MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON
Brittle Bones and Weak Knees, Oh! My . . .
Like most teens of the 60's and even the teens of today, I had a devine feeling of invulnerability during those early years of my life.
It never seemed possible that I could somehow injure myself to the extent that I couldn't participate in high school sports. I always had trouble imagining that I could not do just about anything physically I wanted to do or at least give it a try.
Now it is fully realized how fortunate it was that I was able to remain injury free long enough to play football, baseball, basketball and run track for the Dragons during my four years of high school. I must have played 1000 basketball games in high school, college, in the recreation leagues and in various pick-up games in gyms all over Jackson and Barrow County. As an old-time pole vaulter I continuously fell 10 - 12 feet into sawdust pits and hard ground on many occasions. The cushioney foam landing pit was a luxury of the future. When I think back on the things I did in high school I am amazed that I never received an injury that kept me from a scheduled contest or event. I served as a high school basketball referee for 26 years, carried the down marker during all Jefferson home football games for 24 years, and never missed a game due to an injury --- or illness for that matter. It was true that several of my teammates did receive injuries from their high school sports activities, but I never saw that as a ditriment to my continued participation. I always considered it a blessing that I was able to avoid this very possible situation. Still, I don't think I ever placed much thought into what could have happened until “the chickens came home to roost” in September of 2012. It is sad that it came about when I became a 67-year old man that is probably about as athletic now as a milk cow.
It was on September 23, during a golf match that has been a twice weekly activity with me for a number of years now. Much like when I was a high school athlete, it never dawned on me that I could be seriously injured while doing something that was as normal to me as getting up and going to work had been for over 38 years before my retirement.
On this fateful day I took a swing with a three-wood from a slightly down-hill lie. My weight shift was too much for the ligaments and meniscus in my left knee to withstand. I went down in tremendous pain that left me unable to walk. I had suffered a torn meniscus and some serious ligament damage.
My Athens, Georgia bone and joint physician told me after an MRI that it would have to be repaired if I ever wanted to walk without a major limp. Then he really caught my attention when he said I could possibly never play the game of golf again due to the constant pain and stiffness in my left leg without major surgery.
I don't mind admitting that having my knee cut on and repaired gave me much time to think. I questioned why something like this would come up when I reached the age of 67 years old. How was I able to escape this type of thing earlier in my life.
As I mentioned, I never had any type of serious injury. No broken bones or sprains that kept me limited as to what I could do. Why, Now? Dr. Ryan, whom I might add didn't sugar coat my injury as he carefully explained that the chances for a complete recovery, at my age, would be extremely difficult. Some of the factors that would make a complete recovery difficult were age, worn Cartilage between my knee joints, arthritus and other factors that would work against me along the road to complete recovery. My rehab would have to be taken seriously with a total dedication to improvement if I were to regain the former flexibility and strength in my left knee.
On November 27, I underwent orthroscopic surgery on my knee at the Athens Surgical Center. Three days later, I was able to place some weight on the knee, but there was tremendous swelling of my leg from toes to hip. On my post-op visit to my doctor on December 4, I had two six-inch vials of fluid ( mostly blood ) drawn off the knee. The last several days I have experienced less pain than at anytime since the accident.
I start rehab next Friday for two hours. I will undergo this process twice weekly for two months. Hopefully by March, I'll be able to tee a golf ball up and give it a try on the links again. I miss my weekly golf matches. I'll rehab as necessary will full intensity to regain full use of my knee. Will I ever trust the knee to allow me to replicate the same kind of monster swing at the ball as I did in the past? I really won't know how successful my return to golf will be until I give it a try. I hope I'll be back to normal or close to normal by this time.
One thing I do know. I plan on being more careful than in the past to protect myself from self injury. It's been the most difficult challenge I have ever faced --- not being able to get out and do the things I enjoy doing is really frustrating. It is also a humbling and unforgettable experience.
Would I have preferred to have an injury such as this years ago while in my high school/college days if I had the choice? I don't believe so. Now I have all the time in the world to recover without losing the sports elgibility I would have lost if injured in high school or college. I guess there was just too much going on in the life of this 1960's Jefferson teenager to want to lose precious time due to an injury.
Thank you, Lord. In my mind, this was a case of better late than early.
Golf ~ The safe game . . . You can play it all your life . . . Sure you can!
Happier golf days. Shortly after making a hole-in-one at the Winder course in mid-July. It was with a seven iron on the 153-yard par 3, number 3 hole.
This is how the meniscus should look in a photo taken of the left side of my left knee. It was not injured in the accident.
Another view of the injury to the inside of my left knee.
The trimmed meniscus after surgery.
This is a view of my torn meniscus from my September golf injury. I underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on November 27 at Athens Surgical Center by Dr. Ryan of Athens Bone and Joint Service. The surgery went well. It seems recovery is well under way at this point.
The injured meniscus after trimming away the injured portion and preparing it for forming and compression into the knee joint.
A view of my knee ( Leg ) after removal of bandaging 72 hours after surgery. Tremendous swelling and toothache-like pain was customary without strong pain killers.
A before and after surgery view of my torn meniscus.