Being sick can keep you from doing what you love, alter your identity, and snatch away what you are passionate about. Troy, a young man in his thirties, loves to race cars. The speed, the sounds of the revving engines, the adrenaline, the community at the race track – these were once his passion. But due to a progressive degenerative neurological disorder, Troy has had the opportunity to do what he loves stolen from him. At ResolutionCare we ask the people we care for what gives their life meaning, value, and beauty – and then we do what makes sense to support them in fulfilling their goals. In Troy’s case, this meant getting him back out on the race track.
When we show up at the residential care facility where Troy lives, the nurse is pre-hydrating him through his feeding tube, since even his swallowing muscles have been impacted by his disease. Now struggling to keep his weight up on artificial nutrition, it wasn’t too long ago that Troy was a vibrant young man. In his room, there are pictures of vintage Chevy Nova hotrods, jacked up 4 X 4 rock crawlers, and dogs, some of his favorite things. There are also pictures of Troy, tan and muscular, grinning with even white teeth from behind a neatly trimmed goatee.
Jessica, a ResolutionCare nurse, checks in with him about how he’s feeling, asking questions and reading his replies off of his tablet, his primary method of communication. Troy’s speech is very hard to understand, but his cognition is intact. He’s excited to get going. She rolls his wheelchair down the hall and out the door into summer sunshine. Once in the car, Troy relaxes and enjoys the familiar drive to one of his favorite places – the race track.
The members of the racing community greet Troy with hugs and salutations, inquiring after his health, rehashing shared endeavors and accomplishments. Jessica had pulled some strings so that despite his illness, Troy could get back on the race track. We strap a helmet to his head, help him into the passenger seat of a supercharged V8 dragster, and when the light turns green, watch him go roaring down the strip to a 113 mph quarter mile. (Video)
When we get Troy out of the car, he is grinning from ear to ear. We tour the pits, looking at various cars and talking with their owners. The Novas are still Troy’s favorites. Back at the start of the drag strip, Jessica positions Troy’s wheelchair at the chainlink fence. Between races he rests in the chair, but when the cars line up he stands up, holding onto the top rail, watching the cars warm their tires with big smoky burnouts and launch down the quarter mile track – forgetting for just a few minutes about his illness.