Walking Ms. Daisy

Nov 4, 2011 | On Being Positive

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Lynne Tapper

I am a lifelong endurance athlete with the dual goal of training and racing until my bones turn to dust and sharing that passion with as many people as possible.

The morning was a big improvement for Lynne, more alert, and moving much less gingerly.  She continued working her way through a Netflix filmography, watching “Word Wars” about competitive Scrabble players.

Watching movies

The hospital has a very clear plan for her recovery.  Today’s agenda includes special breathing exercises, taking a walk around the “short course” and, if successful then onto the “long course”.  Finally, they will wean her off of her PCA (Patient Controlled Anesthetic) Pump and onto oral pain medication.  If she transitions well, then she will be clear for discharge tomorrow.

The first walk was somewhat tentative, but went without incident.  It was funny to watch someone used to doing half-marathons and triathlons be congratulated for walking for 2 minutes.

The short course

Later, the “long course” loomed.  A full 4-minutes!  The nurse that accompanied Lynne was bragging to the staff at the nurses’ station about how well her patient was doing compared to theirs.  Mind you, the average age of the other patients here (besides Lynne) is probably 82.  Still, those slackers better step it up.

Fashion-wise, the robe they gave Lynne for her second walk made her look like a mob boss who is pretending to be mentally incompetent in order to avoid a RICO conviction.  Truly not a flattering garment.

Don Tapper

At 2:30 they disconnected Lynne’s best friend, the morphine-on-demand system.  Then she was off on another walk.  This time she and Claudette took two loops on the long course.  Sandra, one of the nurses, jokingly chastised Claudette for taking all the easy gigs.

The Long Course

Lynne wanted to know if they could do something in a wheelchair and then a sponge bath to create their own Hospital Grade Triathlon.  No takers, but a few of the 80-year olds seemed intrigued when we told them that there would be soup for all the finishers.

Lynne had three visitors today, Marji, Cathy and her father.  She was pretty engaged for all of them, but definitely runs out of steam at points.

I think she is eager to finish her next documentary:  “Note By Note:  The Making of Steinway L1037”

After a few hours off the PCA, the switch to Vicodin is having mixed results.  It is definitely controlling the pain, but with less immediacy than the on-demand pump.  And, it can only do so much to manage the pain she has in the surgical area.  Needless to say, hugging is out for the near future.  Lots of fist bumps, strategic scratching and hand holding.

While there was much progress today, she was sobered by the reality of the recovery that lies ahead.  The soreness will be challenging for her to tolerate.  The calls, texts, Word Feud action and movies have helped distract her, but do keep that in mind.


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