Monday, September 30, 2013

We have more control than we think

I hear from people a lot that say they just have no control and find it difficult to eat "healthy". 
This is a big problem for many people.  They cannot seem to stay on track, they see it and want it and then "give in". 

The problem with "giving in" is that it becomes a vicious cycle.  First, you are most likely giving in because you are trying to take a road that you are not prepared to go down, physically and mentally.  Second, that "giving in" is a self indulgence response to immediate gratification that has a negative response or reaction. 

When we do not train ourselves to think in a delayed gratification sense or just allow ourselves to have no control over what we put into our mouths because "it tastes so good" we will lose, our bodies will lose in the long run.  Don't beat yourself up over it, LEARN from it.

Before diagnosis of Diabetes you did not have to think so much about the consequences to your eating habits or actions.  Now you do.  It becomes a re-training of self indulgence and control.

When we started driving a truck you had to learn a great deal of self control because of the consequences of our actions on the road and off.  Whether driving the truck or our personal vehicle, everything we do in that vehicle affects our CDL.  Because of that we have become more calculated to our responses by becoming proactive in the choices we make while driving.  As a whole we became safer drivers and have more control.  We have learned to become more defensive rather than aggressive in our driving, at least most of us have.  Where before driving a truck if we got a speeding ticket or traffic violation there was not as much at stake.  Now there is.  We could potentially lose our CDL and our job, our lively hood.

Everyday we have a 4 wheeler or another big truck cut us off in traffic and slam on their brakes in front of us. How many times have you wanted to just hit them because of what they did? Many times I am guessing.  But you don't because of the consequences.  How many times have you had to slow down because of someone else and their stupidity?  You would like to do the same to them but don't because you know what the consequences could and would be.  How many times have you wanted to run that big truck or 4 wheeler into the barrels in a construction zone because of their selfishness they had to go to the very end and cut over?  I know you have many times.  You don't do it because of the consequences of your actions if you did.  I am also guessing that you slow down to the speed limit when you see smokey the bear sitting in the middle.  You did because you have CONTROL.

So now look at your actions and reactions that you put into place in all areas of your life and put them into action in your Diabetes life.  When you choose, good or bad, what and how much you put in your mouth it is your choice, yours and yours alone. 

You have to plan your lifetime route that is feasible for you.  Learning to eat in a balanced way that incorporates healthy foods and incorporating those less than healthy options occasionally will benefit you and your body today and in the future.  Learn how much you can eat, what you can eat and when to eat by testing your blood sugar before and after meals.  Balance your meals with foods that you like and try new foods that you thought you might not like.  If you try to follow a very restrictive diet that is unattainable you will not obtain anything. 

Be kind to your body and give it the good that it needs and your body will be kind to you in return.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Let us take advantage of the new HOS rules.

Happy July 1st.  

Yep today we start our new hours of service changes. As perturbed as most of us are about these new changes I do think we should take advantage of the mandatory 1/2 hour break and use it to our benefit.  I know I am.  

I am guilty as many of you are about not wanting to take time out of your driving time to take a much needed break.  Now, I have to.  My lunch normally consists of raw veggies, cheese, meat and a small amount of fruit that I have prepared in advance so I can eat and drive.  

So part of me is thankful that I will be forced to stop for 30 minutes each day.  I now can finally sit down and eat my big salad for lunch, without feeling guilty that I should be working.  

I hope you will use the mandatory 30 minutes to your advantage as well and use it for your health.  Maybe you can use that time for exercise or a good healthy lunch.  Please remember that with the excessive heat across most of the country you do not want to do too much strenuous activity outside. Kick up the music in your truck and work out in privacy, I do. 

With the heat it is important to drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods to stay hydrated.  Smaller portions at meal time will help with this as well.  Try to stay away from a lot of diet soda, most of them are loaded with sodium which can increase the fluid retention and dehydration, and blood sugar control. 

Thanks to the government for making me take time out of my driving so I can eat my salad !!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stopping at the truck stop for a hot meal?

It has been a couple of years since my husband and I stopped at a truck stop to eat a meal.  Last week we decided to stop at the TA in Las Cruces, NM for a hot meal.  As usual I was disappointed, there are still very few options for someone who eats low carb. 

