Archive for the ‘Nyel Stevens’ Category

“Dr. Day” and “Dr. Night” (so to speak)…

Friday, July 12th, 2019

Drizzly Dawn on Willapa Bay

Two long days this week.  Tuesday we went up to Seattle to see Nyel’s cardiologist — his first face-to-face with him since before that horrible six-week hospital stay in April/May/June.  The first visit since he became a really-o, truly-o invalid (in body though not in mind or spirit.)  Thursday we went to Portland to see the orthopedic surgeon who (though not by intent) was responsible for Nyel’s current status.  The days and the doctor visits couldn’t have been more different.  Day and night you might say.

Tuesday we left home at seven, a drizzly dawn that didn’t get much better weather-wise all day.  Actually worse in places along the I-5.  To leave that early meant we had to get up at four.  One of the realities of the invalid life is the time it takes to do all the required medical “stuff” — requirements that we feel we do well to complete in two hours.  That gave us another hour for Nyel to eat breakfast and pack a lunch while I showered. dressed, and packed the car.  Wheelchair, check.  Nyel’s meds, check.  Urinals, check.  Etc. etc.

EKG – Heart (not Nyel’s) in Sinus Rhythm

We got to the UW Medical Center in time for Nyel to have labs done before his appointment.  And an EKG.  The doctor listened attentively to Nyel’s “story” though he was already well-acquainted with most of it through the magic of shared medical information on the internet.  He laughed in delight at the EKG results — “You’re in sinus rhythm!” he said.  He said it again and again, continuing to smile from ear to ear.  Not that Nyel has any control over that particular aspect of things… but we felt like he was getting full credit.  It’s a first in years… maybe getting rid of the pacemaker was a good thing?  Hard to tell.  An upbeat, forward-looking visit all the way around.  Home at 11 p.m.  Quick dinner.  Bed and the sleep of the righteous.

Yesterday we left at eight so were able to get up at our usual time and even did an errand on our way through Seaside.  (Dropped off Music in the Garden tickets to friends Paul and Lana Jane.)  Although it was drizzly to begin with, by the time we arrived in Portland it was sunny and hot.  Thank goodness for the car’s A/C.

Nyel’s Left “Hip”

This time, the offices to which we were directed were in Beaverton — very toney and upscale as opposed to the offices off Barnes Road where we went in June.  The Dr. was cordial, wanted to see what range of motion Nyel had been working on but he did not want to see the wound.  “Our nurse is eager for you to say whether or not I can get rid of the wound-vac,” Nyel said.  “Oh, if she is a wound care nurse she’ll know,” he said.

A discussion ensued.  It was obvious he wasn’t planning to examine Nyel but finally suggested that the nurse take a photo and email it to him.  (Like we drove into Portland for that bit of wisdom?)  He said there was no need of an X-ray this time either but Nyel insisted.  “I’ve never seen an X-ray of this hip,” Nyel said.  “I don’t know what’s there now that the ball and socket and four inches of femur are gone.”

After considerable thought the doctor said, “Gristle.  Just gristle.”

Great “bedside manner,” eh?  We were both totally bummed.  What a difference in doctors!  Day and night!



Ready! Set! Tuesday!

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Beard Trimming 6/15/19

I was once told by a doctor that you know a hospitalized woman is ready to go home when she starts putting on makeup again. It’s not quite the same with guys — at least not with Nyel, but when he asked me to bring his beard trimming kit and a big mirror, I certainly knew that homecoming is on his mind.

Yesterday he got rid of six weeks’ worth of whisker-growth and looked oh so much better!  He also conceded to use one of those spiffy shampoo caps again.  It’s not the  first “shampoo” he’s had during his days of confinement — not by any means — but he isn’t crazy about the method or the result.

The Dreaded Shampoo Cap

“The doctor said ‘no showers til the wound vac gets removed’ and that’s likely to be a month or two more,” I pointed out helpfully.  (NOT!)  Nyel has been looking forward to a shower ever since he first heard the words “when you go home.”  Before that, he had other things to worry about.  However, yesterday he told me in no uncertain terms that he was planning to at least get his head under water.

“I can stand and lean against the kitchen sink,” he told me.  I bit my tongue just a little.  I do think he can safely do that with the wheelchair directly behind him and me (hovering) within reach.  I know it will be the first of many sentences beginning “I can …” !  What a guy!  I hope my hovering instinct quickly morphs into clapping and cheering!  So far… so good!

A Home and Garden Day

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Library Mantle

You wouldn’t think that the trip from Oysterville to Seaside to visit a loved one would take its toll on the homefront, but indirectly the last two weeks have done just that.  Or maybe it’s just that being home around the edges (rather than isolated for days at a time in Portland) leads to noticing all the “benign neglect.”

