Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stay out of the Mountains and roll with the Hills.

My husband and I have a dedicated run and one turn is Los Angeles to Dallas.  In all the years that we have been driving, even before this dedicated run, we have always taken the I-20/I-10 route between the two points.   There are many people who choose to take 287 out of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to I-40 west. 

We choose to go the southern route for a couple of reasons.  The first being neither of us like the amount of traffic on I-40, much more than on I-20/I-10.  Too many towns on 287 causes more stopping and going.  On I-40 there are more hills therefore worse fuel mileage.  I know some people actually choose to go the I-40 route because they don't want to chance getting pulled into the scales in Banning even if you have Pre-Pass there is a good chance of getting that red light, whereas the scales on I-15 south are usually closed.

I started thinking about why people, drivers, choose the routes they do, how they base their decisions and if it makes sense.  To me it makes no sense to go the 287/I-40 route, even to avoid the Banning scales, although I understand the reasoning.  Going that route there is more stopping and going on 287, worse fuel mileage and more wear on the truck.  As an Owner Operator that in itself makes a big difference.  We pay for the fuel and all repairs.  We want our truck to last as long as it possibly can with the least amount of repairs or replacement parts putting more money in our pockets.  On I-40 more traffic and more hills means more on and off the accelerator, which of course is worse fuel mileage and more wear on the truck. 

Planning routes is very important to a driver whether Owner/Operator or company driver.  Our time is valuable and we want to make it from point A to point B the quickest possible way, the least amount of headaches or traffic, best for our fuel mileage, and choosing the route that has the least amount of "out of route" miles is extremely important.

As I have written before we only have one body and we need it to last as long as we can and during that time we want the least amount of repairs keeping our bodies in a healthy state while we continue to age.

We all know as drivers pulling those big hills especially with a heavier load is going to reduce our fuel mileage.  What I want you to know is that having Diabetes we also have to think about this.

Having type 2 Diabetes means that you do not have enough insulin production to cover the amount of food (the amount of carbohydrates or the large portion) that a non diabetic is able to.  For most people with type 2 Diabetes medication is necessary along with reducing the carbohydrate intake and the portion of food at each meal.  Because of genetics the beta cells in the pancreas cannot continue to as they become exhausted and die off.  If you are severely overweight and/or have insulin resistance this also makes the pancreas work harder by producing more and more insulin because it senses that the insulin produced is not getting into those cells and will cause those beta cells to burn out sooner.  Another problem that a type 2 can have is that part of the signaling of the insulin to bind with the glucose in the blood is hindered.  All three independently cause high blood sugar levels. 

We want to achieve the optimal fuel mileage with our pancreas and our bodies and keep those beta cells from working too hard and keep them intact for as long as we can without causing a faster exhaustion of them.

You can do this by taking the route with the least amount of stopping and going and the least amount of traffic and hills or mountains.  Each day is a new route with each meal a major part of that route.  When we eat we want our blood sugar levels to be more like rolling hills, with the smallest amount of grade on that hill.  A 7% grade is going to be a much harder climb, more wear and tear on the truck, more fuel used.  Whereas a 3% grade will barely be noticed.   We all know that when you go up the mountain you must come down the other side.  With the steeper grades coming down the other side means possibly more on the brakes to slow you down, using the Jake brake which is wear on the engine.

If you have traveled across I-80 in Nevada you have experienced the number of mountain passes you have to go over.  I used to know the mile markers of each and how many, but have not been up there for several years.  It is pretty constant across the state.  And in between some of those passes it doesn't even level out.  As soon as you come down one you immediately start climbing again.  This is what we do not want with our blood sugar levels.

If you are not testing your blood sugar levels and not accounting for the amount of food at each meal or the amount of carbohydrates you are probably continually climbing that hill with never reaching the top and never going down hill.

When you eat is important to check your blood sugar level before and after.  You want to give your body the least amount of workload, smaller hill, and you want to come down the other side.  At one hour that is where you should be at the top of that hill.  You want to try to keep that grade at 30 points or less.  If your blood sugar level is 80 before you eat at the top you should be at no more than 110.  At two hours after you eat, you should be coming down the other side and your blood sugar should be coming back down towards the 80 where you started.  Between meals is that flat ground in between those small hills. 

By using your meter which is an extremely important tool in the self management of Diabetes, a healthy nutritious diet lower in carbohydrates, exercise, together with a doctor that is willing to listen to you, work WITH you and that you have a good line of communication with, education, support and encouragement  from family and friends, acceptance of your Diabetes and the commitment from yourself you can achieve a healthy life with Diabetes.

