RA Daydreams: Robot Chauffeur

Living with rheumatoid arthritis can feel like a nightmare, which sometimes leads me to daydream about things that would make this journey a little easier.

Sitting in my car in the line for the drive-thru pharmacy window, I was getting impatient. The pain and inflammation in my joints had ratcheted up beyond my typical levels, and my rheumatologist had prescribed a dose pack of methylprednisolone. I made it through my workday, with difficulty, and now I just wanted to have my medication in hand, go ahead and take the first dose, and get home to a horizontal position where I could take my weight off of my joints. There were two cars ahead of me, and if I was just making a normal run to the pharmacy for refills of my maintenance medications I would have parked and gone in. However, with my joints in so much pain, the thought of getting out of the car, walking inside, standing at the counter, returning to my car, and heaving myself back inside it just felt like more than I could muster, given that I had a choice. So I waited. However, it wasn’t long before the pressure I was exerting on the brake pedal began to exacerbate the pain in my right foot, knee and hip. Just as I moved to put the car in park, the vehicle in front of me edged forward. Frustrated at how painful something as simple and as relatively passive as driving can be, I began to daydream about my dream car.

The car of my dreams will not require any direction or action on my part. We’ve all heard about self-driving cars. Ordinarily that’s the sort of technology that I feel hesitant and ambivalent about, as if we are moving closer and closer to a world where robots are running the show. Yet, when my joints are inflamed and I have to drive, the thought of the car doing the work for me seems heavenly. But I’m not stopping at a car that is programmed to drive itself. No, I’ll go ahead and up the technology ante by dreaming of a vehicle driven by a robot chauffeur who not only operates the car, but occupies the driver seat. When I’m in RA distress, I don’t want to sit at a 90-degree angle with the pressure of the seat belt exacerbating my hip pain and my swollen fingers holding on to the steering wheel. I want to be in a heavily cushioned, reclining seat, complete with a little footrest that pops out below the dash. My robot chauffeur has been engineered perfectly, and requires nothing from me other than occasional voice commands. In this car of my dreams, I can literally sit back and enjoy the ride.

The ride is easy to enjoy, as my dream car happens to be a hovercraft, moving a few inches above the asphalt surface. This eliminates all the bumps in the road that jar painful joints. This car of my dreams takes curves with the smoothness of a ball rolling in a track, and my oh so comfy seat absorbs any residual shock inherent in taking turns. Because my robot chauffeur is such an excellent driver, the brakes are always applied evenly and in plenty of time, without the discomfort that accompanies a sudden stop. The technology is so perfect that I can even close my eyes.

While we have a long way to go before my Jetsons-reminiscent fantasy is realized, during the achy times it sure is pleasant to think about a more comfortable reality.

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