Melvin Welch has seen a lot in his 44-year career as a truck driver – and he’s proud to say he has three million miles of American roads under his belt.
Recently celebrating his 70th birthday, this proud Marine Corps veteran learned he had diabetes when he was 45 years old and has since focused on ways to manage the disease. “I do well on a healthy meal plan, which isn’t easy for a truck driver,” says Melvin, who installed a microwave and refrigerator in his truck to plan portion controlled meals for long days on the road. “I listen to my body. I eat healthy foods, don’t overfill my plate and stay in control.” But like many people with diabetes, Melvin eventually required insulin to control his blood sugar, a challenge for someone requiring a commercial driver’s license.
For decades, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibited people with insulin-treated diabetes to operate commercial vehicles unless they obtained a diabetes exemption from the federal government. But those rules changed in recent years, and commercial drivers with diabetes can now obtain an annual certificate confirming they are physically able to operate a commercial vehicle, thus maintaining their jobs.
Support on the Journey
Melvin was cared for by Eric Wininger, MD, who diagnosed his diabetes, initiated insulin therapy and began glucose monitoring before referring him to the Diabetes Management Program at CentraState’s Novo Nordisk Diabetes Center, recognized by the American Diabetes Association for meeting national standards in diabetes education. There, Melvin sees diabetes educators, learns about evidence-based prevention programs and receives guidance on managing his diabetes in partnership with his doctors. “We offer personalized care that helps patients manage their diabetes, because if you don’t control it, it will control you,” says Anne VanMeerbeke, RDN, a certified diabetes educator and manager of the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Center.
Melvin, who has no plans to stop driving, agrees. “The CentraState team listens to you, makes suggestions and supports you to stay in control,” he says.
“People should know that their lives don’t have to stop if they have diabetes,” adds VanMeerbeke. “Melvin has learned how to successfully work and live with this disease, and it doesn’t get much better than that.”
For more information on the Diabetes Management Program at CentraState, visit centrastate.com/diabetes or call 732-294-2574.