Category Archives: Tales from the Road

Inspiring stories from other drivers, Humor, and my experiences in my fitness and weight loss journey.

Driver Wellness Tour 2014

Bob Perry and the Rolling Strong Coaches at GATS
Bob Perry and the Rolling Strong Coaches at GATS

At  GATS in Dallas TX, this year was the lead off to a major event that will be taking place for driver health and wellness.  Rolling Strong, along with Freightliner, and the Truckers Rolling Against Hepatits-C Campaign, had a driver wellness pavilion at GATS.  At this pavilion one could have their blood pressure, weight and BMI calculated.  Talk to a health coach about their fitness level, try out the FIT System,  take the Big Rigger Fitness Challenge.  As well as be screened to see if they had Hepatitis-C.

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Bob Perry demonstrating the FIT System

The first on the road event will be taking place in Carlisle, Pa at the Petro Stopping Center on U.S. 11. It will be on Sept. the 23rd, and run from 10-6.  Bob Perry the Trucker Trainer will be there to encourage drivers to see how many times they can press a tire. This event and tires is being sponsored by Michelin. The winner of this Big Rigger Fitness Challenge will get a FIT System for their truck.  As well as qualify for a chance to compete against Bob and other qualifiers at an event in California in December.

I tried the challenge at GATS.  Lets just say I did not come close to meeting the 100+ of the winner and will be looking to redeem myself on Tuesday.  Due to my schedule at GATS I was not able to do many of the screenings, so will be using this opportunity to make use of the FREE  tests.

Coach Mary Zirk With a contestant
Coach Mary Zirk With a contestant

There will be workout sessions with Rolling Strongs CDL Wellness Coaches.  Their Master Trainer Laura York has already threatened me with a personalized work out session. Freightliner will have a Cascadia there to show off a fully installed FIT System.  Lastly and hopefully not least,  there will be some cooking demonstrations to show how easy it is too cook on the truck.  These demonstrations at to be done by Tom Kyrk from Road Tested Living.  (Note cooking demonstration has only been scheduled for the Carlisle event)

Tom cooking on a truck
Tom cooking on a truck

I have been given a challenge.  To bring nothing but my kitchen gadgets, (hopefully a few spices will be allowed), and a roll of duct tape.  (No I am not cooking the Duct Tape.) From this I will have to go shopping inside the PETRO, and cook a meal, and snacks with just ingredients I find inside.  The duct tape is to tape off an area the size I work with in the truck to show how easy it can be.

It is always a good idea to have an idea of where you stand on your overall health picture such as BP, Weight, BMI etc.  Being on the road it can be a challenge to find places to have these screenings done.  When you have a group of people who set up an event for drivers that is FREE it is a win-win in my opinion.

An additional screening that is being offered is the Hep-C screening. One reason this is such a concern is Hepatitis-C can not show symptoms for as long as 20-40 years.  By the time symptoms show it can already have causes severe liver damage.  Early detection can lead to treatments that can prevent this damage.  Further more new treatments have been developed ot ensure drivers do no have to miss work.  Ora-Sure Technologies have developed a test that can show if you have been exposed to Hepatitis-C with a drop of blood in about 20 minutes.  AbbVie is a bio-pharmaceutical company that has worked to develop a treatment with fewer side effects than past treatments.  This allows people to maintain normal activities during treatment.

The reason Hepatitis-C should concern drivers is this.  Those of the baby boom generation (who make up a large part of trucking), are more likely to have Hepatitis-C.  This occurs for a number of reasons.  The main causes are lack of proper sterilization of needles, as well as shared ink, and blood transfusions in the past.  During the 1990’s as awareness of this disease and how it was spread grew. This allowed the development of methods to prevent its spread.  As a result due to test of blood, single use needles, and ink.  The spread rate from these sources has been greatly reduced.