So, yesterday I declared  a “home and garden day” and got some of the edges taken care of.  I finally set out the hoses and tried to adjust those pesky lawn sprinklers — the kind that go “pssst pssst pssst” around in circles.  They were no doubt engineered by geniuses and figuring out which of the multiple moving widgets and gadgets will do the trick is almost more than this woman can tolerate.  But, finally, mission accomplished!

A Work In Progress

Then there were those oversized pots in what we euphemistically call “the kitchen garden.”  There are four of them, each containing an herb we use fairly frequently — parsley, rosemary, mint, bayleaf — and weeds!  They had been pulled away (the pots, not the weeds) from the house during last summer’s painting project and needed to be returned to their proper place.  Heavy!  I weeded and trimmed and fertilized and pooped out.  It’s a work in progress…

Pesky Sprinkler at Work

Inside, I managed to scrub the kitchen floor, water the indoor plants, arrange some wild roses for Friday Night and stay dry-eyed during an online bill-paying session.  I gave the carpet a lick-and-a-promise with the vacuum and decided that paying someone to shampoo it might be necessary in the not-too-distant future.  As for dusting and polishing silver — how about a “home and garden month” or maybe two?

Kitchen Floor

All the time I was puttering and muttering, I felt guilty that I hadn’t gone to Seaside to spend time with Nyel.  I was relieved to learn that he had had a non-stop gaggle of visitors yesterday — Bill and Sue from the beach,, Petra and Michael from Astoria, and Cousin Pat from Gearhart.  Plus, of course, the usual round of nurses, therapy sessions, and other rehab niceties.    Yay!

Today, though, I am going south again.  After all, I don’t think any of those wonderful visitors came laden with freshly ironed shirts and other necessary amenities (or is that an oxymoron?)  Plus… there is only so much home and garden I can deal with in one swoop.  (Oh.  And did I mention that the chickens got into the kitchen garden pots and unearthed the parsley?  Twice!)


Hallelujah! Raise the flag!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

It’s seven o’clock at the wrong end of the day and my blog is twelve hours late.  Never mind that it has been totally irregular since Farmer Nyel’s Big Fall on February 28th!  I still feel the urge to get back to normal and now, maybe, I can!

At seven o’clock this morning I was on my way to Seaside.  I was to provide transport for Nyel back to St. Vincent’s for two important appointments.  The first was with the Infectious Disease Team to see if his six weeks of IV antibiotics have cleared up the dread infections that have been coursing through his system!  The verdict:  Yes!  When he finishes the current course of meds on June 17th, he can come home!   Yay!!!

His second appointment was with the head surgeon who wanted to inspect his “wound” (which I call his incision) and see how he is healing.  Verdict:  Super Duper.  HOWEVER, he wanted the wound vac to be replaced today or tomorrow.  When we returned to the Seaside Hospital late this afternoon, it was all I could do to keep from dancing around the nurse’s station chanting, “I told you so!  I told you so!”  (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my blog of June 8th, “The Learning Curve and Me” —

But the wound care nurse wasn’t on duty today and I didn’t see the hospitalist who deferred to her judgement…  The surgeon sent a handwritten note which told them what they should do in no uncertain terms.  Nyel and I discussed whether or not they would comply.  Guess whose glass is half empty and whose is half full…

But, never mind the ins and outs of medical egos and other matters that try a patient’s patience.  The important news is that Nyel is coming home one week from today!!!  Keep your fingers crossed and your trumpets in readiness!  Jubilation is in the works!!

Turning Into A Weepy Old Woman

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Nyel, 1987When the doctor told me that Nyel’s surgery had not gone well — that they had “closed him up in a hurry” because he was “in trouble on the table” — I didn’t cry.  When I asked if he’d ever walk again and that same doctor said, “Maybe a few steps, but it will take him a year or so to get to that point” — I didn’t cry.

But yesterday afternoon when Nyel called and told me that he had just “walked down the hall — 50 feet according to the occupational therapist” the tears came ‘unbidden’ as they say.  I had been in Seaside with him at lunchtime and I knew that he had already been to the little gym down the hall that morning.  He said that at that time he had walked back and forth between parallel grab bars and that it had gone pretty well.  If I could have done a cartwheel I would have!  Little did I know that there would be more to come that very day.  I had barely gotten home when my phone rang…

“Of course, it took three of us and my walker,” he reported.  “It was a regular parade.  The nurse walked beside me carrying the wound vac pump and the therapist was behind me pushing the wheelchair in case I got tired.  She said I walked fifty (five-oh!) feet!”  OMG!  Never mind that “walking” means swinging his left leg forward, placing his foot on the ground and transferring his weight carefully so he can take a step with his ‘good’ leg..  And never mind that he can’t yet control exactly where that left foot is landing.  And never mind that he is walker dependent.  Never mind any of it except that HE IS WALKING!

