As some of you might have read in co-worker Dorothy Cox’s Around the Bend column Sept. 1, I’ve been away from the trucking scene for a while. It felt strange to not know what was happening for a few weeks in the industry while I was home recovering from back surgery.
It was the first time I had ever had surgery and the first time I had spent the night in a hospital room as a patient since I was born many years ago. Surgery went well and while I will always have back pain, barring some miracle, I don’t have the excruciating pain that was caused by a pinched nerve. If you have never felt this pain you won’t understand. If you have, you know what I am talking about. It’s the kind of pain that caused me to almost dial 9-1-1 a few times, and I might have if I could have gotten to my phone to do so.
As truckers, I know most of you know what back pain feels like since truck drivers suffer from bad backs because of sitting so much. I’ve discovered through this that while surgery removed what was causing the pinched nerve, I will “always have a bad back.”
I have arthritis which is what caused stenosis in my lower back. (Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord and nerves.) I could be back in an operating room in the future for the same condition either at the same level of my spine or above that level which is already starting to show some problems. I have had neck pain for 15 years which is also caused by arthritis and so far it’s not causing any nerve impingement and thus no surgery.
For me it’s been a difficult battle with my mind. I’m a very active and independent person who has had to let others do for me. And during my recovery from surgery I was researching all of this and discovered that there is nothing they can do for the pain caused by arthritis, at least not surgically, and that I’m going to suffer with chronic pain the rest of my life.
While I was away I checked my e-mail and work phone messages from time to time.
I got one call from a trucker who was laughing so hard I couldn’t hear most of what he said. He seemed to find a lot of humor in some of the feature stories I write. He said that he and his friends grab The Trucker to see what stupid thing a driver is going to say.
In response to his call, let me say that, yes, I often suspect drivers are being dishonest when they talk about their accomplishments or reasons why they crash, or various other things. These stories are features and are based simply upon what a driver says, not without question, but I do quote them and I don’t make up this stuff.
Once I did a story about a guy and his girlfriend who drove around the country with The Wall That Heals. It’s the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States.
It seems that there are some military men who don’t like to be taken advantage of by those who claim to be war veterans who are lying. They researched this man’s numerous tales, including his interview with me, and called him out as a liar. He lost that job that he said he wanted to have until he retired.
When a person sits and looks me in the eyes and tells me something that they know may be printed in a newspaper about them, about their life, I don’t have any way to verify what they say while sitting at a truck stop or even when I get back to the office. And even if I could investigate their stories, that’s not what features are about.
So dear caller, I’m glad you pick up The Trucker, even if it is to laugh at other drivers. You asked where I find these drivers to interview, and I’ll let you know my secret: at truck stops. These are the men and women who share the road with you. Surely you encounter them, too.
Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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