Tag Archives: Injury

Marshaling in Pain What it’s like to Get an Acute Gout Attack at the Track

In the past two weeks I had two acute gout attacks, one a few days before departing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and second the morning after it finished. As lucky as I was that I didn’t have to marshal in the pain of this unfortunate disease, it has hit me before right smack in the middle of a major event and a few of them international at that.

What should one do when that happens?

Well the logical solution is to treat the problem. But what if you’re like me and don’t have medical insurance? My gout was self diagnosed and I have been treating it based on my own research and a few suggestions at various medical centers I visited during my race participation (abroad). The problem is a bit tough to handle, especially when one doesn’t have the money to treat it correctly.

Should a person quit marshaling when they have a disability?

I sure hope that’s things don’t get that bad for me. I would really hate to give up this hobby and more importantly give up eating the delicious food that typically trigger my gout attacks. But there’s got to be a reasonable solution.

Before I self-diagnosed my gout, I had a very painful attack at the British Grand Prix where I made it to the race medical center whom didn’t suggest there was a bigger problem other than confirming a less scary diagnosis that features the same symptoms: a twisted ankle (which was certainly plausible).

What’s worse the Brits didn’t even offer any medication or pain killers to help me deal with the excruciating pain I was experiencing until the second visit to the medical center on the final day of the event. Not only was my foot swollen, I could not sleep a wink for two nights because any kind of movement or even brushing my foot with the sleeping bag while camping would send shocks through the whole body, it was intense. I didn’t want to miss out on the race, even though I couldn’t contribute much to the actual marshaling aspect I got to watch from a shed on my post with ice on my foot to help relieve the swelling and some of the pain.

It took almost two weeks for the pain to go away, long after I returned home to New Jersey. But thinking back on this situation, I know exactly what triggered this gout attack… It was the delicious fish & chips meal I had at Milton Keynes after visiting the Red Bull F1 team offices before proceeding to Silverstone.

Earlier last year sushi triggered a strong gout attack before my trip to Australia and New Zealand. And once again I was marshaling in pain at the Bathurst 12 hour race on Mount Panorama. Luckily I was assigned a position which didn’t require climbing over a tall rail or a wall and one that was accessible by walking over smooth surfaces from our camping area near the paddock.

Even more recently I had a really painful acute gout attack in Germany during the WEC 6 hour of the Nurburgring after sampling delicious herring fish in Amsterdam. This time the pain was so strong I had to go to the medical center… twice. And the Germans doctor took really good care of me offering not only medication that helped relieve the pain and allow me to sleep at the camp site, but also offer meaningful medication which I have since started using at first signs of gout coming on.

The medicine I bought in Germany helped me get over the recent gout symptoms in just two days… unfortunately they came right back after the Daytona 24 event. But once I arrived home I started the treatment again and it’s working well. It’s a shame though that this keeps on happening.

I suspect I am not the only one that suffers from some sort of ailment when it comes to Motorsport and it would be very interesting to hear how other people are handling their medical issues while at a race track.

Do comment below with your opinions and advice.

Cancelled my Participation for the Trans Am at Lime Rock

If I didn’t have bad luck I would have no luck at all… or so it seems.

Two days before my first event volunteering at Lime Rock for the Memorial Day Trans Am weekend I’ve pulled a muscle and/or pinched a nerve in my lower back and now cannot walk or stand upright rendering me useless to marshal this weekend.

It’s a damn shame because I was really looking forward to this event. I have volunteered for the Trans Am race at Lime Rock for the past two years. But the condition I am in right now would make me a liability to be trackside.

I did reach out to the registrar at the event to see if there was another role perhaps I could still volunteer for. She forwarded my message to the flag chief and he didn’t think there was anything suitable for me.

In a way I am a bit saddened by this, especially since whenever people talk about volunteering in motorsport they always say how many different positions there are to be filled, there’s something for everybody they say. But in this scenario either all the positions have already been filled, or they just didn’t want me there.

So the sensible thing to do is what I’ve done I think. Cancel my participation well in advance while avoiding to be a liability on a SCCA Pro race weekend.

Between this unfortunate incident and the a severe attack of the gout arthritis earlier in the year I have been very injury prone, which is not a good thing for this hobby. But in the end what can you do? Just have to take things one day at a time, and hope for a better future.

Thank You Doctor!

As volunteer marshals it’s part of our job to help people in an emergency. We see a driver get injured, we call it in and seek medical assistance. But what happens when we as marshals get hurt?

