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The Hacker: Right arm like Popeye prevents me from having a swell old time

My Christmas golf was disturbed by a couple of slight calamities. Having been unable to play in our Boxing Day cross-country event, I put my name down for the Egg Cup on Thursday.

This is a Stablefordcompetition involving teams of four drawn at random from those who enter. This year there were 48 of us, and the three landed with me were cheerful and accommodating chaps, which is just as well.

I particularly wanted to play because I was expecting a new club for Christmas and, sure enough, I was rewarded with a Wilson Fybrid 5 with a 27-degree loft which is the equivalent of an 11 wood. I would like to report how it went but I can't because I left it at home. This caused almost as much consternation to me as it did to my lady friend who I'd been nagging for months to buy it for me.

What I did take to the course that morning, however, was a right arm that had become slightly swollen just before Christmas but had gained considerably in size by the time Thursday dawned.

I did consider pulling out but I'd already paid my 12.50 entrance fee, which included sausages and mash and was non-refundable.

Although the arm didn't hurt it was stiff and uncomfortable, but it didn't stop me scoring a respectable 16 points over the front nine.

My companions, Brian, Peter and Geoff, were all scoring better than that, so a tidy team score was in the offing, particularly if I could make maximum use of all the shots I was getting.

But the activity caused the arm to balloon even more, and my score on the back nine was a miserable eight points. When I took my sweater off afterwards and displayed my arm around the bar, I was surrounded by sympathisers who immediately christened me Popeye.

I've never had such a good excuse for a bad round, and everyone urged me to see a doctor immediately.Unfortunately, there wasn't an appointment available until the following morning, so I stayed for the festivities.

When I showed the bulging arm to my doctor on Friday morning, she called to her colleague next door to come and have a look. "You've never seen an arm like it," she said.

After adding a touch of the exotic to their day, I was sent off to attract even more curiosity at the hospital, where bafflement reigned while test after test on my general health came back positive. The consultant concluded there was a blockage somewhere. Blood was getting into the arm OK but was slow getting out of it, and he sent me for an ultrasound examination on my shoulder.

After a thorough journey around my blood vessels, the operator located a clot with a triumphant cry to her colleague to come and check it.

The plan now is to thin the blood and reduce the size of the clot so that normal service can be resumed. Meanwhile, said the doc, I can carry on as usual.

"Will I be able to play golf?"I asked.

"Yes, of course you will,"he answered.

"That's great, I couldn't play before," I should have said. But I decided these noble people get a difficult enough time without daft jokes.