Sydney and Nyel, 2006

“I told the therapist that my goal is to walk with a cane by the time I’m out of here,” he told me.  I could all but hear him smiling over the phone.  “But that’s probably less than three weeks from now,” I said.  “I know,” he said.

As for me?  More tears, of course!

Thinning and Slimming

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Baby Apples Galore on June Four!

Today was THE most beautiful of Oysterville mornings so, after I woke up the girls with a few treats, I went on a walk-about to see how our garden grows.  “Luxuriously!” I say.  Mary Mary Quite Contrary has nothing on us!  I was especially amazed at our dwarf apple tree, a Rajka which, supposedly, gives a late summer crop.  But it is bursting at its seams already this year.


The Garden Patrol

Last year it produced a puny crop which Nyel thought should be thinned, anyway.  The result was not many of apples to speak of.  I’ve heard that, left to their own devices, apple trees produce large crops every other year and this must surely be the year!  I’m not exactly sure what will happen without Nyel’s tall stature, long reach, and deft hands to do the necessary choosing and picking.  He says that they will self-thin to some extent, but I have no idea how that works.  What I do know is that it is difficult to be a one-legged-thinner so this year will begin a No Thinning policy at our house.

Nyel, Reconnecting

As I did my survey of the garden, I was accompanied by four of our five fowl ladies.  (I think the fifth was busy in the nest box.)  They were giving the beds the down-close-and-personal examination.  I doubt that they know (or care) anything much about how the apple crop is coming along.  As for Nyel, though… I will give him a report complete with pictures when I visit him him Seaside later today.  He will probably have some cogent advice for me which I will follow assiduously — as long as it doesn’t involve ladders!

And speaking of thinning… Nyel has lost about 30 pounds since his hip fracture.  His appetite is beginning to come back, finally!  I hope he soon begins making some solid gains!  One hundred fifty-five pounds is just scary for a six-foot-two man!  Of course, he points out that he’s six-two only on his good side — probably about five-ten if he could stand on his other leg.  And that whole concept is even scarier…

Halfway Home and Then Some!

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Nyel’s New Home Away From Home

Day 36 – As of noon-thirty today, Saturday, June 1st, Nyel is in the swing-bed facility at Seaside Providence Hospital –just one hour and seven minutes from Oysterville.  More than halfway home!  Yay!

Actually — the numbers look like this:  St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland is 78.5 miles (or 1 hour and 28 minutes) from Seaside;  Seaside Hospital is 47 miles exactly from Oysterville (or 1 hour and 7 minutes.)  Those of us who are familiar with the highway and speed zones along the coast understand well the disparity in mileage and time between the two destinations.  But, even though the trip to Seaside takes comparatively longer — who cares!  I can visit him every day and  still be home for dinner.  Or even lunch!

Nyel’s Stuff

Getting out of St. Vincent’s seemed like it should be a piece of cake but wouldn’t you know there was a problem before the ambulance even revved up its engine.  Nyel, on a stretcher, was taken from his room on the 8th floor by the ambulance attendants.  They took the service elevator to the ER area where their vehicle was waiting.  Meanwhile, two aides had all of Nyel’s “stuff” (shoes, knee brace, shaving kit, extra container for his wound vac etc. etc.) all piled on a wheelchair.  They went with me in the regular elevator and got off on Level One, as did I.  “Oh,” said I.  “Aren’t you going to the ER?”  “Oh yes.  We know where to go.”

I headed for the parking garage, settled myself in our car and headed for Highway 26 and Seaside.  About fifteen minutes into the trip, my cell phone rang.”  “Hi!  This is Alicia with the ambulance.  Were Nyel’s belongings supposed to come with us?”  Yikes!!  I told her what I knew and she assured me that they would find his belongings…  Oh my!  As it turned out, they weren’t all that far behind me — maybe five minutes.  Of course, it probably helps to be an ambulance…

Readying Nyel for Transport

Nyel will probably be in Seaside for several weeks — at least until June 17th when he will go back to see his surgeon and  the infectious disease doctor at St. Vincent’s.  Meanwhile, his Seattle cardiologist is monitoring him via the magic of the Epic software charting system as well as by his daily transmission through his cardio mem.  If you are down Seaside way, pop in and say “hello.”  Halfway home, after all, should result in a few familiar faces for Nyel as the days go by!


Good! Better! Best!

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Day 33 — The day started out like gangbusters (for a hospital day).  The Occupational Therapist came in before Nyel had even begun his breakfast.  “What do you want to do today?” she asked.   “”I like to try standing up,” he said.

