Higher and higher

Published 1:47 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It started at the end of last summer. I was in the pool throwing my grandson, Henry, high up in the air so he could make a big splash.

“Higher, Granddaddy! Higher!”

Actually, he mostly called me “Grannydaddy” then, but who cared. Like most things he asks me to do, then and now, I tried to oblige him.

There was a slight twinge in my shoulder that evening as I went to bed, but I thought nothing of it. After all, playing hard with that little human dynamo leaves me sore or aching in different places all the time.

This time was different. The nagging pain got stronger and more aggravating over time until this morning I had it operated on. It turns out I had a tear in my rotator cuff, along with bursitis and arthritis.

I am writing this article in that brief period of time between when the nerve block wears off and I can take my first pain pill. The little bag around my neck is supposedly an automated pain pump. It would serve a better purpose as a small purse. I think they forgot to put the AA batteries in.

The nerve block made my whole arm completely numb. No feeling and no movement. That means I am typing this article with one hand. By the time I finish, the pain pill may have kicked in, so you’ll have to excuse me if I make less sense than usual.

“Why did you wait so long?” you might ask. Well, it turns out I had tickets to the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta. With the possible exception of watching Auburn in the BCS National Championship, there is no sporting event in the world I would rather watch than the Masters.

Mary Lou and I made the long trek to Augusta with an overnight stay at a friend’s lake house on Lake Sinclair. Simon is from England. His girlfriend was there, along with his father, who was visiting from northeast England. What a delightful evening we had.

We picked up our passes at the Augusta Country Club, which was founded in 1899, long before the Augusta National which is home to the Masters. Bill Bottomlee, a former president of the Augusta Country Club, met us and showed us around. He knows and has been a part of golfing history going back longer than he would like for me to say.

The minute you step on the grounds you know you are in a special place. There are no computers, pagers or cell phones. No emails, Facebook or Twitter. It is the one day of the year when I am truly disconnected from the electronic world.

The loudest sounds you are likely to hear are the occasional roar of the gallery and the singing of the birds in the trees. The azaleas may not have been as beautiful this year, but everything else was just perfect. Tiger made a run at the lead and eight different younger players held the lead on the last day.

I don’t play golf anymore and Mary Lou hasn’t played since she killed a duck on the water hole on No. 3 at Green Valley. However, I don’t play college football or major league baseball either, but I enjoy watching them as well.

A lot has changed in the last 48 hours. I have gone from seeing some of the world’s greatest athletes put a ball within two inches of a hole from 150 yards out to having a new 2-inch scar on my shoulder. Forty-eight years ago I watched my boyhood friend, Dr. Keith Granger, skillfully throw a knife into a tree from 20 yards. Today he skillfully used a knife, though much smaller, on my shoulder.

I have also learned how much I depend on the use of my left arm. Typing this article has taken more than twice as long with one hand rather than two. I can’t wear a pullover shirt. Mary Lou had to cut up my food. Things I take for granted just don’t come easy.

Putting toothpaste on my toothbrush proved unexpectedly difficult. I suspect I would probably grow a beard over the next couple of weeks if it would not be so gray. I have all this medicine to take but they are all in childproof bottles, which I just can’t seem to open.

I can’t sleep in a bed so am trying to find a good position in my recliner. How easily I fall asleep in one when I don’t want to.

There are a few things still working. My right hand was sufficient for the delicious chocolate pie Janet Hill brought by. I expect it will be gone by morning. One hand works the remote just fine. Believe it or not, I am getting better at using the computer with one hand.

I know I have taken Mary Lou for granted, as I couldn’t have made it through the day without her. I also know I better work at those rehab exercises since her Florence Nightingale moment is likely to be fleeting.

Finally, I know that we all take for granted the prayers of family and friends. I appreciate all those prayers today.

I plan to be at full steam soon. You’ll know I am back when you hear the splash in the pool as I throw Henry and Laura higher and higher.