Despite many years of school and residency and practice, I am always encountering holes in my medical knowledge.
For instance, I didn’t realize how dangerous a game golf could be. The image of the world’s greatest golfer, some say the world’s greatest athlete, lying semiconscious and shoeless on the street outside his home startled me. His face begged a “replace your divots” sign. The back window of his Escalade was missing, and a three iron lay nearby trying to look innocent.
I figured that after his successful ACL repair, Tiger was more likely to fall off his yacht than suffer a serious occupational injury. Since this represented a clear hole in my knowledge base, I decided to consult experts.
Dr. Jim Elliot, an orthopedic surgeon, told me he has twice treated golfers who have had open fractures (that’s the bone-sticking-through-the-skin kind — yuck) of both bones in the lower legs.
One wouldn’t think that stepping out of a golf cart would lead to such a violent injury, but if the cart is still speeding along, and if you have had north of six frosty Buds in as many holes, the risk profile changes.
I then spoke to Rachel Warren, a former Billings Central and Rocky Mountain College champion golfer, to get a female pro’s perspective on the situation. There are allegations that Tiger’s wife Elin may have used a golf club as a facilitative device in their marital dialogue, specifically the aforementioned three iron. “Certainly club selection is always important,” Ms. Warren opined. “I might have chosen a sand wedge as it has a nice sharp leading edge. It is a relatively short club and not hollow and broad like a driver. It should get her into the car quickly.” My thought was that it would likely leave a divot as well.
Once Tiger was done with his CT scans and plastic surgeon, and I’m guessing a dentist as well, the fun started. Your face is a throbbing eggplant, public voyeurism verges on hysteria, and your prenup just went up $70 million.
Every red-blooded American male wannabe jock in the country who has wanted to be Tiger looks at side-by-side photographs of his Vegas playpals (rather, shall we say, professional-looking) and his Norwegian wife (smokin’ hot) and says, “Dude, seriously, you got more than your sand wedged.”
So yes, golf can lead to some major complications.
My golf expert, Rachel, said it best: “I think I would rather be Tiger than Elin right now. His wounds will hurt less and heal more quickly.”
Every doctor sees patients who are decidedly unwell without a blood test or an x-ray that is abnormal. A broken heart doesn’t register on an EKG, but it can cripple you and kill you just as much as any tumor.
I got a call at 5 this morning about a guy who got punched on the side of the head. His ear was shredded, and while I was putting the parts back together, I pondered how differently we regard physical versus emotional assault.
This ear would be expensive and painful, but he’ll get over it in a while. He can, if he wants, file charges or sue the guy.
If you promise till death do us part, forsaking all others, then betray that trust, you can inflict a wound more lacerating and devastating than any punch or gun. It is not an inconsequential health issue. I would be very surprised if you or someone you know hasn’t been really damaged in that way.
I don’t care if a single Tiger wants to win a purple jacket for being the Master horndog, but you can’t be Mr. Gatorade/Nike/Amex/adorable daddy at the same time and not hurt people.
As surely as we strap our kids in car seats, drive prudently to protect our friends, and feed, clothe and shelter our families, this salacious little episode reminds us that our behaviors and commitments matter a great deal to the health of the people around us. What does a healthy body do for you if your soul is merely wistful ashes?
Much of health has to do, of course, with prevention. Just in case, I have locked away the golf clubs, chain saws, sharp garden tools and tin snips in the garage. Like I said, you knowledge is never complete.
Dr. Alan Muskett is a board-certified plastic surgeon at Billings Plastic Surgery.