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Managing Your Meds

By on May 1, 2017
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Taking Healthcare to the Cab:

TOP ITEM FOR DOT EXAMINERS

BY: DR. JOHN McELLIGOTT, DR. JOHN’S MEDICAL SOLUTIONS

If you failed a DOT physical, you might have heard this from your Certified Medical Examiner (CME), “You are not compliant with your medications.” or “You are not managing your medications.”

When a DOT examiner says, “You are D/Q,” you’re done! You must remember, you’re in one of the most stressful and challenging jobs ever. What you do is essential to America’s survival! So managing your medications is front and center and the number-one safety-sensitive cause of taking drivers off the road.

Prescription medication noncompliance is the same as saying, “I don’t care.” or “I don’t have time to deal with this problem.” You may say, “I’m only hurting myself, no one else.” Well, yes, that’s true. Any damage to your health as a result of not following your doctor’s instructions is your responsibility. However, before you stop taking your meds or run out, consider your health may deteriorate rapidly, along with your quality of life. Not taking your medications could even cancel some or all of the benefits you are entitled to under your health insurance policy. Think about the impact on your family.

From my experience in trucking, the average driver is on 3-4 medications. Medical practitioners prescribe medications on a 30- to 90-day schedule. This is no different than what Homer Hogg tells all of you RoadKing readers about the importance of scheduling routine truck maintenance. Not properly maintaining your truck is the same as
not refilling or managing your medications and is one of the leading causes of incapacitation, even including death.

5 Meds Need Close Management

1. High Blood Pressure (BP) Medications – Not monitoring blood pressure or skipping/stopping medication increases your risk of stroke by 3-7 times. In addition, the side effects of uncontrolled high blood pressure can be dizziness and sleepiness. Do not self-medicate or adjust your medication without your doctor’s advice.

2. Cardiac Medications – Quote from the American Heart Association: “One-quarter of heart patients stop taking their heart meds before their prescriptions run out. Many of them are now dead.”

3. Blood Thinners – If you forget to take this medication and, if you remember it in the same day, take the missed dose. Then go back to your regular schedule. If it is the next day, or almost time to take the next dose, DO NOT take the missed dose.

DO NOT double the dose to make up for the missed one. At your next regularly scheduled time, take your normal anticoagulant dose. If you miss your dose for two or more days, call your doctor.

4. Diabetes Medications – Truckers usually don’t take insulin unless they have a waver, are under the care of an endocrinologist and are closely monitored. I have only seen maybe five OTR drivers on insulin during my 40-year career. However, with the introduction of new insulin products almost every day, we will see more. The new products are longer acting with fewer side effects. Oral medications such as Metformin usually don’t cause any reaction, if forgotten, but should be restarted the next day. If taking two diabetic medications together, sometimes there is a drop in blood sugar, when diet is not maintained. The first symptoms of low blood sugar can be anxiety, light-headedness and hunger, and can be followed by collapse. So always keep a rescue snack in your truck.

5. Antidepressants – OTR drivers should never abruptly stop this medication. People who are scaling down or eliminating the use of an antidepressant, as directed by their physicians, are required to reduce usage in a controlled manner. Rapid or sudden stoppage can cause dizziness, abnormal behavior and anxiety.

All of these medications must be taken when the time is best for you. Some do better taking meds at bedtime. This is what I do. Some need to maximize the effect during the daytime while awake. Remember, some BP meds cause sleepiness and may be best taken at night or in divided doses at the beginning of the shift and when driving is done. This is where your doctor needs to practice the ART of medicine and listen to you on your normal schedule and how you’re affected.

Dr. John’s Big 5 Guidelines

  1. Know what you are taking—the dosage and when.
  2. Know the names of your medications and what conditions are being treated.
  3. Keep your medications in the most recent bottle with all information needed to identify you, the medication, and the condition. DO NOT mix medications in the same bottle ever.
  4. Always read the medication information included with the prescription. Know the side effects and, when in doubt, talk to the pharmacist or your doctor.
  5. Keep a medical log. Go to the “Contact” tab on our website, docjmd.com and send a request for information on how to begin a log. It could save your CDL—and your life.

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