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The Transportation Troubles of Chronic Illness

As I sit around my house, mentally pacing in my head due to boredom, I’m struck by a desire to escape. A feeling that if I could just get out of the house for a bit, simply see some different scenery, or even interact with a real live person, then all of my life’s problems might be fixed. That’s obviously not true, but I still can’t help but think that being able to go somewhere on my own would do wonders for my battle against depression and loneliness that I deal with because of my disease.

Limited access to transportation

My situation may not be the most common, however, it is far from unique. I have Multiple Sclerosis, am on disability, and I no longer drive because of my illness. I also live in a not super populated area where public transportation is few and far between and ridesharing programs, like Uber and Lyft, are around but in low quantities and can be very expensive (particularly to someone on disability). I’m not even in a typical suburban neighborhood; there is literally a cornfield across the street from my house. Need something from the store? Need to go by car. Want to see friends? Need to go by car. Have to get my monthly Tysabri infusion? Need to go by car. Want to see another person? Need to go by car. Which, for someone in my situation, “need to go by car”, means relying on someone else, paying high rates, or simply just not going.

Loneliness

I survive remarkably well for someone in that situation. I have a roommate who helps out (and I couldn’t it do it without her). I also order a lot of things online (trust me, I get the absolute most out of my Amazon Prime membership). Surviving isn’t exactly thriving though. These days, other than walking my dog outside around near my house, I may leave the house once a week. That means, other than my dog and my seldom seen roommate, I can end up having in-person contact with other human beings nearly one day out of every seven. I’ve written before how big of a problem this is for me, particularly with regards to loneliness. Now, I know I’m not exactly in solitary confinement, but I’ve got to say, this has a pretty big effect on my mental health.

Independence

Loneliness isn’t the only problem with my lack of transportation. My sense of independence feels like it’s been trashed. My roommate and friends are awesome and always offer to get me wherever I need to go. However, as I’ve mentioned before, relying on others can have its own side effects. When I have to rely on others to get me to and fro or to pick up things for me, it crushes my sense of independence. I start to not even feel like an adult. There are times when I feel like I’m more like a pet than a regular human being. I try not to let those thoughts linger, but, when you spend so much time alone, thoughts will do that. I feel like my brain comes up with some pretty interesting trains of thought because I’m by myself so much.

Solutions

Would having reliable transportation fix all of these issues? No, but it would absolutely help. When these thoughts race through my head, it’s like a crashing plane that I’d love to be able to bail out from. Getting places on my own would be extremely helpful to my mental wellbeing and overall health. I can’t come up with too many options though (I really wish these ride-sharing programs had a disability discount). I know location is huge (and when I lived in a city, this wasn’t really an issue), but that’s the thing, not everyone can just up and move. It’s not that simple (especially if you are on disability). So, I don’t have a solution to all of this, but I felt I needed to talk about it. I know it’s an issue for people other than me and one that should at least be talked about. You aren’t alone if you are in a similar situation; there are plenty of people like me going through it, too. So, hang in there and feel free to hit up the comments. My dog and I will be here waiting, as we gaze out on to the farmland of southern Delaware, wondering where we might go if we could.

Thanks so much for reading!

Devin

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Comments

  • Kristin
    8 months ago

    Hi Dylan, yeah, MS sucks. I sometimes look at the calendar and realize I haven’t been outside for multiple weeks, especially in winter. Regarding transportation, i know you said you live in a rural area, but have you looked into medical transportation? I live in a dot on the map town in New Hampshire but our county has a medical van that will show up at my door and for $2.50 take me in my wheelchair to a doctor’s appointment or store. You’ve probably already tagged that base but I figured I’d mention it just in case. Always enjoy your articles, by the way, So keep powering on.

  • Karen M.
    8 months ago

    Devin,

    Besides Amazon Prime, you may want to apply for a Target Red Card Debit Card. It attaches to your checking account just like a regular debit card does, and you get free shipping on ANYTHING (I use it for especially heavy items, like cat food and litter), PLUS, you get an additional 5% off of their prices (even sale and clearance items), which I often find to be cheaper than Amazon (for staples like big packages of toilet paper, and even other regular household products)! Totally worth it! (Full disclosure, I do NOT work for Target, but I use the card often!)

    Since it’s a debit card, not a credit card, your credit rating doesn’t matter in applying for it. I wish you the best!

  • StephMS35
    8 months ago

    You are on a roll this week @dev71
    I also do not drive due to my cognitive changes due to MS(at the age of 35). So there are many obstacles in our way to get the socialization we need. And I agree with you that it is not just enough to offer pay as you need rides because I also do not have any extra funds for the luxury of Uber or city bus. So I often walk places but my MS fatigue is another obstacle to over come along with the days weather.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    8 months ago

    Thank you @StephMS35, I have a feeling there are many of us who face this problem!

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