Notes on keeping your fur shiny

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We’re heading for Texas Friday, and who knows where from there. We do know we’ll end up in Wildwood, Fla., April 22-24, for the Pride and Polish show at 75 Chrome Shop, so this will be an extended trip.

I’m doing the usual – laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, stocking the truck, paying bills and doing my best to make sure none of our elderly and afflicted animals have to do without their meds while we’re away. Our motley crew includes a very old rat with a cancerous foot, a cat who eats his own fur, an aged Chesapeake Bay retriever with what can only be described as the foulest ears in history and an ancient Husky who has spells where he’s either possessed by the devil or epileptic. On any given day, there are two skin treatments, at least 8 pills administered, and the distinct possibility of being barfed on.

As I make sure there’s enough of everything for our son to take care of the Parker Retirement Home for Animals while we’re gone, the thought occurs to me that these pets are getting better medical care than I do, and it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

I’m the first to tell you the health-care system in America is broken. It’s ruled by the tyranny of insurance companies, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t miss nursing nearly as much as I should. It’s expensive, it’s inefficient and it’s impersonal. There’s a “move ’em in, move ’em out, do it as inexpensively as possible, and charge them the max” attitude, and profit is the end game, not quality care. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re paying premium prices for it.

But here’s the thing: the same attitudes are rampant in the mechanical repair and maintenance side of the trucking business, and we don’t bat an eye at throwing money at it. Because we know we have to, in order to continue making money to throw at other things.

shiny-engineThree hundred bucks for a PM service every couple months is an investment any owner-operator will happily make to avoid a catastrophic rebuild cost. The same should hold true for the owner-operator him- or herself. Seeking help for an infected toenail is a lot less expensive than a trip to the emergency room when that toe goes septic. I promise you, if it doesn’t kill you, you’ll wish it did – the physical pain is almost as bad as the financial pain.

Modern technology has made access for truckers to medical attention easier. Although the initial concept of Telemedicine originated 40 years ago, the market has just begun to really branch out into the mainstream in the past five years. Virtual healthcare is a very real thing, with sites like MDLIVE offering $49 or less “visits” with a physician via the web. MDLIVE also offers behavioral healthcare services, with immediate access to therapists and mental health professionals.

(Read this recent linked story for info about a telemedicine service geared toward truckers specifically.)

Obviously, these services shouldn’t be relied upon for your overall healthcare, but it’s nice to know you can get a quick tweak here or there, without having to shut down somewhere accessible to a doctor’s office. Finding a pharmacy may be a whole other story, but at the very least, you could have meds waiting at the next stop.

Sometimes, being proactive is hard – but it’s worth the investment. Take care of yourselves on the road!

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