Failure To Launch Part 1 of 3

Dock lines are curled and ready to toss. Waypoints charted from marina to destination. LA VITA is ready from mast to keel. Rick and Lynn are primed to go. It’s two weeks before Christmas 2014.

“Time to raise the dinghy and tie her down on the foredeck,” says Rick reaching for the halyard. “I’ll pull the dinghy on board while you crank the winch, okay?”



“Sure, I’m ready. Let’s do it,” Lynn replies.

Lynn grabs the winch handle with both hands and pushes. The winch barely moves. Lynn slumps on the deck, rubbing her arms. Her shoulders ache. She fails to raise the dinghy.

“What’s wrong?” Rick asks.

“I can’t turn the winch. I can’t raise the dingy. I don’t have any strength.”

Lynn makes an appointment with Dr. Fabiola, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), hoping Rehab will help. Dr. Fabiola examines Lynn’s shoulders. She suspects rotator cuff damage and writes an order for an MRI. The radiology report reveals major rotator cuff rotator cuff in both shoulders.



When the doctor gives her the news, Lynn turns pale with shock and disbelief.

“We’ll get through this.” Rick wraps his arms around her. “We’ll go next season. Right now you need to get well.”

“We worked so hard to bring you back to good health,” Lynn whispers. She leans against Rick’s chest. “Now I’m the problem.”

How did this happen?” Lynn asks herself. “It’s not fair. I’ve sacrificed so much, and now my shoulders have betrayed me. I thought getting LA VITA Ready to Launch was the final push. Now a new frustrating setback.”


Rick and Lynn are referred to a highly respected shoulder surgeon in Guadalajara. Lynn’s determined to get her tendons fixed. She calls the doctor’s office and books the first available appointment in January.

Guadalajara is a four-hour drive through the mountains. They take off before dawn and soon discover their printed street maps are out of date. 



Rick and Lynn are now relying two whiz-bang electronic mapping systems; a borrowed TomTom and newly purchased iPad.



Lynn’s eyes are glued to the devices. She’s mesmerized by the GPS dots as they slide along the highway; monitoring their progress. Two hours from home, the maps on both electronic navigation systems disappear. The GPS dot remains, but is useless without the streets.

Lynn looks up and discovers a herd of cows munching peacefully in a grassy pasture.



Rick negotiates a blind curve; directly ahead is a complex highway interchange. Without signage the situation is confusing. One off-ramp cuts across oncoming traffic; another exit splits in two directions, where they go is a mystery. By gut instinct, Rick chooses the right route and they continue on to Guadalajara.

They approach the outskirts of Guadalajara and Lynn turns on the iPad. The device begins exchanging signals with the communication satellites. The screen populates with streets and the GPS dot pinpoints their location. Siri calmly offers turn-by-turn voice driving directions to their destination.



Now, if Rick could see the street signs before he passed them, the final leg of the trip would be easier.



They arrive on time. The surgeon reviews Lynn’s MRI report and images. With complex arm movements the doctor tests Lynn’s shoulders for flexibility and strength.

“The main problem is your rotator cuff and biceps’ tendons are torn,” says the surgeon.

“What do you recommend?” Rick asks.

“Surgery is necessary to restore full function. I will repair both, the right arm first; it has the most damage.”

“How long is recovery?” Lynn asks.

“Full recovery is approximately one-year, and physical therapy is critical.”

“When does rehab begin?” Lynn continues.

“Rehabilitation begins about three weeks after surgery with gentle movements, and continues for a year.”

“What’s the cost?” Rick inquires.

With a twinkle in his eye the doctor says, “Cost will vary, but plan on $17,000 US dollars for the procedure. Plus food and lodging, of course.”

Rick and Lynn are speechless. The estimate is completely out of their reach. They are familiar with a local custom called “Gringo Tax.” Some folks inflate prices for non-Mexican citizens. It appears they are candidates for that tax!



Rick pulls out his signature waterproof Ziploc® wallet and hands over $700 pesos for the office visit.

Before leaving home (La Cruz, MX), Lynn had asked Marie, a regular visitor to Guadalajara, about sites in the city.

“The horse-drawn carriage ride through Old Town is great fun,” Marie had suggested.

Needing a change in pace, Lynn and Rick head to the historic district of Guadalajara. The open air carriage tour is ideal with buoyant late afternoon temperatures and fascinating historical sites.



The air is filled with traffic noise and the clip-clop of hooves on pavement. Lynn and Rick strain to hear the driver’s comments. They catch, “The king of Spain declared Guadalajara a city in 1542. There were 126 people living here.”




The driver continues, “Today there are one-and-a-half-million in the heart of the city, and over five million including all the suburbs.”




Rick mutters to himself, “No wonder there are traffic jams.”

Their driver stops to rest their trusty steed. Rick and Lynn stretch their legs and marvel at architecture built before California Gold Rush.



The ride is over all too soon. Lynn steps down from the carriage and says, “I’d love to do that again.”

Rick gently squeezes her hand and says, “So would I.”

Over dinner, they talk about the surgery and expenses. Rick jots notes on a napkin.

“Surgery in San Diego is free (Medicare). Mexico is $17,000 US dollars. Both places we’ll pay $80 bucks a night, plus food and gas.”

Rick looks up and says, “It’s a long drive, but we’d be better off going to the States.”

Lynn nods in agreement. She’s been doing the math, too. “I’ll call the surgeon that fixed my shoulders in 2006.”


Back on LA VITA, Lynn calls Dr. Murphy, the San Diego surgeon that operated on her shoulders nine years ago.

“Dr. Murphy is no longer taking Medicare patients. However, we can refer you to Dr. Damion Valletta. He’s a highly respected sports injury surgeon and accepts Medicare patients,” says the doctor’s assistant.

