Heart attack victim says we need healthier facilities
WALKING circles around your truck in a barren, concrete environment like our rest areas or truck stops to help keep yourself healthy doesn't really seem appealing, does it?
While that might be the main point people tell truckies to do when talking about managing their weight, the reality of it really is not that simple.
"Who wants to walk around a concrete rest area with nothing interesting to look at? No-one, no-one wants to do that," said truckie Sean O'Tuathail, who suffered eight heart attacks in the span of a week is calling on the industry to offer better facilities to help truckies manage their weight so they can lead healthy lives whilst still enjoying the career that they love so much.
Fifty-five-year-old Sean, who weighed about 150kg, was going about his day-to-day business when he felt an awful pain in his chest that he attributed to heart burn, just days before Christmas last year.
He suffered through symptoms for about a week before he'd decide he'd had enough and headed to his GP to get checked out.
What happened during his appointment totally shocked him - it wasn't heart burn, it was a heart attack and he'd had eight of them.
The health professionals launched straight into action and he was taken to the Liverpool Hospital in Sydney for three days, when they put a stint in his heart.
Now, thankfully, he's recovering well and wanted to share his story to help other drivers who might be in the same position as he was.
Now, a few months on, he faces an excruciating period of time waiting to see if he will recover enough to be able to drive professionally again.
It's like a dagger to the heart in more ways than one for Sean, who first started his career as a truck driver in the European industry, driving as far as Iran in the Middle East and to north Africa.
"I fell in love with this world, getting paid to see different cities and countries weekly," he said.
After moving to our country when he fell in love with an Australian, he started out in a single, running Sydney to Melbourne and Perth and then headed out west, moving to Perth after sitting for his MC licence.
While he was passionate about his job, he said things needed to change and was supportive of an industry inquiry.
But what he wanted more focus on was the health side of things - helping truck drivers to manage their weight.
"I believe we need to have facilities like gyms with truck parking or set them up at major truck stops," he said.
"Because believe me, the lack of fitness is slowly killing us. So with all the stress and issues we face everyday, it is now time we are listened to."
Sean said the fact that truckies had to sit all day was not helpful, so the industry needed to provide more for drivers wellbeing.
"Believe me, the lack of fitness is slowly killing us," he said.
"So with all the stress and issues we face everyday, it is now time that we are listened to."
Sean has dropped an amazing 30kg since his heath scare in December and he attributes that to his massive change in lifestyle.
For one, it meant he had to stop drinking energy drinks, eating more regularly (breakfast, lunch and dinner, at the same time and consistently) and exercise.
"When you're out on the roads you don't eat that much, but you're always trying to boost your energy and when you start getting tired you go straight for the sugar. About 90 per cent of drivers I know do that. When you're out in the middle of nowhere, a can of V is a lot nicer than a bottle of water."
While he said he knew not every truck driver would use a gym, but if those facilities were available it could be life-changing for a lot of drivers who got sick of being told to "walk around their trucks" to get a bit of exercise.