Golfers, like musicians, tend to trust docs involved in their genre, so I have a number of golfers in my practice. A lot can transpire on the golf course.
For the most part when we play golf the boys are about the game. Who wants to talk about constipation when a fifteen dollar bet is on the line? Early on one fellow did ask me about his prostate problems on number thirteen. I told him I had a glove (and not a golf glove) in my bag, and if he’d pull down his pants, I’d be glad to check him. I noticed after that, no one asked any medical questions unless it was urgent.
One day a young fellow showed up for the Saturday choose-up. He was underage, but the boys wanted to let him tee it up, ’cause then we’d have five foursomes instead of having one group be odd man out.
I voiced my concern. I sat on the Golf Course Board, and knew quite well if he gambled it was a violation of County High School team eligibility rules. My arguments were to no avail, though. The boy wanted to play, and everyone else wanted to let him. On top of that he didn’t feel well, and had some cramping abdominal discomfort. Intuition spoke and I didn’t like what I heard.
He wasn’t febrile, at least to touch, and the history wasn’t consistent with an appendix. Everyone was clamoring to tee off, so I decided to pay the kid’s fifteen bucks myself and declare him a “competing marker.” It was a category I made up, and I hoped the ingenuity might save him trouble later.
I pulled him aside. “Look, Richard, don’t ever pull this again. You’ve got a shot at college golf, and you don’t need to take any chances with it.”
“Yes sir, Dr. Bibey. I promise.”
I knew the boy hated to back down after he’d promised to play, so I let it go. He was in my group, and I’d keep an eye on things.
We closed the front two under, not good enough to win the side, but were determined to make it up on the inward nine. By twelve Ricky began to flag. “Doc, I don’t feel so good, my nut hurts, and I mean bad.”
Now, very little will bring the choose up to a halt, but all of sudden the boys were worried. Not only were we contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but he was sick too.
Weasel was the most concerned. It was his idea to invite the kid to play, and he worked for the boy’s dad down at the Purina plant. Weasel began to foresee how this could play out. He didn’t need to be out of a job.
“You better check him out, Doc.” It had been their problem; now it was mine too.
“Boys, dang it, this wasn’t my idea to start with. Dadgum you rascals. Come on Wease, you gotta be my chaperon.” I doubt it was a customary role for the Weasel, but I wasn’t gonna drag this boy down in the woods and check him alone. I knew everyone trusted me, but it didn’t seem proper. Weasel protested, but gave in when I threatened to tell his boss this whole thing was his fault. How did these boys get me into these situations?
Well, we went down in the woods, and Ricky pulled down his pants for me to examine. D^*#, this wasn’t epididymitis, but a torsion. Exquisite tenderness, acute onset, horizontal position. Why in the world did I let this boy play? What was I thinking?!
Wease took one glance and about fell out, (medical for near syncope) and Ricky and I had to catch him to keep him from going down. Now here I was out in the woods with an under-aged boy I had involved in a golf match wager, and his pants down no less, with the two of us holding up a near comatose half drunk middle aged man. Now I had two patients, one of who was near passed out. This did not look good.
Ricky pulled up his britches and helped me triage the Weasel. He was breathing O.K. and his pulse was strong. I felt like he would be O.K., but we propped up his feet with an old log and whistled for help. (Remember the old Boy Scout adage- in shock, face is pale, raise the tail.)
By the time the boys got there, Wease was already coming around. We had been walking, but the next group had a cart, and they donated it as an ambulance.
This was before the days of cell phones, so we had to get back to the golf shop to use the phone. I caught the urologist at the office, and he heard out the story.
“Damn, Bibey. Really, you are gonna have to give up those house calls some day.” He was getting a big laugh out of the situation, but he had me send the boy over the ER, where they confirmed the diagnosis. He went to surgery and did well.
Now I know you didn’t need to hear all that to make it through your day. I tell the story to remind you with acute illness, you can’t be too careful. Had I assumed epididymitis it would have been a big mistake.
I know many of my readers are parents, especially moms, so if your adolescent males turn up with acute pain in a testicle, I hope you remember this story and get ’em in to the doctor. If it is a torsion (a twist) the chances of recovery lessen with each hour that goes by, and a few days is too long.
Now you might say “Well what are the consequences of missing it?” In truth, perhaps not much. The Good Lord paired organs for a reason. The boy would most likely get along O.K. without one testicle. And, I’m sure to a lot of women we ain’t that much worse off for a minor reduction in the world’s testosterone level, but I figure the boy needs to be given a chance to make his decisions for himself. If later he doesn’t behave properly ’cause of testosterone poisoning, it ain’t my fault. We all are responsible for our own actions and all I can do is play his odds for him to his best advantage.
Even more important than one testicle, though, was his golf game. Many a grown man would give up a testicle to play college golf, and this boy had some game. After it was all over, my best advice to him was to not take any more chances with his scholarship odds. He went on to play college golf on a full ride. That was probably more important in his life than saving the testicle, at least to most of the golf nuts I know.
To all y’all in the frigid Arctic, golf season is might near here in N.C. I’m off, and believe I’ll hit a few in the morning.