Archive for the ‘Nyel Stevens’ Category

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. 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.

Time for Another Tokeland Celebration

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Tokeland Hotel, 2012

We are headed for the lunch and a rendezvous with friends at the Tokeland Hotel.  In the “olden days” – say five or six years ago — going to Tokeland and meeting with these same friends was a yearly occurrence.  But, in those halcyon days of the early twenty-first century, we were all younger and more able and our annual Tokeland experience involved a picnic supper and an overnight at the hotel.

We made the trek on or close to Nyel’s birthday each early August.  For us, it got so we never had another birthday plan which has made it a little difficult these past few years when Tokeland was not on our radar.  This year, being the big seven five for Nyel, we’ve solved the birthday dilemma by celebrating in some way every single month starting a few months beforehand and to continue until Birthday Seven Six.

Evening at the Tokeland Hotel, 2009

As it has worked out, this month we can rendezvous once again at the Tokeland Hotel – but only for lunch.  Fortunately, the hotel is under new ownership and they are serving lunch on the weekends which had been an off-again on-again off-again proposition in years past.  And further fortnately, the food is reported to be excellent.  Yay!

There has been one serious change, though, in our (or probably just my) thinking about going to Tokeland.  Since time immemorial (well, at least since soon after Oysterville was founded in 1854) residents here travelled to Tokeland to party.  In the early days, they went by boat to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and relatives over there.  In fact, there was probably more visiting back and forth before the roads went in than there is now — a faster trip then, I daresay.  All that notwithstanding, I’ve long associated Tokeland with parties-of-the-eating variety.

Tokeland Picnic, 2009

Then, in 2012 when the present cannabis laws went into effect in our state, I began to wonder when partying in Tokeland might take on a different tone.  We all waited for someone to do the obvious – to make an application to open a recreational marijuana shop.  “Toke Land”?  It certainly seemed like a no-brainer.  But… it has never happened.  And yet… the expectation that it will, has somewhat altered my take on Tokeland.  Whether it would be for the good or the bad, I don’t know.  It just seems like such an opportunity wasted.

Lucky Me!

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Nyel, the Birthday Boy

Months ago, when I asked Nyel what he wanted to do for his 75th birthday, I knew I was taking my chances.  It would have been safer just to plan a surprise party or an outing to a wait-and-see destination but, over the years, we’ve done a number of those for one another.  It felt like this one should be something planned by the Birthday Boy himself.

His choice: dinner at Portland’s very spiffy Ringside Steakhouse and overnight at the Benson Hotel with all its beguiling amenities. Perfect!  I couldn’t have chosen better myself.  “And…” he said and I thought oh-oh here it comes – the part I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams… “I’d like to visit a few Goodwill stores while we’re in the area”.

Sydney, The Lucky Wife

Actually, when I think of it, those celebratory selections are the quintessential Nyel.  He loves elegance.  Dressing for dinner, waiters in tuxes, the old-fashioned charm of a classic hotel complete with breakfast brought to your room with linens and dome-covered dishes. And he couldn’t be happier than when he is poking through a junk store or on a sartorial quest in a gently used clothing store.  (Right now, the search is on for vests.)

We got to town in time to have lunch at Ya Hala, a wonderful Lebanese restaurant in our friend Maggie’s neighborhood.  Maggie is in recovery mode after serious surgery and so we paid her a visit armed with the restaurant’s fabulous bread and humus.  I’m pleased to report that her recovery is going splendidly!  She is already plotting and planning her next trip to the beach, though that won’t happen for a while yet.

All-in-all, I’m pleased to report that Nyel’s 75th was a success all the way around!  And, we both agree that this one deserves celebrating for an entire year – maybe not on such a grand scale, but with something unexpected and unusual every single month.  Sounds like a perfect plan to me!

“Give a man a fish…”

Friday, May 25th, 2018

The timing was perfect.  Phil came to the door with a tidy mess of freshly caught trout on Wednesday afternoon.  Cousin Ruth and Friend Cindy arrived yesterday.  Garlic mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and fried trout for dinner!  Ruth’s rhubarb crisp and ice cream for dessert.  Wow!

Nyel has long said that his little-boy experiences with fishing were a turnoff. In his memory, fishing had to do with being six years old and trying to keep up with his long-legged dad through grass and brush taller than he was.  It was hot.  It was Idaho.  It was fishing.

It’s taken almost seventy years but Phil’s generous gift and a hint that maybe Nyel would like to go fishing with him sometime have (perhaps) changed Nyel’s mind.  At least, it sounded hopeful as he talked about it over that delicious dinner last night.

Actually, it all seemed to hinge on me.  Would I like the trout?  I’ve eaten trout before – just never since I’ve known Nyel.  Boney?  Yes.  But certainly not a deal breaker.  Gorgeous presentation?  Yes.  Delicious?  Yes!  Would I like a repeat?  Yes!

Perhaps Phil and Nyel will provide a twist to the old “Give a man a fish…” proverb.  Give a man some trout and introduce him to a lifetime of missed opportunities…

Lots of Love and Benign Neglect

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018


Nyel’s truck, called simply ‘Truck,’ has been with us for just about as long as “us” has been a part of our lexicon.  It’s a 1991 Ford and once upon a time it was new and shiny black.  Now, never having had the benefit of a garage or other protected-from-the-elements-space, it has faded to a dull gray color – mostly.  There are spots of the ‘r’ word which, when mentioned, Nyel vehemently denies.  Or has until now.

Yesterday, he reluctantly admitted that rust might, indeed, be the problem with the front bumper.  It’s in imminent danger of falling off – a situation that I only learned circuitously.  For several days now Nyel has been haunting the junk stores – one of his all-time favorite activities – and come to find out, he was looking for jack stands.  Whatever they are.  Needed, he said to lift Truck up so he can get to the place where he can make the repair.

Listing Bumper

But, he could only locate one jack stand.  So, this morning he informed me he has a new plan.  He’ll use the car jack he has, take the front wheels off Truck, one at a time, slide himself underneath and get to the heart of the matter that way.  “No problem.”

I, of course, was horrified.  A guy who needs a cane to stay upright when he walks and who can’t get up if he happens to be down… a guy with no strength in his arthritic hands… a guy…  Yep.  It’s definitely a guy thing and I had to pull out the bitchy wife card.  It took a little arguing but I think Truck is going to limp into George’s this morning and get in line for the necessary repairs.


I hope that ‘necessary’ is all they do.  Once we had to take Truck somewhere for something (you can tell how little attention I pay to that poor old vehicle) and someone had the audacity to clean the lichen and moss away from the window wells.  I think that set ‘evolution’ back a number of years – no telling what kind of habitat would have been established by now had they left that furry gray-green growth alone!  We were horrified.  After all, benign neglect is one thing but it doesn’t have anything to do with unconditional love.  Not when we’re talking Truck.