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Most thought Peyton Manning’s football career was over after undergoing multiple neck surgeries in addition to spinal fusion in 2011. Still, he threw for 5,477 yards with fifty-five touchdowns for the Broncos in 2013 and the led to a Super Bowl victory in 2016. In retirement, the opportunity to play sports goes beyond simply finding a time and place to meet friends. Aside from ability, it’s also useful to avoid self-inflicted trauma which can put you on the reserve injured list. Last Tuesday started like the others. Glad my obituary didn’t appear in the paper, I headed to the bedroom to get dressed. That’s when it happened. There was a burst of pain under my left knee. I had to grab something before the ground rose to meet me. I imitated a 6’4” pink flamingo raising its paw. “Rita! Help me!“I screamed. She provided her shoulder as we slipped into the bedroom. I sat up on the bed.”What is the problem? Rita asked. “I do not know,” I said. “All of a sudden something happened in my leg right here.” She looked where I was pointing, about four inches below and outside my knee. “It suits me well.” For some reason, I was not comforted. No noise preceded the onset of pain. It was conceivable, however, that someone whose teeth I straightened 30 years earlier noticed a lower incisor turning a little to the side. Whoever it was had subsequently located a voodoo doll in my likeness and stuck a hatpin deep into its leg. There was no plausible explanation for the excruciating agony.
In fifteen minutes, things were back to normal. Rita poked her head into the bathroom while I brushed my teeth. “Are you playing golf today?” “Em na’zure,” came a mumbled response as he leaned over the sink, spitting out toothpaste. “The leg is fine now. I’m going to have to swing a club before I know if I can twist and put pressure on it. A cane accompanied a slow walk to the living room in case all hell broke loose. I flipped it over so the handle looked like the business end of a golf club, then moved to a place where I could give it a swing without hitting furniture, the wall, or the ceiling. “I don’t feel any pain” I proclaimed once more, brimming with confidence as Rita headed to the kitchen to pick up yogurt and berries from the fridge. As she disappeared, I caned the cane backwards, glutes shooting as Tiger approached the eighteenth green at the Masters on a Sunday. As the fake club picked up speed, centrifugal force caused several joints in the rod to become disarticulated. My hands followed and finally stopped abruptly. The rod segments, however, did not stop and continued their own tracking until they collided with considerable force against the side of my head. Ka-thwhap! “I hurt now!” I mumbled, squatting, writhing and holding my left ear as a trickle of blood trickled onto the floor. Reappearing again in the living room, Rita asked: “So, do you play golf?” Or not?” Like Peyton Manning, even in the face of significant bodily injury, it is important to maintain a “can do” attitude. With the help of a styptic pencil, I met the guys as planned. My start from the first tee was the longest in fifty years. With a bit of luck like Peyton’s, maybe even a very first hole-in-one was possible.
Retired orthodontist from Minot, former president of the ND dental and orthodontist associations, husband, father, grandfather.