I’ve had the misfortune of getting injured on several occasions now, and wanted to share my story to hopefully help out a fellow marshal in a similar situation, should it occur.

My most recent experience was during the WEC race at the Circuit of the Americas. Through a variety of circumstances I felt nauseous, some shooting pains in my stomach and in short order I managed to get a ride to the Medical Center to get help. Now saying the description above would likely get it dismissed as a minor incident. But consider the facts. Leading up to the race weekend I caught a bug. Something gave me food poisoning, not sure what… I was being especially careful knowing full well I will be away from home for a week, camping at a track with long hours on my feet and I knew I couldn’t afford to get sick. I got sick nonetheless. If you have never dealt with food poisoning it will be hard to understand the consequences. But with only one day rest before my flight, my entire rib cage hurt from puking every so often for over 24 hours. Needless to say I was not 100% when I arrived in Texas. And that’s important to consider when dealing with worker well-being on station. Sure our activities may not be all that strenuous to you, as a turn captain or a post chief, but you never know what your colleagues have gone through. Once at the Medical Center it was discovered I was battling high fever and was dehydrated. Despite my best efforts to keep my fluids up during the day, drinking lots of water, soft drinks and Poweraid, I still managed to get dehydrated. The treatment I received at COTA, with a bunch of pills to deal with fever and an IV drip for the dehydration worked wonders immediately. But had I not gone to seek help I would have been rather miserable the next day, because let’s face it: it’s not like I would have “slept it off.”

COTA Medical Center

I had a similar experience at Silverstone a few years back while volunteering for the British Grand Prix. The outcome was completely different to what I experienced at COTA, mainly because I didn’t know what to do or ask for once I reached the Medical Centre. I twisted my foot getting out of the tent on Friday morning, hours before any track activity had started, and essentially my weekend was ruined. The pain was excruciating. I hopped on one foot to get to the bathroom which shot sharp shooting pains throughout my body. Sitting, standing or even laying down caused pain, sharp pain. There was no position I could be in so it didn’t hurt. So naturally I made a trip to the Medical Centre where they poked my swollen foot, looked in my eyes and with a smile said “it will hurt a lot more tomorrow!” And like an idiot I walked away cringing from the news, and hurting from the pain that terrorized my body. Sure it was a simple sprain, but at the moment it was the most ridiculous pain I had ever experienced. Nothing was broken but it might as well have been. And it wasn’t until the last day, Sunday when I found my way back to the Medical Centre with the help of a media person on a golf cart, and started demanding pain killers because I couldn’t take it anymore. Incredibly, as soon as I took the simple pill of Ibuprofen I felt immediate relief and it made me wonder 1). Why didn’t I ask for this sooner? and 2). Why wasn’t it offered in the first place? Since then I’ve started carrying a simple first aid kit that has basic pain killers, but by the same token they wouldn’t have done much for my nausea example from the COTA incident. So it pays to utilize the Medical Centre’s at each track if need be… considering they’re designed to treat everyone from spectators to the drivers, it’s an invaluable resource to rely on. At Silverstone I spend the three day weekend hidden in a shed on station, with a pack of ice over my injured foot.

british gp 1

I’ve had other incidents with minor injuries that didn’t require a trip to the medical center, though it helped having medical staff around. During my second Singapore Grand Prix I cut my finger climbing a fence to remove some signage that was blocking our view. One of the nurses on our station washed the wound with peroxide and insisted I get a tetanus shot once I get home, wherever that home may be. In New Zealand I followed another marshal to get to the station through the spectator area which required climbing a wire fence. It was raining, I was wearing several layers including a fairly restricting rain suit, and while the jump over the fence was fine, the landing wasn’t. I felt immediate shooting pain from my knee up throughout the body. And it only got worse thru the day. The night after I spent tossing and turning, almost hallucinating from the fever and pain, but the next morning I could whobble out to the street to catch my ride to Hampton Downs. There, my flag chief who’s a former nurse, gave me her knee brace and I felt sufficiently better to finish up the weekend.

So moral of the story, if you are going to volunteer it’s likely that you may get hurt doing so. Be prepared, but if you’re not please don’t hesitate to take advantage of the available help. You are not being a pest, you must look out for your own best interests first before helping others. You also don’t want to become a liability should something happen and you cannot perform 100% because you are suppressing a pain that should have been addressed. Use the available resources and please be careful out there!

Remember to thank your Doctor 🙂