The menu had changed slightly at the Fork in the Road, but the items were the same.  Every meal had a choice of potatoes, fried, mashed or baked.  Very little to offer in the way of vegetables. And corn IS NOT a vegetable. The main item was either fish, chicken, or steak with most all topped with something.  And of course can't forget that when potatoes are not offered rice is. 

I always have to substitute items in my meal.  The majority of the time the server is very accommodating to my request as this one was.  There have been times when I want smaller portions and ask to be able to order off of the senior section, and so far have never been denied.

Do not be afraid to ask the server if you can make substitutions. Don't just give in and order something because you are afraid to ask or think it will cause problems. When you do make sure that you ask politely and follow up with gratitude.  If the server seems hesitant or unwilling, politely explain that you have certain dietary restrictions, or that you have Diabetes and are following a certain dietary protocol.

If the meal comes with bread I always ask for it to be left off of the plate.  If it comes with the meal anyway I give it back to the server and have her/him take it away so I will not be tempted.  That goes for any restaurants that serve bread automatically as an appetizer. 

All of the pretty pictures on the menu sure make all of the food look good and tempting.  It can be a challenge to stay on track and not let your eyes and tummy make the decisions.  Especially when you are eating with one or more people and they are all eating burgers and fries.  It takes willpower to stay strong and on track.  Before going into the restaurant think about what you want to eat and keep reinforcing this by telling yourself that you will do it, you won't cave and you will be an example for the rest.  You never know who might be struggling as well and your dedication may lead someone else and help to reinforce their good choices where they may have lost sight and caved.

Here are a few suggestions in choosing your meal items.
  • First, choose the meat - steak, grilled chicken or grilled fish.
  • Once that is chosen then you can choose the sides. 
  • If it comes with potato or rice ask to substitute with a vegetable.
  • The meal may come with potato or rice and a vegetable - ask to have double vegetables or a dinner salad instead or soup (depending on what is offered).
  • Cutting back on the portions -- ask server to bring a To Go box with your meal, then put half in the box and set aside to take with you.
  • If bread is served with the meal ask to substitute something for the bread, small bowl of cottage cheese, small serving of fruit or sliced tomatoes.
On a tight budget ?
  • Use your points on your frequent fueler card to buy your meal
  • Take half of the meal to go
  • Order water to drink, this will save you $2.00+
  • If you are unsure about the water, bring your own drink or bottled water.
  • Ask to order off of the senior menu, it is usually cheaper, but smaller portions
  • Split a meal with a friend

 I know what changes I would like to see made on the menus but what would you like to see changed ?

With enough input and suggestions made we might see some changes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Building a good foundation for Truck Driving and living with Diabetes.

Thinking back to the very beginning of my career as a truck driver I remembered how much I had to learn, how terrified I was and the many changes that came about.   Learning to drive a car was a little intimidating at first but the skills came quickly.  Growing up in Santa Barbara, California we had great weather, sunny most of the time with occasional fog and rain.  The traffic was pretty light compared to the Los Angeles area.  This made driving for the teenager much easier than those who have winters riddled with snow and ice.  When I moved to Arkansas I did have to learn to drive in winter weather but it was pretty mild for the most part compared to other parts of the country.

Surprisingly when I went to truck driver training school I felt pretty comfortable learning to drive that big thing.  Partly due to the fact that it was in my hometown so I new the surroundings.  I felt pretty confident after getting out of school and going on the truck with my husband.

Wow, how different the open road was. 

I will not lie, I was over confident as a rookie and the first couple weeks out on the road was a breeze.  Yep, until that confidence was stifled by the real world of traffic, weather, exits, truck stops, shippers, receivers, fuel stops, wrong directions, two lane mountain roads and just about everything else.

That is when I became scared to death.  My first experience I can remember was getting into Atlanta at rush hour, it was dark and raining.  I had to find somewhere to pull over and give it to the better half --- I was shaking so bad I couldn't see straight.

As time went on, I found that with each home time I was able to relax and recoup.  The next time out it became a little less stressful.  I learned to watch and listen --- A LOT.  Listening to the "old timers" on the C.B. and talking with them helped build my confidence.  There were many along the way that I took advice from, building a strong foundation for years to come.  I was fortunate and very thankful that whenever I was in an area that I was unfamiliar with or on a two lane road somewhere, there always seemed to be an old timer coaching me along and keeping me company on the C.B.

