2020 has been an interesting year for everyone, but for me personally it has been a year of re-building and recovery. The previous year I had played in a couple professional tournaments but played with pain. I am not a stranger to playing hurt as I have had reconstructive wrist surgery, back surgery, and a C-section. In typical Jessica fashion, I ignored the fact that I ached and had sharp pains in my shoulder. This year I started training for 3 events by playing more and training in the gym. Meanwhile the pain in my shoulder became more advanced and chronic. I did lots of physical therapy, ART, Cupping, and Cortisone shots. No relief.
Playing in Pain
Even though my swing was being modified due to pain and restrictions I played my events, viciously hooking all clubs. It was eye opener as ball striking has always been the strength of my golf game — in my senior year of college I hit 93% of my fairways and 74% of my greens. I remember missing a green by 30 yards from 100 yards away with the type of ball flight that gives you nightmares! My swing had morphed into something out of the blue lagoon.
On my last event, I was warming up on the range and felt a horrible popping shredding feeling in my right shoulder and couldn’t finish my last round. I had pushed myself to the limit. Upon getting an MRI, my orthopedic surgeon found a large bone spur on my AC joint. He operated and removed the spur that was shredding my bicep tendon along with my bursa. According to him, my bursa was so chronically enflamed that the only way to rid the problem was to remove it. News flash to me — I didn’t know that you could re-grow a bursa.
Instantly after surgery my shoulder felt tight, but not with the same sharp pain. The road to recovery was a long way ahead of me. First, I started light stretching so that I wouldn’t get a frozen shoulder. My mobility was so limited, I could not get a straight arm above my hip. It is so easy to think that you will never get back to where you were before surgery, but slowly I’ve started to get small improvements on flexibility. Physical therapy pushed me past my limits and got me more movement.
For the last 3 months I have been focusing on just short game, which is so beneficial for not only rehabbing from an injury but also learning how to make contact again. I hate to say that I had to learn how to hit the ground again. I started with chipping, taking one ball at a time and asking myself if contact hurt. Over and over I had to tell myself that it didn’t hurt and that I was OK to make bigger swings. Chipping turned into soft pitches around the green and then graduated to long distance wedges. For months these have been the only swings I make, stopping when I feel limited or tight. This past week I moved on to a fuller swing and feel closer to normal. I’m definitely not ready for a round of golf yet, but I am on the road to making full swings. Hopefully hitting a driver is not too far away.
What I have learned throughout this process is that I have to listen to my body, be patient, optimistic, and keep believing that I will play and compete again. Taking the game away from someone who is a true competitor and loves to play their best is tough on the psyche. So much of who I am is golf. I get so much satisfaction hitting a drive down the fairway, confidence from knowing that I am a great player, and internal drive when given a challenge. Look for me on the course in 2021 when I come back strong.