Letters from the front

  "It Had To Happen For A Reason"

by Brad "Mexican Bob" Pilgrim  2005  0523Z/17OCT05

It's been 46 days since I was told I had diabetes and was grounded by
the FAA and the USAF. In that time, I asked to be retested. I was told
no. I asked if I could have been misdiagnosed, I was told no. I asked
if I could get a second opinion, I was told no. . My squadron tried to
farm me out to different jobs a couple of times, since I was no good to
them without wings.
I went up to the base commander's office to possibly be forced into a
staff job. I showed up in my service dress uniform, with all my
personnel files tucked into my helmet bag. The commander looked over
his desk at me and said "Brad, anybody that uses a helmet bag for a
briefcase belongs in an airplane". He then told me to go back to my
squadron and tell my boss that they should find gainful employment for

After two dieticians and a nurse told me they didn't think I had
diabetes, I finally made enough people mad enough to let me get a second
opinion and set of tests. As of 1400 this afternoon, I've been cleared
to fly by the USAF. 

The paperwork for the FAA is already in the mailbox. The second doctor
stopped just short of saying I was misdiagnosed but said that I was not 
diabetic "after further testing". He also told me I still was a good 
candidate to become that way if I didn't watch myself. It runs rampant
in my family so my time is still coming!

When I was told that my flying career, and very likely my military
career, was over I decided to make a lot of changes to my life. My hope
was that this would improve my health and help save my career. Diabetes
is closely related to cholesterol. Cholesterol levels are related to
your diet and exercise. Diet and exercise, or the lack thereof, are
related to your weight. Extra weight is related to diabetes. So the
circle continues.

I didn't think I could change the way I ate or did things. But, there
is nothing like a good threat to get me in gear. In the last month and
a half, I've consumed more vegetables than I have in my entire life.
I've learned not to eat every single meal at a fast food restaurant.
I've learned that you don't have to super size every thing at McDonalds
just because the little girl at the counter asks you to. I've learned
to use my oven for something other than drying paint on airplane parts.
I've also learned that if you leave airplane parts in the oven while you
are baking a chicken, it makes the chicken taste funny and the parts

In 46 days, I've lost fourteen pounds. My blood sugar has returned to
where it was supposed to be, although there is some disagreement as to
whether it was ever too high anyhow. My cholesterol has gone down 48
points. I've got my wings back. If all goes well, I should be flying
out to the war next week.

I've said many times that I believe all things happen for a reason, but
you don't always know what it is. Well, this time I think I've figured
it out.  This was the biggest "wake up call" I've ever had in my life. I've
completely changed the way I do things and really look at this as my
second chance. It will be hard to maintain this life style change when
I'm out flying, but I'll do everything I can to do it. I don't think a
third chance will come by.

Through all this, I learned a lot of things about what you should and
shouldn't eat and things you should and shouldn't do in life. I've also
made a few observations that I hadn't made before. Such as:

I and I alone should be allowed to determine what qualifies as country
music. The crap they are playing today doesn't meet my specifications.

The three country radio stations here in Charleston have ten songs a
piece. They just trade them back and forth during the day.

Even at the age of 32, you are not too old to get into a "my dad can
beat up your dad" argument.

Tomatoes and broccoli are tools of the devil. If you eat them, your
eternal soul could be in danger.

No amount of cheese on broccoli will save you from the flames of hell.

Wheat bread will not make you gag and dry heave. If you give it a
chance, you will find that it tastes as good as white bread.

Salad will not kill you.

All the fat free salad dressing in the world will not kill the taste of
a cucumber.

If you have enough dressing on your salad to choke a mule, then it's
probably unhealthy. Even if it is the fat free kind.

Eating fat free cheese and low fat turkey on a sandwich will not kill

I don't like the French.

Never take no for an answer when you know the experts have to be wrong.

When you're depressed and sad, Hank Williams music probably isn't the
best thing for you to listen to.

No matter how much you feel sorry for yourself, you don't have to look
hard to find people worse off than you.

If you spend a lot of time in your office without looking busy, people
will assume you know what is going on and will ask you lots of

If you walk around the squadron with a clipboard, people will leave you
alone because they think you are busy.

