Change can be difficult at first but it usually yields good results. This month’s edition of 10-4 Magazine is all about change – the changes over the past twenty years since the magazine was first published, including the changes in trucking, the magazine, and the changes in each of us who have worked with 10-4 over the years.
I am honored to have been around as part of this adventure for half of 10-4’s lifetime – I started my “Health and Happiness” column in 2003 (it’s my 10 year anniversary). At that point, I had been living in Laredo, Texas, the largest land port in the United States according to the local paper, for five years. The trucking industry was huge. My job as a Family Nurse Practitioner was through a local hospital with a few little neighborhood clinics scattered around the city. One of the clinics I worked in attracted lots of truckers because it had a parking lot large enough for an 18-wheeler and was right off I-35. And, most importantly, I did D.O.T. Physicals (many of the last-minute variety).
It was new to me, getting to know how truckers lived and what their common health concerns were. But, after a few years, it became clear that the trucker patients who came through the door might have changed, but their health concerns were very similar. Often, I found myself having the same conversation with many truckers about lifestyle, how to eat better at a truck stop, and why they might feel lonely being away from home for long periods of time, over and over again. It made me wonder what I could do to help these folks.
Our waiting room tables were covered with pamphlets about all kinds of topics – Botox for younger looking skin, which local plastic surgeon could do your nose job, or who was the best pediatrician to take care of your kids – but there was nothing that addressed the needs of truckers. I thought about putting together a pamphlet myself – I had written a few articles in my time – but quickly realized that it would probably end up on the waiting room floor shredded by little kids waiting impatiently for their visits to be over. “Writer” wasn’t really a word I used to describe myself at the time, and the idea of becoming one seemed a little scary, but it occurred to me that I could possibly meet the challenge of writing on a regular basis in a publication geared specifically toward truckers who might not have access to regular health care.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” and contacting a trucking magazine with my idea was that one scary thing on a day in 2003. To my dismay, the magazine that I contacted turned me down. Upsetting, to say the least. Here I was doing something that scared me, and I was right to be scared, and the magazine rejected me! But, picking myself up and dusting myself off, I decided to do another thing that scared me the day after I got my rejection letter. I called 10-4 Magazine. By the end of that afternoon, I had gotten myself a gig writing a quarterly health column for truckers! Finally, I felt like I could share a bit of what I knew about health in a more general way without having to sign any D.O.T. forms or charge someone who might not have insurance. Truckers were some of my favorite patients so I pressed on, scared or not, and began writing articles.
Time has marched on since that first column and I’ve gone on to do lots more things that scare me. After working as a nurse practitioner for many years, I decided I would go back to school for my doctorate. I applied to two schools and got into both of them. Surprise! After teaching for six years at the same university, I have decided to move on and will be starting a new job in a few weeks. With this new job comes all new people, a different way of doing things, teaching different material – scary stuff.
What I have learned over these many years is that doing scary things pays off. One’s worst fears seldom are realized. Indeed, every now and then, there is a beautiful reward. As I was seeing a patient in Laredo for her D.O.T. Physical one day a year or so after I had started writing for 10-4, we got to chatting about what she liked to read. She and her husband were over-the-road truckers and he was waiting for her in the waiting room. She mentioned some of the trucking magazines and I asked her if she read 10-4 and she said she did. I casually mentioned that I wrote the health column and an amazing thing happened: she jumped off the table and ran out to the waiting room to get her husband, all the while yelling, “Honey, this lady writes for 10-4!” Her excitement made me feel like a rock star! It was awesome to be on the receiving end of her enthusiasm.
More recently, a young woman who worked at the same university as I wrote and told me that her grandfather’s only health care came from reading my column. It makes me realize what a privilege it is to be in the position of sharing some of what I know with people who want (and need) to know about it also.
In going forward, I plan to do more scary things – write more, go to Antarctica, and sing in the subway (I live in New York now). Erik, Jean, Dan and Shannon have made writing this column for 10-4 such a pleasure, and I’m grateful they made it less fearsome. I wish for you, the readers, that you do something you’ve wanted to do but were scared to and that it becomes the joyful experience it has become for me. Know why? It’s good for your health!