Memo Gidley has given an update on how he's doing five months after his vicious accident in the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Sorry it has taken me a while to send an update, but as much as I wish I could have gotten it out sooner, my world, the last three months, has not been easy.
My last update was about two months from my accident and things were starting to get positive. Just two weeks prior, my doctor (at the time), looked at x-rays of all my broken bones (12), and removed my braces and splints and gave me the go-ahead to start physical rehab. He also informed me that in another month I would be able to remove my back brace. I was thinking, “yes!” I was also living in an assisted-living apartment which was helpful because I could not do much on my own and needed help getting around 24/7. And then a week later, I took my first unassisted steps – another “yes!!”
Unfortunately, three weeks after his visit, I started to have a glute/tailbone pain that went from being an annoyance to becoming so bad that I had to stop rehab because of the pain. I went to see another spine specialist doctor, and he recommended I get back into bed because he thought I was dealing with a damaged disc that needed to heal. Because sitting also hurt, this marked the beginning of me not sitting in a chair for months, as well. Things like eating meals, trying to read or watch TV, or being on the computer had too be done while I was lying down. As frustrating as being sent back to bed and dealing with all the rest of this was, the real issue was the pain that was with me day and night. Soon after, the pain got so bad, I often found myself yelling uncontrollably with agony and not sleeping much at all.
I was immediately given an increase in a nerve pain medication and started to have a number of appointments to undergo various tests to monitor my healing and try to figure out the origin of my chronic tailbone-area pain.
Because I was no longer physically able to do the rehab at the facility I was living at at that time, I wanted to go home. In my mind, if I was going to be stuck in bed, in pain, I would rather be at my own place, with my girlfriend, closer to my family, looking at my own walls, all of which I was hoping would help me get through what I was dealing with.
So, since that time, I’m glad to report, some things have changed for the better.
For one, the pain has gotten less. I still feel it all day long but at least I can walk and move around slowly, and sleep decently now.
I see the doctors regularly, and they are monitoring my healing and still trying to figure out the reason for my pain. I actually have an appointment next week, for which I’m taking a new batch of x-rays, to see how my L3-L5 vertebrae fusion is doing. They are also continuing to experiment with different pain relief strategies, from battery powered TENS devices, topical cremes, and pain medications. I have stayed away from pain pills as much as possible because I don’t like their side effects. As good as it is to have less pain, I dream of the day that I have no pain. The pain, for me, is a leash around my neck that limits everything that I want to be doing.
Another huge positive is living back at home with my girlfriend, in the environment I know and love, with my Mom, daughter and friends closer by. Everybody has been so helpful, even when I am blunt and not very nice at times since what I am dealing with has me in bad spirits. I am sorry for how rude I may have been (which at times was often), but anybody that has dealt with bad, chronic pain would understand the mood it puts a person in … no good. And this rudeness, coming from a person like me who is normally very happy, smiling and positive – more than most people – I am sure is surprising to hear.
As hard as it has been at times, pain-wise, for me to start another day, I have been driven to try things that I hope will help me heal. I am, and have been for a couple of months, back in a physical therapy program that was set up by my current doctor. When this started, merely walking to my car and sitting while being driven places was physically difficult and made my pain worse. Still, I did, and still do, this twice a week, usually for three hours each day with a few different physical therapists. I was also determined to swim as part of my therapy. I say swim, but it really just started as a place where I could move around in a low pain environment. I am now swimming in a warm therapeutic pool at least five days a week, for a solid hour of water time each visit, and now up to a slow breast stroke as well as other exercises to work my muscles.
With all the PT and swimming I do, I have finally put some muscle back on and now weigh-in at my normal 160 lbs. I am still a ways off in strength, but it’s nice to see my body starting to come back alive and becoming stronger after being so weak for so long.
I also found an acupuncturist and therapist at a holistic therapy center to help me with non-traditional types of rehab and ideas. I am really open to anything that will help me heal … especially get rid of pain. I am supportive of many things from hyperbaric air chamber therapy, to natural herbs and vitamins. Like I said, even though I come from traditional thinking, I am open to anything that makes me feel better, and hopefully it helps me long term. I am continually asking people and doing research to find more things to try to improve where I am currently.
People ask me when I will race again and if that is my priority. What I tell them is that my number one goal is getting back to being strong. When I am back to being strong, everything else will come easily. Do I miss racing? Yes. Do I miss being strong and being able to do so much by myself? Absolutely.
It pains me to think about how little I do of my normal life these days. Nothing in my garage has been used in over five months. I mean everything – from racing cars, to go-karts, to jet skis, to mountain bike, to sailboats and so much more – nothing has been used and most of my life is on temporary hold.
Things are getting better, it just seems slow. I do continuously remind myself that the huge accident was only a little over five months ago, and I spent the first two and a half months lying in a bed, so where I am now is pretty good. All the doctors and people around me say this, as well. I also believe that when you experience so much physical trauma, your body basically shuts down on the scene. And as I mentioned, I have a doctor’s appointment that includes x-rays of my spinal fusion next week – nearly 6-months from the accident. I’ll hopefully be getting my back brace off and a revised, more intense physical therapy routine.
On the plus side, I am able to drive my car around town now a little! It’s mostly related to my pain going down. I can sit upright for short periods of time so driving is possible and a priority that I have wanted to make happen. I also motored my (sail)boat out onto the bay this past weekend with a few friends. Normally I am the one running around the boat doing things, but this time I was just steering … still positive (even though it’s just a sailboat, having the strength to sail is still a ways off for me). I have also been taken on a couple of trips to the local go-kart track to see my friends race … that has been fun. And, I have had a lot of visitors here at home – it’s really cool to spend time with my family and friends, and especially great when my daughter visits.
Despite all the negatives I have dealt with, I am thankful for where I am at because I know it could be worse. Because of this experience, I have so much more respect for people that have dealt with any trauma.
So, again, to my friends and fans, I am sorry for taking so long to send an update. I appreciate all my family, friends, and fans so much! Thank you for being here with me and doing so much for me.
I know the picture of me with the long hair and beard looks a little different than the normal Gidley, but shaving and cutting my hair has not been a priority. It has sort of turned into a fun thing because a lot of people that I know well will see me but not recognize me! I get to sneak up on them. I tell them I am flying under the radar.
I know I have given a lot of info in this update. If anyone has had a similar experience and has any other suggestions for me, please let me know.
In closing, I have no doubt I will regain my strength and look forward to getting back out there doing what I enjoy so much … racing. I look forward to seeing all my friends and fans at a racetrack someday soon. I will keep you all posted of my progress.
Thank you, again,