Beyond the DOT Physical – The Road to Better Health
A few months ago, we talked about how to build a healthy routine that works for you. Part of what makes a health routine is visiting the doctor for your DOT physical.
Being a patient requires great amounts of patience, especially when waiting for a DOT physical feels like another line at the DMV. Instead of looking at it as another box to check before you can be back on the road, think of it as your own tune-up.
You are your best health advocate. Nobody knows your body the way you do, the same as the mechanic in the shop may not understand the slight new shimmy to a steer tire the way you do. Before you head into your doctor’s office, have a list of questions, concerns, or changes that you’ve noticed.
Also, be sure to share them all. What feels embarrassing to the average patient is all in a day’s work for a medical professional.
Medical professionals can use some confusing jargon. Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t understand everything they’re talking about. They wouldn’t know half of what you do in trucking either. Ask them to clarify any points of confusion, and add new questions to your list as you think of them.
You will probably have blood work drawn to check your cholesterol, blood sugar, and general health. Often times a doctor will order additional tests to clarify any concerns you or they might have.
Understand why each test is being ordered and what they involve (such as fasting or scheduling another day).
Listen & Obey
The term “medical advice” has really thrown us for a loop. It can be too easy to take the instructions a doctor gives as advice instead of treating it as vital rules for our health. You wouldn’t run a stop sign intentionally. Changing your diet or quitting smoking should carry the same weight. If need be, ask your doctor to describe their instructions in terms of stops, yields, and go’s.
The hardest part of being a patient is making lifestyle changes. Take the information your doctor gave and put it to work.
Check Your Head
Dental, vision, and hearing are key to your overall health and longevity on the road. Sinus issues could be a dental problem. Frequent headaches might be your eyes. Ringing in your ears might be more than you think. We especially value our eyes and ears on the road, but do not neglect your teeth.
Case in point, once there was a truck driver with a bad toothache who refused to come off the road to have it taken care of. He’s now on permanent disability, because the tooth infection spread gangrene throughout his abdomen. One day off would have saved him the rest of his driving days instead of figuring out a new source of income for his family.
Most doctors and medical facilities have online portals and email systems making it easier for you to contact your doctor at your convenience. Take advantage of these with your smartphone. If another question comes to mind while driving, email them on your next break. Curious about a side effect with a new medication? Email them. Want to know your test results? They’re often posted to your account.
The contact back and forth builds a relationship with your health professional, similar to the one with your driver manager. Stay informed and stay healthy.