Woodburn Dragstrip
7730 Hwy. 219
Woodburn, Oregon
503-982-4461

What a Pain – May 2012

I never have liked to be in pain. From my first knee surgery way back in 1963 through the second surgery in 1975 on that same knee, the pain killers were what pulled me through. By the way, did you know that it is possible to race a 4-speed Road Runner and drop the clutch at the starting line, going through the gears as you accelerate for the full quarter mile without ever bending your left knee. Yes, it can be done and has been done. A full leg cast following knee surgery is the reason I know it can be done.

Those two surgeries were done before the days of arthroscopic surgery. When the doctor opened an eight-inch slice on each side of the knee, and stapled the newly repaired ligaments into the bone, you can easily see why I experienced the pain and the meds were my best friend. It was the right knee, however, that has had two arthroscopic surgeries. That did not require a cast but the pain was still very evident. Again, that first week following surgery, I was very thankful for the relief provided by Percocet.

It was the throat surgery that nearly killed me with pain. In an effort to decrease the effects of sleep apnea, I have had a complete restructure in the back of my mouth. Most of you have an epiglottis that hangs down back there. Mine is gone. Most of you have an automatic response to drinking liquid so that it does not go into your lungs. I had to re-learn that process. Even sometimes now, I take a drink and nearly drown myself until I can cough up the water that found its way into my windpipe. That surgery was the most painful of all. Because of the incisions in my throat, I could barely swallow. Not being able to swallow water, I became dehydrated and my throat became dry. So I would try to drink water but would need to cough as a result which caused increased bleeding from the repair that had been done. It was the worst two weeks of my life.

Two months ago I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder. Today, I am scheduled for an appointment with the physical therapist. Whenever I visit the PT, (you guessed it !) I go home in pain. I know I need to increase the range of motion and I know that until the joint recovers its strength, my use of it will be minimal. So I am determined to do the work that needs to be done. Just like the dedicated racer who has sacrificed and worked his/her tail off to get where he/she is today, the end makes it all worthwhile. The joy of the race and a body that functions normally, those two goals cannot be argued with.

Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980.

Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip. Hopefully, you will enjoy reading them.

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