One serious form of pain my CRPS has blessed me with is painful hypersensitivity to vibrations. I’m learning that I come across vibrations many many times a day of which, before December 2nd, I was only moderately aware. Some things that really cause my pain to hit the roof are: my wheelchair rolling on uneven/rough ground such as the sidewalk, doorjams, some types of carpeting, floor tiles where my casters (front wheels) can sink into the grout lines; the vibrations from the engine in my car – and my car’s engine idles and runs REALLY ROUGH too (just my luck), and the vibrations from driving on the road (even if it’s smooth road, but rough road is worse and pot holes can bring tears); loud music with strong bass or drums; doors slamming; construction in the building I’m also in; and helicopters/aircraft that cause my house to rumble…which causes the floor to rumble too. I can’t even think of rollerskating anymore and the vibrations it would cause. Though it’s a hobby I enjoyed pre-December 2nd, the vibration would send me to a really bad place pain-wise.
So I need to learn to adapt. Most of the time I instinctively lift my left leg from its resting surface so that it’s in the air and not touching the ground. This helps when the resting surface (wheelchair footplate)/ground/car floor is the source of the vibration, though it doesn’t do as much when it’s music with bass or drums. I now don’t even really think consciously about whether or not I’m lifting my leg…when my wheelchair hits an uneven surface, my leg goes up.
This doesn’t work so well while driving, however, as sustaining my leg in the air takes muscles. And my muscles get tired!!!
I tried pillows under my left leg while driving, but they were too thick so my foot was up higher, thus supporting more of the weight of my leg. This, plus the fact that the pillows somehow still transmitted a significant amount of vibration, meant I wasn’t much (if any) better off. I tried thick socks, but this didn’t help either.
Finally I went to Walmart and put on my “Occupational Therapy” hat and decided to look around the whole store for something gel-like that would absorb vibration without transmitting it to my legs and which would have a low enough profile that I wouldn’t be putting more weight into my feet because it was too high. I was thinking something like ballistics gel or the gel you find in gel-foam wheelchair cushions (a bit pricey for me). I went to the pillow department. Nothing there that fit the bill (though they did have a memory foam pillow with some gel that might be comfortable when NOT driving the car). I checked out the do it yourself aisles, nothing there either. Pharmacy was a lost cause, as was sporting goods.
I even asked two people who work at Walmart (yes, I did) if there was anyone who worked there who was good at jerry-rigging things and fixing stuff. “What do you need to fix?” the lady asked me. Uhm, oddly enough, that’s a tough one to answer!! “Well, you see, um…” I was off to a great start! “My leg is VERY sensitive to vibrations like when driving my car, and when going over the sidewalk in my wheelchair. I have tried pillows under my foot in my car but they didn’t work well. I need something with gel. Any ideas?” She and the man standing next to her blinked a few times and shook their heads. I continued to pry for ideas…come on folks, I know you’re not paid to THINK but PLEASE, any ideas at this point are acceptable! They directed me to that memory foam with gel pillow, but it looked too big for the purpose, and it cost $30.00
I decided to buy three at roughly $4.00 a piece (tax included) because this thickness and “squooshiness” (sorry, no idea what the right word for that would be!) seemed like it could potentially do the trick.
And guess what?! IT WORKS!!!! I tested with the silicone pot holders while driving home, then without. I re-tested my pillows too. The pillows again proved to be nearly useless, but the pot holders did GREAT! They made those really small but super-aggravating vibrations almost nil. I did still feel pot holes and larger bumps, but that’s to be expected – it IS a MOVING vehicle, after all (and I’m glad it’s moving because I don’t want to get it fixed any more this year!). I will tie all three silicone pot holders together so they won’t spread/slip apart while I’m driving.
I did a quick run from the car to the house with my pot holders between my foot and wheelchair footrest and didn’t see a ton of difference in vibration from going without, but the sidewalk is SO JARRING to my legs that it’s possible this much vibration is hard for a few pot holders to cut down. I’ll try it again later when I have more time to see if I can develop an additional piece for my footrest that would cut down on vibrations while using my wheelchair.
Hope this information helps someone else out there. If it does, let me know! 😀 I prayed God would lead me to a solution for the vibration while driving, and He sure did. My next pain problem to try to conquer is swelling that comes as it gets warmer outside. Ideas, anyone?