As this year is coming to an end my wish and hope for all of you this coming year is that you make the decision to start planning that daily route that will lead you down that long healthy road.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Diabetes Demands Your Attention

Laura Kilpatrick
President & Founder
ATDDA (American Truck Drivers Diabetes Association, Inc.)
a 501(c)(3) non profit organization

I find it interesting that within the "trucking world" drivers will spend many hours talking, debating, discussing and even arguing about anything related to trucking except extremely important topics like Diabetes and health.

Drivers will spend thousand of dollars and many hours trying to achieve the "best" fuel economy.  Hours spent arguing with other drivers about tire pressure, what speed to travel, where to fuel, the cost of fuel and the list goes on and on.  Don't get started talking about dispatch or loads that becomes a gripe session that lasts for hours.

The subject of Diabetes or health gets brought up occasionally to me because everyone I know is aware that I have Diabetes.  The topic is not discussed in depth or many questions asked.  I ask questions but people seem to get bored or want to ignore the topic.

I have come to the conclusion by observation, listening and reading that Diabetes is not taken as seriously as it should.  Anymore we hear about Diabetes on a daily basis, whether on television, radio or read an article about it.  It is talked about like it is no different than having a cold.  Take some medication and go on down the road.

This truly scares me the direction this has gone in.  Diabetes is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly nor should it be ignored.  Diabetes demands your immediate attention.  Please don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people that do take this disease seriously, but there are too many that do not.

Part of the problem I blame on the medical profession.  When doctors diagnose patients with type 2 Diabetes they are failing to inform the patients of the seriousness of the disease nor are the doctors showing with any emotion that it is something to take seriously.   I am frustrated with what I hear patients being told and hear in the media.  Type 2 Diabetes is more than just change your diet add in an exercise regimen and take a pill.

The other part of the problem I believe is that the effects of high blood sugar levels in individuals take many years to start showing signs of complications from those high blood sugar levels.  People tend to ignore the high blood sugar levels because they "hope" they will not have any complications.  I don't think the answer is to just start telling people the horror stories or dwell on the complications.  Education is definitely part of the equation and engaging people in discussions to make their health an important agenda.  But unfortunately just like the almighty dollar takes hold of peoples lives so does food.

People can make better decisions with their money than they can with their food choices.  We as drivers have to plan our routes, fuel stops, follow many rules and regulations will make sure we are legal on our log books, but choosing whats best for our bodies and health in the way of food gets thrown out to convenience and what "tastes" good.

Driving a truck does not mean that a person cannot eat healthy nor does it mean that you can't make smart decisions for you and your health.  I cannot count how many times I have heard the following statement......."well I drive a truck, so my diet is horrible".  Frankly I never want to hear this again!!!!!!

Do the responsible and make the choice for you, your family and the safety of others.  Take care of your Diabetes and YOU.

Wishing everyone a great Holiday Season and Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My life with Diabetes

I remember as a child learning a little about Diabetes.  My grandma had Diabetes and I was very close to her.  All I really knew was that there were some foods she could not eat because she had Diabetes and was told she couldn't eat those foods, like bread, potatoes or sweets, because her body worked differently.  At holidays and birthdays there were still the pies, cakes and goodies.  She would bake them for everyone else, she just didn't eat them.  No one offered her any nor did I ever hear her complain that she couldn't have any.  It was just accepted. 

That was in the early 1970's.  Diabetes was never discussed by or with grandma.  It wasn't talked about on television, there were no articles in magazines and there weren't the thousands of people trying to make money by selling "stuff" that is "good" for diabetics.  It seemed easier then.  Although there was no self testing of blood sugar levels back then, no meters, just a lot of doctor visits.  She was not on insulin then just oral medication.

A few years later a new family moved into our neighborhood.  The oldest girl Kathy, the same age as I, had Diabetes.  Because my grandma had Diabetes I was already familiar with the routine, I thought.  Kathy was different I found out, she had to take shots.  I would go with her when it was time to take her shot.  The only questions I remember asking were "does it hurt?" and "why does Kathy have to take a shot?".  I told Kathy's mom that my grandma had Diabetes but she took a pill.  She explained the difference between Kathy's type of Diabetes and my grandma's.  To us kids, or to me it really was no big deal.  Kathy didn't get to have cookies, candy bars, just Angel Food cake on her birthday.  No big deal.  We didn't offer her any cookies or candy and didn't eat that stuff around her and she never asked for any.  We knew Kathy had Diabetes and took shots, but no need to talk about it, discuss it or make a big deal about it.  She was no different than any of us.  There were just certain foods she couldn't eat.

