I’ve been at my current job for over a year and a half – I’m a recreation professional at the moment (more on that some other time). When I was hired, I was told that by the end of my first year, I would need to obtain my Commercial Driver’s License. “OK,” I said. Didn’t seem like a problem at all. (Besides the fact that it makes my Mom laugh just thinking about it, I guess because I’m 5-foot-nothing and look like I should be riding a school bus). The point of our department having this requirement is to ensure that we have enough drivers to tote 150 kids around during day camp each summer. We also do some driving for a professional leadership school in the area. Currently, there are 4 full time staff members and 2 day camp staff that have a valid CDL. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not an essential function of my job.
So around my one year anniversary, I began to look into getting my license. I read up on the test criteria and I even drove a school bus through a parking lot! Without hitting anything! Buses are huge. During my studies, I read that… “A client is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person: …Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control (North Carolina Commercial Driver’s Manual, version July 2009).” Oh. I definitely have diabetes mellitus. I also can’t deny living with insulin.
So I made calls. And I sat on hold for someone important to answer my questions. And I got hung up on. And I made more calls, to explain my situation and see if I could still obtain this license. In the end, I was granted permission by some lady over the phone to get my CDL. Does her opinion count? Not sure. But she said yes. One small victory!
After I got done reading this manual, I started reading into my own thoughts. Sometimes, it’s hard to be realistic with myself. There was something in the back of my mind that was telling me to re-think my fight with the NCDMV. Why? I welcome you to my stream of consciousness:
“What do I do if I start to feel low? Yes, I have a Dexcom and it helps identify trends – but it doesn’t prevent lows. While getting my A1C under 7, I’ve had increased hypo unawareness, which I didn’t really have when I accepted this job (thus agreeing to get my CDL). No big deal, I pull the bus over ANYTIME I start to feel low and I check, then correct. What? You say that the Day Camp Director had to have police block off the first lane of the highway to get the bus off of the shoulder of the road last week? You don’t think they’d do that for me every time I needed to check? That’s abuse of police? Oh. I guess another problem would be consistently delivering these kids to the movie theater late. I’d be like the most hated person at the Recreation Center. So maybe I could just run my sugars high?”
See, but I’ve worked too hard for that. It’s hard for me to put myself first sometimes – but do I really want to put my own health on the back burner for something that isn’t pertinent to me keeping my job?
I just feel like I shouldn’t do it. It’s different than driving my own car around. I drive a freakin’ Prius, I can pull that sucker over ANYWHERE and test my sugar. It makes my mind race to think that I could make a bad decision with 60 kids’ well-being in my hands, all because of a low blood sugar. It could ruin my life, not to mention other people’s lives, if something happened.
I cried to husband. I talked to my doctor, and finally, I talked to my boss (I even consulted you fine people at TuDiabetes.org – check it out here). This was the hardest decision I’ve made in a long, long time – but I’m not going to get my CDL. Luckily, my boss is somewhat understanding of this disease, as she is a Type 2. She had no problem with my decision.
My heart still aches a bit about this situation. I’ve never been the one to let diabetes get in the way of anything. I simply think of it as putting my health first. If I was willing to let my sugars go a little haywire sometimes, maybe I would get my CDL. But I’m not willing to do that. I want to have children of my own someday (soon-ish). I want to watch them grow up. I want to live happily ever after with husband until all of his hair falls out. To stay on my A1C winning streak, I need to stay consistent and concentrated.
Some people might critique me for this decision, and that’s okay. To each their own. I think that some people could easily and comfortably get their CDL – and hell yes for them! But, your diabetes may vary, and right now – this is the way my pump is swingin’.