Archive for the ‘Nyel Stevens’ Category

Standing On His Own Two Feet!

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

First Stop!

I feel like calling out to the chickens, “Watch out, girls!  Here he comes!”  But it will probably be a while.  There are some logistics to work out – where and when for the locking knee brace, the walker, the cane, the wheelchair – all of which will play a part in Nyel’s ability to resume his Farmer duties.  But the very bottom line as of yesterday – he can now but weight on his “bad” leg.  Yay!

According to his surgeon, his broken leg has healed well.  That does not mean, of course, that he is in any less danger of falling than he has been since his second quadriceps surgery failed several years back.  “Falling” has been his middle name.  He is SO lucky that, in the dozens of times his knee has failed him and he has gone done without warning, this was the first real damage he has done to himself.  A mega wake-up call. So, now the re-learning work begins.

Of course, yesterday’s news was received with great relief – in more ways that one.  For the three months of “no weight-bearing,” my dignified husband has been dependent on what used to be known as “the truckdriver’s friend” – a pee bottle or a male urinal.  So, first stop yesterday was the men’s room at Rebound where he could actually ‘stand and deliver’ so to speak.

Six on the Floor

Today, he is using his knee-locking brace (almost happily!) and a walker to begin rebuilding strength in both legs.  Meanwhile, the wheelchair will probably be his main aid to mobility.  And, when he is confident that he can move around the house without problems, he’s looking forward to that knee scooter to get him down to the girls in nothing flat.

As for me – I’m clapping and cheering and trying not to hover! Woot!  Woot!

Cruising Toward 2019

Monday, December 10th, 2018

Today is a Red Letter Day of sorts.   Nyel is taking the driver’s seat!  Literally!  It will be the first time since his Big Fall on October 3rd – the one that resulted in his complicated leg break – even though his surgeon said that he could drive as long as he wasn’t taking opioid pain meds.  He hasn’t and isn’t and, though I am reluctant to admit it, I’ve been the one that has encouraged him to continue being chauffeured.  By me.

We both recognize that we are victims of one of those automatic hovering mothering mechanisms that kicks in whenever someone (other than me) in the household becomes impaired.  Nyel has learned that it’s easier to take a “whatever…” attitude than to deal with my fussing and, so it is, that I’ve been doing all the driving.  Until today.  When the EMTs arrive to transfer Nyel into the car, it will be to ease him behind the wheel!  He’s more than ready.  I am resigned.

I see it as one of those necessity things.  I have an eye appointment across the river – a biggee to check my glaucoma, dry eye, peripheral vision etc. etc.  There will be drops.  In the past it has been my experience that I do not see well enough to drive safely for twenty-four hours or so after such an appointment.  So… today is the day that Nyel re-enters the mainstream, so to speak.  I console myself that, after all, it’s his left leg that isn’t operable, plus we have an automatic transmission and cruise control.  No problem, right?

And besides all of the above, today marks the “less than a month to go” before his next appointment with his surgeon and, presumably, his release from this “non-weight-bearing on the left leg” sentence.  January 9th will be the next Red Letter Day!  Woot! Woot!

Independence, Thy Name is Nyel!

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The Kitchen King

I’m sure there are all sorts of tricks and strategies to successful wheelchair-living – making user-friendly accommodations to one’s home and getting in-home help being two of the most obvious.  In lieu of either of those possibilities however, I think the most effective answer, at least in the short-term, lies in the stubbornness quotient of the patient.  It’s one of those “if there’s a will, there’s a way” things.

In the normal course of events, at least in our household, stubbornness has not always had positive ramifications.  I’m sure I’m not alone in being a woman who has adapted over time (it’s sort of an erosion process) to living with a stubborn man.  Stubborn in all manner of things.  In fact, the man in question has even come to realize over the years that the more adamant he is about his side of an argument, the more likely it is that he is wrong.  That, however, has never been a deterrent to said obstinance.

Quesadillas for Dinner!

So, it is not surprising that Nyel is mastering the art of Seamless Living in a Wheelchair – the only limitations being steps or stairs and, of course, that his left leg is totally non-weight-bearing for another six weeks.  As long as the chair remains on a relatively level surface and he remains seated in it, he is managing to find ways to resume business as usual.  Like cooking.

Granted, he does need me to get down the high things – a true reversal of roles in our 5’2″ to 6’2″ standing relationship.  Gradually, through the use of my handy-dandy step-stool, I’ve managed to meet all requests and have found ways to return frequently used items to wheel-chair-friendly heights.  And, I do insist on doing the actual stovetop antics with spatulas or ladles.  But when it comes to the prep and putting things together – Nyel rules.