My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Howe, had Diabetes, type 1.  He explained to the class about Diabetes and that we might see him eating during the time we were in class, and that we might see him giving himself a shot.  No big deal to any of us kids.  He asked if we had any questions, and a couple of kids did, mainly if the shot hurt and what kind of foods that he could and couldn't eat.  It was accepted, not talked about or discussed..
A couple of my neighbors also on our street had Diabetes.  Even though I knew many that had Diabetes, it still was not very common nor was it really talked about.  I knew that it was a very serious disease and it was important to take care of oneself as I had been taught.

My dad made sure that he educated us on healthy eating habits and would tell me that I would most likely develop Diabetes later on.  Thanks dad, just what a kid wants to hear.  My mom had not yet been diagnosed.  I knew my grandma had Diabetes but was then was told that her mom had Diabetes and that it was inherited. 

Even into the 1980's there was very little talk about Diabetes.  You only knew about it if a family member, friend or neighbor was diagnosed.  It was a serious disease and was taken seriously, just not talked about.

My mom was finally diagnosed when I was in high school.  None of us were shocked or surprised.  But mom had a sweet tooth and loved her Pepsi.  We were allowed very little junk food or sweets, just on occasion, and definitely not allowed to drink soda.  Mom did pretty well adjusting.  My brother didn't because he loved the sweets and soda and no more for him either.  I didn't adjust well to no more fried potatoes. 

Mom was the first in our family to have a glucose monitor.  The monitors back then were not too expensive and the insurance paid for plenty of test strips.  She tested often and decided that she needed to start checking the family.  I think she was actually shocked to see my blood sugar higher than hers, and I was the one who ate the healthiest.  So one year after my mom was diagnosed, I was diagnosed, at age 19.

I did not discuss it with anyone, nor did I tell anyone.  I really don't know why.  But I remember thinking that I was too young to have Diabetes.  Adult Onset Diabetes was for older people.  Juvenile Diabetes was the younger people like my friend Kathy or Mr. Howe who was diagnosed as a child and they had to have shots of insulin, I did not.  I felt odd.

I remember the Doctor telling me that I was definitely too young to have Diabetes but I actually was "borderline" with a fasting blood sugar of 150 and a post prandial (post meal) of 180.  No medication needed.  I was young and could eat healthier and exercise more. 

Around the time I was diagnosed with Adult Onset Diabetes, Type 2, it was starting to be discussed more and more people were talking about it with more information available.  Although we didn't have the internet yet there were more articles in newspapers and magazines and many books on the subject.   I still was not talking about it.  I didn't want anyone to know.

Again in 1992 I was given an OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test) by a different doctor and told I had "borderline" Diabetes.  No medication needed.  Change diet and more exercise.  Yes I was awfully young to have Diabetes I was told by the doctor but when I told him about the others in my family he said "well, unfortunately due to genetics you didn't have a chance". 

I really ignored the change diet part because I had always eaten pretty healthy and was now exercising more. By this time I had already moved to Arkansas from California and I walked with my grandma daily.   She still was very strict about what she ate and still exercised daily.  After my doctors appointment I told her what the doctor said and she bought me my first meter and gave me strict instructions.  When grandma handed me my meter, she looked me straight in the eyes and said "you use this and test daily".  As I looked at her she had tears in her eyes.  I became the 4th generation to have Diabetes.  My grandma had seen Diabetes take her mother's life.  My great grandma Laura was on insulin because that was the only treatment available in her day.  She died the day after Christmas in 1953 at age 65 after going into a diabetic coma.

My grandma didn't talk much about her Diabetes.  She exercised daily, was very strict about what she ate, which was low carb, and tested before and after meals.  She knew she was doing everything right and had been since she was diagnosed.  I would see the tears in her eyes and the disappointment in her face after she tested.  She was always "high" never within the target range.  After meals she was consistently over 180 usually into the 200's.  I found out the doctor wanted her to go on insulin and she had refused.  When I found this out I urged her to start using the insulin.  She wouldn't discuss why but she flat refused.  A couple of years later she did start using insulin but started having too many lows and stopped using it.

It wasn't until after her she died in 1997 at the age of 77 due to a complication from a quadruple bypass, that I finally realized how scared she really was and why.  She knew the insulin caused her mother's death and she was scared that it would cause hers.  The irony was that because of her long history of high blood sugars it caused her to have cardiovascular issues resulting her to have severe blockages in her arteries requiring her to have the bypass.  Unfortunately there were complications from the surgery which caused her death.

My mom struggled with her diabetes as well.  Doing everything a type 2 should do.  Changed her diet, exercised, lost weight took her medicine as prescribed and tested daily.  She to eventually went on insulin because nothing was helping to control her blood sugar levels.  She was on insulin for a very short time because she was diagnosed with cancer, stage 4, in August of 2003 and died on October 29, 2003 one month before her 58th birthday.  Before she died she told me she was sorry that she had passed on the Diabetes to me and she regretted not taking better care of herself.  She blamed the Diabetes and high blood sugar levels as the reason she got cancer.  I had by then started educating myself about Diabetes and nutrition.  She asked me to continue and learn as much as I can and promise her I will take care of myself and help others including those in my family that have Diabetes.  

