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Two-plus years and 8 surgeries later, Memo Gidley still hopes to race again

2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona

The #99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP driven by Memo Gidley shortly before a devastating wreck during the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

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It’s been more than two years since a horrific crash during the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona left Memo Gidley with a broken back and extensive injuries to his left arm and left leg.

Gidley has gone through eight surgeries since then, including two last week to implant spinal stimulators to help him with lingering pain issues he continues to go through.

Gidley shared the experience in the latest post on his own blog. To read about what he’s gone through dating back to his crash is fascinating, especially if you go back in his blog archives from the first entry he posted after his terrible wreck.

“Trust me, I am not addicted to having surgeries,” Gidley quipped in his most recent blog post. “It sounds bad – and it is – but the goal is to get back to doing many of the things I love to do, and doing these things with my friends and family. I also really appreciate everybody’s continued support.”

Gidley had spinal fusion surgery last November and continues to recover. It’s the second time he’s undergone a spinal fusion. And while the surgery, like the others, helped somewhat, the pain issue has continued.

Ergo, the implantation of the spinal stimulators, which Gidley has high hopes for in diminishing the “unmerciful nerve pain” he said he suffers from.

“I have tried dozens of treatments over the last year and a half to potentially help break-up my scar tissue to reduce the pain,” Gidley wrote in his blog. “I mean dozens – from DO holistic and energy treatments, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, watching my diet, pills, hyperbaric treatments, cryotherapy and many more. … This all takes time as every treatment requires a certain number of sessions. None have really worked for me, yet.”

Gidley had surgery last Tuesday to implant a temporary spinal stimulator for a two-day trial to see if he could tolerate it. Three days later, a permanent stimulator was inserted into his back.

“To describe what a spinal stimulator does is fairly simple,” Gidley wrote. “It is attached to your spinal cord but higher up from where the “real” pain is coming from. Imagine the size of a small band-aide but with electrodes attached to it. This is then attached via a wire to a controller box which is about the size of an Oreo cookie. The controller box, which has a battery in it, is then implanted into the fat of your glute (butt).

“The spinal stim sends its own signals and the hope is that these fill up your nerve pathway so that the “real” pain signal is blocked from getting to your brain. What you feel with a spinal stim is a vibration which is much easier to deal with. And then you can set it (wirelessly) as light or as strong as you want/need it to cover up the ‘real’ sharp pain.”

Gidley then asks “was all this worth it? Is the pain less?”

Thankfully, the spinal stimulator appears to be working, although its full effects won’t come for another several weeks.

“As of now, I have felt some improvements, which is great,” Gidley wrote. “My pain is not 100% gone…but is less than what it was. The controller box is fully programmable so that the device specialist can tailor it to my pain, which will happen again in a couple of weeks.

“So, now I am trying to get back to doing what I do so that I can really feel where the improvements are.”

Even though he can’t race himself, Gidley has been coaching, serving as a boat captain in the San Francisco Bay area and working on his own boat, “Basic Instinct.”

“I am in a rush, as always, to get back to being stronger because the stronger I am the more I can do,” Gidley said. “I will continue to work hard to move my body back through my 70’s, 60’s, 50’s, and then finally GET BACK to my 40’s where I belong.

“I still have a lot of goals and desires in my life that have been hard or nearly impossible to do during the last two years. I am not asking for pity from readers, I am just hoping my story helps those that are facing things that are seemingly impossible, but less than what I have dealt with.”

Click here to read Gidley’s latest blog entry. It hurts just to read all that he’s gone through in two-plus years, but it’s also heartwarming and inspiring to hear him say:

“I dream of the day that you all get an email from me that says ‘I am back driving’ and looking for a ride! I do believe it will happen.

Follow @JerryBonkowski