Change of Plans (12 June 2024 BLOG)

Change of Plans (12th June 2024 BLOG)

Back in 2008 , my late father,  at the age of 78, started suffering from occasional double vision and found it difficult to keep one of his eye’s open. He had no control of the eyelid muscles and could not stop one of his eyes from closing. After hospital tests (in the UK where he lived) , he was diagnosed with MYASTHENIA GRAVIS .

 Like the rest of my family, and most other people , We’d never heard of it. 


Here is the definition. 

<< Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes weakness in the body’s voluntary muscles. This happens when antibodies produced by the immune system prevent nerve-muscle interactions. The muscles most commonly affected are those that control the eyes, mouth, throat, and limbs, but MG can affect most parts of the body>>

As you can see it affects different people in various ways , but its something that can be kept under control with the right combination of drugs and treatment.
Obviously , me and my two siblings were interested in finding out if this was a genetic thing and asked the doctors.
We were basically told “oh no it’s not hereditary ” 
Well, let’ s move forward to , Ontario , Canada in 2015, when  shortly after my 61st birthday, I found myself having difficulty walking short distances without running out of breath. My left eye was closing uncontrollably and I had a hard time keeping my head up straight. The neck muscles were not working and my head would flop to one side. Swallowing my food became a struggle and sometimes when I spoke , it sounded like I was drunk.
I had my suspicions about what was wrong with me , but it all came to a head one night, when I was at a restaurant  with a friend .
My friend could  see I was having problems eating and she rushed me to hospital.
It was there that my theory was found  to be correct.
Yes, I had MYASTHENIA GRAVIS . (so much for it not being hereditary ! ) 
I still have Myasthenia Gravis , but it’s being kept under control with a regime of daily medications and regular  I.V.I.G infusions.
I have to thank my specialist doctor at the Ottawa Hospital for my good progress.
 Now let’s move on to the present day to Raleigh , in North Carolina,  U.S.A 
In October of last year, my daughter Carla (who lives in Raleigh) , started getting similar symptoms to what I endured , prior to my diagnosis. 
Over the years , she’d followed her grandfather’s case, and had been closely involved in my ongoing situation,  so was well aware of the tell tale signs.
To cut a long story short, she discovered that she also has Myasthenia Gravis. We now have an example of three generations being affected.
So much for ” oh no, it’s not hereditary”
Carla  is in the early stages and the medics are still working on the formula to keep hers under control.
My original plans for the past few weeks involved  four days of racing in four days , starting with the highlight ,  the Short Track Super Series on Thursday the 30th May at the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh NY.
This would be followed by two midweek SUPER DIRTCAR SERIES races  on the 4th/5th June at the Big Diamond and Selinsgrove Speedways in Pennsylvania,  on route to a quick visit to Carla’s for a Lacrosse tournament in Charlotte that my grandson Benji was taking part in.
Things suddenly changed on Monday the 27th of May,  when I got a phone call from Carla.
The Myasthenia Gravis symptoms were taking a hold and she’d been admitted to a hospital in Raleigh.
At the time , I couldn’t just jump into my car and get down there, as my Impala  was at Seaway GM having a new transmission fitted , and awaiting  a ‘hard to get’ part .
After a quick phone call to check on the progress ,  my good friend Corey Wheeler , the service manager,  informed me that the part had just arrived , and they would have it ready, plus a  ‘brake job’,  I’d asked them to do  ASAP.
So . on Wednesday morning (29th May) , I picked up the Impala from Seaway,  drove it home to load up and then  headed south.
I left  home in Cornwall , Ontario at 2-00 pm and was soon over the bridge into N Y state . 
By 8-00 pm I was checking into the Motel 6 , in Wilkes Barre , PA. 
Tim Hortons , are pretty scarce the further south you go, but these days , I’m getting quite addicted to the Coffee served at the Sheetz gas and food stops.
I left Wilkes Barre  about 5-00 am and was pulling into the driveway of Carla’s place in Willow Spring NC  by mid afternoon.
Once the evening rush hour was over , I took a drive to the Wake Med Hospital in Raleigh to visit Carla , with my grand daughter Sophia.
This would be a regular journey I’d be making over the next week,  between helping out and taking care of the kids. Alex (my son in law)  and me would take it in turns with a morning and evening shift.
On Friday I did the early shift and on my way back to the house, I dropped into the Wake County Speedway.
Their usual race night is Friday, but not this week. They were taking a week off. 
When I arrived in the afternoon, I was surprised to see a few cars out on the track practicing .
On Saturday (1st of June)  I was doing the late ‘shift’  to the hospital so took in a morning visit to ‘The Cruise into Summer’  that was organized by the Cornerstone Church on the Fayetteville Road
It was only a ten minute drive from the house.
While I was there , I chatted to the owner of this lovely Buick Rivierra , who told me of another show that was taking place nearby the next morning.  ( Sunday 2nd June) 
Well I was doing the early shift that day , so on our way to the hospital, Sophia and me paid a visit to a Classic Car Show taking place a few minutes from Willow Springs at the America Legion in Fuquay Varina.
I let Sophia use my camera to take a few shots so she could have a try at photography .
She did pretty good and some of her pics are in my gallery.
While looking at a very old Ford Model T , the owner kindly let her sit behind the wheel.
From here we departed to see Carla at the hospital .
The next two days continued with daily visits.
On Tuesday I did the early shift , and then took Benji for his Lacrosse practice in Raleigh.
Wednesday was Carla’s scheduled day of  discharge  , and Alex brought her home just after lunch time.
Time for her to relax and recover, but we still had an appointment to keep on Friday.
Lee , who is one of Carla’s horses was due for a new set of shoes , and we had to meet up with the blacksmith.
After that we went to say hello, to Lola, Carla’s other horse
Grandson, Benji is the goalie for the ’91’ Carolina  Lacrosse team , so at the weekend we continued with our original plans.
We were booked into the Hilton Hotel at Pineville (Charlotte) for Friday and Saturday night.
The plan was for me to take care of Sophia while Carla could sit and enjoy Benji’s  games.
Around lunchtime on Sunday the tournament  was over with Benji’s team , winning two games and losing two games.
It was now time to head back to Willow Springs.
On Monday the 10th of June, I relaxed around the house and did some shopping in Fuquay Varina , before leaving at 2-15 pm for the trip back north.
At 8-00 pm , I was checking into one of my regular stop-overs, the Red Roof Inn at Winchester , Virginia.
At 8-00 am  on Tuesday morning  (11th June) , I was on the road again , for the next leg of my journey home.
Normally , from Winchester it would be a straight forward , 10 hour drive back to my house in Cornwall, , but not on this occasion.
I would be breaking the journey up with an extra day , and dropping into the Weedsport Speedway, NY .
They had an evening Big Block Modified and Sportsman DirtCar Series race taking place.
After a leisurely drive, I arrived at the pit gates about 3-30 pm.
It was raining slightly so waited a while before booking a room.
The rain stopped and the show went along with the scheduled start time.
Luckily there were only the two divisions on the program, so no precious time was wasted with stuff I didn’t want to see.
I had a look around the pits and chatted to my friends at the Cedric Gaureau Sportsman team from Gatineau , Quebec
When the racing got underway , I shot pictures from my favorite spot in turn three and four.
With a fairly good track surface and very few incidents, the heat races moved along quickly and were done by 8-00 pm.
The first of the features to take place , was the Sportsman DirtCar Series. 