In 2001 I started a non profit organization, ATDDA (American Truck Drivers Diabetes Association, Inc.) to help other truck drivers, their families and the trucking industry.  Because of my struggles of learning how to adjust to my life on the road with Diabetes I wanted to help others.  Over the years I kept doubting my ability to help others because I couldn't even help myself, I struggled, although in a different way that I see now.  I didn't do anything with ATDDA because of my self doubting.  In 2012 I kicked myself in the rear and decided to go forward.  Hearing too many stories from drivers about the lack of information for drivers with Diabetes and talking with many who chose to do nothing because they either did not have education or the information needed I then decided I had to do something. 

The determination to help overtook my self doubts as well as remembering the promise to my mom.  In 2012 I got busy working again on ATDDA.  I have become more involved in the DOC (diabetes online community) and speaking out and educating.

In my 25 years now that I have had Diabetes I have struggled as well.  I followed the family in the "doing everything right as a type 2" and not having the results.  Even though I was young when diagnosed and have many family members that have Diabetes no one in the medical industry pursued digging deeper, seeing anything unusual that would warrant or question that maybe our family doesn't have the typical type 2.  Some in my family are overweight, caused by the Diabetes, and most were diagnosed in their 40's and 50's. 

My family history of Diabetes is as follows: My great grandma Laura had Diabetes, she had 8 boys, 6 of them had Diabetes, 2 girls, 1 had Diabetes, my grandma.  My grandma had 5 boys all have Diabetes, 2 girls, 1 had Diabetes, my mom.  I have Diabetes and one of my brothers has Diabetes, he was diagnosed in his early twenties, my other brother does not.  One of my uncles has 2 daughters with Diabetes, another uncle has one daughter with Diabetes. 

The more I learned about Diabetes over the years I kept questioning why so prevalent in our family and why we all struggle.  I went through a difficult time many years ago struggling with this.  Many people with type 2 are able to lose weight and many are able to get off of their medications.  I have had a weight problem as most of my female relatives do as well.  I have complained to every doctor that I have seen that I struggle with losing weight.  I have eaten very low carb for many years now, which never seemed to help with my blood sugar levels, nor has it with any of my family members. 

I kept looking for answers promising never to give up doing this in memory of my mom, grandma, great grandma and the rest of my family.  Many years now I have tried to do everything I know to do and stay off of insulin.  Partly due to the fact I would be unable to drive a truck if I went on insulin.  The other part I kept thinking I can do this, I am just missing something in my meal planning and exercise regimen.  No matter how much I exercise or how many carbs I cut out my blood sugar levels kept rising. 

The stubborn part of me wasn't going to give up.  I would exercise more cut out more carbs add in more protein, less fruit, more vegetables, lift weights.  The weight wasn't coming off and my blood sugar levels were rising.  I was on 1000mg Metformin twice a day and Starlix 120mg three times a day.  I decided to change doctors again.  I had already been on many different medications over the years.  I knew insulin was to be next.  In 2009 I started seeing a different Endocrinologist.  My A1C at that time was 11.7.  Too high!!
I knew it was.  I explained to my new doctor my struggle with high blood sugar levels, inability to lose weight and how I ate and my exercise regimen.  Every doctor I had seen over the many years I would tell this to.  Basically I would get the look of "I know she is lying, there is no way she is eating low carb."  I told my new doctor the reason I had tried to stay off of insulin, so I could keep my job.  Although I knew that it was time I would have to make this decision.  He wanted me to go on insulin and once again I asked if there was another regimen.  He took me off of Starlix and started me on Glimepiride.

Since I have been seeing this Endo, we have added many medications, just adding in another one last month.  I now take Victoza 1.8, Glimepiride 4mg twice a day, Starlix 120mg twice a day, and Metformin 1000mg at night to help with the high blood sugar levels in the morning.  I know this is a lot of oral medications and most do not agree with this method and say I should be on insulin.  In July my A1C was 5.7 which is the best that it has ever been.  My morning blood sugar levels are now usually under 120 which is down from the 200's in the morning.  My last A1C last month was 6.7.  So the Starlix was added. 

Why be so stubborn and not just go on insulin ?  It would have been the smarter thing to do since these oral medications do have many side effects.  This path has led me to finding out some answers.   As I kept searching for answers and studying the idea that Metformin alone never changed my blood sugar levels and the only medications that worked were the sulfonylureas like Starlix and Glimepiride.  I kept searching for answers. 

