I was starting to think that I might never golf again. I last played a year ago and it didn’t go well. Besides just not playing well, I ended up having a foot drop for the first time the following few days. I chalked it up to the heat and exertion causing me too much fatigue. After that experience, this summer I lied about a back injury to get out of playing with colleagues in 100 degree heat.
Recently I found myself in the same circumstance of being expected to play with colleagues. However, I am happy to report a much better outcome.
I went to the driving range a decent amount in the weeks heading up to the event to help my body get extra practice adjusting for my compromised balance. I also went to try and build up as much endurance swinging a club that I could.
But most importantly, this time I was smart and conserved my energy as much as possible for the day prior to and the day of the golf. I was at a resort where my room was a five minute walk to the main lobby and where our meetings were held. Normally I would have enjoyed the walk on the beautiful resort. This time I wimped out and had the shuttle guys who drive guests around the complex give me rides back and forth each time. I also made a point of sitting and relaxing whenever I could, rather than walking around.
The conservation of my energy pre golf worked. I was relatively rested and in good shape for when we tee’ed off. I was also aided by a bit cooler temperature, a late start and an early sunset. When we got to the turn, it was already getting dark and at most we would have only gotten another hole or two in. We opted to head into the clubhouse.
So I only actually played nine holes, but it was very enjoyable and I played decent given that I haven’t been on a course in a year and I am pretty sure that no one noticed my unusual gait. This is just one more example of something that is ten times as enjoyable when you know that it may be your last time. You really appreciate that you can still do it.
I am generally a pretty honest guy. Life is complicated enough as is. Having to keep track of different falsehoods that were said to different people just isn’t worth it. Things are a lot simpler to organize if they are consistent; which means telling the truth.
That having been said, I am in a position where I feel that I just don’t have much choice sometimes. My MS is a secret known only by my closest family. I am very confident that when I come out of the closet about my MS, that my earning potential will be negatively impacted. If it isn’t necessary yet, that’s not fair to my family.
My first cover up occurred about a year ago. I was walking with a colleague and stumbled slightly stepping off of a curb. He asked if I was alright. I blamed it on my new glasses. There is a small element of truth to this. It was the first time that I wore progressive lenses and I wasn’t accustomed to the ground being out of focus yet. Coincidently, he had also just switched to progressives and was struggling with getting used to them.
My second time just occurred and was a bit more of a blatant lie. I was scheduled to play in a golf tournament with work colleagues. This presented a few issues:
I hadn’t played in almost a year and had not gotten out to the driving range like I had planned. This was a tournament, which meant that I would be dragging down the whole team.
It would be four hours of them closely observing me walking across open spaces. That’s more of a chance that someone would notice that something didn’t look right.
It was almost 100 degrees out and we would be playing in the sun in the heat of the day. Overheating can often contribute to flareups of symptoms with MS and should generally be avoided.
So I lied.
I claimed to have hurt my back. It’s pretty common with out of shape guys my age and fit the situation well in that it would make golf very difficult but not prevent me from doing much else. I went to the tournament and joined everyone for drinks and dinner, but did not golf.
It was a little frustrating to watch the guys playing from the clubhouse window and wanting so badly to be out there. However, I am convinced that not playing in the heat was the smarter move for my health.
I also felt bad about lying to colleagues and friends, but I am still convinced it was the right thing to do for my family and career. Sometimes we have to do what is needed to survive.
Hopefully I will not have to lie about my condition too many times. The lesson learned is to plan better and not get myself in circumstances that force me to make these decisions. In hindsight, signing up for a golf tournament in the heat of August with work colleagues should have been recognizable in advance as a dumb idea.