Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Truckers With Sleep Apea, a True " Catch 22"

Catch 22 is a dated phrase going back to a novel written by Joseph Heller. The story involved a military (COMBAT) officer who wants out of active duty. In order to get out, he must decide (turn himself in) to have a psychological evaluation to be determined unfit for duty. BUT In order to make this decision (to have an evaluation and be declared Un-fit) he must be sane therefore the reason for the decision to have a psych evaluation to declare him as insane is impossible.  WHAT? Circular reasoning at it's best. You can't get what you want unless you prove that you don't want or deserve what you want. HUH?

This is one of those crazy situations, like being between a "rock and hard place." Kinda like you can't get the job unless you have proper experience but the job (is the only place to get the training) will give you the experience you need.

In the real world of trucking, drivers face a similar dilemma. The "no-win" or "lose-lose" of having a medical evaluation to diagnose and treat their health problems at the cost of losing their job. Many truckers have a medical condition called, sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea.

Basically you wake up a lot in the middle of the night because your airway passage closes down (becomes blocked). It causes fatigue, irritability, cardiac problems, breathing difficulties, and other serious chronic medical issues.  Drivers without quality sleep, real REM (rapid eye movement) deep rest have all those health conditions progressively worsen to the point of debilitation.

CDL (commercial driver license) holders must be physically checked, evaluated, and qualified medically every two years. This condition disqualifies a driver. They are without a job if they have a medical condition that can potentially impact their driving safely.

Statistically over 30% of truck drivers have sleep apea, and those are the ones we know about. How many truck accidents are the result of fatigue (distracted driving) and that have an underlying cause in driver sleep apnea we may never know.

Dr. Lawrence Newman, D.C., Esq.

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850