Friday, March 30, 2012

Motion Sickness

I've always been lucky to not suffer from motion sickness. I've never felt woozy from the motion of a boat, roller coaster, car, or airplane. My wife is not so lucky. Whenever she gets into a moving vehicle, she inevitably starts to feel nauseated. Back seats in cars are her mortal enemies, as it is worse for some reason if she can't see where she is going. Facing reverse in a station wagon is right out. She does pretty well on roller coasters, but for some reason plane and car rides are the worst. She can't even sit next to the window on a plane without getting sick, which suits me just fine because pressing my face to the window of a plane is like a compulsion for me, especially during take-off and landing. It is ridiculous how excited I get when I fly, which is probably why I wouldn't make the best pilot. Nobody wants to be flown to Europe by some guy who can't stop freaking out about how high we are, how tiny the cars look, how ice crystals are forming on the window, the relative speeds of the plane to the ground versus airspeed due to the earth's curvature, the motion of wing flaps outside the window... You get the picture. Flight is fascinating to me, even if for nothing so much as all the forces and laws involved in keeping everything up in the air, traveling at such speeds... Yeah, there is a reason one of my majors was Physics, and it wasn't just so I could have one of the pea-green Physics Club t-shirts (I was vice-president, by the way... There were six of us.) with yellow print showing Schroedinger's wave equation on the front and the catch-phrase "Have you collapsed your wave function today?" on the back. Granted, I love that shirt (and wore it three days ago), but there was definitely more to it than the easy access to awesome fashion statements. Anyway, planes and cars are the worst for my wife, and while we haven't been on many wavy boat rides together, I can't imagine she would fare well.

Because of her finicky system, whenever we go for long car rides, she loads up on the Dramamine and breaks out her sea bands. Side note: I am VERY skeptical about how something like sea bands could possibly work. Even with all that extra help, we almost always have to pull the car over so she can stand outside for a while, possibly holding onto something solid like a small rock until the uncontrollable urge to void her stomach becomes controllable. That is how it has always been - until this past trip to Tennessee over Spring Break.

When we set out, I was a little worried about how she would do on such a long car ride. She got all set up with her stuff, took the Dramamine, and we were off. After a little while, she was feeling as sick as ever, and it was only about an hour into an 8-hour drive. I encouraged her to try to go to sleep, so she tilted her seat back a bit and was out in under five minutes.

When she woke back up after forty minutes, she was perfectly fine! She had no issues for the rest of the trip, even through some really twisty roads going through Kentucky. This started me thinking - what if going to sleep while experiencing the rocking and bumping motion of the car acclimated her to it so that it didn't bother her once she woke up? Sort of like calibrating her inner ear sensitivity to have a higher tolerance for motion.

On the return trip, I recommended that she just go to sleep right off the bat, wanting to test out my theory. She slept for about an hour and a half, and then was perfectly fine throughout the rest of the long drive back to Michigan, never experiencing any carsickness at all. There has got to be some sort of reason for this. Ideas? Theories?

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