Thursday, April 12, 2007

Here and Gone

Walter was here, but he's gone again. *sniff*

He's supposed to come home more often, as part of taking care of his heart. More rest and rejuvenation, and trips to the cardiologist too.

He's been back at work for a month now, and doing pretty well. The deep surgery pain is finally gone. The truck they got him is, of all things, an automatic. Yes. As in, *transmission.*

Can you imagine??? An automatic tranny big rig?

Nancy wanted to know why those weren't manufactured long ago, so I asked Walter. Turns out they've been using them in Europe for a long time. His feeling is, it wasn't macho enough for here. Finally, an American company bought a European company that made them, so now they're becoming available in the US too.

The point is this: In that big huge cab, with the 10-18 gears in a big rig, you have to clutch and stretch and pull that giant gearshift all the time, especially in the mountains and the city.

If you recently had your chest torn open, and your sternum cut apart with pruners or a bone saw - I forget what they used on him - and had three bypasses put in your heart, and your sternum bone knitted back together with a metal mesh because you have to keep that bone flexible so you can breathe? Can't let it just knot up together like a broken leg? That chest bone takes much, much longer to heal than other fractures do.

Well. Now put on a seatbelt and shift some gears in a big rig.


Every time you clutch, lean over, and especially PULL that gear shift, you're pressing the seat belt right on that torn-up sternum bone.

So here he gets an automatic.

I don't know if he would have made it, otherwise.

Even when he has to go manual? Get this: It's still not a gearshift.



This just cracks me up, no end.

He says between that and the cruise control, even *I* could drive it.


I hate vehicles. I hate gas and diesel and exhaust and engine oils. I'm allergic to it all, it makes me deathly ill, and the stench is just horrible to me. I think cars could, and would have, been made much differently if it weren't for a lot of the Guy Stuff macho posturing involved.

Don't get me wrong, here. I am all female, and take a huge and healthy pleasure in spectating upon guys doing Guy Stuff posturing. OH fun!

I just really wish I could breathe around that stuff. Engine stuff, I mean.

Because, though I dislike the vehicles, I love to drive. Trucks too.

I have a Florida Class D (*medium truck*, *chauffeur's*) driving license. It applies to things like the 28' straight truck I used to drive sometimes for our business. A couple years ago they converted all our Class D's back to the regular kind. Still, if I get pulled over, that cop treats me with undue respect once he sees my Professional Driver license.

I used to change the oil and plugs and so forth in my cars, way way back. No more. I don't mind earth dirtiness one tiny bit. But that nasty engine goop? Yuck. Don't wanna go there. Won't.

Ah, but boy do I love to drive.

So did my grandma Helen. She had a pilot's license too. Oh, she'd go tooling through the desert at 125 MPH in her convertible. That's back when engines didn't have metric parts or computer bits, and when you wouldn't see another car on the desert highway for hours at a time.

Yeah, I got a lead foot. In my family we all do, who descended from Helen. It's genetic.

I really get a kick out of driving trucks. As Walter noticed, among my imperfections as a driver, I have a natural knack for Lane Position. And as we all know, making sure that truck stays exactly in its lane is a Very Good Thing both for the truck and the other drivers on the road.

So, anyway.

Walter was out on the road and needed to come home. He ended up disenchanted with the first cardiologist, for good reason. Great doc, but didn't have time to really talk to Walter, didn't even realize that being a long-haul trucker had significant implications on Walter's ability to work and do things like cardiotherapy and careful diet.

kdad had researched local docs for us, and we decided to go with the second name on his list.

But Walter's a real Guy about doc stuff, and I was anticipating some resistance in getting him over there.

When I ended up in the hospital for three days, that made it a different story. heh!

He came home. Fast.

On Monday, when I went to the lung doc, he went off to the New Cardiologist.

And he really liked him.


He said, He LISTENED. I was his last patient of the day, and he never once rushed me or made me feel like he wanted to get it over with and go home. He understood about being a trucker! I told him, When you drive that big thing for 14 hours every day, when you're done, you just don't feel like exercising.

This new guy looks like a much better fit.

Excellent. One less thing to worry about.


Desert Cat said...

It's probably a gas mileage thing. With a manual transmission you can squeeze a few more m's out of each g. Automatics have that slippy, lossy thing called the torque converter that makes it a breeze to drive, but uses up a few g's on a long haul.

At least I know this is true on smaller vehicles.

k said...

Excellent point! I'll check with him. I know he was talking about some sort of new consumption effect with this truck, because their fuel consumption is tracked and they get bonus money for fuel savings.

He also has cruise control, which is now common.

He likes that, too.

pepektheassassin said...

And, tell him not to drive with his wallet in his back pocket! M said it wrecked his back when he was driving. Now he always carries it in his front pocket!

The email you have is the only one I have. But yours says "no reply" so I can't email you back.

Glad you guys had a nice visit.

k said...

Hmmm. Okay. I'll use the one for you that I already have. Hopefully, you can email me at That may have changed from before.

I'll tell Walter about the wallet, because Walter has serious wallet issues! He just HATES digging in his back pocket for it. I've never gotten him to explain why he won't put it in front. Safer there, too.

He's already had two vertabrae fused in his back. Blew out a disk one day.

He said the back surgery was way far worse than his heart surgery, any day.

And he was the most AWFUL patient after the back surgery. AFter it was all over, he told me, --Next time just leave me on the side of the road.

Desert Cat said...

Another thing with automatic versus manual is maintenance and longevity. Especially with big rigs, automatics can be a source of additional repair headaches. Manual transmissions rarely wear out before the engine, except the clutch plate.