It took time to learn to make changes in driving habits from driving a four wheeler to an eighteen wheeler.  In the beginning it was scarey getting into bad weather not knowing how the truck would handle.  Driving when it was windy not knowing if we were going over would scare the dickens out of me.  Feeling the trailer slide or the tractor lose traction was enough for me to call it quits many times.  Seriously I can not tell you how many times in Wyoming I told hubby I was done and going home.  Yeah, I'm still out here.

Getting the truck legs took awhile....maneuvering in the truck while it was moving.  Learning new sleep habits, sleeping while the truck was moving, ignoring the bouncing off of the bed, learning to automatically hold on to the bed when the truck quickly stopped and learning to make good use of time for rest and sleep. There were so many changes, so many things I had to become accustomed to that people who do not drive a truck have no clue about.  Taking a shower, when and where, finding a restroom, thank goodness for Porta Potties for the truck.  Laundry, having the time and finding a truck stop to do it at, and ugh...the hike with all that laundry across that huge parking lot.  Driving a truck consumes your life, and I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but being out here on the road it is your life.

Early on my husband and I got into a routine, trying to keep the same shifts, always helping one another in the areas we were not familiar with, giving the other directions and looking for street signs, and supporting each other in anyway we could to make life easier for each other on the road.  I would like to say it was always easy but it was not.  It was very stressful for both of us.  And you can only slam the curtain so hard.

It was learning so many new things and trying to adjust lifestyle on the road at the same time coupled with the fact that not only was I adjusting to all of that I had to develop a new "lifestyle" for managing my Diabetes.  In the beginning I did not do well with managing my diabetes.  I did well as a truck driver and building good skills but let the diabetes and my care get put to the wayside.

We didn't have a refrigerator for the first couple of years, just a plug in cooler.  I learned to adapt.  You just don't get a good variety of food this way but it's doable.  In the beginning we did eat out of the truck stops, but back then most had sit down restaurants and the food was not that bad.  But even that took planning because we didn't get to stop everyday.  I learned to eat very plain because it worked.  In 1998 when we bought our first truck we had a refrigerator and microwave in the truck.  Even then I chose not to cook much in the microwave, it took too much time and would wake up hubby.  So I had to develop habits that would work for me in our situation.  I had to build a strong foundation like I did when I started driving.

Unfortunately there was no internet, we didn't have cellphones or XM radio, wow, how did we do it ? There was no one to help me or guide me, there was no one I knew that drove a truck and had Diabetes.  I was virtually on my own.  A couple years into driving we were able to get a dedicated run.  That helped immensely.  I was able to do my grocery shopping at home and prepare my food for the week, have a safe place to walk, and a pretty good driving schedule that was routine.

When I was diagnosed with Diabetes I was overly confident, just like when I started driving a truck.  Then I became lost and scared.  I went from familiar surroundings, managing my Diabetes at home, to managing it on the road.  Honestly it was as if I was diagnosed all over again.  It was stressful and I had no one to share those struggles with or to help coach me forward.  I was on my own.

Diabetes becomes your life just like truck driving does.  What most people don't think about we have to.  The food choices, the amount of food, the time we eat, what we eat.  Everything we do is determined by our Diabetes.  Driving a truck forces you to become more aware of your surroundings and the choices you make while driving that truck can have serious consequences if the right choices are not made.  We do our best to be safe and make those right choices.  The same is true with Diabetes, the choices we make while living with Diabetes can have serious consequences if the right choices are not made.  We learn to build a good solid foundation for both so we can become proactive and think ahead.  We have to, I have to.

I am glad that those rookie days are behind me, but I will say there are days that with both truck driving and living with diabetes I still have room for learning.  I have built a good foundation for both but have left room to grow.

The "old timers" used to say that "the day you know everything there is to know about truck driving, is the day you need to hang it up, that is when you become a danger,  because you can never know enough."  I believe the same is true about living with Diabetes as well.

For you rookies out there just learning to drive a truck, and the newbies just learning about living with diabetes, there are many of us "old timers" out here that want to help you succeed in both areas of your life. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.