There have been some preliminary studies that show Hepatitis-C may be more prevalent in drivers than in some other populations.  As a result of this OraSure, AbVie, along with the HTAA has developed the Truckers Rolling Against Hep-C campaign.  Rolling Strong and its partners are working with them to provides screening at the Rolling Strong Wellness events.  Those who obtain a positive result from the screening, medical personnel will be on hand to discuss options.

One of the contest winners with her FIT system.
One of the contest winners with her FIT system.

All in all this looks to be the start of a great driver focused health and wellness tour. Here is the current schedule of locations.  All events will be from 10-6 local time.

9/23 — Carlisle, PA, Petro Stopping Centers, I-81, Exit 52/I-76, Exit 226,                   1201 Harrisburg Ave, Route 11. Carlisle, PA 17013

10/7 — Bordentown, NJ, Petro Stopping Centers, I-295 Exit 57, NJ Turnpike, Exit 7
402 Rising Sun Rd, Bordentown, NJ 08505

11/4 — Tampa, FL, TravelCenters of America, I-4, Exit 10,off Mango Rd., 11706 Tampa Gateway Blvd. Tampa, FL 33584

12/2 — Ontario West, CA, TravelCenters of America I-10, Exit 57, Milliken Ave.       4265 East Guasti Road Ontario, CA 91761

More pictures, videos, and stories about these events to follow.

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Driver Appreciation

American Trucking Association 2014 Driver Appreciation Logo
American Trucking Association 2014 Driver Appreciation Logo

The week of September 14th through the 20th is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Many people will be writing articles on the importance of trucking and driver to our economy. While this is true I have decided to take a different approach to show my appreciation to my fellow drivers. Continue reading Driver Appreciation

a son speaks about cancer…

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Jon and Christina on a Mother and Son bonding trip.

This  is the third installment on the importance of Bone Marrow donation. Leading up to GATS bone marrow donation registry drive at the TSG booth, August 21-23, in Dallas, Tx .   This week is from the perspective of Christina’s son Jon.  His perspective is unique.  He is the son of a survivor, as well as being a donor himself.

Jon’s Story:

 

My mother(Christina Schense) is the most stubborn woman in the world, and don’t take this wrong, I do not mean it as an insult. Continue reading a son speaks about cancer…

On the Road to a Truck Show

Photo Courtesy of Jim Allen 365trucking.com
Photo Courtesy of Jim Allen 365trucking.com

Hard to believe that the first truck show I ever attended was this year. I managed to make it for the first day of MATS (Mid American Truck Show).  Needless to say I was hooked.  Not so much on MATS which is truly a great show, but on truck shows themselves.  Where else do you get such a diverse group of people interested in the same thing, trucking. Continue reading On the Road to a Truck Show

In Her Own Words…

Last week I briefly introduced Christina Schnese and her organization Make It Happen USA.  While I could go on and on about her story.  I think it is best if she tells her story in her own words.

Her Story:
Christina Schenze
Christina Schenze

My name is Christina Schnese and I am proud to say I am a leukemia survivor and blood stem cell transplant survivor. These past three years of my cancer journey have been the most challenging but also the most eye opening experience of my life. There are doctors, nurses, hospital staff, an endless list of family and friends to thank. Above all there is one person I thank. There is a beautiful 23 year old woman named Dianne, who decided to donate life when she was only 20 years old. What a miracle, a young 20 year old giving unconditional love to a stranger! You see Dianne donated her blood stem cells to me. I am grateful, I am humbled and I am forever grateful.

How does one begin to describe this process called stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant to a stranger? How does one convey to them what an amazing, yet overwhelming journey it is not only for the patient but for the donor? How do you describe the joy it brings to BOTH the donor and the recipient?

Let’s start with Dianne, her side:
Dianne Aguirre
Dianne Aguirre

Her junior year of college she was walking back from classes with her roommates. They were approached by DKMS America representatives who explained that they were on campus looking for possible matching donors to help save cancer patients. They explained the cheek swab process and also explained the two ways to donate, the surgical and the non-surgical. Dianne, being of Hispanic descent, was told there was a 3% chance that she would match. Diane and her friends all signed up that day. She tells me she didn’t really think about it after that until a month later.

