By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPC, NCC
At the age of 78 and on the surface, at least, Ed Koepp seems to have gone through life effortlessly and has accomplished much. For example, he shot his age in golf twice last year, has been a licensed psychologist and social worker, and still works as a U.S. Golf Teachers Federation certified golf instructor. Yet below the surface, throughout life, he has had to endure many physical ailments and pains that perhaps should be limiting his abilities today far more than they have.
“First, I had three accidents over period of time,” said Koepp in a telephone interview. “The first was in 1963, which involved a head-on collision that damaged all my lower back muscles. Twenty years later, I was on a bicycle and a fellow on a motorcycle struck me from behind. So I re-injured my back. Then about ten years ago, I was inside a building, and a person in a vehicle outside the building lost control and his entire vehicle entered the building and struck me, carrying me towards a wall. That did even more damage to my back.”
While in the hospital after the first accident, in addition, Koepp learned through x-rays that all along through life he had been living with a genetic spinal deformity. He was missing part of his lower spine, which had caused scoliosis and explained the persistent, lifelong back pain he had felt even before the accident.
He said, “I had pain all throughout growing up because of the spine and had quite a jolt after seeing the x-rays the first time. I'd worked in construction and done a lot of heavy lifting that was challenging and painful.”
Adding to the list above, Koepp currently has Dupuytren's contracture, which is causing the fourth and fifth fingers on one hand to curl inward toward the palm and has affected his golf grip. In recent years, he also has had several heart attacks, prostate cancer, gall bladder surgery, and three eye operations.
He advised people recently acquiring a disability: “If something was fun before you became disabled or injured, you should give yourself the opportunity to continue doing those things, even though the way you do them might be different (and require adaptation). The things that used to be fun can still be fun. I've given many golf lessons to people who have had knee and back injuries.”
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