Spatial Orientation

cognitive overload; mental fatigue, spatial orientation

I’m finally getting used to having no sense of direction (spatial orientation).  Recently, I had to go to two different new places so I printed out directions on Map Quest as well as used my GPS.  Actually, I thought I could do it without the GPS so I only printed out the directions.  My double vision makes reading street signs difficult and by the time I could read the sign, it was too late to turn!  So I pulled over and put the address in my GPS.

Everything was going fine until the voice said “arriving at destination” and I didn’t see the Grand Bohemian Hotel.  I pulled into a parking lot and asked directions.  It turns out, it was right across the street from me and I didn’t recognize it. I pulled into the valet parking for which I didn’t want to pay but I figured if I tried to find a place to park on the street, I would never find the hotel again. 

The other directions were to a friend’s house.  He was moving and I wanted to see his new apartment.  I thought I wouldn’t need the GPS and could find it only with my map quest directions.  When that didn’t work, I pulled over and put in his address.  It took me to some house that I knew wasn’t right so I got out of my car and called folks I knew who would be there.  No one answered. 

However, when I looked up, I saw another friend who had just left the new apartment.  He said I was almost there and pointed me in the right direction. When he pulled away, another man I knew came. This person is aware of my directional issues so he had me follow him there. So today when I went to visit another man I know who is in a heath care facility in Hendersonville (about 30 minutes from me in Asheville) I printed out the directions and used the GPS.  I had been there before but I really didn’t want to get lost again so I decided to take no risks.

I really don’t like driving places and will do everything I can to avoid it.  Attending to other cars, following the traffic directions and dealing with the weather (in this case, darkness due to impending rain) takes up a whole lot of my cognitive energy (cognitive overload).  I never listen to music when I’m driving because I need to focus only on the road and not be distracted.  However, this time I put in a CD of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. 

I had been to the nursing home before and it was nice to cruise down the highway as I listened to the music.Of course, I made sure I knew how to turn the volume down in case I needed to concentrate on my driving. 

Stereo systems in cars now are so complicated.  I need a button with the word “off” on it so I know how to turn it off. Instead the buttons don’t have words on them and you’re supposed to know what they do by reading the directions once.  Well, my brain doesn’t work that way and I really don’t like to take the time to read the directions every time I want to use something in the car! One trick I use is to write the directions on a 3 X 5 card and keep that in the arm rest.  This is so much easier than trying to find something in the manual!

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