Past back injury - Impact on trucking jobs?

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by jimbo29, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. Winfred000

    Winfred000 Bobtail Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    Thanks very much Lilbit!! See my response to ssbowles (will write it next) too if you have time. Any body else out there let me know what you think too... I'd greatly appreciate it! Sounds very encouraging about "lumpers"; but are they only provided at certain destinations and not all?

    I don't have a 25 lb written restriction. In fact, I remember my Neurologist saying under his breath something like, "now I'm not making this a 'legal' thing; but don't lift more than 25 lbs." Also in my medical chart all he wrote was: "we discussed his limitations" and never substantiated what he had told me - all his way, I think, of avoiding any legalities even though I never even brought the subject up, as if he's paranoid.

    My initial injury was in fall of 1985 helping my brother move a gargantuan air conditioner to his new house. Up until fall 2007 I always worked around it and had a lot of jobs that at times involved lifting. On and off I had problems I resolved with hot/cold packs etc. In fall 2007 I had a temp job (just word of mouth job) with a lot of lifting and 25% of one foot went numb 24/7. That's what led me from local doctor to Neurologist in June 2008 where I had EMG and MRI etc.

    Now since I've seen the Neurologist last June I had to (sadly) move off an old farm my parents rented since 1970. I did just about all of the move single handedly with mega landfill loads, moving furniture, hefting this museum piece (but workable) cast iron boat anchor of a dolly around... six garage sales, loads to Goodwill, you name it. On and off that same foot of mine would vary in numbness, then toward end of the major move the heel of the other foot (most of it) went numb 24/7 and is still numb 3 months later. I can still do that walk on my heels and then my toes fine... that definitive test the Neurologist had me do.... In fact I just cross country skiied 6 miles, and I do back exercises (almost ha) every day. I very much want to avoid surgery if I can. My sister (a nurse) is still miserable 2 yrs after her surgery even though she now never lifts more than a pen. My Brother-in-law seems okay 5 years later but never lifts (he never did before surgery either) more than a pen. I thought being a trucker would be a great job, no one breathing down my neck, the open road, freedom, make some money, hopefully not have to lift, being a bachelor I'd maybe be in demand as I'd work any where any time etc. (at least until I can afford a piece of land), go to the best trucker school I can find.... Does that dream sound realistic in my case? School is $4,500 for a good one. Is SAGE a good school? I'm just looking at all angles before I apply to a school and go into the trade. I greatly appreciate any feedback. Thanks again!
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  3. Winfred000

    Winfred000 Bobtail Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    ssbowles, thanks very much for your input! I just saw the "thanks" button first time and owe a lot of thanks already ha! If you have a chance, see my reply to Lilbit in case you have any input there.

    Snow chains?! I never knew truckers with so much major traction even needed them! Do you actually chain all 18 wheels?! What's a tire chain weigh (about)? My Neurologist said, verbally only, not more than 25 lbs; but when I with December 31st deadline (regretfully) moved off an old farm almost single handedly, hefting an ancient dolly around, had 6 garage sales 5 days each sale fall '07 and fall '08, moved out all furniture etc. It took me forever with my back and my foot that's been effected 24/7. I would get somewhat better, then worse, then back to original numbness etc, and then came the newer effect of the heel of my other foot now 3 months later numb 24/7 that I think I could stretch it once in a while and lift like 50 lbs.

    Are you meaning drivers unloading and using dollies etc. for like local and regional type trucking jobs? I'm thinking I'd like to be an "Over the Road" trucker, like I see when I hit the big highways across the US and Canada. Is it those guys that don't have to unload as compared to the regional type of driver that delivers like Pepsi, beer, or supplies restaurants etc. for a distributor company? Is that what you were meaning?

    Also, I saw a big pin pulling tool advertised. You mentioned that pin pulling was a consideration. Do those really work?

    A driver told me you have to jump off things - like off the back of the trailer - which I'd get my own small fold-up aluminum ladder. Would a carrier company tolerate that?

    What's it like checking the oil etc. where you have to lift the entire cab up to get at the engine? About how much does that weigh?

    Also I sometimes wonder about that mandatory (is it mandatory?) six months where you ride with another veteran trucker, that whoever that ends up in my case to be, just might not like it if I take up cab or whatever space with my own fold-up ladder? I'd try to get a state of the art type of ladder that would be very portable.

    What do you think the average veteran driver might think if his intern was hauling a ladder and a pin pulling tool? Is that something they probably wouldn't put up with? One thing I've had to avoid since 1985 is jumping down from things as the impact with the ground, even when you recoil the best you can, does quite a jar on the low back.

    "Cranking a dolly"... do you mean cranking tight that strap that goes out and around like i.e. a washing machine to keep it on the dolly? I could do that.

    If I lay my back problem on the table would a school "accept me", collect the $4,500, then dump me once it comes to job placement time? What do you think is the best trucker school in the country? What do you think of SAGE?

    If you don't have time to answer me that's okay as I have a lot of questions. The nice thing about all this is I can ask a veteran first rather than a school or company as I don't want to be black listed with my back problem as I am a conscientious person who wants to do my very best; and I have a perfect driving record, no drug addictions, no convictions etc. I don't mean to sound like others who do have such hurdles should feel bad as anyone could have all the above, rise above it all, and be the very top best anyone could ever have as I believe we all have the power to overcome (well except when a back problem is a physical fact ha -- yet possible to rise above but hopefully without surgery ha). Thanks again! I look forward to any time you might have to comment, or even if you don't have time I understand.
  4. Lilbit

    Lilbit Road Train Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    Let me check my logbook
    I used a 5th wheel release puller while I was driving . . . during training and after. I'm tiny, so I needed all the help I could get!