Several years ago I had come across some information on MODY, Mature Onset Diabetes of the Young.  I never pursued looking deeper into this because it can only be diagnosed through genetic testing which is expensive and my insurance wouldn't pay for it.  The more I talked to people in the DOC (diabetes online community) the more I realized I really don't fit into the type 2 category.  I knew that and have known that but I even tried to make myself fit.  I don't fit!!!! 

In March of this year I decided to look further into MODY.  As I kept reading information on it and realized that because of the strong family history of Diabetes it was possible that I didn't have type 2 and had type MODY.  In my search and talking to people I found information on Kovler Diabetes Center that does the genetic testing for free.  I kept hesitating in pursuing this angle and didn't discuss it with anyone, including my husband for several weeks.  Finally I decided that I had to pursue this.  In March I discussed the possibility of me having type MODY with my Endo. I am thankful that he was aware of this rare type of Diabetes and listens to me and my concerns.  As we were discussing my strong family history of Diabetes and my current medication and why it was working, I saw the light go on in his head.   He urged me to pursue it.  So I did.  At the end of March I contacted Kovler.  After reviewing my case they definitely thought it was highly probable that I had type MODY.  In May I submitted my DNA for genetic testing.  I am still awaiting the results.  Since that time my doctor has changed my diagnosis from type 2 Diabetes to unspecified or unknown type of Diabetes Mellitus, unspecified type of MODY. 

MODY is a monogenic form of Diabetes that effects the signaling of insulin to be produced or used.  This genetic defect is passed down through each generation.  If passed down to the child the child has a 95% chance of developing Diabetes.  In my family we have determined that the female passes down this genetic defect to the female and male child.  The male passes down this genetic defect to the female child only.

I will continue to find answers for myself and my family, in memory of all of my family. 

Not only have I chosen to do this for myself and family, I am determined to help as many others as well.

Over the years I have seen Diabetes not talked about to now becoming almost a household word.  It seems as if the seriousness of type 2 Diabetes has diminished.  Type 2 has always been known to be a genetic disease.  A person has to be genetically predisposed to develop the disease.  In the last ten years now all we hear is that it is caused by lifestyle, being overweight and sedentary.  We don't hear much about it being genetic.  People are now being told it can be reversed or cured.  Just lose weight, change your lifestyle and you are good to go.  Pharmaceuticals are being called evil and the goal should be to get off of the medication.  With all of the readily available information and the awareness of Diabetes we are even more unhealthy and seeing more Diabetics with Diabetes related complications than ever before.  You would think that we would be going in a better direction than we are. 

All of this talk and suggesting that everything in moderation is okay, and no need to avoid sweets or that treat you want, don't deny yourself, you can be normal and eat what everyone else does, angers me.  We have been taken down the wrong path.  I truly believe that.  Especially when I look back to the "strict" days of what a person with Diabetes could eat and could not eat.  That part they had right.  With the tools we have now, the meters, pumps, different insulin and carbohydrate counting we should be seeing people with less complications, but we are not.

Diabetes is a serious disease.  I have know this from an early age.  I have seen Diabetes take many family members and friends.  When I think of my grandma and mom it is hard for me and I mourn them.  I miss them and I cry thinking of them.  I cry thinking of my grandma and how hard she tried.  I cry thinking of mom and how she felt responsible for "giving" me Diabetes. 

In the middle of me writing this I got a call from my father in law telling me that a family friend of our has died due to Diabetes complications.  Sandy was only 57 years old.  Tragic and heartbreaking.

In memory of my family, friends, and now Sandy and all of those I do not know, I will continue to educate, encourage and support and speak out, I will never give up fighting the fight. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pre Trip and Post Trip

All of us in the trucking industry as drivers know what a Pre Trip and Post Trip are and why we do them, at least I hope you know and I hope you do them.  Not only are we required by DOT to perform the task we know that it is to our benefit to do so.  As a driver I don't want to get caught off guard by something that I could have prevented.  We all know that even though we do our best there are times it is beyond our control and yes things happen.  Because of the cost involved of being broke down on the road and having to be towed or having a service truck come out, we as an owner operator try to keep up with the maintenance to keep the cost of repairs down.  Not only the cost of repairs but the downtime of being in a shop can hurt, whether a company driver or owner operator.

When it comes to Diabetes we also have a Pre Trip and Post Trip, a Pre Prandial and Post Prandial or a Pre Meal and Post Meal.  A Pre Prandial and Post Prandrial test, checking your blood sugar before meals and after meals, is extremely important to your Diabetes care as doing a Pre Trip and Post Trip on the truck and trailer.

