Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Long Overdue

It's high time this blog be updated. It's a sad story.

Last July, I began experiencing muscle spasms in my neck and shoulders, mostly my right shoulder and right side of my neck. I didn't have much choice but to continue driving through them. If it's your shift, it's your shift, right?

Running through 10 gears with muscle spasms on your right side is incredibly unpleasant, to say the least. Open road was tolerable, but then, much of our route was through the mountains of Tennessee requiring gearing down on every uphill pulling 78K. The pain contorted the way I sat and the way I moved. Most of the time, I was driving with my right arm folded up over my head and draped down the back of the headrest just to relieve the spasms. I would stop driving, rest a bit and try again. Halfway through my last week, I was driving and crying-using the crying to keep my mind off the spasms so I could gear down for the next climb. 2:30am couldn't come fast enough, the time when I could turn the wheel over to Zy.

Somehow, we made it home that last week between the two of us. I came off the truck and headed to the doctor's office. By the time I got home, my neck had locked up and I could not turn my head to the right or left or look up or down. I was given muscle relaxers and pain killers and written out of work.

I ended up being allergic to the hydrocodone. That night I passed out and came to 6 times in a row. Needless to say, I stopped taking the hydrocodone. The muscle relaxers and I developed a very cozy relationship however. After going to countless doctors, specialists and offices, it was determined that I had two bulging discs: C4 and C5. I was sent to physical therapy for 6 weeks. Zygote started driving the truck by himself-taking a route going to Boston the first half of each week and to Cincinnati the second half.

While seeking a pain-free state, I started practicing yoga again, something I've returned to over the years time and time again. This time, I recognized that between my last two jobs, office work and trucking, that I have destroyed my body, the same body that served me so well when I called upon it to hike 2175 miles of the Appalachian Trail. In the spirit of wanting to live a healthy, pain-free life, I made the decision not to return to the truck. It didn't seem highly intelligent for me to spend all this money to 'cure' my pain just to return to the very repetitive actions that exacerbated it. Here I am 7 months later, and I cannot say that I am pain-free still. I know, however, that I made the right choice in not returning to the truck.

Zygote was able to drive the route solo from August until recently. He really enjoyed the opportunity to solo. Although he still carried his food with him and cooked many of his meals, the sedentary trucking life and the truckstop wings got the better of him. Eventually, his blood sugar creeped up too high and his blood tests for his medical stopped him from driving any longer also. Zy has been off the truck also since February.

In September 2012 the book about my hike on the Appalachian Trail was published. Sales have been doing fabulously, and the book has received mostly 5 star ratings on Amazon. (one 4 star) I've been doing at least one appearance a month, both locally and in other states, doing presentations, readings and book signings. It's available on Amazon and in both Nook and Kindle versions also. Someday I may be inspired to put out an MP3 audio file as well. I have also been studying Yoga Therapy to share the pain-free life with others. I have created a yoga studio in my home and will be hanging my shingle out for business here in the next couple of months when I graduate from school and have my Yoga Therapist certificate.

Ruminations: Some say I should publish a book about the trucking life, but I'm not so sure. One of the things that I learned during my short year and a half in the trucking industry is how much of their lives truckers give to their trade, physically, mentally and emotionally. It's a very hard job that demands 100%. Granted there were ways we could have done things differently that would have made things easier for us in the long run, but we didn't make it out of the 2 year trial-by-fire-period that the industry requires before those other doors swing open. I don't think I know all that about trucking to publish a book. I just know those men and women who drive are exceptional people and deserve everyone's respect and gratitude. They deserve more than the dirty looks harried drivers flash them, more than the porta pottys they are relegated to at the shippers, more than fake cappucino from a vending machine and more than 10 parking spaces per rest area.
I regret not recording more of the disgraces that I experienced during my short time in the industry both from shippers, our company and other truckers as well as four-wheelers, but its my nature to try to present things in a light that causes no harm or ill-will so I glossed some things over and made light of difficult times. I met some amazing people and made friends along the way. I'll continue to blog on my Yoga Therapy website. Check it out. If you're ever in NC, give me a shout out. Truckers get free yoga sessions!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Waiting Game

Trucking is definitely a hurry up and wait proposal.  It seems like every time you are running short on time to get home or pick up a load, someone needs you to wait.  Loading and unloading are the where this occurs the most.  The majority of shippers and receivers are only concerned with their time and schedules and driver's needs factor in not at all.  That is hard to deal with considering the regulations that limit how long you can drive in a given day and the demands of load and unloading appointments. The pressure is all on the driver, you are told you cannot be late for an appointment, show up on time, and then sit and wait well past that appointment  for a gate to even be opened for you so you can unload. Or you arrive early and sit and sit while nothing happens, your load sitting in the dock waiting for someone to get back from break or lunch to sign your paperwork, which ends up happening well after your appointment time.  Or you look at how a run is scheduled, see an issue and report it to dispatch, and no effort is made to correct the problem, it is all up to you to adjust.

All that would be easier to take if anyone spent half as much effort as you have to in order to make things work.  I don't expect shippers, receivers, dispatchers to jump every time I snap my fingers to make life easier for me, but there is generally no visible effort or even sympathy to ease this burden on the driver. Hell, fake concern would go a long way to cut down on driver resentment. Every where I go it is one of the main complaints I hear from drivers.

So, here I sit in Danville, Kentucky.  I was early for my appointment, the load was ready but the paperwork was not. As I wait to even back in the dock to be loaded my time allotted for driving ticks away. In a couple of hours I will not have enough time to get home before that time runs out. That means finding parking and taking a 10 hour break before I can drive home. This is my last load until Sunday and getting home Friday night is important because it allows me to reset my weekly driving hours and get a fresh start when I head for Massachusetts. Getting home late means less time for my break and a hard choice between starting late on Sunday and struggling to find parking late at night or starting early and rolling over my work hours each day struggling to make my appointments with restricted driving time. 

We will see what happens.