Golf and Psoriatic Arthritis

Yesterday I took a few hours to try out a golf driving range close to where I live.  Last year I won a free round on a famous golf course, and since I wasn’t a golf player, I took about 10 lessons with a professional so that hopefully I wouldn’t look too bad when I went out on the course.  On the day I had a great time – although didn’t finish 18 holes as the weather turned terrible half way through.

Anyway, since then I had another couple of days practicing at a local driving range, and then nothing for the last 6 months – until yesterday.  Well I was pleasantly surprised that most shots I took went ok.  By ok I mean that they went fairly straight and stayed on the range rather than skying off to the left / right and clobbering one of the serving staff.  Although I did hear a couple of glasses breaking at different times, I’m pretty sure that was from clumsy staff dropping them rather than impact with a golf ball!

The driving ranges in Thailand are pretty comfortable.  Since staffing is not expensive, there are a whole bunch of guys waiting at the drop-off (yes, never any women) to take the clubs out of your car and transport them to a vacant practicing bay, and every range I’ve been to also has a restaurant attached and will deliver wonderful hot & fresh food to the table by your bay.  So my modus operandi is to take 4 or 5 shots, imitating playing a hole, i.e. start with the driver, switch to a 7,8 or 9 iron, and perhaps have a tinkle with a wedge, and then have a bit of a sit down and drink.  I find that this helps to keep me relaxed and raises the chances that I’ll play a proper shot each time.

I took the boys with me, as they not only enjoy hitting the ball (what kid doesn’t enjoy hitting something with a big stick?), but they also love the automatic ball placer.  I guess somewhere deep down it helps to fill their idea of a “robot” helping them.  Usually they are pretty wild with their shots – and it is not easy to keep them focused.  They will see how many balls they can hit in 3 seconds, try and stack three balls on top of each other and see if they can hit them all at once etc.  They are also obsessed with “how far” they can hit it, believing that this is the sign of a good golf shot.  So yesterday I tried to build into them the concept of consistency.  I explained that it was more important to hit the ball straight each time, and hit it cleanly, rather than seeing how far it went.  I then gave them a competition to see out of ten shots, how many could they hit cleanly and hit straight.  So they quite rightly ask what is considered “straight”, and we establish some side boundaries to clarify that anything that goes over those lines means the shot isn’t straight.

Wow, why hadn’t I thought of doing that before?  They got right into it, and being boys they had to compete against each other too.  They were hitting a lot of clean, straight shots in the end.

We were there for about 1.5 hours I guess, and then headed home.  Within a couple of hours of arriving home my left hand got quite sore.  It actually felt just like a joint pain I get in my right hand a week before my Remicade is due, so I really think it may be joint pain.  However I’ve never had joint pain on my left hand before.  At this stage I’m inclined to think that it is a legitimate injury from not playing golf for so long, rather than an injury related to my arthritis.  I’ll see if it goes away in the next few days.

Speaking of golfing and arthritis, I read an article yesterday about the pro. golfer Phil Mickelson, and his story of developing Psoriatic Arthritis in 2010.  Another text book case of development – he says he developed some psoriasis about 8 years ago (which would make it 2002), and then his PsA hit in 2010 when he was 40.  Interestingly, the article made it sound like he doesn’t suffer from psoriasis anymore?   I’m not sure what treatment he is taking for his PsA, but would hazard a guess that he is on Enbrel, as they are sponsoring his website.   Like Phil, I’m so happy that we have excellent scientists and medicines today so that we can live relatively normal lives.  Sometimes I wonder how my ancestors coped with this debilitating disease, without the treatment of biologics or even methotrexate.  I’ve traced my family tree back about 500 years.  Did some of my ancestors back then get PsA?  It must have been agony.

By the way, I had a great sleep last night.  Only took Tramadol – didn’t need any Celebrex.

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