Cane golf offers lesson

Most thought Peyton Manning’s football career was over after undergoing multiple neck surgeries in addition to spinal fusion in 2011. Yet, he threw for 5,477 yards with fifty-five touchdowns for the Broncos in 2013 and carried them to a Super Bowl victory in 2016. In retirement, whether you can participate in sports isn’t limited to simply securing a time and place to meet your friends. Regardless of ability, it is also helpful to avoid self-inflicted trauma that can put you on the injured- reserve list. Last Tuesday started like any other. Happy that my obituary did not appear in the paper, I headed for the bedroom to get dressed. That’s when it happened. There was an explosion of pain below my left knee. I had to grab something before the floor came up to meet me. I imitated a 6’4” flamingo lifting its leg. “Rita! Help me!” I hollered. She provided her shoulder as we crept into the bedroom. I sat on the bed. “What’s the matter? Rita asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “All of a sudden something happened in my leg right here.” She looked where I was pointing, about four inches below and to the outside of my knee. “Looks fine to me.” For some reason, I wasn’t comforted. There was no noise preceding the onset of pain. It was conceivable, however, that someone whose teeth I straightened 30 years earlier had noticed a lower incisor turning sideways a little. Whoever it was had subsequently located a Voodoo doll in my likeness and jabbed a hat pin deep into its leg. There was no plausable explanation for the excruciating agony.

In fifteen minutes, things were back to normal. Rita stuck her head into the bathroom as I brushed my teeth. “Are you playing golf today?” “Em na ‘zure,” came a mumbled reply while leaning over the sink, spitting toothpaste. “The leg feels fine now. I’ll need to swing a club before I know if I can twist and put pressure on it.” A cane accompanied a slow walk to the living room in case all hell broke loose. I flipped it upside-down so the handle bore resemblance to the business end of a golf club, then moved to a place where I might give it a swing without hitting the furniture, wall or ceiling. “I don’t feel any pain,” I proclaimed once more, brimming with confidence as Rita headed for the kitchen to gather yogurt and berries from the refrigerator. As she disappeared, I gave the upside-down cane a swipe, glutes firing as Tiger’s would approaching the eighteenth green at The Masters on a Sunday. As the faux club gained speed, centrifugal force enabled several articulating joints of the cane to become disarticulated. My hands followed through and eventually came to an abrupt stop. The cane segments, however, did not stop and continued their own follow-through until colliding with considerable force against the side of my head. Ka-thwhap! “I’ve got pain now!” I mumbled, crouched over writhing and holding my left ear as a trickle of blood dripped to the floor. Reappearing in the living room again, Rita asked, “So, are you playing golf? Or not?” Like Peyton Manning, even when faced with significant bodily injury, it’s important to maintain a “can do” attitude. With help from a styptic pencil, I met up with the guys as planned. My drive off the first tee was the longest experienced in fifty years. With some luck like Peyton’s, maybe even a first ever hole-in-one was possible.

Retired Minot orthodontist, past president of the N.D. Dental and Orthodontist Associations, husband, father, grandfather.


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