by Pride Transport | Jul 18, 2020
Diabetes. It’s a serious medical condition that affects millions of people in the United States that also has serious economic implications as well. The cost of medication, time away from work, doctors visits, can all add up and make managing diabetes a challenge in anyone’s life. But, if you’re a truck driver with diabetes, you have to add managing your issue with all of the normal stressful things that you deal with in your daily life. Home, family, paying the bills, keeping food on the table, none of that can fall by the wayside, and neither can properly managing your diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the United States. Add to the 1 in 10 Adults who have type 2, 1 in 3 have prediabetes. Prediabetes is a serious condition that leads to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. For truck drivers, this translates to 1.2 million drivers being at a high risk to develop type 2 in the next ten or so years.
Drivers with diabetes
Truck drivers are at a 50% higher occurrence of diabetes than the national average. Times were that a driver who was diagnosed could lose his ability to drive if they required insulin to manage their diabetes. It was almost an automatic “Do not certify” condition. Now, that’s not as definite. It’s still a difficult situation to manage, for drivers who are using insulin, but there are ways to maybe stay in the driver’s seat.
Tom Milman, the CEO of the healthcare provider TrueLifeCare says that while drivers who use insulin can apply for an exemption, it’s a time consuming and complicated process that can take up to 180 days to complete. This will cost the driver his livelihood in the meantime.
Though an insulin prescription isn’t necessarily a career-ending diagnosis, a driver can lose their certification if they experience a loss of sensation of touch in their hands and feet, known as peripheral neuropathy. So, it’s important to understand the disease and stay up on medications if diagnosed.
This where most drivers get into trouble and find themselves in serious condition. It’s vitally important that drivers stay up on their medication regimen while on the road. Not only does medication help with managing diabetes, but meds also help with complications that arise due to diabetes; hypertension, and heart disease.
On a national level, only 60% to 70% of people with diabetes keep up with their medication regime. But, for truck drivers, it’s closer to 50% to 60%. Being on the road so much often gets in the way of drivers paying attention to their medications and following a daily schedule of taking them on time.
Often drivers report leaving town and forgetting their medications or during their days off, they forget to have prescriptions filled leaving them with no meds to take when they get back on the road. This puts them at risk for serious complications.
A health coach
To help drivers manage their diabetes and to ensure that they are taking the right medications at the proper time, doctors are now suggesting that drivers engage the services of a professional health coach.
A certified health coach will, among other things, keep a driver with diabetes on schedule for their medication. They can also suggest ways to eat better, how to get exercise, and other ideas for managing diabetes when on and off the road.
For drivers, there is already a lot on their plates with all of life’s demands, A health coach is specifically looking at the driver’s physical and mental health and how they can manage their diabetes in ways that don’t jeopardize their job.
Don’t eat that, eat this
For drivers, there are hundreds of articles out there offering guidance and tips for eating better when you’re on the road. Still, the temptation and ease of some food offerings can scuttle a healthy diet faster than you can say super-size that.
But, for drivers with diabetes, it’s not just a ‘good idea’ to rethink your meal options on the road, it could be the difference between having a job and not being able to feel your fingers and toes when you’re on the unemployment line.
One of the main things you can do is prepare meals at home and bring them with you. Knowing you have something truly yummy in the fridge can assuage those desires to stop for fast food.
Look for the “healthy” choices when you do stop for food. Asked for foods that are broiled, baked, or grilled instead of deep-fried. Yup this means you’re going to want that baked potato instead of fries. But, if your diet stays healthy, you can reward yourself now and then with some fries.
Don’t drink that, drink this
Believe it or not, beverages can be sneaky culprits that add sugar and misery to your daily diet. Try skim milk in your coffee and ask for no sugar beverages or drink water. Actually, you should think about your water intake and increase it. Even if you think you’re getting enough water, chances are, you’re not.
If you’re drinking enough water, your body won’t trick your brain into ordering the ginormous 64-ounce beverage … even if it is diet coke. That’s sugar and additives that you don’t need and won’t help with your diabetes.
Probably one of the greatest words in the English language, snack. Let’s have a snack. I just want a little snack. And, snacks are good. Well, they’re good if they’re good. You know what I mean?
Keep an eye on your snacks. Stock the fridge with nuts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, veggies, and a little dip. That will keep you feeling full longer and then, you can avoid the super-sized meal that will send your blood sugar into the stratosphere.
Healthy snacks are going to help keep your diabetes in check when you’re on the road.
There is a lot of sitting involved in driving a truck and that can be seriously detrimental to those who have diabetes. Not only does being sedentary work against your disease it also doesn’t do much to alleviate the daily stress that comes with being on the road.
Stress, if not managed, can lead to stress eating or stress drinking, and then, all your hard work at managing your diabetes can go out the window.
Manage your stress by exercising, even a little bit. Take a walk around the parking lot, do some stretches, keep some rubber tension cords in your truck, and do some exercises. Whatever you do, make it part of your schedule, like your medication. Do it every day until it becomes a habit for health.
If you have diabetes, you know how dangerous it is. If you’re a driver with diabetes, you know that you’ve been handed a world of challenges. There are sites that truck drivers can look to for tips and answers to questions and concerns about driving with diabetes.
Talk to friends and coworkers, talk to doctors, get a health coach. Whatever you can, do it, so you can stay healthy and stay on the road for a good, long time.
This country needs truck drivers to keep it moving and supplied so, when you take care of yourself, you’re taking care of the country as well.
We have curated all of our best tips about getting behind the wheel and what DOT testing to be expecting, here!