Communicating with the South Koreans

Last night it was quesadillas with grated mozzarella and crumbled feta, diced red and green peppers, onions, and sliced tomatoes and black olives.  The ingredients were all arranged beautifully on a tortilla which was then folded over and entrusted to me to sauté in the cast iron frying pan.  OMG!  Delicious!

Tonight, the plan is a stir fry with pork and I-have-no-idea-what-else.  Oh… and did I say that we still do not have a working oven in our 11-month-old Samsung stove?  That is a saga that I am reluctant to talk about until our negotiations with the manufacturer are over.  It may well be a two- or three-part report when all is said and done.  Meanwhile… as long as Nyel is at the helm (if wheelchairs have a helm), we will eat well despite all obstacles!  Yay!

Empathizing With Punxsutawney Phil

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Nyel’s Tibia 11-27-18

It’s not that Nyel saw his shadow yesterday – although X-rays do look pretty shadowy.  But when the doctor said “six more weeks” before he can begin putting any weight on his broken leg, I swear there was that resigned look we’ve come to associate with Punxsutawney Phil.  Not that Nyel would be scurrying back into a groundhog burrow… not exactly.

Our house is certainly preferable to living underground.  And being able to spend his days in a wheelchair is a whole lot better than being bed-bound as was his fate in 2014 after his quadriceps surgery.  But still… six more weeks of leaving the house only with the assistance of the EMTs and six more weeks of bed-baths and shampoo caps and other personal hygiene indignities, to say nothing of six more weeks of putting up with my cooking…  A bit stupefying to consider.

Punxsutawney Phil

Nevertheless, that’s the way it is.  The doctor didn’t mention if the six weeks would have to stretch even farther.  And we didn’t ask.  We’ll cross that bridge – by foot or by wheelchair – when we come to it.  January 9th is, at least for now, the magic date for Oysterville Nyel.  No waiting until February 2nd like Phil does… at least we hope not!  Keep good thoughts!

On a Quest in Oysterville

Saturday, October 27th, 2018

No one could possibly mistake Nyel for a Hobbit.  Although he is shy (as are Hobbits) and is capable of great courage and amazing feats under the proper circumstances (as are hobbits), there the similarities end.  He’s not short and stubby.  He has a very respectable beard (which most Hobbits cannot grow) and his feet are neither covered with brown, curly hair nor do they have leathery soles.   He is not fond of beer, does not smoke a pipe, and I’m not sure if he is adept at throwing stones.

No.  Nyel is not a Hobbit.  Certainly, he is not Frodo Baggins.  But he is on a quest for a ring.  His wedding ring.  All of a sudden yesterday, it went missing.  “I was drying my hands after washing them at the kitchen sink and I noticed that it was gone,” he told me.  I was surprised at how upset he was and, also, suddenly aware of how thin he’s become – thin enough so that his ring could fall right off.

First off, I reached down into the garbage disposal and felt all around.  A few bits and pieces of a lettuce core (I think) but that was all.  We aren’t turning it on until we find the ring.  We retraced his steps (actually, his wheelchair tracks) in the carpet.  I looked under all the furniture.  I stripped the bed.  And Nyel called the Ocean Beach Clinic where he’d had an appointment yesterday morning.  I looked in the car and outside in front of the porch where the EMTs had transferred Nyel from wheelchair to car and back again.  All to no avail.

I woke up this morning wondering if a metal detector would work inside the house.  My almost-cuzzins Judy and Ed were here twice during the summer with Ed’s “retirement toy” but he confined his searches to our yard.  I think I’ll call and ask them what they think the possibilities would be of  coming to Oysterville for a wedding-ring-hunt.

Failing that, I think his Christmas gift will be a no-brainer – but only if Holly McCone can do a curbside fitting.  Meanwhile… we are on the quest.  And, if you happen to find a plain gold band with the well-worn initials NLS-SML-09-13-87 inside it, please give a holler.  As far as we know, it has no special powers, but there’s no use risking the fate of Gollum by hanging onto it.

This Boot’s NOT For Walkin’!

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Basic Black, Peek-a-Boo Toe Model

The Good News:  Cast came off.  Stitches (some) came out. A removable boot replaced the cast.

The Not-So-Good News:  Back to Vancouver in a week for removal of remaining stitches.

The boot, of course, is for comfort (as opposed to the cast.) It is to be taken off several times a day so the patient can flex his toes and foot and, also, at night so he can sleep more comfortably.  His leg, deceptive though the boot may be, is still NON-WEIGHT-BEARING all caps.  Everyone said he’d be much happier without the cast but… I’m thinking the jury is still out on that.  Nyel certainly isn’t jumping up and down for joy.  On the other hand, he has made no complaints.  He really is a SUPER PATIENT all caps.

