Necessity is the Mother Of Invention
By Bernie Fay
When I was 12 years old I was having an all out wrestling match with one of my best buddies. He was a very big boy. During the match, somehow I was over his back and he flipped me. In an instant I put my two elbows behind me in the free fall to break the momentum and to stop myself from landing directly on my back. It was a tremendous force when I landed and instead of breaking my fall with my elbows, my left arm went under my back. AND SNAP! I had a compound spiral dislocation of the left humerus. It’s the bone that goes from your shoulder to your elbow.
At the hospital the surgeons told my mother they were going to operate and put long metal plates in my left arm with screws to put me back together. Also…that there would be a large scar running along the left side of my arm.
Well guess what? My mother grew up in Ireland (County Kerry) in the 40’s and 50’s. And when someone had a broken bone? The local doctor quite simply set the bone. If, in six months, the particular patient had a limp or his arm was a little crooked it was just “The way of the world.”
The surgery, plates, screws and a scar were incomprehensible to my mom. She told the surgeons to think of something else. Her 12 year old son Bernie was not going to have a 12 inch scar along his left arm and there would be no metal plates and screws in him either. There would be NO SURGERY. It’s just the way she was.
The Doctors devised a plan.
It would be a full upper body cast. With my left arm and shoulder raised over my head. This is the only way the doctors could properly set the broken Humerus bone without surgery.
I was in the cast for 67 days. One of the worst things was that I broke my Humerus two days after school let out for summer in the seventh grade.
When the Doctors cut the body cast off over two months later, my left arm had atrophied so much it was about a 1/4 of the size of my right arm and shoulder. It was skin and bone. So thin. The big problem was that it was stuck in the air. It would not come down from the position the cast had it in for months. The muscles were gone and the tendons had shrunk so much. It took months of therapy to loosen the tendons and muscles so that my left arm would be in a normal position on the left side of my body.
It was really never the same and I had a lot of pain from the arthritis that developed over the years. And I love golf. I absolutely love it.
By the time I was 53 years old I lost my backswing from all of the problems that had developed.
One day I was in my garage doing stretching exercises to try to improve my left arm going deeper into my backswing. I put my left arm across my chest and pulled with my right arm to try to get the shoulder to turn better. It was little relief.
On my work bench I noticed a 14 inch bungie cord. I thought to myself if I tied the bungie cord around my left arm just above the elbow I could pull up and away with my right arm for a better stretch. I couldn’t believe it! It was real relief and I felt it in my entire left side. But the bungie cord was strangling my left arm from the force. So I ran upstairs an found an ankle brace in my sock drawer and slid it up my left arm and hooked the bungie cord to the ankle brace in order to spread out the force of the pull. I sat in my garage doing the stretch for at least an hour that day. It worked so well I could not believe it. Over the next weeks I used it on a regular basis and then I started to think how I could make a golf invention that could help other golfers that wanted a deeper wider golf swing.
I made at least ten trips to various hardware stores, got parts on the internet, found bits and pieces in my garage and made the first MISIG! Boy was it ugly. Eye screws and bolts, amber surgical tubing, PVC pipe and the list goes on. But it worked!
Well you can guess what happened next. I wanted to patent and sell it to golfers. I had to go to my wife Mary Ann and tell her I wanted to patent my new golf invention. And I needed money. From our life savings. A lot of it. “How Much?” she asked. When I told her all that was involved in patents and trademarks, parts to make at least five hundred of them, a booth at the PGA Merchandise Show, Attorney fees, Marketing Company, Hotels and food, people to help at the PGA Show, Brochures and the list goes on….It was a LOT of money.
She told me I was nuts. And not just a regular kind of crazy by the real kind. Maybe I could get some help? From Doctors.
But I had an ace in the hole. I knew she always believed in me. She relented and has since been my source for uplifting inspiration, words of wisdom when things aren’t going well and my partner.
Things didn’t go very for me selling the MISIGS in the beginning months . I mean things were terrible. Nobody would buy it.