Saturday, 10 October 2015

In The Driver's Seat

I drove home yesterday in one shot, from Vancouver right through to Calgary. It's about 10 hours behind the wheel, although I managed to make it 11 thanks to a detour through Kamloops and a couple of Timmie's stops. You might think for someone with a exhaustive illness that this might be difficult. It is; it's also important to remember that my body is failing, not my mind.

When I drive, I work very hard to take advantage of all the energy saving tools in my truck. For example, I use cruise control extensively, whenever it is safe to do so. I don't get out of my truck en route unless I absolutely have to; thank goodness for my jug. My truck is an automatic, thankfully, so I don't have to worry about shifting gears. Mostly I just sit there in the driver's seat, point the truck where it should go, and make decisions.

It's that whole driver's seat thing which makes the big difference. It is designed to cradle my body, the body of the driver, in a position which supports both the back and the sides. There are arm rest positions on either side, so I can rest my arms when they get tired of the 10 and 2 position. The controls are all on the steering wheel, so my focus is on driving instead of on switches and knobs. All in all, sitting in that seat is very restful, making the long drive far easier than you might expect.

That ease, that cradled seat, is all the more important now that my back and core muscles are weakening. I can sit up straight all on my own, but leaning one way or the other is almost impossible. That's how I fell off the bed the other day, by leaning too far. These days the support from the car seat, my wheelchair seat, my shower bench, all these seats are important to me; they all have safety features I use.

Here is an exercise for you. Sit on the edge of your bed, legs dangling down over the side. Now, lean sideways. How far did you get before you fell sideways? I get nowhere; the first tilt and over I go. How about leaning backwards? I can still lean about 1/3 of the way back before I fall completely if use my arms to counterbalance at the front. What about frontwards? If you lean over and pick something up off of the floor, can you sit back up? I cannot; I simply tumble forwards unless I have a restraint of some sort in the way.

My core muscles are dying. You can't see it but I can feel it. Sitting in that truck seat, those muscles are supported. It's easy. That's why I can still drive from Vancouver to Calgary in one shot. That, and a good night's sleep beforehand.

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