After me missing some races the last couple of weeks, it may be time to explain.
As some of you know, I had a tumor removed back in June that was all contained but it was suggested by surgeon to follow up with some chemo and radiation to be sure any little buggers are not hiding somewhere. So what do you do? Follow their recommendations.
The surgery I had was called a Whipple which was quite an undertaking, spending eight hours on the operating table, disconnecting, reconnecting, cutting out some things; all pretty tough on your system. In addition, they go right through your stomach muscles and believe me, you don’t realize how many of the normal day-to-day things you do involve using your stomach muscles. It took about six weeks before I recovered from that and they started me on the chemo train.
Problem was that shortly after two treatments, I began to feel blotted, like food I ate wasn’t going down. I blamed it on the chemo, but docs say no. Then what?
Now for my race excuses. Some of the side effects of chemo are tiredness and loss of energy but I was determined to go racing. I’ve lost a bunch of weight through the surgeries and if you know me, you’ll know I can’t afford any weight loss. Hair is thinning out too but as they tell me, “This is only temporary.” The plan was to run the Maple Grove points race do-over at the end of August. I was skipping Indy and the U.S. Nationals because I had a treatment scheduled that week and felt that to be more important. I had also entered the Keystones (yeah, we’re always going to call it that) with two entries the week after Indy. The Charlotte national event was also out for me as again it was a treatment week. You really don’t know how you’re going to feel after each treatment, so it’s best to not really make any long-distance plans.
Unfortunately, on August 21, I found myself in an Emergency Room with severe stomach cramps and things coming out of my body in the wrong direction; if you get my drift. The cause turned out to be scar tissue that had developed and was blocking my lower intestine. Not good. Emergency surgery, even though it was somewhat minor, still had docs going back through my stomach muscles and opening up the same place as the original Whipple. Included was a “lovely?” three-day, two-night stint in the hospital, not a fun place. And once again, a recovery period that precluded me from the Grove points race and the Keystones. Having your stomach muscles jumping up and down even riding in a street car isn’t the best feeling in the world. Also had to take a break from the chemo train to recover from surgery No. 2. Back on that train now though.
I’ve said this before, but we all need to find that “happy place,” that certain place which maybe puts a little smile on your face and in your heart. I was speaking with another person who had gone through the same type of treatment and for her, her happy place was the beach and living close by, she tried to get there as much as she could. Obviously for me, it’s the race track, but I also got time to spend at my other “happy place” over Indy weekend when I chose to visit with my two-year old grandson in Charlotte. Problem is that all he wanted to do was go for golf cart rides. “Golf cart rides grandpa, golf cart rides.” Talk about the stomach jumping up and down, but I’d do it anytime in a heartbeat.
Anyway, that’s my updates. I’m not going anywhere. I plan to be in Virginia this weekend for the double points race, once again providing I feel good, and as I write this I do feel fine. If you’re there, please stop me and say hello. I have no problems talking about my issues and if there is anyone who may be going through the same, please call me. It’s extremely gratifying to be able to talk “shop” just like when we choose to talk about racing. Thanks for all the calls, texts, e-mails, and especially… the prayers!
Rough Road John but it sounds like you are headed in the right direction. Hang in there! Hope to see you out West or we might head your way.
Raceless in California!
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