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More Confessions of a Weekend Golfer: Playing
on One Good Knee

Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Daniel Craig, November/December 2008

(continued from page 1)

I now know what athletes mean when they say they are "playing through the pain." I felt pain just standing and had trouble keeping my balance. Jeff had me swing at about 70 percent. "Keep your feet closer together," he said. "Ball further back in your stance when you are set up to swing." While I did not hit the ball well, I was encouraged. When the lesson was over, I was so excited I drove home with my golf glove and golf shoes still on. When I realized this, I smiled. I was so hopeful that I would be able to return to my passion that I had missed soooo much!

FRIDAY, JULY 25, AND SATURDAY, JULY 26

I played in the Member-Guest. I can't say much more. This was my fifth year of playing in this tournament with the same partner, my good friend Gene Zuriff. He was a good sport, waiting on standby, depending on if I could play. My game was so-so, but we had fun. I limped around the course for two days in significant pain . . . aided by three Oxycodone pills each day and using a golf cart. Needless to say, we didn't win.

FRIDAY, AUG. 15

(10 weeks after surgery) The Bridge's annual Club Championship was this weekend. I had signed up two weeks before on the hope I would have improvement in my knee and the pain would finally be gone.

The pain was definitely lessening but it had not disappeared. The worst part was at night in bed, when my leg would tighten up. I would wake up in the middle of the night, take two Tylenol Extra Strengths, ice it, and in a few hours finally fall back to sleep. This had been going on for weeks. It had been the worst summer of my life!

I won my first-round match in my bracket of the Club Championship. I played well and much of the day played with little pain. Thank God, I said to myself, I am fully recovered now to enjoy playing golf the rest of the summer. I was soooo happy. No doubt, many of you can relate to this feeling of joy. Or, so I thought.

My next match was the next day. I arrived at the driving range at 8:45 a.m. for a 9:30 tee time. After the third swing of my sand wedge, I was in pain. I could not bend or turn my left knee and began to freak out. I immediately walked to my golf cart and downed two Oxycodones. I told my caddie, Alex, about my condition and advised him I wasn't sure I could play. We went to the putting green, where I practiced putting on one leg while waiting for the pills to kick in. I knew what I should do, but had convinced myself I could play through the pain. In retrospect, I should have looked my opponent in his eye and said, "I must default."

We played. For most of the front nine, I played pretty well without hardly using my legs. I swung my arms and shot surprisingly straight, especially my tee shots. Not long, but straight! On the front, I shot 46, an amazing score for a cripple! Unfortunately, my opponent, Andrew Schwartz, shot lights out . . . a 41. By the turn, the pain in my knee was almost unbearable. I hit into a series of deeply sloped sand traps. I couldn't get out, so I picked up. On hole No. 14, a par 3, I parred it. So did my opponent. The match was over for me. I couldn't take any more pain. And Andrew was playing great golf. Also, he was a great guy. I look forward to playing with him in the future. But it was time to go home.

By Saturday night, I realized I had done a VERY STUPID thing. My leg had swelled and I was in a great deal of pain. I knew I had taken a giant step backwards in my recovery. I knew I was going to pay big-time, and I did. My depression returned. I would not rule out suicide.


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