Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trucker Jerry

It has been a very busy week so, while enjoying everyone's new posts, I haven't been adding my own.

Last week Jerry's long-sought dream of going over the road in a big rig finally came true. It's been over a year since we decided (both of us) to leave the corporate world in Phoenix and move back to the Midwest. You all know my goal is to spend the rest of my life in art. Jerry has wanted to get back into a biiiiggg truck for many years. In a previous life he drove anything with more than four wheels except the 18-wheelers. So with this move he was turning that dream back on. He took a driving course at Ozark Technical Community College in Springfield. After that he was hired a few times, but there were nightmares of misleading recruiting, questionable practices, and unsafe conditions --- in one such situation he escaped possible serious injury or worse.

All along he held on to getting into a big rig. Weighing the pros and cons was a struggle, but the best offer finally came with a well established trucking firm based in Springfield. One of his class buddies has been driving with them for a couple of months and the two of them will be team driving once Jerry completes his on-road training. Things were looking up! He went through orientation and was assured that he was indeed hired. I needed that assurance because there continued to be roadblocks to the driver's seat of the biiiig truck. A past history of sleep apnea prompted the company's industrial doctor to require a sleep study. Actually, in cases of sleep disorders, the trucking industry and state licensing require annual sleep studies for driver certification. This didn't mean that he could lose his job, just that he would have to continue using the CPAT machine to regulate his breathing while asleep. Cool, we can live with that.

Ok, no problem. Right! Well, not quite. A referring doctor covered by our insurance (not the company's industrial doctor) had to order the sleep study. Once contacted it was over two weeks before he could get an appointment. Wait. Wait. Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Ok, saw the doctor (who will not be nominated for a congenialty award, especially by me). He ordered a different kind of study. Instead of being monitored while getting a cozy night's sleep, Jerry had to endure a WMT, Wakefulness Maintenance Test (or something like that). For eight hours he would have to sit in a hospital room and every two hours the technician would come in and turn off the TV, dim the lights, and Jerry would have to make sure he didn't nod off for 20-30 minutes. Uugghh! Just the thought of that makes me crazy!

Ok, so book it. The test was scheduled --- for two weeks from the doctor's appointment. Wait. Wait. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. In the meantime the trucking firm continued to assure us that all was well. Jerry was on their employee rolls, just not the payroll until he started driving.

August 11, an all day trip to Springfield. While Jerry was wired like a robot and set to spend eight boring hours at the sleep lab, I went to Starbucks, craft stores, Barnes and Noble, PetSmart. At the end of the day he was given a passing grade. Duh! The man hardly sleeps under normal circumstances. Kewl! Now for the certificate and a driving assignment!

Not quite yet...... When he took the results of the stay-awake-torture-test back to the company's industrial doctor for final blessing, Jerry ran into another roadblock. This time in the form of a doctor other than the one who first required the sleep study for certification. This one required one more thing. Even though Jerry has his own CPAT machine and has been using it for years, this doctor wasn't satisfied that it was set correctly. Huh? Well, he ordered a new machine that has a chip in it and will actually monitor every breath and sleeping moment -- even when the machine is turned off for a middle-of-the-night bio break.

Ok, get the blinkin' machine! Where? Where wasn't the problem. When was more so. Oh, but "when" couldn't happen until earlier sleep lab records from Arizona were sent for base data. No problem! Those were ordered two weeks prior. Problem! They had not arrived yet. Wait! FedEx just drove up to the house! Miracle of miracles -- the records came to the house address, instead of the doctor's. Quick, call the doctor's assistant ---- wait! These are records of knee and back xrays! Those incompetent, @*&$)#s. Back on the phone! Fax? Great! FedEx? Great. Now wait some more.

The fax reached the doctor same day and the order was placed to the medical supply same day. Good news this time, no 30 mile trip to Springfield to get the machine. We could pick one up right in Branson. But no call came that day to pick it up. The fax sat on the machine until the next morning.

Voila! The machine is ready to pick up! Woooo hoooo! Ready to roll. The trucking firm had a run ready for Jerry and he would be hearing from his trainer-partner. He had a couple of days to get used to the machine. Since he would be sleeping in the truck he had enough to get use to that, too.

Saturday, August 16, 1:30 pm: Report to the hub and load up. Met his trainer-partner and off they went. But not before I got a quick picture --- with my cell phone.

Lesson learned: never, never, never leave home without a camera; you're a photographer, for crying out loud!

They have been to West Coast and are headed for the East Coast. All is well, he is loving it, his trainer/partner says Jerry is doing great. Only one thing, he is still trying to get used to the sleep machine. But, like I said, he gets by on less sleep than most. He is so pumped! I don't know when I will see him on a regular basis, but I might get to have lunch with him in Springfield as they blow through on Thursday. It could be I won't see him for the rest of the month. I am going to Virginia next week for a very special trip of my own (more on that later) and won't be back till September 4th or so.

So, to my hubby: I love you and miss you. The dogs are a bit confused, but doing fine. Keep on truckin'!


judy anderson said...

Congratualations on going for your goals you and JERRY.

Carmi said...

I'm thrilled for both of you, Bard. I love how he's pursued his dream despite numerous obstacles, and how you've been right there with him at every step.


Mojo said...

So much for "wordless" huh? Just kidding, it's great to see someone reach his dream -- with the support of those around him.
Great shot!
Happy WW!

Baba's Blog .. Babies Are Special said...

Hi Barb, It is great that Jerry has gotten his dream big rig...a nice color too... I love blue...Enjoy your free time to do what makes you happy..He will get to see many places across the country..sounds fun to me. even if it is a job...
Take care, hugs, Barb/Baba

Carol said...

Well now, after that ordeal it's great to hear that Jerry is finally on the road... and making a dream come true to boot... I wish him well....

and i wish you a great trip to Virginia.

me said...

Good grief woman, you have been busy. Don't you love the hurry up and wait...and wait...and then take wacked out tests, but you had the added bonus of getting the wrong stuff too! I think I'm jealous. Sorry you will be missing the big guy, but as he is coming to the east coast perhaps he could come pick up my guy? I think I could miss him for a month or so. (heh)