June 8, 2009

My Usual Game: Sidelined By Yard Work (?!)

But Mrs. Old Man Par plays Pinehurst anyway...
I thought that I would get some long-neglected domestic duties out of the way on Saturday morning, starting with getting some yard work done that I have been putting off all summer. Saturday was one of those gifts-from-the-gods sort of days, an early summer day that was neither humid nor hot, and it presented a last-chance opportunity to do some manual labor before the temperatures in North Carolina are set to "Purgatory" for the next three months.

I weeded the gardens, trimmed the edges of the grass, planted some seedlings, among other things, and finally came to the last chore. It was to clean up a couple of bushes in the front yard that had been marked for removal by my wife's pruning shears. She'd cut them off to the ground, as they looked like they'd died, but in fact, she simply stimulated them to start growing with renewed vigor -- and they looked awful, almost as though someone had cut their hair with a Flowbee and then just let it grow back unkempt. They had to go.

Easy enough, I thought, as I yanked the two of them out of the ground that's been softened by a week solid of rain. Then, before putting them in the mountain of yard waste that'd been built through the morning. While I did it, I was thinking that I might head off to the golf course a couple of hours later, and get in 18 holes, and then play again Sunday morning on dew-sweeping duties with my friends. And that's when my troubles began: I shook one of the newly pulled bushes so the soil clinging to the roots could refill the hole in the ground left behind... and when I did, I stabbed my right hand with a root sharpened by chopping out the bush a couple minutes before. Ouch! Frak!

I was immediately in some serious pain, as though it was a deep stab wound (it wasn't, maybe a quarter of an inch) or had hit a nerve (didn't happen.) Throbbing, deep, real pain. Huh? WTF?

I'm not a wimp, and I have hurt myself in small ways and large in my time. This little bitty inconsequential wound hurt on the level of a broken thumb or foot. Odd, I thought to myself. I washed it out best I could, put on a Band-Aid, took an aspirin and manned up and finished up my chores.

End of story, or so I thought.

Wrong-o!!! A half hour later the back of my hand started itching with the kind of an itch that scratching won't cure. Then the itch slowly travelled up my arm. Again, no big deal, it was as if the bush was poison ivy, which I am not even allergic to. I thought that the itching would go away in a few minutes. It didn't. It only got worse and my arm from my elbow down turned a bright red, as though it was badly suburned.

Then came swelling in my hand and forearm...to almost twice their normal size. I could barely close my fingers and instead of itching I got throbbing pain instead.

Yikes! Rather than waiting for hours in a Doc-In-The-Box (an urgent care center) I took some Benadryls and the requisite nap that goes with the sleepy-time side effects of that drug. A little help, but not much.

Overnight Saturday, the swelling didn't subside and the pain held steady. I seriously was considering going to the Emergency Room in the morning when I remembered I had some Prednisone in the cabinet, which is about as potent an anti-inflammatory medication as one can get this side of a shot in the keester from a doctor. Coupled with some more Benadryls, I took that just after I called my buddy Leo and cancelled out of our Sunday foursome -- to which he teased me that I was just afraid he'd beat me and came up with any excuse I could think of. Then he told me to get better after I told him to drop by and have a look for himself. There was just no way I could hold a golf club, much less take the pounding of impact through the course of a round.

Thankfully, the swelling started going down today, taking with it the headaches and itching. All caused by yardwork! So now, we come to the Moral of the story: keep your priorities straight and never do yardwork. It is hazardous to your health and will harm your golf game. Keep in mind what's important in life, and it ain't Yard of the Month.

Meanwhile, my lovely wife headed out to play at Pinehurst's fabulous #8 course, a Tom Fazio creation that's among the top 10 in the country in terms of being friendly to women. She had a blast while I glowered out of the living room window at players coming and going to our 17th green, cursing my bad luck all the while.

On the other hand, I did get to watch the entire final round of The Memorial, where I got to see Tiger Woods finally unveil his post-knee-reconstruction A-game.

Tiger literally didn't miss a fairway all afternoon and pretty much put on a clinic with a seven-under 65 to come back from four down and take the win. The finish on 18 was incredibly Tiger-esque -- a ~180 yard shot to fourteen inches on a pin tucked tight to the right edge of the green and behind a bunker, the kind of flag that's labeled "sucker" on the pin-sheet and one that a sensible player stays the heck away from. Well, sensible players not named Tiger Woods. The win was impressive, sure, but the most impressive thing to me was the demeanor of Woods out on the course through the back-and-forth final round. All day, Tiger was as patient as a cat staring out of a window. And when the time came, on 15, 17 and 18, he pounced, scoring birdies on some of the harder holes on the Tour. The other players, Jim Furyk included, wilted under the pressure of needing birdies on tough holes with 14.5-speed greens, but Tiger held steady and had his best round of the year. While seeing that unfold was fun, it was only a consolation prize for missing golfing with my pals.

Finally, wouldn't you know it...when I woke up to come in for another week of work here in the office, the swelling and pain are all but gone and the only reminder of the weekend is a raw looking wound on the pad of my right hand. Isn't it funny how bad luck goes like that?

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