THE BEST OF JODY BOX: WHY TRADITION-BASED MEDICINE FAILS MOTOCROSS RACERS
BY JODY WEISEL
The tradition-based medical organizations have never embraced holistic, tribal or herbal therapies. They have a monopoly on medicine and will do anything to protect their turf. My doctor is a nice guy. He knows a little about motocross and is always willing to see me on short notice, but he thinks that most of the medical beliefs I espouse are crazy.
I was shocked when he argued with me that duct tape wasn’t the proper material to use for cuts, sprains and breaks. He was equally surprised when he saw the cut on my arm that I had closed with Superglue. After he removed the glue and stitched it up, he told me to come back in seven days to have the stitches removed. He almost fell on the floor when I said, “No need. I’ll just pull them out with needle-nose pliers.”
As a rule, the medical society thinks of motorcylce racers as thrill seekers who go from one broken bone to the next. I told my doctor that motorcycle racers are the most health-conscious and knowledgeable group of people on the planet when it comes to injuries or illness. My doctor disagreed and flipped through my medical record like a deck of cards as proof that he was right.
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At exactly 3:00 p.m., in early November the sun shines directly into the eyes of any racers climbing Glen Helen’s ultra-steep 22-story hill. I ought to know that, because I designed the Glen Helen track. However, at exactly 3:00 p.m. I couldn’t see where I was going, nor could the 15 guys chasing me up Mt. Saint Helen. Blinded, I swapped into unseen whoops at the top of the 220-foot mountain, did Cirque du Soleil backflips down the hill and in the process knocked down the 15 guys behind me. Well, in truth, I never touched a single one of them, but blinded by the sun, they didn’t know what was happening above them.
None of the innocent were injured, but the guilty party—me—broke his left arm in two places. The break in the middle of the arm had to be plated, while the one by the wrist took forever to heal, Amazingly, it was the first bone I had ever broken racing a motorcycle over my 50-year racing career (although I had broken and dislocated the elbow on that same arm pole vaulting in high school). I have since returned to racing as good as new, but can now claim to have seen every episode of “Adam 12” while sitting on the couch in a cast.
• • • • •
A couple months ago I jammed my hand between the handlebar and ground. When I got up, there was intense pain every time I moved my fingers.
I called my doctor from the track, and he said to apply ice to it, wrap it up in a compression bandage and come to his office on Monday morning. His nurse called on Monday afternoon and asked why I hadn’t come in to have my hand looked at.
I said, “Oh, I did what the doctor told me to do on the phone. I put some ice on it, wrapped it in duct tape and rode the second moto. It feels a lot better today.”
• • • • •
TWO YEARS AGO I GOT PNEUMONIA. IT WASN’T MY FAULT. I THOUGHT I HAD THE FLU, AND I DECIDED TO RACE TO
BLOW THE FLU OUT. IT DIDN’T WORK; INSTEAD, I SUCKED THE PNEUMONIA IN.
Three years ago I got pneumonia. It wasn’t my fault. I thought I had the flu, and I decided to race to blow the flu out. It didn’t work; instead, I sucked the pneumonia in. “Lovely Louella” made me an emergency appointment to see my doctor that night.
My doctor said, “You are an idiot. Pneumonia is nothing to mess around with. You are lucky to be alive. You will not be able to take a deep breath, let alone race a motorcycle for at least three months. I hope this stops you from thinking that motorcycle racers are smarter than trained medical professionals. From now on, if you have a problem, ask me first and then act.”
“I do have a problem that a guy as smart as you can probably help me with. The hydraulic clutch on my 450 started fading; do you think it’s the seal in the slave unit or something with the master cylinder?”
He laughed and said, “You’re gonna have three months to figure that out for yourself.”
• • • • •
The year before, I crashed in the first turn and got run over by half the pack. My right leg turned all purple and blotchy. I hobbled in to his office on Monday, and he said, “I’m going to send you out for X-rays.”
I said, “Doc, have you ever broken a bone? Because if you haven’t, I’m here to tell you that it is a giant hassle. They put your arm or leg in a cast for eight weeks, it itches, comes out all shriveled and is very hairy. Worse yet, you don’t get to race or go to any parties. I think I’ll just skip the X-ray and it will get better in a week or two.”
“But what if it is broken?” he said in astonishment.
“No X-ray, no break,” I said.
• • • • •
I have a lot of experience giving Jimmy Mac solid medical advice. Last year he did a giant flying W over a double that he thought was a triple. When he finally came to, the ambulance guys propped him up in a lawn chair with a bag of ice on his head.
I asked Jimmy, “Do you know where you live? How about the state? How many fingers am I holding up? Who was the president before Trump? Oh yeah, one last question, do you remember which jump is a double and not a triple? Yes? Okay, you’re good to go.”
• • • • •
A couple of races ago Jimmy Mac got his leg sucked into the rear wheel of the guy next to him on the start. The guy dragged him 50 feet before stopping, because he said, “I thought he would pop out.”
We had to remove the rear wheel off the guy’s bike to get Jimmy’s leg out. Jimmy looked up at me from where he lay on the ground and asked if I thought he should go in the ambulance.
I put my hand on his shoulder and said sincerely, “Jimmy, I won’t lie to you. I’ve seen this situation before. It’s not good. It’s late in the day and there is only about an hour of sunlight left. If you get in the ambulance, they will stop the races until the ambulance comes back. I suggest that you suck it up and get a second opinion after the last moto is over.”