Aches, Pains, Misery Force New Outlook
All of you would-be athletes and jocks out there can relate to this.
But first of all, level with me. Is there something about passing 70 that means your body is just going to begin quitting on you? Is there something mystical about this three score and 10 stuff?
Wow, I can still remember — vaguely — before I turned 70. I was still hanging on to that belief that I was going to be the first guy to beat this aging thing. Heck, I was still hitting tee shots more than 200 yards. I was still shooting in the mid-70s. (OK, that was from the senior tees, but the score still counts, right?)
Then the arthritis in my left knee starting acting up. Screaming at me every step I took. A knee replacement and a few weeks of physical therapy took care of that, but it also cost me distance off the tee. In fact, I began playing the way a guy’s supposed to when he moves to the senior tees. Those 200-yard-plus drives were like my high school sweethearts — just memories.
The next thing that failed was my vision. A wrinkled membrane, the doctor said. Surgery should take care of that, he said. It helped for a couple of months with everything except for the short drives. And then everything viewed from my dominant right eye became a blur.
“OK,” the doc said, “the membrane surgery has speeded up cataract growth in your right eye.”
OK, cataract surgery. Wonderful. Could see like an eagle. Then the left eye went. Another surgery. Good stuff. Didn’t have to wear glasses to play golf for the first time since my early 20s.
Then came double vision. Couldn’t tell the distance to the green. Saw two or three balls on the green. Worse, started seeing extra lane lines on the highways. Night driving made me a hazard.
OK, I can still live with all this. Still playing golf — of a fashion. Then the left arm decides to develop a twitch, or a tremor, or something crazy. Still able to play golf, so I’m coping. Then the right shoulder decides to blow out, or whatever a shoulder does.
Now this is serious. Can’t even swing a golf club. It takes me two hours to write an article that I should be able to do in 20 minutes. But that’s OK, I can live with being slow on the computer. Living without golf is another thing.
So it’s back to the orthopedist. Diagnosis: rotator cuff. One MRI coming up. Survived that coffin experience and the MRI showed an old tear in a tendon that happened so long ago surgery isn’t even an option.
What? No more golf? I missed the spring with a wrist problem. I missed the summer with spinal arthritis. I’ve missed six week with the shoulder.
“Doesn’t mean that,” the doctor said. “Physical therapy can help. Should have you back on the course by spring.”
So, here I am, waiting for my first visit to the therapist on Monday.
I’m feeling good about this. So what if the ruined tendon is beyond fixing? There’s golf in my future, and I’ve put my club membership resignation on hold.
I’m sure that whatever happens with the therapy, my problems aren’t going to be over. I’m not going to regain the lost distance off the tee, and my eyes are probably going to continue lying to me.
But you know what, hitting the ball long and scoring in the 70s really isn’t what golf is all about for us old guys.
It’s the camaraderie. It’s about spending a few hours with old friends such as Puddin’, Bubba, C-Dog, Washer, Putterboyd and Boss Hawg and being ribbed about all the missed putts and the lost presses.
If I do make it back onto the golf course, I’m hoping to take a new attitude with me. I know I’m not going to hit it out there with Jack the Lipper or Ol’ Hec, or Boy George, but that’s OK.
The important thing is that I’ll be with those guys, doing something we all love. Thank goodness they don’t hold me to high standards.
Wait! Was that a twinge I just felt in my right knee?
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