Memo Gidley: Two more surgeries, all going in the right direction...

Throttle down!

Hi Everybody,

Thanks again for all your support and interest in my recovery. It has been quite a journey, but like I believe and say, it definitely could have been worse. I do want all my friends and fans to know that the healing and recovery is definitely going in the right direction and their interest and support really helps me to recover. I have, at least up to a couple of days ago, been making progress on all fronts.

My slight detour, three days ago, I went in for knee surgery to smooth out the inside of my right fractured knee cap and remove left leg hardware. I previously could not kneel down without pain in both knees. So now, I am back in a bit of recovery mode. Two days ago, I spent all day in bed and it brought back bad memories of my early post-accident months. But, the knees are recovering and they feel much better today. I can walk around slowly and plan to get outside for some fresh air and sun today.

It’s seems crazy to me (and anybody that I tell) that I have a broken bone tally of something like fourteen broken bones. And now after this week’s two more surgeries, five different surgeries from my Daytona accident alone. And still one more surgery planned in the near future that needs to be done on my left elbow (it has some issues).

A few more months

On the good side, I did recently have a doctor’s appointment where they took an eight month spine x-ray. It was great to hear from my doctor that my fusion looked secure and had not moved. He said he assumed that the bone growth was also good, but as he explained, bone growth on a spine does not really show up on an x-ray until at about the one year point from the accident. It has something to do with when the calcium travels into the bone which then makes the bone visible on an x-ray. And more good news, because of the nice x-ray, all of my physical therapy (PT) restrictions on my back and core area were removed! I asked my doctors if that means I can jump on my jet ski tomorrow or do sit ups right now!…he said to me with his eyes a little crossed “just work up to things SLOWLY”. “Yes, ok, I get”, I said. They also said it would take a few more months (at the one year mark) to get their support of me getting back into a racecar.

So, my workouts programs have gotten more advanced…and longer! Between 4-6 hours a day in my gym with different power programs, depending on the muscles I am working, for different days. Also included in the gym every time, cardio, stretching and my favorite, swimming laps. It’s been good.

I also am doing my personal list of projects, which, because of the physical effort required by most, I do consider them physical therapy. Everything from making visits to local races to help and see my friends, taking my RV camping with my family, working on the house, washing my sailboat, managing my affairs, all normal life stuff. But, it sure feels great to be able to get more and more personal things done on a daily basis.

Most all of this whole experience that I have dealt with since the accident has been something I wished had never happened to me…it was horrible at times. I do hope what happened to me helps people, especially drivers and racing officials, learn from the experience, and it never happens again. As bad as this experience was, I have also learned a few things and I am thankful for this.

What it is like to be 95 years old

One, I now know what it is like to be 95 years old and what older people deal with. I went there overnight because of the accident, and then lived there for months…with very slow progressions heading towards my real age (I am not there yet). Whether it is feeling physical pain, not being able to do much on your own, being tired often and sleeping a lot, not being able to go to the bathroom, going to the bathroom when you don’t want to, having to be showered and dressed by others , being lonely, being embarrassed, feeling helpless…I was there. I have always had respect for older people because of how I was raised. But now I have even more and I have a better idea what they are dealing with. It’s part of life to get older, but I just experienced it overnight which was shocking. I want to do what I can to make older people feel good, have fun, and enjoy what life is left for them.

I am not healed yet, but I started out spending so much time dealing with debilitating injuries. I was in numerous physical therapy programs working with other people like me, some better and some unfortunately were worse. I have been at numerous hospitals, worked with dozens of all types of doctors, lived (at a certain time literally) in rehabilitation centers, gone to gyms and swam in rehabilitation pools. In these environments, I have met and talked with so many people also dealing with injuries and pain…some of them were healing like me but some of them it just part of their lives and they had to deal with it…daily. I have so much respect for injured people and people that deal with pain daily. Actually, thinking of some of these people brings tears to my eyes. I have such an understanding of what they are going through. And because of this, I presently and plan to for the rest of my life, try to give them some enjoyment from me, if even the smallest thing like a smile.

I am not 100% healed yet. I still deal with pain and do not like to sit for long durations (ironic since sitting is part of my job). Still probably from nerve damage but it does seem to be getting less as whatever (even the doctors don’t know) is healing. I did drive to see my daughters cross country finals recently and was in the seat for close to two hours! Yes, I am getting close to a Daytona three hour stint! The Docs say sitting without pain will take the longest to heal. My pain walking around is much less so now I can be on my feet all day. Pain lying down or sleeping is pretty much gone, YES!!!! It feels so good to be pain free that when I wake up in the morning, I like to lie in bed and dream that this is how my day will be soon.

Getting strong

Also physically, I am definitely getting strong. My knees were really holding me back so now with my most recently knee surgeries, I should get them back to normal (or closer), and I am very excited. I have also really enjoyed being in the gym the last month or so. This is because I am at times pain free…which feels fantastic…and just building muscle which is very satisfying. Trust me, I will now never feel bad because of muscle pain from working out…it feels good to me.

It is amazing how many simple things that I took for granted in life. Things like putting on my own socks, going to the bathroom, driving places, riding my bike (not quite on it yet), being around family and friends, and not living with daily pain…the list is endless. I see people on the freeway so furious and worked up because they are stuck in traffic and someone moved into their lane. I can just think to myself, trust me, life could be worse. This applies to so many things. I hope my more relaxed energy helps other people relax about these things (except for my not so relaxed desire of wanting to win on the racetrack that does not count!).

I was raised by parents that told me to do what makes me happy and enjoy life. For those who know me from before, now I have even more passion about the idea to live life the way I want, have fun and work hard at things I enjoy!

Racing, YES! I do enjoy competition, a race, and the preparation and work that goes into a winning result. So, the next time you all hear from me, I do see myself in one of the things I really enjoy, a race!

To my fans, friends, and family…thanks again for everything from the bottom of my heart. I can’t tell you how thankful I am and can’t wait to see you all at a race track soon.

Thank you.

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About this article
Series IMSA , General
Drivers Memo Gidley
Article type Special feature