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Cataplexy + Driving

by Dr. Digital
(Columbus, Ohio)

I'm with you on this. My wife has Narcolepsy, she has no control when she will nod out, yet feels safe to drive?


I honestly think if you have Narcolepsy, you should never get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. To me it's just plain selfish to others' safety. Yeah you might be up right now, but if you've lived with someone with Narcolepsy, you know what I'm saying. They do not have control over passing out right in front of you, at any time.

I do feel there should be laws regarding driving and having Narcolepsy. Sorry it's just not very smart, anyway you look at it.

2 cents...From someone who witnesses & lives within it daily.

Comments for Cataplexy + Driving

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Dec 28, 2010
depends
by: Anonymous

narcolepsy doesn't affect everyone in the same manner. there aren't different degrees of it....like-people have asthma. some people have it so bad they use an inhaler many times daily and take pills. some people just wheeze a little when they work out. i just wheeze a little, if you will. i know when i am tired, and know when I am so narcy that I must fall asleep. I am aware for many many minutes prior to it happening. so-I know I am perfectly fine to drive. I have pulled over 3 times in my life (I am 34) to take a nap when I knew I couldn't make it. Three times in almost 20 years of driving....so. for you to say no one with narcolepsy should drive is a bit naive. I think the individual must be aware of their disease and limitations. If your wife just falls out with no warning, then yeah-she shouldn't drive. But I should :)

Jan 02, 2011
I'm Naive?
by: drdigital1

Not all people with Narcolepsy have Cataplexy as well. I probably should have clarified better that this is the case here.

Having N&C together is a dangerous combination. It is a sudden muscular weakness brought on by strong emotions. If a joke you heard is too funny, it's down you go, right into oncoming traffic.

That's just plain irresponsible, "in that case" to worth risking other peoples lives on a HOPE that nothing emotional happens while you drive. And I'm not talking emotional nonsense as in
"I had a bad day"
I'm talking about someone suddenly cutting you off, or a child running into the street.
Bad news or a good joke on the radio.
These will trigger Cataplexy.

For the record...I'm hardly naive.
I go to Narcolepsy support groups on a regular basis, we discuss all aspects of the disorder.
There was no need to insult me.

Mar 10, 2011
Not our fault.
by: Olivia

You see the disorder daily. Sure. But some of us actually have it. I have narcolepsy without cataplexy. I take medication to control sleep attacks and I know what my limitations are. Right now, I'm not controlled enough to get a license. I've had my temps for quite a few years. Legally, I'm allowed to drive. But until I get my meds straightened out, I'm not going to even apply for a license.
Why should I have to jump through hoops someday because your wife doesn't have self control? I've spoken at length with my doctor and we both agree that I should do another nap study and a test that will gauge my ability to stay awake without stimuli before driving alone.
I, and many others like me, do not require a law to govern our daily lives. We can take responsibility for our own actions.

Jul 09, 2011
See both sides
by: Anonymous

Having narcolepsy, I agree with the ppl who also have narcolepsy. I do not drive because, as the person before me, I was waiting to try to get the best medication for me. However I have recently decided that I want to go ahead and get my license. Being someone with both narcolepsy and cataplexy I understand somewhat of where you're coming from. Maybe your wife has it worse than me but little things like having a bad day or being cut off do not trigger it for me. It's different for everyone and for me it has to be a hilarious joke/prank or a huge argument. This being said, I don't believe that that because of this I should be restricted from driving. I think that this just means I need to be more careful and not attempt to do things as though I'm a "normal" person, such as driving for an hour or more. It may not have been fair to call you naive but you are uninformed. You may live with a narcoleptic and go to support groups, which I think is great of you, but until you wake up one day and have narcolepsy you will never truly understand what it's like...nobody will.

Jul 31, 2011
Cataplexy and Driving
by: Anonymous

This is a very unique, individual and emotional subject. My husband is a narcoleptic who has cataplexy. In addition to this my husband drives both a vehicle and a motorcycle. I had my concerns at first however I realized that it all boils down to self control. I belief that it is truely biased to say that all narcoleptics should be forbidden from driving, this is the same thing as all gays should burn in hell or all abortions should be illegal. In addition I feel that it is best to avoid the word all when dealing with groups of people because every group is very diverse. My husband is aware of his increasing sleepiness. He knows when to pull over and take a nap and he knows when he is so tired that he should not drive at all. At times 10 minutes is too much for him and at times he drives for hours and is perfectly fine. We don't need laws to regulate everything but what narcoleptic people have to realize is they're a special group of people with limitations. They must personally be responsible for their ability to drive and for the consequences of what can happen if something goes wrong when they're driving. If these pro's and con's are accurately weighed narcoleptics such as my husband can lead happy driving lives. Personally I worry more about drunk drivers and texting while driving, these things are illegal for a reason.

