How old is too old?
When I was in high school, I was a 3-sport athlete. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 6, basketball since I was 10, and golf since I was 14. Two years ago after playing a pick-up game of basketball with some guys from work, my dream of playing major league soccer or becoming an NBA superstar all changed.
Apparently, after age 30, your body changes. The premier athlete you once thought you were, now wakes up with aches and pains the night after a softball game. Running five miles a day is not as easy as it once was. You actually get winded walking up two flights of stairs.
I overheard the young guys at work trash-talking about their pick-up basketball game the night before and decided I would like to show them the “old” guy could still play. So I asked them why they hadn’t asked me to play. Were they scared? Apparently not…as I was invited to play the next night.
As I remember it, in the first game, I scored 60 points, had 20 rebounds, 10 blocks and many plays worthy of making the top 10 plays on ESPN that night….before jumping for a rebound during the second game and feeling something pop. I fell to the ground in pain. In all my years of playing sports, I’d never dealt with a serious injury. After a few minutes rolling around in agony, the pain didn’t feel as bad. Maybe I had just tweaked something? I got up and walked it off…..then ran down the court. I was fine. There was nothing wrong. I asked for the ball to take a jump shot, then my leg gave out again. This was not good. I sat out the next game trying to figure out what was going on. I figured I possibly sprained or pulled something, so I decided to go home….limping on the way to my car. As I drove back to my girlfriend’s (fiancée’s…actually, by the time you read this, wife’s) apartment, the pain was getting worse. As I walked through the door – looking for sympathy, I was instead met with a joking laugh.
“Getting too old to play basketball?” she quipped. I immediately asked her for some Advil. She had none. She asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. Stubbornly, I said no. I decided I would sleep it off (with no pain medication) and wake up in the morning without any issues.
It was the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had (up until that point). I woke up and thought a trip to urgent care may be a good idea. The doctor told me that I may have a partially torn MCL. The prognosis: I may need surgery, but it wouldn’t be bad and I would be walking fine a week after. I could deal with that. However, I was told to get an MRI to make sure nothing else was going on. Long story short, two days later I found out I had completely torn my ACL and partially tore my MCL and physical therapy and surgery (followed by more PT) was recommended. Did they not know golf season was coming?? There was no way I was going to miss a whole summer of golf. I asked what would happen if I postponed the surgery until November. I was told, my knee would give out on me every once in a while and I could do more damage. I didn’t care. I golfed the entire summer and actually played pretty well on a bum knee. I had the surgery in November of 2009. Coming back from the hospital, I felt groggy but the knee felt great…..until the block wore off. I spent the next month on crutches and pain medicine, then had six months (2-3 days a week) of pretty intense physical therapy. Luckily, I had a great surgeon (Dr. John Goldblatt, University of Rochester Medical Center) and an amazing experience at the University of Rochester Sports Medicine for my PT. Almost 2 years later, my knee feels great (except when it’s cold and rainy). I could probably resume playing basketball, soccer and softball, but I’ve decided to just stick to golf.
I’ve already started my quest to make the Senior PGA Tour!