No matter who she is or how many records she sells, no female country
singer will ever sing better than Patsy Cline.

Spending a good deal of your life ordering "a big ole greasy
will come back to bite you.

Ordering French fries at McDonalds with extra grease because you like
the taste of it will come back to bite you.

Marty Robbins is quite possibly the greatest country singer of all time.

Eating two cans of spray cheese and a large can of chocolate cake
frosting, whether it was on a dare or not, can't possibly be good for
your health.

If your neighbor's wife comes out of the house in the evening and asks
what you are doing hanging out by the pine trees with a 2x4 board and a
bunch of old guitar strings, she will think you are lying if you tell
her you are "snaring squirrels".

If your neighbor's wife comes out of the house in the morning to go to
work and sees you removing three dead squirrels that are hanging from
guitar strings, tied to a 2x4, leaned up against a pine tree, she will
be surprised.

If your neighbor's wife comes home from work that evening and you are
standing in the front yard with three squirrels on the barbecue pit, she
will think you are lying if you tell her you're making dinner.

If you offer your neighbor's wife a barbecued drumstick from a squirrel,
she will scream and run in the house.

If you tell the doctor you like to eat squirrels, he will tell you they
are bad for your cholesterol.

You can live on tuna fish.

Squirrel mixed in will greatly improve the taste of tuna fish.

No matter how much you love your current wife/girlfriend; there is a
good chance that you are only with her because some other guy got tired
of her crap.

If the other loadmasters you work with find out you are diabetic, they
will fill your desk and locker up with Twinkies and bags of sugar.

It is possible to go a significant amount of time without eating
macaroni and cheese.

I really, really like Canadian girls.

Even if you are from the south and don't believe it, it is possible to
bake a chicken rather than fry it.

There is no way to make a fat free hush puppy that doesn't taste like an
old sock.

It is possible to bake a two pound piece of chicken down to the size and
consistency of a dime.

Just because you can buy egg nog by the gallon at certain times of the
year, doesn't mean you have to drink it by the gallon.

No matter how you try to justify it, it is never cheaper to bust the
window out of your truck when you lock the keys in it, rather than
calling a locksmith.

If you bust the window out of your truck because you think it's cheaper
than calling somebody, it will rain before you get your window replaced.

No matter how good you feel after breaking your truck window, no matter
how much stress you relieved and no matter how much fun it was; it still
wasn't cheaper than calling somebody.

Never keep your spare key in the ashtray of your truck; where you can't
get to it if you're locked out.

A veggie or soy burger isn't a hamburger. No amount of disguising it
will help.

It doesn't take much exercise to improve your health.

You'd be surprised how quicky a little exercise will make you feel and
look better.

It's much easier to run on a treadmill if there is a really hot girl on
the treadmill in front of you.

The biggest motivator in the world is being told "if you change a few of
your habits, you might be able to save your career".

No matter how many times you say "I'm just gonna look at the airplanes,
I'm not going to do anything with them" if you are wearing your service
dress uniform, you will be tempted to paint "just one little piece".

Never paint airplane parts when you're wearing your service dress
Don't even get around your tools or your airplanes.

A new service dress uniform costs nearly three hundred dollars.

If you tell your seven year old daughter that you can't eat certain
things because of your diet, she will watch you like a hawk.

If you try to buy something in the grocery store that your seven year
old daughter knows you can't have, she will tell the lady at the
checkout counter not to sell it to you.

If you ever loose your sense of humor, you might as well give up.

Never, ever, ever pass up the opportunity to play in the mud with your

If you find out you may be getting booted out of the Air Force due to no
fault of your own, good people will come out of the wood work, offering
you a job.

If you threaten to sell your airplanes because of a potential serious
loss of income, good people will come out of the wood work and offer to
hold on to them for you until your situation improves.

Good people will come out of the wood work offering you a place to live
if you need it.

Good people will give you the shirt off their back if you need it.

If you are down and out, good people will find you and help.

If you are lucky, you will find that you have as many good people for
friends as I do.

If you are lucky enough to have the friends I do and don't tell them
thanks for the concern they show, the job offers, the prayers, support,
assistance and advice they give you; you are making a serious mistake.

So to y'all, my friends, I say thank you.

Faithfully submitted,

Brad Pilgrim