    The 'dolly' refers to cranking the landing gear up and down. The landing gear supports the trailer when it is not hooked to the truck. That's more in the shoulders anyway.

    Opening the hood isn't that big of a deal on a conventional. You actually use your whole body to do that anyway . . . at least I did! Very few companies run cabovers these days.

    The extended sitting time is really the thing that would be the most concern. How does your back handle driving a car for extended periods of time?
  5. ssbowles

    ssbowles Heavy Load Member

    Sep 27, 2007
    High Desert,CA
    I think it's a wise choice to hold off on the surgery as long as possible. Myself, I had surgery at 4:00 one afternoon, and was ragging on the nurses at 5:00 the next morning to release me....I hate hospitals! But I've been really lucky, and am still able to do what I want when I want, as long as I don't try to act like I'm 18 again. At the same time, I've seen horror stories where the person had surgery prematurely, and now they're way worse off than before. So it's a crap shoot, to say the least.
  6. GasHauler

    GasHauler Master FMCSA Interpreter

    Oct 23, 2005
    If you look at a companies profile on the internet you'll see most companies require that you'll be able to lift 50lbs. I know my company would never hire a driver with back problems. They have just paid too much money in past drivers with bad backs. So don't think it's no problem because most companies will ask on the application if you have back problems.

    Just be real careful on how you apply for a job. Of course always be truthful but make sure you really do have a back problem. And please believe me when I say do not have surgury unless it's really needed. If you can no longer handle the pain or loose strength in your legs it's time to consider surgury. And if you loose bowel control it's a must.

    Bad backs cost companies more money than any other injury or sickness so it is serious. Make sure you have all the answers before you go in. And if they school tells you it's no problem they are just lying.
  7. Winfred000

    Winfred000 Bobtail Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    Hi! I'll send out thanks to all when I go back a 3rd or more times over the very much appreciated advice you don't find in books from so many of you who so generously took the time to reply. You all were a huge influence on my decision to become an OTR trucker. One guy in like another thread said something like some of the experienced truckers being negative and not wanting new guys in the industry to compete with etc. I'm not worried about that as the industry is so huge there'd have to be quite a massive organized bunch of drivers to tell wannabees no in order to have an impact on all that are wishing to be drivers.

    It's hard for me to tell myself no when I had my hopes very high on attending school and becoming a trucker. I've stopped at a lot of truck stops when I traveled for food, shower, phone calls... when I sold my music to various gift stores all across the Rocky Mountain states and the Midwest, and some into southern California, never spoke with any truckers as they look busy and work hard and need to rest when they arrive at the stops. I especially had my hopes up with trucking as I'm at a major crossroads in my life after also caring for my mother until she passed into the hands of God.

    I know I would have done a top notch job as I'm very conscientious about doing a good job. I've decided to not be a trucker... well almost ha... just another last ditch thought coming up but first things first. I found only one trucking company in my area as I live not near any major population. I drove up to the main entry to the company office. I was nervous as I was about to plainly speak of my back problem with someone I would maybe possibly have my first job with. It was a very nice office with waiting area and reception front counter, only there was a sign on the counter directing all to the back office of the owner... all looking as a sign of the times with the economy, sad. They also had a fair number of trucks parked out back with no drivers, as if times were slow. An assistant was speaking to one of the main owners and right away he went away as I entered to do something. Also the owner was nice to give me his full attention. I mentioned how I really wanted to be an OTR driver, that I was willing to drive anywhere for any length of time etc. I also told him how I have long thought of driving as a great job, "the open road, not sitting at a desk, traveling and seeing the country, making some good pay, being my own boss etc."

    There was a pause and the owner kind of froze and looked serious and said; "now trucking is a job you know. I know what you mean and you can think that and it can be that way but only once your rolling across the country side... but I mean trucking is a job you know. You've got deadlines to get your loads to someone else who has a deadline too, there's traffic problems, finding where you've got to go. You say you've got a back problem... well I hate to inform you that trucking isn't for someone who has a back problem. You might think it's just because of lifting but it's the over the road back fatigue just from sitting for long hours in a seat that jostles."

    "But isn't there those special suspension trucks where the cab rides independently from the trailer and you get a real smooth ride?"

    "You mean the air suspension. Yes there is the air suspension; but you still have a constant road action... and the sitting long hours with a ruptured disk. I mean I have a great driver and he's seventy years old. He's phenomenal... but I mean I'm 34 and I was an OTR trucker and I really had to think about continuing because of my own back. So here I am in the office. I hate to tell you this and let someone like you down; but the fact of life here is... you have a serious back problem and trucking is definitely something not for you. I'll tell you that now."

    I only use my poor recall as to what he said. Once I was out I checked my pocket watch to find he gave me 45 minutes and even some of the times skipped answering his phone. As I walked back to my car a man with full agility climbed down from his idling truck, white hair, bounced youthfully along for the front door with a big smile.... So I gave up on the whole idea but it still bugged me.

    I was just reading in another thread that this one guy drives a propane tanker, and also recall a guy in Texas that drove oil shipments and liked it. Does anyone out there know... if I drive like some kind of tanker that there is no lifting as really with a tanker there is no needing an unloader guy or "lobber". I'm afraid to go back and look for the term truckers use as I've done that with other forums and lost everything I've typed in. So, could I still be a trucker if I trained as a tanker driver? I also don't mean to sound redundant as again the long hours sitting in a seat that jostles. Is there tankers that have special suspension for the cab where the ride now days is much better and not fatigue in the back? Just a last resort thought. Thanks very much for all your help as this was the major part of my long decision process over all of this.

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