Tiger Woods, in a one-car accident, flipped his vehicle and suffered, according to Dr. Anish Mahajan, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, “comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula” of his right leg. The leg was stabilized by a rod in the tibia and screws and pins in the foot and ankle.
To give you an idea of what Tiger will need to do, I will tell you my journey. I am not a doctor, and I know it is anecdotal, but I put a lot of time into learning about this type of injury.
On 8/29/07 I was crushed against a garage wall by a tractor-trailer. I had many injuries, but the most evident to onlookers (aside from my vomiting from the effects of the concussion for a year) was the comminuted open fracture of my hand. The doctors advised amputation, which I refused.
The doctor in the emergency room, Keshav Magge (coincidentally a hand plastic surgeon -- God loves me) spent 10 hours taking out and putting in stitches to use what skin and flesh was left to close and cover as much of what remained of my hand as possible so they could do surgery (to put in three pins) in the next few days.
He did not get up to eat or to go to the bathroom. He put in and removed, and put in again, hundreds of stitches, over and over, for the entire day. He has pictures.
I had it easy with my hand at least because my OCD really worked for me. For most of two or three years, for at least eight hours a day, I did rehab (very painful rehab) involving remodeling (pushing and bending, shaping, massaging to eliminate scar tissue), while stretching and exercising to regain usage from what looked like a monster's clubbed claw-hand (seriously, people would get sick when they first saw it and some kids in a store once on Halloween ran crying to their mom at the sight of the monster).
I still do rehab today.
I also had an advantage because I could spend a couple of years holding my hand straight up in the air. People thought I was waving; I made a lot of friends. No bent elbow, it allows infected blood to drain back into the hand when you put your arm down instead of a straight arm using gravity to filter it down through the heart. Making sure no blood pooled in the hand because it promoted infection was paramount. Something difficult or impossible to do with a leg. In addition, Tiger will have zero mobility.
I kept getting infections because the wound was open, and it is extremely difficult to maintain a straight gravity line to the heart at all times. Against doctors’ advice, I started using peroxide to clean it 2-3 times a day. They advised against this because the peroxide can eat the flesh. But I could not get rid of the infections without it and would have eventually lost the hand to the insidious predations of infectious attack had I not used the peroxide.
As a side note, with a closet full of peroxide and alcohol, and a habit I never gave up, I was prepared for COVID.
I need to tell you about the pain. It is the greatest pain Tiger will ever feel in his life -- and I had a head-on motorcycle collision without a helmet and almost drowned once. I know he had an opioid issue so he will try to do it without them, which I did for the first couple of years.
Those years, the girl I was living with would lead me downstairs in the morning and upstairs at night. I read articles for many hours (American Thinker, Townhall, et al.) and watched a little TV at night -- I did not sleep much. I was always in agony, many times unable to do anything but try to deal with the pain. Sometimes, it was hard to breathe because of the pain. I cried a lot.
Mostly, I never left the house. The pain made me unsteady on my feet and I could not concentrate on what I was doing. Driving anywhere over five or ten minutes would cause me to start to lose it. The first time I drove anywhere more than a few blocks was 2010, three years later. Tiger, having injured his right leg, will probably not be able to drive anywhere for many years, if ever.
The thing is, with that type of injury if you do not do the work, it never heals, and perhaps you will never really be able to use that part of your body again. As it was, even with all my advantages over Tiger, it took more than three years for the wound to close and for my modeling efforts to shape it back into what resembled a hand and still more years to reattain utility.
It still hurts all the time and always will. I wear a glove when I go out and sometimes around the house. But, except for the glove, no one would know. That is what I wanted. I knew my life had changed, but as long as I could present as normal, I considered it success.
You see, with the severity of his wounds, he either devotes the next five years (or more) to agonizing rehab and ameliorating infection or he will be lucky to even keep his leg, much less ever walk again. He may play again but having some idea of what he will need to go through to make that happen, I doubt it.
Yet, I would never write off Tiger Woods.
That has been done before and I would never deign to be so presumptuous.
The author can be followed on Twitter @williamlgensert
Image: Keith Allison