Be safe on the road out there.  Safety and good health bring you home.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Why do the majority of truck drivers not take their health or diabetes seriously?

I don't know, do you?

Being in the trucking industry for many years, with all of those years as a diabetic, self managing my diabetes has always been priority.  I find it interesting though when I talk to other drivers about diabetes I don't get the same feeling from them that it is as important.  That is one of the reasons that I started the ATDDA (American Truck Drivers Diabetes Association, Inc.).  When I did start the NPO, Non Profit Organization, there was not the availability of the internet so readily at our fingertips as it is today.  And even though it is more available today as truckers we are still somewhat isolated. 

We have had satellite radio for years but there is not quality information in regards to diabetes available.  There is on the internet but it can be difficult to access in some areas and we drive all day, for some all night.  So is part of the problem not enough adequate information that is readily available?

Part of me believes that the biggest problem in getting people to understand the magnitude and importance of diabetes is because of the information we DO hear.  The seriousness of this disease has been silenced with "it is a lifestyle disease caused by your overeating and lack of exercise", and "you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes because of your lifestyle". 

It is unfortunate that we are losing people to serious complications and not taking this disease seriously because of the erroneous information being propagated by individuals who would rather take your money than see you healthy and shared by those who have failed to do their research on the subject.

The truckers are not the only ones I see this happening with, taking their diabetes seriously that is.  The population as a whole is affected.  What I do see with the trucker population is that many are so afraid of losing their jobs if they are diagnosed with a disease or health condition they would rather not discuss it and would prefer to ignore it as if it will go away.

The sad truth to this is that it will not go away and it will get worse if you choose to do nothing.  I would much rather see people become proactive and start planning for the future.  You do have a say in your health.  You can help your body and choose a much better quality of life with diabetes by educating yourself and making better choices for you.

Would you not rather have a say in your outcome by choosing to do something today rather than forced out of job because you chose to do nothing?

Would you not rather have a better quality of life and a healthier life by choosing to do something today rather than facing the gloom of serious complications if you choose to do nothing?

I hope you will join me in helping to reach all of the Professional Truck Drivers, their families and the trucking industry with education, support and encouragement.  We can make a difference in the trucking community, but I cannot do it alone.

Please stay alert, be safe and keep the sunning side up and keep draggin' that wagon.  10-4?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where do I fit?

Over the 25 years, quickly approaching 26 years, of having Diabetes and a lifetime of watching family members live with Diabetes I still get very frustrated at the medical community, the Diabetes advocates and the information provided to those with and without Diabetes.

I have struggled for many years with my Diabetes and watched as my family members have struggled.  Due to the fact that we do not nicely "fit" into any "type" of Diabetes.  When you do not "fit" nicely into the categories they, the doctors, will still try and when all else fails call you Type 1 or Type 2 and still try to make you fit.  I have been called non-compliant because I refused to follow the high carbohydrate diets that some doctors and registered dietician felt that I should follow, I have been labeled with "severe diabetes" because the typical regimens do not work well on me.  I have been called a liar when I explain how certain medications work on me because according to what they have read it is not possible.  I have been called a liar when I gave the doctor my food diary and it showed how low carb I ate, but still had blood sugar levels into the 300's and taking the prescribed medication.  I make my current doctor scratch his head.  After losing 60 pounds, 20 more to go, it did nothing for my blood sugar levels, other than I keep having to increase medications for my diabetes.  Exercise does not lower my blood sugar levels as it does most people.  Although I still exercise for my health.  I take no medications for high blood pressure, don't have high cholesterol and never have had any problems with either one.  My pancreas has no beta cell loss and still produces adequate if not more than enough insulin after 25 years with Diabetes.  It is challenging because there is no consistancy with my blood sugar levels.  I am very consistent with what and how much I eat and everyday it is different with what my blood sugar levels are. 