ONE MONTH later she received a call about a female patient who was fighting AML and she was asked if she was available. Dianne explained to us that it took her a while to respond because she had so many thoughts racing through her mind, but she agreed to the process.

When she told her family about it, they had many concerns. Dianne was born premature so her family has always been extra sensitive about her health. They agreed to have a family discussion about it. When Dianne returned to her home later that night she found her parents on the couch waiting for her. They said they had talked to a DKMS representative. They had been told the patient was the same age as Dianne’s mom. This brought it home for all of them. Dianne said she instantly thought, “What if this was my mom?” I am told they instantly knew, as a family, that becoming my donor was their journey. She told me the following in one of her letters, “I know it’s been a few years but that incredible feeling of being able to make a difference in someone’s life is still with me always and I remember like it was yesterday.”

My side…
Christian Schneze
Christian Schneze

I was diagnosed with leukemia on June 7th, 2010 after eight months of trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I was fatigued, my energy levels were low, exercise was impossible and I was throwing up everything that went in. I was hospitalized an hour later, and given 4 bags of blood over two days because all my blood counts were so low. I started chemo on day 3. I survived 38 days of induction and two follow up chemo rounds. I went septic after that. My family was told to come in, hold me and say good- bye. The doctors did not expect me to survive the night.

I survived.

Also surviving the night after that and kept on surviving. Just call me blessed! After this strain on my body, my oncologist decided not to do the 4th round of chemo. He didn’t think my body was strong to live through the final chemo phase. We had known from the start that my leukemia had the inversion that would require a transplant to save my life. Since we were not going to do the 4th chemo round we were sent to the transplant team.

When we spoke with our transplant team, we were told that there was a 1% chance of finding a Hispanic donor for me. The doctors also explained the 50/50 survival rates of unrelated transplant patients. I cried for the second time since the diagnosis.

We went home and waited and waited and waited. One night, sitting in the back yard, my husband and I were still trying to make the decision, whether to move forward or not with the transplant. So we prayed. I still remember exactly what we said… “Dear God, we have walked down this journey presented to us with faith in your will. We are placing this burden in your hands. Please guide us in making the right decision.”

The next day, we received a call, not one but two donors had been found. One was 45 years old, one was 20 years old. My doctors decided they wanted Dianne’s stem cells because she had no children and no pregnancies.

Relief, joy, fear, shock, amazement, gratitude, anxiety…all of these emotions and more hit you at the same time. Most of all, we were amazed. A donor had been found! I had a chance!

Christina and her donor Dianna.
Christina and her donor Dianna.

The rest of this story is the battle to survive. I figured with everything that I had to live for and with this miracle that Dianne had given me, there was only one outcome. I was going to beat this. I would survive.

Now Dianne and I are like sisters. We met for the first time in July 2013. This was a very exciting time for our family and friends.  If this is not enough joy in our lives, we have been blessed again. My son was chosen to be a donor for a 31 year old domestic woman. Jonathan completed his blood stem cell donation for her in October of 2013. We are excited to hopefully meet his recipient in two years. The full circle of life continues!

Make it Happen Donor Drive in Greeley, Co
Make it Happen Donor Drive in Greeley, Co

Last but not least, since I survived this cancer journey, I have a new calling. I have started a non for profit called Make It Happen USA.

  1. Our primary goal is to increase the bone marrow/ blood stem cell registry by 50,000.
  2. Is to help cancer patients that our going through this dramatic process alone. No one should go through cancer treatment alone.
  3. To improve the quality of life for both the cancer patients and their caregivers. It is with great pride that I take on this new challenge!
Your side…

What can you do to help us achieve our goals?