The ACE/AACE (American College of Endocrinology/American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist) guidelines are as follows:
                                    Fasting Blood Sugar 70 mg/dl - 100 mg/dl
                                    Before Meals           70 mg/dl - 100 mg/dl
                                    After Meals              140 mg/dl or less at 1 to 2 hours

These guidelines are for your benefit not your Doctors.  This is where your blood sugar levels should be.  Are they going to be in this range 100% of the time? NO.  If you are newly diagnosed your blood sugar  levels probably will not be but this is the goal for you and every person with diabetes.  A goal that should be achieved sooner rather than later.

This is why checking your blood sugars is so important on a daily basis.  By testing your blood sugar before and after meals you can see if your carbohydrate count for that meal needs to be adjusted.  You have been told you can do 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal, but when you test you are over the 140 mark.  So you reduce down to 45 and now you see that this made a difference in your post meal testing bringing you down to 135 after each meal.  It may be that absolutely nothing you are doing is making a difference.  You keep track of your foods, carbohydrates, exercise and blood sugar levels take to your Doctor's appointment and this will help your Doctor to see where you need help and can adjust your medications accordingly or your diet.

The whole idea of doing a Pre Trip and a Post Trip with our trucks and trailers is to identify and repair before it turns into something major or causes a hazard to others on the road.  The same is true by doing a Pre-Prandial (Pre Meal) or a Post Prandial (Post Meal).

I have heard every excuse out there.  Most of you don't test because you don't want to know what your  blood sugar is.  It is easier for you to eat what you want when you want.  Testing can be very expensive when you don't have insurance or your insurance won't allow for very many test strips.  Now Walmart has a meter the Prime Meter that the test strips are $9.00 for a count of a 100.  No more excuses.  Most of you shop at Walmart and most Walmart stores have truck parking.  No more excuses.

Make testing a part of your daily routine.  If you need a reminder, tape a message on your log book or Qualcomm.  Set daily reminders on your phone.  Have an accountability partner that will remind you and check in with you daily.  Please do not ignore your Diabetes nor your blood sugar levels.  You will only have regrets in the future. 

Testing can be cumbersome and bothersome at times, but it is worth it.  I have been testing my blood sugar for over 25 years now.  I always use my fingers on my left hand, since I am right handed.  I test everyday, 10 - 12 times a day.  

 If you test now and use this tool to help you manage your Diabetes by keeping your blood sugar levels in check, will the end result not be worth it ?  By keeping your blood sugar levels within range now, in the future you can look back and be thankful you did.  Take the time and money to take care of yourself NOW.  You reduce the risk of complications greatly if you do. 

I will tell you that when my blood sugar levels are within range I feel great.  I don't like to be tired, I don't like to feel bad, especially when I am driving.  There are definitely more benefits to taking care of yourself.  The better you feel and the more alert you are, the safer you are.

Not only should you do this for you but also for your loved ones.  As a truck driver it is your job to get from point A to point B in a timely and safe manner.  If you ignore your diabetes and your blood sugar levels how can you be safe and alert on the road? 

Each day you do a Pre Trip and Post Trip.  Each meal do a Pre Meal and Post Meal.  Make it a part of your daily routine. 

Wishing you a healthy and safe future.

American Truck Drivers Diabetes Association, Inc.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Heading down a dead end road

The other morning I get awakened by a horrible noise.  My first thought is something is seriously wrong with the truck.  With 1,117,000 miles on the truck and on the motor I first think motor.  I open the curtain and ask hubby what is wrong.  He tells me "I need you to get up and help me, I am trying to back down this dirt road."  WHAT?!? Well that will sure wake you up at 4am.

Here is what happened.  He is driving along interstate 10 in Texas west of Houston.  He sees flashing lights ahead and turns on the C.B. There is an overturned truck ahead and the interstate is closed.  The State Trooper is routing the traffic off of the interstate (what little there is at that time of the morning).  There is a couple big trucks and cars in front of us. There were no other State Troopers directing traffic once they got off of the interstate.  The cars that were ahead of us have turned around and are coming back.  As soon as he exited there was a ramp to get back on the interstate but he knew as the others did that the accident was farther on down so none of them got back on, they continued on the paved road.  That paved road then became a dirt road and narrow lined with trees with no lights, with a sign saying "Dead End".  Just what you want to see when you are in a big truck! 

Just on the dirt road hubby decides he's not going any farther.  The FedEx truck (pups) was about 1/4 mile ahead of him and stopped.  After looking around and realizing that there is no where to turn around, he decided the only way out is to back out.   And that is when I woke up.  Trees were scraping the side of the truck as he was trying to back down the road.

I got up and helped guide him and we came to a side road that he was able to back onto and then turn and go back in the direction he came.  About a 1/2 mile back is the ramp to get back onto the interstate which he got back on.  The wreck was about 3 miles past that.  He says "this doesn't make any sense, why would the State Trooper have us get off and not direct us and put us on a road that dead ends?" 

