Saturday, 3 September 2016

Driving Made Easy...

I needed to drive my mother to my brother's residence in England and since we live in Wales it would require me to put on my 'big girl pants', 'step up to the plate' and address this driving challenge head on with confidence ("I can do this") and determination ("I will do this") - I talk to myself a lot these days!  I wonder if it actually does any good, is it an 'MS' thing?  An 'age' thing?  Or, maybe its a plain old 'crazy' thing, but I digress... -  all the while bearing in mind we'd really like to get there in a reasonable time, hopefully without an MS hitch occurring, but most of all... we'd like to get there... safely, without killing anyone and in one piece!
The last time I drove for over an hour, things didn't turn out so good for me and my MS Monster protested the driving in several ways, and since I didn't listen to it's initial warning (increased spasms) I ended up in pain and having extreme fatigue after having to deal with a 'bowel incident';  (NOTE TO SELF: Things to remember about driving any great distances - a. I must avoid exacerbating any sensory disturbances (we don't need the 'crawling ants' sensation whilst in charge of a deadly weapon car); b. remember not to take any medication as it can, and does, cause sleepiness (although its proving very difficult to find that perfect place between 'rigid leg' and snoring) and c. be prepared to take regular bathroom breaks (if I can find any decent toilets on route, although when MS says I need to go, 'decent' is not even a concern - I've peed in some truly disgusting public toilets over the past few years... MS has a lot to answer for, before you wouldn't even catch me in a public toilet, let alone 'grateful' for their existence, no matter how unsanitary they happen to be, thanks goodness I've learn - the hard way- to always carry tissues and antibacterial spray with me!).  I'm aware that with any journey it is important to take regular breaks, especially for MS'ers who can experience an increase in symptoms when fatigued,  My mother (bless her), who is to be my 'travel buddy' for this outing (after all, all  MS'er still capable of driving need a 'keeper', it really isn't safe for me to go anywhere alone anymore)... anyway back to my 'travel buddy'... I love my mother (really, I do) and she has a lot to put up with, trying to assist me when she, herself, is no spring chicken.  But...
She doesn't always understand the effects of fatigue has on both my body and my mental competency (or perhaps it's that, it's ok for me to be tired as long as it doesn't impact on the result she wants). Her idea of being understanding of my condition, is to offer to 'allow' us to have a break from our journey and 'rest up' in a café she has chosen, which happens to be in a garden centre about 90 minutes into our journey.  What she fails to understand (and I've tried to explain, really I have), is that the act of stopping the car; getting out; setting up my scooter; getting to the café; ordering; paying; eating/drinking; getting back in the car (after putting the scooter away) and setting off again - is all just too exhausting for me!  And... I really DO need a break after about an hour (that's 60 minutes not 90 minutes) of driving  (because by this time, a rest break is needed to stop me from collapsing to one side as my muscles begin to give out along the sides of my torso, this state of affairs seriously interferes with safe driving protocols!).  So I had a great idea (it happens)... I would take a flask of coffee and some biscuits and pull into a lay-by and all would be right with my world.
Ha ha ha...
Things do not always go to plan.
  • Total exhaustion before even beginning our journey
  • Chosen lay-by - extremely noisy
  • Chosen lay-by - excessive exhaust fumes
  • Spillage
  • Guilt
  • Full bladder
Although, being organised (with hot libations) seemed to be a good idea, the execution of said idea turned out to be a less than stellar notion.  Before even starting off on our journey I had managed to exhaust myself with all that needed to be prepared, the simple acts of brewing coffee; filling a flask (after I'd finally found it); cleaned said flask; hunted down a suitable container for milk (why not put milk in with the coffee, you ask... because my mum has black coffee and I have white); packing up some biscuits and getting it all into the car, had already caused the need for an extra rest, and we hadn't even started yet!

More thought was needed when considering where to stop and in which lay-by, as the one I picked was both noisy (hundred of vehicles were passing by my 'peaceful' haven at considerable speed) and smelly (car fumes really are disgusting), also outlook should be taken into consideration, as even though trees are quite pleasant to look at, piles of someone else's rubbish - are not... meaning the 'break' was rather thoroughly unpleasant.

Care, extra care, was required (if I ever attempt this again), when asking my mother to... 1. open a flask (I don't think my mum has dealt with mobile drinking containers for about 50 years, "you just twist the lid to open it, Mum" "I didn't MEAN to tighten it up so much" "pass it here"); 2. pour hot liquid and 3. not burn herself as she hands over the coffee.  All the while putting up with my mother's 'sour' face because she'd been denied "a decent cup of coffee" in a "proper" location, "not that I'm complaining" (yeah right, not much, mum!).  She did approve the choice of coffee cups (and by this point I'm grateful for any 'silver lining' and finally, I'd managed to gain some approval... only the best china for my mum... I'd packed my Royal Albert no less!), which mollified she somewhat.

So here we were, not enjoying our coffee break (I'd have preferred tea, but my mother doesn't touch 'the stuff' and it was too much effort to do both coffee and tea this morning, so coffee it is), and by now I'm feeling tired, twitchy and extremely guilty at having denied my saintly mother out of her beloved café break... for this!  And to top it off... I now need the loo!!!  When I told my mum about my urological needs, I could almost 'feel' her smirk, well she won't be smirking for long if I can't find a toilet soon (ha ha ha)...


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