Cool Stuff

Thursday, February 11, 2016

An Amputee and How Golf saved Him From HIMSELF

I realize that it does sound like a bit of a stretch to say that Golf somehow "SAVED" a person from anything...yet in my particular case it is more true then not.

Technically I am a RBK in I had a Right leg, Below the Knee amputation. I lost my leg a year and a half ago as a result of a badly broken ankle in an accident at home that subsequently became badly infected and eventually the only real choice was to amputate the leg 6 inches below my right knee.

This medical nightmare has now gone on for more then 3 years and in certain ways continues today. I had my 31st related surgery 2 weeks ago to clean up some scar tissue and remove several Neuromas (tumors that form at the end of the severed nerves in the stump) and spent a couple more nights in the hospital.

Simply stated this has been by far the most traumatic and difficult experience in my 53 years of living and I would be less then honest if I didn't admit that it pushed me to the very brink of my endurance: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

I went months without being able to walk without crutches, walkers or wheel-chairs. I was not what I would consider a super active, always moving kind of guy but I was definately active. I really started to miss my freedom of movement.

Not only were there physical limitations related to the surgeries but the infections nearly killed me. I was a very sick man for nearly two years and I often wondered if I may not have been better off dead. Seriously....when you have nothing but time on your hands and the pain is nearly un-endurable plus you are so sick with fever and weakness it's natural to wonder why am I fighting this.

Naturally I searched for reasons to keep moving on and one of those became my desire, my determination to golf again.

I had started golfing again at the age of 50 after not playing for 25 years or so. I live on an island on an inland lake in Southern Michigan that has a nice little 9 hole course right in the middle. 
I had hurt my back and had several surgeries in the early 1990's and thought that I would never play again but I met a local golf teacher and he helped me scratch together a game that I could live with.

Just when it started to be fun and a daily ritual to go out at dawn every morning in our own cart and play 9 holes...I got hurt. It truly looked like I would never again play the game I learned to love a second time around.

But then I started to wonder why I couldn't play. Lots of folks play sports with prosthetics. And so the motivation, the obsession began to take over. There were many sleepless nights, tormented with pain and a rather bleak looking outlook o life when I rescued myself from the abyss with thoughts of the smell of freshly mowed greens, dew on my golf shoes and the luxury of having the entire course to myself while I golfed through sunrise after sunrise.

Though I didn't get my prosthesis until late June of 2015, I managed to get into the groove of playing fairly quickly though I couldn't play more then a few holes at a time. I am a member at this course and help out sometimes so I have the flexibility to play when I can.

The only limitations right now are financial because let's face is expensive and when you play often (as in every day) it runs equipment down rather quickly. Plus I still need to re-build my game...basically from scratch and lessons this time around are just not in the cards...I cannot afford them. 

Though I am finally getting on top of the infections and am able to walk/function pretty well on my artificial leg, all swing movement/stance has been completely thrown into disorder and I need help to learn to swing properly and most importantly, safely. After three years of hospitals, surgeries and countless treatments of every imaginable kind, my wife and I are flat busted due to huge medical expenses...especially early in my illness. We are slowly surviving but there isn't really money in the budget for golf equipment, lessons or a membership. 

But my wife Kim is my biggest fan and pushes me to play golf every day even when I don't feel up to it which is often. She more then anyone, myself included was first to see the value of playing as often as I was able.  

I am so grateful to the game that gave me the motivation to get up in the morning and get back on my feet and go has worked magic on my attitude and greatly improved my physical condition.  Now as I recover from another surgery I still find myself chomping at the bit to get back out there and play. A I did this past Christmas and New Years Days.

So let's get this snow out of the way and maybe I'll be fortunate to get to play again soon...


  1. When we have something we enjoy so much, it makes even the pain of recovery more bearable. How wonderful that you have such a goal to keep you focused and determined. It's great to see you back and posting regularly, T. You are, and always were, an inspiration. Best of luck to you and Kim, I'm-a keep reading...

    1. A voice from the shadows of the past! It is good to hear from you. Thank you for the kind words....It is good to be posting again but the words still don't seem to flow so effortlessly like they once did. Perhaps time will have some influence on this. One of the enjoyable aspects of posting in the past was hearing from unique people like yourself. I hope you are well and thriving....