I have tried to understand how my body works and doesn't work.  I do my best with what my doctor and I know together.  I continue to find answers but have come to the conclusion that I may never know and the medical profession may not either.  I have to accept that I and my family just don't fit and the best thing that I can do is find the best regimen that works for me to keep my blood sugar levels as close to normal as I can and find acceptance.  It has been a long road for me and it will continue to be but I have learned along the way and will continue to find what works best for me.  Although, I would like to say that it is okay not to fit into a category or type, but I would be lying.  Part of me would like to fit into a "type" of Diabetes so that I can feel like I can share my struggles and others would understand.  I don't know if that will ever happen.  Again I just need to learn to find acceptance and sometimes that can be difficult.

For me there is too much emphasis put on what Type of Diabetes that a person has.  When we do this it puts the diagnosis of Diabetes into a box and the doctors are only trained to treat what is in that box.  When a person doesn't fit into what they have been taught about Diabetes and the treatments for each type it makes it very difficult for the patient.  We need PATIENT CARE with Diabetes care.

I also have found that diabetics put too much emphasis on the type.  Type seems to mean much more than the fact that you have a serious disease, Diabetes.  Many Type 1's want to associate with other Type 1's because they can relate to that type and sometimes feel that a Type 2 is just about losing weight and exercising.  Some Type 2's even feel that their type is not as serious as a Type 1.  No matter what type of Diabetes you have it is serious.  I would hope that more people would be open to all forms of Diabetes and realize this. We all have room to learn and to help others.  Most of the information for Diabetes is relating to Type 2, and this needs to change.  Type 2's make up the large majority of Diabetics but they should not be the focus of all the attention and information.  Type 1's are unfairly left out in the majority of information given.  More detail needs to be given to all types no matter how small a percentage of them there are.  I know that it is important to sometimes point out the type when discussing Diabetes but more emphasis needs to be put on Diabetes as a whole and helping all Diabetics reduce complications and lead a healthy life.

We need doctors to look at the individual not just the Diabetes.  We need doctors to think "outside the box" and be willing to do what is best for that patient and not just follow the standard pharmaceutical protocol.  The medical profession needs to start listening to the patient and taking more time with them rather than a standard 15 minutes that is now allocated.  We, the patients, need to stand up and demand that we get the care we deserve.  We need doctors and diabetes educators to be more forthcoming with information and education that can be given to their patients.  We need to work as a team with our doctors and educators and have good lines of communication with them.  There are many good doctors out there that do this, but not as many as we need.

Looking at it from the standpoint of the doctor I do know how frustrating it can be on their end.  They are seeing many patients a day with different ailments and diseases, with everyone being at different stages of each.  I myself forget sometimes that after so many years of studying and reading and learning what I know now isn't what I knew in the beginning.  When someone is newly diagnosed, or a family member is newly diagnosed there is a feeling of being overwhelmed, feeling lost, not knowing what questions to ask, not knowing what foods to eat or not to eat, or just plain what to do.  I do forget what seems to be a rather odd question or simplistic question is in fact not.  A question is being asked because the person is needing information. 

All of us that have been doing this, living with Diabetes, for a very long time need to take a step back sometimes and put ourselves in the place of the "newbie" so we can help.  That is our goal, to help others.  The medical profession needs to do the same.  They become desensitized at times I believe because they have diagnosed and treated so many patients it becomes routine.  When this happens it affects the patient care and diminishes the magnitude of how serious this disease is.  The doctor needs to take a step back and realize this when dealing with a newly diagnosed patient. Taking time to explain about what is going on in the person's body and the plan of action that the doctor is taking and why will go along way in keeping the communication lines open between patient and doctor. 

My doctor told me on my last visit that his goal as my doctor, Endocrinologist, "was to keep me healthy and to keep me from having any complications from Diabetes."  His goal and mine are the same.  Normalized blood sugar levels with no or minimal complications.  In order for this to work I have to do my part.  I have to share with him my blood sugar levels that I keep a daily record of and my meals, along with any changes in my health.  I finally have found a doctor that is willing to think "outside the box" and work with me as an individual and realize that I don't fit anywhere so treatment can be challenging.  It took me many years and many doctors to find the right one that fits for me.  I know that this cannot always happen and may mean changing doctors many times to do this.  But never give up. 

I will continue my quest to find the answers as to the type of Diabetes that I have, I cannot let that go.  I need to find the answers and I hope that one day I will.  I may not fit into any type of Diabetes but I do fit nicely into the family of Diabetics.  That I know.