While she expressed confidence to everybody in the room, she felt her heart skip a beat when she watched the door open and the doctor walk in, taking his seat before her on the rolling stool.
She knew the next words out of his mouth could determine everything.
“So I’ve ran all the tests that we were talking about and have come to some conclusions,” Dr. Kunsafe states as he opens the file. “Clearly, you’re right about the feelings. You’re feeling nothing, and there’s no nerves or muscles making contact from the elbow down in any form. It’s safe to say the electrical currents that coursed through your body during that time have done their damage.” Alyssa nodded her head, already having figured that. It shouldn’t be a surprise as it’s something to expect when put in that situation.
“What about everything else?” Steve then questions, catching everyone’s glance. “She has shown no other signs of anything else being affected. But is there a chance of other lingering effects from what happened?” Marie almost felt like punching Steve at that moment for bringing another worry into the discussion. However, she knew it was a thought that they should consider.
“There is always a possibility of nerve or muscle damage to come up in the future from what happened – as I previously spoke to Ms. Earnhardt about,” Dr. Kunsafe answers as Alyssa nods her head, remembering the discussion. She just continued to keep her fingers closed that’d never be the case. “So with the results, we will need to go forward with the amputation has originally discussed. Have you looked into that at all?” Alyssa shakes her head no, as she glances at Chase. It was chase who had brought up discussion about other things so she wondered how much research he had done.
“I have been busy with my racing career and other things to not even bother with that,” she explains to the doctor. Truthfully, if this was something that she was going to have to deal with, she wanted to hold it off to the season was over. She had a championship to win first.
“I understand. I’m just concerned that with the skin breaking down due to no blood flow or anything else going on with the arm that you’re going to run into some severe problems. I would give you a maximum of a month before that becomes an issue with what we’re seeing so far.” Alyssa glances down at the arm, looking around it, seeing no signs from her perspective. The timeline just didn’t add up for her.
“I can’t do it a month from now. I need more time – like until the end of November, so two months. Is there any way possible that we can hold onto till then?” The doctor shakes his head no.
“This is your life we’re talking about,” Marie starts. “I’m sure the doctor has reasonable reasons for the timeline that he’s given, probably beginning with infection. You will have a chance to chase that champio-”
“So I’m just supposed to throw away all the work that I’ve done since getting back behind the wheel for nothing?” Alyssa cuts her mother off sternly, catching Chase and Dale off-guard. “I came back in August with the goal of putting myself in this position to chase a championship. I had to win races, gain so many points, just so I would simply qualify. I had to get myself improved as a driver in this state. But now that’s been worth what? Nothi-”
“It sets you up for success next year because you know that you’re capable of doin-”
“Sure, I know I’m capable – but I won’t have that chance. This is my last in the XFINITY Series. I’m moving up next year. This is my chance to get that championship, or let it go.” She then looks back towards the doctor. “There’s no way I’m just giving up that shot at the championship. I’ll take my chances. Right now, everything just feels numb and nothing is going off differently than how I felt that day I woke up, except an improved confidence. If we feel a problem stemming with a possible chance of infection or whatever, then I guess I’ll cut tires – or if I’m eliminated early. But until then, please give me this chance….”
“I’m sorry but I don’t feel it’s worth it as there’s no telling how quickly the infection will spread once it begins,” the doctor replies as she looks down towards the ground. She felt tears almost set to come to her eyes. Why did she bother pushing herself so hard this quickly? What was the point of working to this position?
“This should be my decision,” she starts. “This is my life. This is my decision. Why do I feel as though you’re putting me in a box? Is there any way to take a chance, or get a second opinion? It’s clear that you don’t understand, you don’t get, and you don’t accept what I am saying.” She then looks back up, keeping the tears and emotions at bay. “Nobody understands the emotions that I went through from when I woke up, to the first test, to getting back out there, to returning back to victory lane. I want to complete that story, my way.”
“I don’t know what else to say to yo-”
“How long does the procedure take? What’s the healing time?” She had an off-weekend mid-way through the playoffs. Maybe she could do the unthinkable.
“The procedure can take anywhere from one hour to three hours, depending on location of amputation. You are required to stay in the hospital for at least five days, but could be up to 14 given the situation. You will be put under, with the arm being taken off at the elbow or around that region, blood vessels sealed off, damaged tissue removed, with the wound being closed. It will be covered in sterile dressing, followed by a sock, with the upperarm held in position against the body for no movement. There could be pantom pain and feeling, along with real pain – all of which will be dealt with accordingly by the doctors. Ideally, the entire process takes four to eight weeks to heal from.” Alyssa takes out her phone, glancing over the calendar as she debates whether the process would work or not as she counts days.
“I race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on a Saturday, three weeks from now. I then have 14 days until my next scheduled race at Kansas Speedway. You told me minimum five, up to 14 days in hospital so there’s your window. Book me right after Charlotte, have me out before Kansas and ready to go. I will run Kansas, followed by another week off, and then finish the year with three straight races. Do we have a deal?” A mix of glances filled the room – ranging from surprise, to panic, to intrigue – at the work that she had done in such a short while.
“I would prefer to avoid all racing during the entire healing process, but if there are promises to be careful in those three straight races, along with just starting and parking at Kansas since you can get the points for simply starting, I could agree to it cautiously – as long as you also have no complications.” Alyssa takes a deep breath, knowing it was better than the original option before her. She simply glances at her dad, before nodding her head.
“We’ll have a driver replace me under the first caution at Kansas so they can earn me the points. Dad, I expect that to be someone we can trust…” Dale nods his head, already having a couple names in mind. He knew that she wasn’t going to back down from her plan, and he wasn’t about to play a part in ruining that for her.
“How about you just win Charlotte so Kansas can be a complete bye-run for the second round?” Dale offers, and she smiles, knowing that’d be the best option of them all.
“What about the options?” Steve questions, glancing towards Chase as if to encourage him to say something since Alyssa was not. Alyssa looks between the pair, crossing her arms. It was obvious that Chase said something while she was not in the room, hence the awkward silence.
“So you told them?” She asks and Chase nods his head.
“Everybody was talking about how this was locked in, your only option, and it just came out,” he reveals as she rolls her eyes. “Alyssa, you promised me you would say something. Remember our deal?” She nods her head, taking a deep breath, as she looks back towards the doctor. If this was what it took for him to work through his demons, she was willing to say the simple words.
“Dr. Kunsafe, would it be possible to get a copy of everything in my file and get a second and third opinion?” She questions as he looks at her slightly confused.
“Alyssa, I’ve looked over it numero-” the doctor begins.
“There’s some experimental stuff going on in regards to robotics and nerves. Right now, you have me losing it totally and no prosthetic ever being placed there due to it not working with my condition. There’s places that are looking at possibilities in making nerves work again that are dead in arms, or prosthetics being attached that connect to other nerves and spark spots that make it work. I’m fine living the way that I am, but I’m also willing to take a chance if there’s any possibility. So, again, would it possible to get a copy?” The doctor looks over his notes, nodding his head accepting.
“If you feel that you can make something happen or find an avenue that I haven’t been able to explore with my team, then you have every right to have a copy and look at those chances. I’ll book you in for the day after your Charlotte event, but you can always cancel or change should something come up.” She could easily accept that as she glanced over at Chase.
He smiled back in return, glad to see that the dive had been taken. He had also taken his own relative dives the past week with his conversations with Jeff, Dale, and Eric. Now, taking a deep breath, he knew he had to continue doing those – even if fear was set to drive him crazy at times.