Cedric had a big lead for most of this one, but a couple of late race cautions allowed the other leading contenders to catch up.
A few laps from the end, fellow Canadian , Cody McPherson got past to take the checkers.
Cedric had to be content with runner up spot.
Jimmy Phelps made the early running in the Big Block feature, and just like Gauvreau in the previous race , had his long lead taken away  by a caution.
Mat Williamson had been moving up quickly and once he was past Phelps , no one could catch him.
Second place was Matt Sheppard and third went to Jimmy Phelps.
The show was all over before 9-30 pm, and it wasn’t long before I was out of the gates and heading to my room at the Red Roof Inn in Syracuse.
At 8-15 am, on Wednesday, I was on the road again on the final segment of the journey home.
After a few stops along the way, I was back in my house in Cornwall, Ontario by 11-30 pm.
I took the Impala in to Seaway GM for an oil-change in the afternoon, then went back home to get ready for my evening plans.
Wednesday night is the Cruise night for the Cornwall Olde Car Club , so I took the Thunderbird down to the waterfront  based RCAFA  Club for a run.
This ended an eventful two weeks.
I have to end this BLOG on a sad note.
R.I.P  Bob Hall.
I learned just before I set off for North Carolina, the sad news, that my long time friend Robert (Bob) Hall had passed away.
I first got to know him in the 1960’s when I was living in the England, and became a fan of British stock car racing .
Along with his buddy Stuart Ralls they had a column in the stock magazine, under the name of Halls and Ralls. They were also sellers of the magazine at the tracks, and were joined in this task by his brother Ian .
All of three of them were good friends of mine and went on to race BriSCA F1  like me.
They shared a car and had consecutive numbers. Stuart #379, Bob # 380 and Ian was #381. 
(LEFT TO RIGHT < Bob, Ian , Stuart and Gary)
We had some great times over the years and would usually meet up on my trips back to the UK .
Steve , Ian, Me, Bob and Colin
Mick, Colin, Stuart, Ian, Stan, Me, Bob and Alan
There was a big  gang of us that used to hang out in the bar after the races.
After suffering a stroke a few years ago his health went down hill, and the last time I saw him was on one of my UK visits when he was living in a sheltered seniors apartment near to his brother Ian in Surry.
R.I P. Bob , we certainly shared a lot of good times