Oh My!

Since it’s his left leg and, since we have an automatic transmission, Nyel asked the doctor if he could drive.  I thought the answer would be the old “do you have a valid driver’s license?” response, but this is a very serious doctor.  Instead, he responded, “As long as you are not taking narcotics.”  No problem.  Nyel finished up the four days of pain meds they gave him on his release from the hospital after surgery and, since then, has not taken as much as a Tylenol or Aleve.  He says nothing hurts.

The Casting Room

He, of course, offered to drive home, but I demurred.  It was still light out and the fog (which was awful on our tip in to Rebound in the morning) had mostly lifted.  I thought it might be better for Nyel to do his initial driving-run on the Peninsula before he tackled the highway.  Probably silly, but he didn’t argue, so I’m thinking it was the right call.

We arrived home without incident and our fabulous EMTs, Mike and Lani Karvia, were waiting to transport Nyel from car to house.  (Those two pesky steps are a bummer, wheelchair-wise!)  Oh… and the other good news: the doctor also okayed skooter usage.  Today Nyel will be putting together (“some assembly required”) his Knee Rover.  Every day a new adventure with Patient Nyel!

My Man in the Kitchen

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

You can tell a lot about a man by taking a look at his relationship to the kitchen. You can judge his self-confidence, his ingenuity, his sense of adventure, and probably his political attitude, well.  When that man is in the kitchen in a wheelchair, you can learn even more.

From the time of our very first “date,” I’ve been aware of Nyel’s confidence and competence in the kitchen.  On that particular occasion, nearly 35 years ago, he brought all the ingredients to my house and prepared a gourmet meal for me – chicken with grapes!  And all the trimmings right down to Dilettante chocolates and brandy for dessert.  OMG!  I was in love.

I remember that he made his way around my meager kitchen with ‘nary a question. He eyeballed the hanging pots and pans, inventoried what was on the open shelves, checked out the refrigerator and set up shop – all the while, unpacking the groceries he had brought and getting right down to it.  He did have a cookbook with him – Craig Claiborne’s 60-Minute Gourmet.

I think I probably asked him, “Do you really like to cook?”  His answer:  “I like to eat.”  Since I’m not passionate about either of those activities, I was filled with wonder.  I still am.  After all these years, Nyel still does most of the cooking in our household – whether it’s for company dinner or just for the two of us.  It’s not that I can’t cook – I just don’t much like to.

The last time Nyel was seriously impaired and completely bed-bound for three months, we managed just fine.  I’m not an inventive cook, but I can do three meals a day without difficulty.  As Nyel often points out to me, I did just fine raising a family and doing kitchen-duty for the forty-seven years before he and I met.  My rejoinder, of course, “That didn’t mean I liked it.”

Both of us are firm believers in cooking from scratch. Fresh produce, fresh meat, home-made soup – the basics.  I try to ‘enjoy’ my time in the kitchen, but both of us know that the stretch from ‘endure’ to ‘enjoy’ is a long one for me.  Our friends know that, too, and we have been blessed with many gifts of food – sometimes the ingredients for an easy-peasy-just-open-the-package-and-heat-and-serve meals, and sometimes casseroles or soups ready to put on the table.

Meanwhile, in true you-can’t-keep-a-good-man-down fashion, Nyel is back in his domain at the west end of the house!  If it’s within his reach from the wheelchair, it’s food for fodder, so to speak!  He’s pretty much got breakfast and lunch covered.  Cooking dinner has become a tandem affair – he does the prep at the table and I do the stand-up routines at the stove. What a team!  One thing for sure… we are not suffering in the meal department.  My man in the kitchen sees to that!

…here comes Farmer Nyel!

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

Scootin’ Along!

Little did we think that Nyel would be reverting to childhood in quite this way but…  Yesterday, the physical therapist brought him a knee scooter to try out and on Tuesday good old UPS will be delivering an All-Terrain KneeRover Steerable Knee Scooter!  Color: blue.  No tools required for assembly.

“Are you pushing me?” he kept asking.  “No,” we all said.  “You’re totally on your own!”

“Is this hallway slanted downhill?” he asked.  And we laughed.

Up and down the hall he went like a kid with a new toy!  It was the highpoint of this hospital episode for sure and, when he got back to the room and settled into bed, he immediately asked for his cell phone.  Amazon.com will be providing Nyel with an early Christmas present.

Nyel’s New Toy

Among other things, if the customer reviews are to be believed, he should have no trouble going down to the chicken coop and back.  Wow!  Being a one-legged farmer shouldn’t slow him down a bit!