Jul 31, 2011
Cataplexy and Driving
by: Anonymous

This is a very unique, individual and emotional subject. My husband is a narcoleptic who has cataplexy. In addition to this my husband drives both a vehicle and a motorcycle. I had my concerns at first however I realized that it all boils down to self control. I belief that it is truely biased to say that all narcoleptics should be forbidden from driving, this is the same thing as all gays should burn in hell or all abortions should be illegal. In addition I feel that it is best to avoid the word all when dealing with groups of people because every group is very diverse. My husband is aware of his increasing sleepiness. He knows when to pull over and take a nap and he knows when he is so tired that he should not drive at all. At times 10 minutes is too much for him and at times he drives for hours and is perfectly fine. We don't need laws to regulate everything but what narcoleptic people have to realize is they're a special group of people with limitations. They must personally be responsible for their ability to drive and for the consequences of what can happen if something goes wrong when they're driving. If these pro's and con's are accurately weighed narcoleptics such as my husband can lead happy driving lives. Personally I worry more about drunk drivers and texting while driving, these things are illegal for a reason.

Sep 17, 2011
narcoleptic skateboarder! (3)
by: Anonymous

So, yes I will say Cataplexy which happens frequently to an extent that full control is lost as well as from triggers that are related to say surprise or frustration like road rage, should not drive and should feel or know down deep inside that it is unsafe for them to drive. Same goes for Narcoleptics who fall asleep mid conversation or just nod out without any sign or feeling of such coming on, should also not drive.
But, to say that someone being fully aware of their sleepiness oncoming and say that same person only has cataplexy from certain actual likely triggers to occur while driving, then yes maybe should be restricted and willingly, happily agree with such to not drive.

I feel that for me personally, as for years I've not let passengers be with me knowing my limitations and warning sign, perhaps the restriction I should have had rather than the one I received would be 'no passengers allowed'...
It's as if it's a nightmare, I'm now living as if I'm on probation, or parole, for life because of the health I naturally am with. On top of that, the logic of at least here in the u.s. that everyone should own and drive a car is messed up, I mean I'm now basically trapped within this bubble of where it is I live; central america has better logic in the transportation, as there there are always buses and trucks which you just simply pay and go on, from where ever to where ever (not only within a city or having to plan out, by ahead, and be very limited as to when and where you go; and it is costly)...


Maybe, I've offered a bit of an alternate perspective for some of you who read this. I suppose narcoleptics are more likely to piece together and actually feel or view the meaning of and depth to what all it is that I am saying and/or just getting at.

We narcoleptics just seem to be, and always feel so so tired in some way be sleepiness or fatigue, yet we're around all of these wide awake people; in other words we're wide awake (consciously) and are around a lot who are absolutely not awake (unconsciously), so it at least seems to me.!

Sep 17, 2011
a narcoleptic person
by: Anonymous

Dr. Digital not to disagree entirely with you at all but to just state it like this.
You may witness it daily but that is absolutely not being within what, it, is...

Dec 10, 2012
I Disagree... NEW
by: Chris

I have a pretty severe case of narcolepsy with cataplexy and have never been involved in a car accident. Most people who have narcolepsy can feel an episode coming in advance and are able to pull their car over until it passes. Most of us are actually more cautious than the average driver because even the smallest fender bender will cause our license to be revoked, regardless of whether narcolepsy was the true cause or not. As far as cataplexy... If you knew as much as you think you do about this subject then you would know that cataplexy can be medicated. If I did not take xyrem then there is absolutely no way I could or would ever drive. However, when I do take xyrem, I am almost in complete control of my cataplexy. The only time I would have an attack while medicated is if I were sleep deprived, in which case I would not drive. Xyrem does not work for everyone but it does work for about 80% of people who have it. So should I not be allowed to drive, work, or have a life just because of the other 20%? My opinion is no.

With that being said, i do not think that those who cannot be medicated for cataplexy or are not able to feel a sleep attack coming in advance should be driving. In those cases, their GP or consultant will notify their DMV and their drivers license will most likely be revoked.

Aug 01, 2016
Cataplexy and driving NEW
by: Firefox

I was diagnosed with cataplexy in 2010 after a number of sleep tests and falling asleep at the wheel twice. I didn't drive for 9 months after that.finally my psychiatrist found Nuvigil. Nuvigil 250 mg worked the best. I cut it in half and take half in the morning,take a nap in the afternoon, then take the other half when I wake up. This works much better than taking 250mg all at once.

Last month the generic brand of Nuvigil came out, so my pharmacy gave me generic Nuvigil. It's only $10 cheaper. IT'S NOT THE SAME! Within 2 weeks I fell asleep at the wheel!! Pharmacist will tell you the active ingredients are the same and that's true. However, the fillers are different and apparently that makes all the difference in the world.

Be safe everyone.

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