 

Sisterly love...  One sister signed up, then went and got her other sister and encouraged her to sign up as well.
Sisterly love… One sister signed up, then went and got her other sister and encouraged her to sign up as well.
  1. The easiest and the least expensive option, please allow us to have a donor drive at your location. It does not cost you a penny. We have partnered with many churches, high schools, recreation centers and athletic events. Only 2% of the US population is on the registry. Each year, thousands of blood cancer patients die because they cannot find a match in the registry. It takes one table, two chairs and some space in your establishment. We can even bring our own table and chairs if we need to. We do cheek swabs of anyone that wishes to sign up to be a donor. It takes 3 minutes per person. To be honest, we love doing the donor drives. Since our founding in March of 2014.  We have already registered 3165 people as of July 23rd, 2014.
  2. You can volunteer your time, we have approximately 15 events per month and growing! If this option works for you, please call us. We will be happy to have you join our family. We travel extensively for some of our drives so we may be in an area near you soon!!!
  3. The final option is money. It costs us $65.00 for every person that we swab. We pay for that, not the potential donors. We also pay for some of the care that blood cancer patients with no insurance need.

If you are interested in one or all three of these please contact.

Make It Happen USA

25761 E. Orchard Dr ,  Aurora, Co 80016

Phone: 303.667.6657

RoadTestedLiving’s Side

I have spoken with Christina several times and feel this is a worth while cause.  I hope that if your attending GATS you will take the time to stop by and meet Christina and her team of volunteers, and learn about the organization.  Even if you choose not to register as a donor, please take the time to get informed and spread the word to your friends.  It is my hope and prayer no one at the GATS show or their friends and family will need this registry.  However if they do I am glad to know that many people drivers included will have taken the time to bring some hope to a person in a very dark time.

If you will be unable to attend GATS August 21-23,  and wish to learn more about this group or becoming a donor.  You can contact me at roadtestedliving@gmail.com, as well as the contact information above for MakeItHappenUSA.  Also if you are able to sponsor, or recommend an event such as a driver appreciation day at a terminal, truck show, or any other event.  I encourage you to let Christina and her team know.

 

 

 

 

Doing for Others

I think many people will agree that we enjoy the feeling that we get when we are able to do something nice for others.  It can brighten up your day when you are able to help someone  else out, as well as bringing joy to their day.  As drivers we have the added challenge of figuring out how we can do this.  Many times, we are under a schedule that may prevent us from stopping and lending aid to someone. Others may have limited resources in which to give others support.  Yet other causes we wish to support we may be unable to do so as we are on the road and not able to be at that event.

Trucking Solutions Group Blood Drive at the GATS Truck Show in Dallas, 2013
Trucking Solutions Group Blood Drive at the GATS Truck Show in Dallas, 2013

This year at the Great American Truck Show (GATS ), 2014 Truck Show there will be 2 events that drivers, and those attending the event should take note of.  The first is the annual Red Cross Blood Drive, organized by the Trucking Solutions Group (TSG). Continue reading Doing for Others

When a Wrench gets thrown into your day…

At the Road Angel near Brownstone Illinois.
At the Road Angel near Brownstone Illinois.

About a week ago I had one of those loads truckers sometimes enjoy.  I had about 1000 miles on my trip, 8 hours a day I could legally drive, and 5 days to drive it in.  The best part is that the receiver was a drop so I could get it there early if I wanted to. Loads like this are nice as it gives you the time to stop and do things such as visit sites, stop by a casino, or restaurant you enjoy, maybe even do a little shopping. I was able to work my trip so that on Wednesday I could stop at the Road Angel near Brownstone Illinois, for the night.  Free showers laundry, and Wi-Fi who could ask for more? Continue reading When a Wrench gets thrown into your day…

The Road Angel

Entrance to the Road Angel Brownstone Illinois.
Entrance to the Road Angel Brownstone Illinois.

In our daily travels as drivers we are often ignored, or treated in ways that are less than respectful by others that we meet in our travels. It is truly a blessing to find those places that treat drivers with respect and a true compassion. I will try and feature a few of these places, and individuals each year as I find them in my travels.