However… no scooting around quite yet.  After his first follow-up visit to his Rebound doctor will be time enough to transition from wheelchair to KneeRover.  Meanwhile, there will be lots of “bed rest” and leg elevation and wheelchair transfers and meals on trays…  Another adventure about to begin!  (And if I behave myself, maybe he’ll let me take a ride on that scooter!)

Far Away Logistics from the LB Peninsula

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Our Favorite FB Site

When medical emergencies happen on the weekend, they can be a problem.  Factor in living off the beaten path and the problem is not a “can be” but is a certainty.  So when the surgeon came in this morning (which happens to be a Friday) and suggested that we touch base with the Case Manager right away lest we have to stay for the weekend, we got right on it.  Or tried to!

Our nurse said that, first, we’d need to talk to Physical Therapy.  They would talk to us about Nyel’s safety needs at home and it was a pretty sure bet that they would want to hear that he had a wheelchair available.  A walker, a commode, and a shower stool we already have.  “While he’s in surgery, do some networking,” our RN said, “and see what you can arrange.”

Nyel Post-Op

I didn’t wait until they came to wheel Nyel to the OR.  I was on it!  I posted an “all call” on Long Beach Peninsula Friends of Facebook that read: Looking for a wheelchair for Nyel. Does anyone have a wheelchair that won’t be needed for the next three months? Or does anyone know if there is a local organization that has replaced Kiwanis in supplying medical equipment on the Peninsula? Please contact Sydney Stevens. Many thanks.

And before you could say “Jack Robinson” I had two FaceBook responses, an email and a phone call!  Wow!  Within an hour we had several possibilities lined up and then a phone call from a friend in Oregon City who said, “We have a new wheelchair that we can get to you at Peace Health within an hour!  Wow!

So it was that while Nyel was under the knife, I was in the parking lot and a lovely wheelchair was being placed in my car by my friends Harry and Linda.  OMG!  It’s big enough for Nyel but small enough to fit between front and back seats and lightweight enough for me to handle!  I am eternally grateful.

Wrapped Up Until Christmas

Now, the day is waning.  Nyel is back in his room and “sitting up and taking nourishment” and all is almost well with the world.  We have yet to hear from the Physical Therapy people and, until that happens, we can’t break out of here.  I’m thinking of putting another all call out on FB – something like GET US OUTTA HERE!  Hopefully, it won’t be needed

Collapsing Into Grim Reality

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Nyel, October 4, 2018

Yesterday Nyel fell.  It has happened dozens, if not scores, of times before.  It is a fact of life for a man whose lower left leg is not securely attached to his upper left leg.  Long story.  Suffice it to say that after a successful knee replacement his quadriceps muscle tore loose from its moorings and despite two surgeries, it is still virtually non-existent.

So, despite his orthopedic surgeon’s strong words of advice, “DO. NOT. FALL.”, it happens.  For four years, despite all caution and use of his constant cane companion, Nyel falls.  He falls in the house on the carpet, in the garden on the grass, in the garage on the cement – he has even fallen on the tarmac between the Ocean Beach Medical Clinic and the Hospital.  It is a fact of our lives and there are no happy solutions.

Until yesterday, the worst damage during a fall happened early-on when he fell in the kitchen and whacked his head against a drawer pull.  He didn’t lose consciousness but he did lose a lot of blood and gained six stitches.  Since then, he’s been lucky – until yesterday.  At five o’clock in the morning, as is his usual procedure (required by his cardiologist), he stepped on the bathroom scales to weigh himself.  Make that ‘almost stepped.’  Before he could complete the transfer of weight to take the necessary step up, the left leg collapsed and down he fell – despite having supports under both hands – a towel rack and a shelf.

Temporary Measures

There ensued a 911 call, transport to our local hospital and X-rays which revealed a broken tibia (which will require plates and screws) and a spiral fracture of the fibula.  The ER at Ocean Beach Hospital was thorough and efficient, giving him a temporary cast, and making arrangements for his transfer to Peace Health SW Medical Center in Vancouver where Nyel’s previous orthopedic work has been done by Rebound surgeons.  For whatever reasons, Peace Health said “no ambulance transfer” as they would not accept him as an emergency patient.  So… the OBH nurses got him into our car and I drove him to the Emergency Admitting area at Peace Health, myself.

And here we are.  Nyel was finally tucked in about one o’clock this morning.  Me, too – in a regular hospital bed in a double room here!  Surgery will “probably” be tomorrow and he will “probably” be discharged on Sunday. Nyel will then have to stay off his left foot for at least six weeks.   Meanwhile, ‘they’ are keeping him on the edge of comfort with pain meds and we are trying to get used to yet another hospital.  Nyel, as always is stoic.  Me… maybe not so much.  We are both looking forward to getting back to Oysterville and figuring out next steps.  So to speak.