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Memo Gidley recovery update: Challenges and determination
Memo Gidley was seriously injured in a crash during the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. He brings us up to speed on how his recovery is progressing.
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 to 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 creams, 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.
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