Yes, I Can Drive
Last updated: November 2023
People automatically assume a lot of things when I first tell them I have idiopathic hypersomnia (IH).
It causes them to jump to thinking about all the things that I can't do with my condition.
Idiopathic hypersomnia and driving
One of the usual questions that I get is, "Can you drive a car?" because people assume that due to my idiopathic hypersomnia, I'm not allowed to drive a car. Personally, since being diagnosed, my doctor has given me the all-clear to drive as long as my IH doesn't affect my driving. Thankfully, I am among the group of people with IH that can drive and owns a car. (My most prized possession is my car! We have the same birthday, surprisingly.)
While my condition has not affected my driving, I do take precautions for longer drives or night drives. I let people know where I'm going, I share my location with people who want to follow me on my trip, and I try to avoid long drives at night unless I'm the second shift driver. With my personal driving rules, I've been able to do a bunch of long distance drives! My farthest drive was from Dallas, Texas to Columbia, Missouri on my own. I've also driven to Wisconsin, around Illinois, Indiana, and around Dallas!
Keeping extra comfort and convenience items in my car
People also ask if there is anything extra I do to make sure I drive safely. Over time, I have slowly created a collection of items kept in my car. These are items that I have felt made it easier for my day-to-day and for if I'm doing a longer adventure.
These items are grouped together since I usually end up using both at the same time. The plushies are a comfort item for when I have anxiety and need a minute to calm down. A lot of passengers love them as well, since anyone who rides in the backseat is allowed to use them.
The plushies also double as pillows! The blanket is for if I have a situation where my car breaks down and it's freezing outside (which, sadly, has happened to me before!). Or, if I need to pull over to take a quick nap, I use the pillows and blanket to create a makeshift bed in my backseat.
As someone who also likes to party and be out late as a young adult, I have moments where I need to crash at someone's house. Having spare clothes is great for those spontaneous sleepovers so I have fresh clothes to change into. They are also useful since I am one to not check the weather app, causing me to dress too hot or too cold for the day. Having extra clothes to change into if the weather shifts is always nice.
Since I don't remember to check the weather, a spare umbrella in my car has come in handy more than once.
Sometimes I forget to take my medications, so I'll have some leftover ones when I go to refill them. These leftovers I keep in my car for days when I forget my dose but don't have my main pill bottle on me. I keep headache medication in the car as well, in case I need it at some point in the day.
Something to read
I get bored waiting in the car for people, so I keep a book in my car for spontaneous reading if I need something to do.
Overall, idiopathic hypersomnia has created obstacles, but it hasn't stopped me from driving!
What are some safety or comfort items you keep in your car to help you drive more safely with IH or narcolepsy? Share with us in the comments or in our forums.
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