 

The first one I wish to focus on is the Road Angel just off exit 68 near Brownstone, Illinois. This facility is run by the Association of Christian Truckers, Continue reading The Road Angel

More than 1 Way to Skin a Grapefruit..

 

We have all heard of there is more than 1 way to skin a cat. Did you know there is more than 1 way to eat a grapefruit?

Most of us are used to the way it has been served for years. You sit down to a half of grapefruit where the sections have been loosened . Then you take a serrated spoon that looks suitable for use in digging a prison escape tunnel, and dig in. Hoping that the grapefruit does not retaliate with juice in your eye.

Grapefruit as many know can be a wonderful treat. Its tart juiciness makes it a delicious fruit to have. With it being low in calories it can also be a smart choice to have as a treat. This winter when grapefruit was on sale I found myself buying bags of it. I did not have the fancy grapefruit knives to cut it with nor the deadly spoon to attack it with. So I improvised, I peeled it.

  Yes I peeled it like an orange and then pulled the sections apart and ate it just like one. It was delicious and the mess was relatively minimal.. A win for any snack or meal you have on the truck. Especially when your dealing with something like grapefruit that has a reputation for squirting juice into your eye. It also gave the me the advantage of putting some of the sections into a plastic bag to save for later snack.

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As many drivers tend to do I was talking with my fellow road warriors one day and we were discussing things we snacked on while driving. I mentioned I eat grapefruit, the conversation stopped dead in its tracks. Everyone was boggled how you eat grapefruit on the truck while driving. I replied like an orange. At this point I thought the conversation was over and went to move on to the next topic. I was quickly disabused of that notion. The shock and horror of not having a grapefruit cut, sectioned, and sprinkled with a pinch of salt, sugar, or honey, was palpable. Add in the blasphemy of not using said lethal spoon or at least a spork to give the grapefruit a fighting chance to retaliate, amazed me.

 

Yes, I said a spork. A spork perhaps one of the most useless utensils known to mankind makes an excellent substitute for eating grapefruit. My friend Henry Albert from Freightliner’s Team Run Smart discovered this recently while having his breakfast. He was at a small diner and while waiting for his breakfast he decided to have a grapefruit with his meal. They did not have a proper grapefruit spoon and instead of using a fork and spraying juice all over he got the idea to use a spork. He found that the balance of the spoon with the tines made it for an ideal tool for eating his grapefruit. Another great example of Road Tested Living and Improvisation.

 

I am not sure who was more amazed. Myself over the fact we spent 5-10 minutes discussing the proper way to eat a grapefruit, or the other drivers in that I eat mine like an orange. Like many drivers and people in general they were skeptical. My dear friend Linda Caffee also a Team Run Smart Pro, decided to test my theory. In a recent conversation with this same group of drivers, she reminded us of the great grapefruit debate. With the appropriate solemnity the situation called for she announced the results of the grapefruit study. Without reservation she stated that there is only 1 way to eat a grapefruit…

 

So how do you eat you grapefruit?

 

 

 

 

 

Oh you want to know the results to Linda’s research?

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She said I was right it is best eaten like an orange.

Thank you Linda, your box of grapefruit is in the mail…

 

 

The Truth About Trucking Radio Show

truth about otr trucking

 

UPDATE!!!

To listen the the replay of the show click here.  It was a great show thank you Donna and Allen for having Mike, Rich and I on.

 

I have been asked to  join Hosts Donna and Allen Smith on their show The Truth About Trucking.  I will be joining drivers Michael Adams of TruckinFitness and Rich Chelton as we discuss health issues drivers face and ways to overcome them.  It will be tonight  Thursday June 5th at 6pm Eastern on blogtalk radio.  To join in and get more information on the show topics click here.  You can also call in to participate at (347) 826-9170. Continue reading The Truth About Trucking Radio Show