I’ve received a few comments about the scarcity of the website posts in the past four weeks. I’m guilty as charged. However, I should be close to being back on track. Admittedly, this post has little if anything to do with golf or the Gainey Ranch Men’s Golf Association, but to provide an explanation of my dereliction of duty, here’s the story. It is not for the faint-of-heart. If horror movies aren’t your cup-of-tea, you may want to back slowly away from your computer at this time, unplug it and turn tail and run. Otherwise, click “Read More”.
I have discovered it takes a combination of many things to be a golfer. You need to have balls. Clubs are handy. A golf course is requisite. A touch of obsessive compulsive disorder, a “type A” personality, some semblance of self-control and a competitive nature also help. An abundance of spare time and a bottomless bank account are almost necessities. Oh yes; and one more thing – legs.
I have always subscribed to the belief that it would be a sin against nature to die without completely using up your body. It would be such a waste with so many fun things that could have been done with it. I’ve spent a good part of my life using my legs running from ex-wives, collection agents, police officers and other predators. Also, in my years traveling and climbing the world’s big mountains, my knee had gone into the proverbial crapper. As a result, my handicap has followed my pain level for the past year and increased roughly five strokes. When I had lost enough money to Sandy Wiener to claim him as a tax deduction, I finally decided it was time for a new bionic knee. May 13th marked the date.
A number of our fellow golfers, e.g., Dennis Kildare, Rick Brown, et.al., have undergone knee replacements and they all say it was one of the smartest things they ever did. What they seemed to forget a little was that the damn thing is painful, extremely painful. That is an annoyance.
So just what is a knee replacement? I frankly didn’t know. I guess I assumed they’d open up a little incision, clean out a little trash, stick a couple pieces of Teflon in there and call it a day. Wrong, very, very wrong. The fact is a Joseph Mengele prodigy comes into the operating room and does his best imitation of Freddy Kruger with a chain saw. He uses the saw and basically cuts off your leg. You read that right; he cuts off your damned leg. He whacks right through the thigh bone and presto, from that point down, you’re leg belongs to someone else.
But just in case all his morbid cravings haven’t been satiated, he now finds your shin bone and cuts it in half. Now in his defense, he has made a rudimentary attempt to lay your muscles, tendons and ligaments somewhere off to the side where the surgical team won’t trip over them as they walk over to the cooler for another beer. Everything in between leg chop #1 and leg chop #2 is destined for the dumpster.
Many of you know Nick De Santis, the dentist with a practice in Gallup, New Mexico, the economic hub of the Navajo Indian Reservation. I was talking with Nick in the Member’s Grill a week or so after surgery and he asked me about some of the specifics of the surgery. Be forewarned that Nick’s sense of humor is so razor-sharp that the Surgeon General should put some kind of a warning on it to keep people from rupturing in uncontrolled laughter. In response to his question, I explained pretty much what I’ve said to you in the last couple of paragraphs. But in an effort to beat Nick to a punch line, I added, “… and the damn doctor didn’t even save the bones for me so I could make some jewelry for Liz.”
Nick didn’t miss a beat. The patented De Santis grin jumped upon his face, his eyes widened as he added, “… and soup.”
I nearly fell off my chair. My favorite line of this whole period.
Back to Dr. Mengele. Now that he has made you a double-amputee, he takes a hammer and beats a massive bionic knee into the empty space on the operating table. A few taps here, a wiggle there and a few drops of Super-Glue and he’s almost done. He grabs the tendons, ligaments, muscles and other miscellaneous parts from the table and floor and stuffs them back into the gaping hole in your leg. A stich in time may save nine in the fashion world, but Mengele uses some miracle tape and glue to put you back together and you’re off to the recovery room as Mengele stares at the left over parts wondering if they were yours or the previous victim’s.
After a couple of days of torture and suffering in the hospital, the fast talkers convince the staff it’s time to go home. Once you’re released, you’re a bonafide invalid, a crippled and helpless, useless almost human being dependent upon your wife for your every want and need. The pain is excruciating and you live in constant fear wondering if you’ve said or done anything to your wife in past year that might evoke thoughts of vengeance. If you have – you’re screwed. You have no choice but to ride it out.
At this point, the only thing between you and the golf course is the slow, lengthy and miserable period of rehabilitation. The experts say you’ve got two to three months of vigorous rehab before you’re on the course again – sometimes as long as six months. I asked what the most optimistic rehab time would be and the therapist said they had one miracle case where he did it in six weeks. I set my goal for four.
The most formidable obstacle between me and my goal proved to be “Olga”. She is the head of the therapy center, “Olga’s Ouse of Orrors”, to which I have been sentenced. Olga went to college on an athletic scholarship, can dunk a basketball while standing flat-footed, bench-presses 425 pounds, eats her cigars without lighting them and can bend bones in directions they were never intended to move. She is also unmoved by begging, pleading, tears, screams, quivering and loss of bladder control. She is so brutal and inflicts so much pain and suffering, it’s almost like golfing itself. Olga was the chief interrogator for the Russian KGB until she landed the gig at a Scottsdale rehab center.
Olga’s able assistant is “Di”. Like Olga, Di claims that’s not her real name, but she’s an ex-Marine and I’m sure “Di” is shorthand for “Drill Instructor”. When I recently told her she wasn’t a real drill instructor because she hadn’t once referred to me as “you maggot”, she presented a diabolical smile and said, “But you know I’m thinking it.”
When Olga turns her back, usually to haul an unresponsive body into the back room, Di keeps watch like a predator. “You’re not suffering enough” she murmurs. She then adds another ten pounds of ice to the knee already being bent at an angle that my old geometry teacher never knew existed. Thanks to Olga and Di, I have confessed to crimes yet to be committed.
So there you have it – I’ve been a little light on the posts lately. I’m pleading extenuating circumstances and a lack of tips. I am happy to report, however, that Wednesday – exactly one day short of my one month anniversary, I began hitting balls on the range. Yesterday, exactly one month and one day since surgery, I played eighteen holes of golf. The score could have been better, but I hit the ball well. I must begrudgingly suggest that maybe Dr. Mengele, Olga, Di and my wife have all participated in a miracle.