Managing Diabetes and Trucking
Some of our community members are truck drivers including myself. Managing diabetes can be tough on the road as a truck driver or anyone else who travels a lot for a living. Not only do we have to worry about keeping this condition in check for our health but for our careers as well. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled blood glucose will put us out of a job. All commercial vehicle operators have to pass an annual or biannual physical and if you can't pass it then you might as well not even have a CDL (commercial drivers license) because you can't drive that truck without a valid medical card.
Driver qualifications for diabetes
I failed my physical nearly 4 years ago by having high blood glucose. The regulations on diabetes were given to me at the time by my doctor, stating glucose on a finger poke had to be under 140 or an A1C less than 7%. Old rules didn't allow insulin-dependent diabetics to even have a CDL. New rules do allow for insulin dependents to have their CDL under certain conditions. The new regulations can be found on www.fmcsa.gov.
It's a daunting task managing blood glucose on the road
It can be downright hard and frustrating trying to eat right and find the time to workout on the road. The long workdays, lack of time, and lack of opportunity for parking an 18-wheeler at the local gym. While these things make getting your workout and diet difficult, it's not impossible though. I did it and still do. You have to make time for these things. Remember, diabetes is a disability. Discuss with your company that you need the time for a longer rest break or later pick up/delivery time. Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities ACT) like in my case, my employer had to grant me these exceptions for the reasonable accommodations exceptions. If unsure what your rights are then you can contact the U.S. Department of Labor.
The necessary steps I took
I did the necessary steps to eating sensibly and exercise. It has and still does work well for me. Small things like cutting portion size down help and walking or other physical activity you can do. In my past experience, I walked whenever I could even if it was just walking laps around the truck. I pack healthier snacks in case of not being able to obtain healthy food. If I have only hotdogs available to eat at the truckstop or burgers, then I'll eat the meat with no bun or tear bun in half.
An omelet with veggies in the restaurant for breakfast doesn't raise my sugar and provides me with protein. Choosing low or no carb options can be difficult sometimes. Many restaurants will allow a healthy substitute like wheat bread or a salad, just ask them. I stay away from shakes or any drinks with sugar and drink water.
Workout steps need to be taken. There are some national gym chains out there we drivers can become members of. I plan my route every day looking for gyms along my route using my app for my gym and I zoom in satellite view on my phone to observe the area and estimate if I can fit my truck there. But, you just can't show up there. Some places don't want trucks there and will tow your truck. Always call the gym ahead of time cause they'll usually know if trucks can park there or not. I'm always courteous to the property and others by parking in the back or at the end of the parking lot out of everyone's way. Most gyms have showers which are a plus for any traveler.
Trucking has many challenges that most people never even think about. It is very challenging but rewarding if you can take the necessary steps towards a healthier lifestyle out on the road. It's important to take caution with any diet or exercise change and please consult your doctor before you change anything in your diet and exercise.
Have you experienced any complications associated with your diabetes?