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.)