I went back to bed and started thinking about his statement and question.

How often does this happen with people with Diabetes.  You are diagnosed with Diabetes, given very little instruction, following someone else, thinking you are doing what you should just to be led to a dead end in the dark and frustrated.

Very little information and instruction is given from the Medical profession when someone is diagnosed with Diabetes.  I talk and interact with many people and ask questions of them.  If they are given medication, they are given a prescription and that is it.  This infuriates me when I talk to people and find out they have not been told when to test, how often to test and how and what to eat, and why it is so important to test regularly.

Many start asking questions of others and that can lead to such confusion.  One person may have been told they can eat anything just in moderation (just in moderation will be another blog!).  Another has been told no carbohydrates, another 150grams to 200grams of carbohydrates a day.  Many are told to limit fat, but very little instruction is given to a healthy well balanced meal of protein and vegetables and limiting carbs.

When to test, how often to test and what the blood sugar levels should be is another area for confusion.
I hear "I was told once a day", "I was told just in the morning", "I was told there is no need to test my doctor does that".  Some people have been told as long as they have blood sugar levels under 180 two hours after eating is okay.  Some people are told an A1c under 7%, others under 6%.

All of this was frustrating to me as well in the beginning.  I was diagnosed at the age of 19 and told not to eat sugar, and limit bread and potatoes.  As time went by and I started learning I realized the importance of reducing my carbohydrates and learning which foods had carbs and what to include in my meals to reach the results I was looking for.  I studied and asked "why should I be able to have blood sugar levels higher than a non-diabetic?"  The answer was always "you shouldn't, but it is hard to achieve normal levels."  Sure it is if you follow and listen to the mainstream, high carb and low fat nonsense.  I stopped listening to the ADA (American Diabetes Association) and the ADA (American Dietetic Association), and started searching on my own for the truth and a good well balanced plan.

Many years ago (over 12 years) I decided to start reducing my carbs, then eventually decided to eliminate wheat and gluten, and grains.  Protein became a very important part of my diet, I was never getting what I needed.  I have always eaten a lot of vegetables so that part was easy.  Reducing the amount of fruit was critical, but I still have fruit at lunch and dinner, just a small portion.   When I did that along with getting my medication balanced I started feeling better and had better blood sugar levels.

You cannot go this alone nor can you just follow the leader.  Do not just assume that the doctor or nutritionist is giving the best advice for you.  Many will do what they have been told, just like that State Trooper, but he was wrong because he did not have the correct information or apparently not willing to check out the situation before directing the traffic off of the interstate onto a dead end road.

We need more education available to teach people how to eat a well balanced meal that contains real food, not processed or prepared, and the importance of reducing carbohydrates.  The Diabetes community needs to know the importance of testing the blood sugar, before and after every meal.  The medical community needs to come together and teach their patients and not just hand out prescriptions.  The information is out there but sometimes hard to find and many people don't have or won't make the time. 

Don't let someone lead you to a dead end.  Don't just assume that they know what they are talking about or what is best for you.  Ask many questions and don't ever stop.  You have to be your own health advocate. 

We at the ATDDA (American Truck Drivers Diabetes Association) wish all of you a very well lit and smooth road to travel.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

We take care of our vehicles better than our bodies

Driving for 10 hours gives me time to think and observe.  

Last week we thought we had a problem with the truck, and immediately decided that we would get it fixed.....because it was not shifting properly (we have the automatic without the clutch).  Thankfully we were able to reset it by turning off the engine and resetting it, had to do this twice.  No problems since.  

After the reassurance that it was not going to do this again, I started thinking.  Immediately we put a plan together without hesitation to put the truck in the shop and get it fixed, as most people would do.  Without a properly working or functioning truck we can not make money by doing our job.  If something is broke we fix it, if a tire is low we put air in it, if a tire needs replacing we replace it.  We have to check to make sure we have proper oil levels, water levels, antifreeze and fuel.  Without fuel the truck is going nowhere.  There are so many things that go into making sure that are trucks are running properly and continue to do so, so that we may continue down the road making money.  Whether it is our truck or personal vehicle we know that there are things that have to be maintained or fixed.  

So,  why do we not think the same when it comes to our health, bodies or diabetes ?

Our vehicles we can sell or trade, but we only have one body !!!!