“Thanks, I’d appreciate the referral,” Lynn says.

“I’ll forward your surgical records to Dr. Valletta.”

A few days later, Lynn speaks with Dr. Valletta.

“Send the MRI report and call me next week,” he advises.

“Is it okay the MRI was performed here in Mexico?” Lynn asks.

“That’s no problem as long as the report is in English. Just email the report to me,” he replies.

Dr. Valletta reviews the report and agrees surgery is required to restore full function. Surgery is scheduled for March 11, 2015.


~~~~~ _/) ~~~~~ _/)~~~~~ _/) ~~~~~

To view these photos and more please click on the Photo tab (above) or click on the camera icon (below).

24 Responses to “Failure To Launch Part 1 of 3”

  1. Brenda Hill on November 28th, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Feedback on your post:
    1. I don’t think your story is too long.
    looking forward to part 2.
    2. If you had to cut something, perhaps the names of the various doctors? Ask Marie.
    3. No idea what a thumbnail is?
    4. My Apple iphone6 picked up the link easily.
    I am not super busy and have never been bored in my life. A writer always has something interesting to
    write and to read. Your story made me smile and I felt your pain. I want to read more. Wishing I were at the LCWG today! See you soon. Brenda

  2. Lynn on November 28th, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Thank you, Brenda, for answering the questions I emailed to you. Excellent feedback. I relieved the length is OK. I see your point, I do drag the doctor stuff out. I’ll ponder the essential points I wanted to express. Thumbnail is a small preview image; click on these small images to enlarge them. I identify with your interest in the world around you. Endless source of inspiration. I wish you were at our LCWG meeting, too. We’re discussing the opening to Part 2. We’ll sea ya soon!

  3. Devin on November 28th, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Great write up! However I prefer when you write in first person versus third.

  4. lynn on November 28th, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    The folks in my writers’ group agree with you; they liked it better in first person. Part two will be in first person. Smart kid. LOL

  5. Devin on November 28th, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Pics worked fine. That’s funny, Dad and I both use money clips. Didn’t know that. In fact I don’t know anyone else who does.

  6. lynn on November 28th, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Dad said he’s had his for over 30-years. Nice discovery.

  7. Steve on November 30th, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    IIRC, we’ve already talked about my tendon damage. I can’t recall if we’ve talked about my treatment. Contact Tamiko for a list of the very very helpful potions that we got at La Abejita in Bucerias. It was 28 pesos for months worth and no side effects.

  8. lynn on November 30th, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks, Steve. I know where La Abejita (Little Bee) is located. I’ll talk to Tamiko, great suggestion.

  9. Tricia and Jim on November 30th, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    We wish you both luck in the coming months.

  10. lynn on December 3rd, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Thanks for the good wishes.

  11. Ulla on December 1st, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    I airways live reading about your adventures, and I agree with some of the above comments about preferring to read your stories in the first person perspective. As I know you, it makes it more personal for me. I look forward to part 2… Ulla

  12. Ulla on December 1st, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I airways love reading about your adventures, Lynn, and I agree with some of the above comments about preferring to read your stories in the first person perspective. As I know you, it makes it more personal for me. I look forward to part 2… Ulla

  13. lynn on December 3rd, 2015 at 5:55 am

    I’ve rewritten Part Two and it is in First Person. The piece is with the editor and should be ready for public viewing in the next few days.

    I very much appreciate your feedback (and others). That’s the best part about writing, reading the comments.

  14. Michelle on December 3rd, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    What a great story, i’m glad you liked Guadalajara, it’s such a nice place. I’m waiting for part 2.

  15. Lynn on December 3rd, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Guadalajara has so much history and interesting buildings. I look forward to going back and seeing so much more.

  16. patrick martin, s/v Amy Michele on December 3rd, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    interesting. i am dealing with extreme pain and weakness in rt shoulder. starts on rt back of neck and goes to fingers at times. only position with bearable pain is chin on rt chest and arm moving. stop moving arm and it goes to ” me wimpering and crying. 1600 mg ibuprofen, m&m’s would be better. interested to find out how your story comes to now. i too can only afford medicare in usa. but unable to endure 18 to 24 hours on a bus. stuck here.

  17. lynn on December 4th, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Rick has symptoms you describe. It turned out to be a disc problem in his neck. He had to get an MRI to determine the cause and surgery to fix it.

    Getting old sucks! Good luck, my dear friend. You’ll find a solution. Lynn & Rick

  18. kevin on December 3rd, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Love your writings Mom, keep up the great work.
    I don’t quite understand third party versus first person etc.
    I was probably smoking cigarettes during English class, I still struggle where to put the period and probably add way to many commas.
    Looking forward to your next adventure and chapter.
    Give Rick a hug and size the day.

  19. lynn on December 4th, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Your punctuation is just fine. According to his Dad, Devin wasn’t quite the angel he suggests. I’ll send you both a PM in FB. Hugs, Mom

  20. Rosalie char on December 4th, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Rick & Lynn, So sorry to hear of your dilema good luck with the surgery, My son has had both shoulders done .Merry Christmas by the way Hugs Rosalie

  21. lynn on December 5th, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Shoulder surgery requires a lot of rehab. That’s what I’m doing. Not fun after awhile. Hope your son had a full recovery. Merry Christmas and happy new year 2016.

  22. Dan Evelyn on December 6th, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Sorry for your shoulder problems. Getting older sure changes things in our lives…..
    Hope the surgery goes well.
    Miss you guys, Dan and Edee S/V BARDAN

  23. lynn on December 6th, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Flexibility is the golden rule for shoulders and how we live our lives! Glad you two are still sailing BARDAN. Fair winds and safe harbors.

  24. Marie on December 14th, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Fun! I’m reading the next installments right now.

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