me to drive under such conditions.

I have had doctors in the past say I could not do certain jobs, but no doctor has said I cannot work, which implies that I should be able to work. If they considering me capable of functioning at a job, any job, then they cannot rightly say I am incapable of driving. I would disagree, but since my vote does not always count, and I need some sort of income, I do work and therefore I also drive. Alternative systems to get to work, like buses are not available here. I likely would not do so if there was alternative transportation where I live because driving is not pleasant even with the mildest of migraines. There is some faulty reasoning if the law says you cannot drive with a migraine or a migraine treatment but are somehow capable of working a full-time job.

It seems since driving could potentially affect other people that people make a point of it, not when things affect the person actually suffering from migraines. Still, I do agree that I should not drive most of the time and I know very well it affects my driving. The fact is, no one has ever made a point of it except me. Ironically, when I have taken a triptan and am driving I am way less impaired than if I am driving with even the mildest of migraines. Again, no doctor has said any of my medications would prevent me from driving. A further irony is that my mother is taking painkillers while waiting for a surgery, and her doctor said she could not drive nor work while taking those painkillers… and I take stronger painkillers, triptans, preventatives on a regular basis but am essentially expected to carry on as normal. So that is exactly what I try to do.

And that is what happens when you have chronic pain. You are expected to fit into the system and they do not care if you can’t.

6 thoughts on “Driving and migraines…

  1. I understand where you're coming from. I'm often there myself. Still, if you ever hurt anyone, I hope they throw your butt UNDER the jail and leave it there. When you drive with a migraine, you're choosing to do it, and you should be held responsible.


  2. Ironically, according to the this article the law says I am only responsible if I am driving under the influence of migraine medications… not if driving with a migraine. So, if in case of an accident, if I am driving with a treated migraine I could be held liable, which means do not drive when you have taken a triptan and aborted your migraine… your all good to go if you do not treat the migraine. Yep, that does make no sense. I only drive to and from work, which is about a ten minute drive… I avoid driving at all other times, I also avoid light at all other times. While I do not disagree I cannot help but note the innate contradtion in this thinking. To me the sufferer anyway. However, if the idea of this is that we cannot do things that might adversely affect others while under the influence of migraine treatments or a migraine… then the list is way, way longer than just driving and would include quite a few occupations in there.


  3. That article was talking about specific laws. There are other laws that can and should get you if you're driving ANY TIME that you know you could be impaired. Haven't you known of people to be arrested for driving when sleepy, crossing the center line, and causing an accident? Impaired is impaired, and I don't care if you're only driving to work. You still drive when you know you shouldn't be driving. I know you have to get to work, but you're being really irresponsible.

    Stop and think for a minute. How would you feel if someone driving impaired JUST TO WORK hit someone you love and killed them?


  4. I get how this topic can rile anyone up… that is why I posted. But more for the specific inconsitencies rather than my own habits. While I am reluctant to drive most of the time and choose not to that is only my personal feeling on the matter. Much like I do not drive even after having one drink, even though legally I could have more. I have actually brought my concerns up with my doctor, and have had him say there was no problem with driving, with a migraine, on my meds. So I have taken his word on the matter. Prior to that I brought it up with past doctors and my eye doctor. So if we are talking about me specifically, rather than in general, then I have asked and got answers regarding this topic from people that know more than I do. Then again, as I mentioned I have never had a doctor say I cannot work either, and I think they do not want to admit how much chronic migraines affect a person. Now that I am aware of specific cases on this topic, I will bring it up to my neuro. Still I suspect he will say what the others have… as long as the migraine is mild or moderate, or treated, it is not a problem. Which rather makes it subjective. You say I should not drive when I know I should not… but when exactly should I not. When I am getting a migraine and am in the aura stage? If it is a mild migraine with little pain? If I have taken an abortive and completely killed the migraine, but have a triptan in my system?


  5. Barb Goodwin obviously doesn't work M-F and has someone else to support her and is a black and white thinker. I just saw my headache doctor. I have chronoic dailiy migraine and he wrote out my med treatment plan knowing full well I work full time and there was no mention of “Gee you need to ride a bus” to work, which in rural NH is not an option. Or gee, you need to find someone to drive you to work. This is just plain none-sense. I cannot get disability for my chronic daily migraine. Migraine is not considered a disability. So this woman is living on a different planet. Reality is that I have to drive with migraine every day. The system sucks. C


  6. Exactly. If it were a disability, then it would be entirely different. As it stands, we need to put food on the table just like anyone else. The system totally sucks.


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