I see a man out in the parking lot of the truck stop wiping down his truck and polishing it after getting it washed.  It was a very well kept truck, very clean and you could tell the driving took pride in his ride. Most likely has spent quite a lot of money keeping it up, it was an older Peterbilt.  A few minutes later after doing my routine, taking the dogs out, checking my blood sugar, and taking my evening medication, I go into the fuel island at the Petro in El Paso to get my grilled pork chops for dinner.  I stop there once or twice a week for the pork chops, they are usually pretty good.  As I am ordering the gentlemen that was out polishing his ride comes in behind me.  I asked for 2 pork chops.  The deli clerk asked if I wanted a meal, or just the pork chops.  I said just the pork chops.  The gentlemen asked " Is that all you are going to eat?"  I said no, I have my vegetables in the truck, I just needed to add protein to my dinner."  He said " Oh I would have to have some potatoes and macaroni and cheese with mine."  I said " Wish I could, but having diabetes I don't allow myself to have those because I have to keep my blood sugar levels down, and those two things raise my blood sugar too much."  

So the conversation about Diabetes starts....he says "I have Diabetes too, but I can pretty much eat whatever I want, I take medication."  I said "Really?, I take medication too, have for 15 years."  "Wow, you must be a really bad diabetic."  I chuckle and say "No".  I ask him "how do you know it is okay to eat anything you want? Do you check your blood sugar often?"  He replies "my doctor said just to take the pills and come in every 6 months for blood work, he didn't say it was necessary to check my blood sugar myself."

So I go into my speech about how important it is to know your blood sugar levels before and after meals, and that will tell you what you can eat and how much of the carbohydrates at each meal that you can have.  I explained how important it is to keep the blood sugar levels under the appropriate range of 140 at 1 hour and 120 at 2 hours after the meal.  Then I explained how important it is to know about how carbohydrates affect our blood sugars and how important it is to reduce the carbohydrates per meal.  

Well let's just say he had a bewildered look in his eyes and said "my doctor never explained this."  Then he ordered his potato wedges and macaroni and cheese with 2 deep fried burritos.

I wanted to stay and ask him so many questions and continue my teaching (husband calls it my diabetes lecture).

We only have one body, we have to take care of it.  If we have diabetes we have to be diligent and proactive.  I see so many people ask questions about their trucks and how to get better fuel mileage, spend money for their trucks to look good, spend money diagnosing mechanical problems.  When it comes to Diabetes or their health it seems to be a lack of instruction and education from medical personnel and a lack of questions being asked by the patient.

We want our bodies to run efficiently and get the best fuel mileage that we can.  We don't want our bodies to be sluggish from the junk we put in them.  If our bodies are not taken care of forget about the truck because you won't be in it making a living. It is hard or difficult for people to want to think long term.  But it is imperative that you do.  

I know it is important that we take good care of our trucks, whether a company driver or an owner operator.  So much more important that we take care of ourselves first and do our utmost to do everything we can to eat healthy, check our blood sugar levels (many times a day), exercise and get proper rest.  

Start asking your Doctor questions, get on the web and start educating yourself, join some diabetes groups online.  There are so many things a diabetic needs to know, don't settle for "here's your prescription, take this medication twice a day and I will see you in 6 months."  Your life and health are worth much more than that.

You can check out my website:  (American Truck Drivers Diabetes Association, Inc.) 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Welcome to Trucking and Diabetes

What a long road this has been, traveled almost 2 million miles now and seems like just as many finger sticks.  Learning to manage my diabetes has been interesting and sometimes exhausting, especially when I started driving a truck.  It did take awhile to get a routine down but I did and still after all these years find it tiring at times.

One day I hope to retire from driving a truck, but unfortunately I will never be able to retire from diabetes.  Diabetes is a part of me that I have come to accept and honor.  

Trucking has it's good days and bad days.  After so many years on the road you pretty much know what to expect but have those moments, when you think you have seen it all, but you see that one thing that a driver does and just shake your head.  With diabetes you think you have it all under control and doing all the right things and everything is smooth, and it will throw a pothole in the road just when you least expect it.  

Just as you get the HOS (hours of service) down DOT decides changes need to be made.  We get comfortable with what we know and it is hard to change but we do because we know we have to.  With diabetes we also get comfortable doing what we have been told then find out the information that was given was either wrong or outdated, but we make the changes because it is important to our health. It is hard to get out of our comfort zones but well worth it in the end.

For most of us we try to stay updated on the current DOT regulations but really don't spend much of our days really getting into all the nonsense.  There is good information out there for those who own their own truck and trying to get the most profit.  There is also a lot of really bad information out there and a whole lot of truckers stories.  You learn to take it all in and decipher what is true and helpful from the not so good.  Diabetes is no different.  If you have spent any time online or watched television, you will be scratching your head and confused.  There are a lot of money making schemes that target diabetics, whether a diet or a cure, or just really poor uneducated information being offered.  We have to decipher the good from the bad.  In trucking it can cost us dollars, but with our diabetes it can cost us our health.

Stay safe out there on the road -- keep it between the lines and stay sunny side up10/4.