Not a new goal, to be sure, but given his weakened condition and loss of muscle mass — to say nothing of being able to reach the ground with only one leg — a most worthy desire.  His body seemed to say, “Your wish is my command!” and, with a great deal of physical effort and will power, he did it.  He stood up!  For more than a minute!!  He even was able to bend his right knee enough so that he could put his left foot flat on the floor for a few seconds.  OMG!  When I said to him, “You’ll be able to walk with the walker before you know it!” he responded:  “What do you mean?  I’ll be walking with a cane before you know it!”   (I tried not to let him see my tears… but then: “Cut it out or you’ll make me cry, too.)

The Shoe Fitting

Not very long later, here came the orthotics team to measure him for a built up shoe.  We showed them Nyel’s new pair from Freddie’s as well as his old (preferred) loafers and since they said the loafers would work just as well… guess who gets to return a pair of shoes on her next trip to the beach?  But Nyel is very pleased and, truthfully, so am I.  New Balance shoes just aren’t Nyel…

It looks like they will be adding about three inches to that left shoe — not quite enough to compensate for the loss of length as they want to leave enough room so he can swing the foot forward with each step and not have it catch on the ground and trip him up.  They expect to have the shoe ready this afternoon so that he can try it on and they can make further adjustments, if necessary, before he is discharged.

Nyel’s “new” shoes arrived at 4:30 — just five hours after his fitting!

Those discharge plans are still in a bit of flux.  It’s looking more like Saturday rather than Friday right now IF Seaside’s swing bed facility takes people in on the weekend.  (If not, it could be Monday.)  The only thing we know definitely is that he will not be going to the Ocean Beach swing bed facility.  Although they were approached again, Nyel is still “too complicated” for our little hospital in Ilwaco.  Dang!  We were told last week that Seaside has accepted him facility-wise; they are just waiting to see if his discharge coordinates with a free bed in a private room (which apparently is a requirement set by the team here.)

A Gift From Elizabeth

And, as if all that were not enough excitement for one day, here came one of the aides with a package addressed to Nyel, c/o St. Vincent’s Hospital via USPS Media Mail from The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.  “Who do we know in Scottsdale?” we both asked in unison.  The package contained C.J. Box’s latest book, “The Wolf Pack” and the only clue to the sender’s identity is a bookmark with a two bright red words in felt tipped marker:  “From Elizabeth.”    That narrows it down some…

Oh.  And one other thing.  As of today, Nyel is now back on all the oral meds he was on BTF (Before The Fall.)   Yay!!!  Home gets closer and closer.


New Balance? Hold that thought!

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019


Day 32 — My big accomplishment for this day was to get Nyel a pair of shoes the likes of which he’s never had before.  “A fairly light-weight tennis show with a rubber sole.  New Balance was recommended as a possibility” said the Occupational Therapist.  “Does is have to be a tennis shoe?” asked my leather-oxford, button-down husband.”  The answer:  “Yes.”

So, I took the orthotics out of his loafers (which I brought with me just in case he can convince anyone to use them, instead of the tennis shoes) and stopped at Fred Meyer.  It was, after all, right on my way back to St. Vincents from my brief-but-blessed stay in Oysterville.  I wandered around in the shoe department looking at all the possibilities (which, of course, all look alike to me, except for the color.)  A very tall shoe clerk came and offered to help.

I told him what I needed.  “In black.  Size 13d EEE.”  “I don’t know, ” he said doubtfully.  “They don’t really come that wide.  At least we don’t stock them.  Maybe Gimre’s.  But he kept looking and way up at the top he found them!  A pair of New Balance, 13 W, black.  I asked if I might try the orthotics and voila!  They fit perfectly.  Fifteen minutes and I was on my way with this bit of trivia rattling around in my head:  The clerk’s brothers, one younger and one older, wear a size 21 and a size 16, respectively.   He wears size 18, “but not very wide.”  They get their shoes at a special store in Portland.  Their father?  Size 10.  “Our mom wears a 10, too.”  So… there you are.

New Shoes!

A consultant will be here tomorrow to measure and discuss and we don’t know what all.  Then he’ll go back to Evergreen Prosthetics and Orthotics and they will build Nyel shoe that will allow his left foot to touch the floor when he is standing.  Then he can be weight-bearing with both legs.  Balanced!  And then… we’ll see.

Woot!  Woot!  Those shoes are HUGE!


Library Paste Notwithstanding

Friday, May 24th, 2019

I remember that, in the days of my youth, there were kids who sampled the paste every time we had an art project.  Of course, in an effort to dissuade them from their adventuresome behavior, they were usually told that paste was made from horses’ hooves.  That did not stop them.  No doubt such epicurean experimentation has stopped now glue sticks have come into fashion.  (However, I wonder if kids do give those scented ones a taste test now and then.)

“Did you ever sample the library paste when you were a kid?” I asked Nyel.  (And why, exactly did we call it library paste, anyway?  Was it of particular use with books?)  My question was not random.  Nyel had ordered clam chowder for lunch and I remarked that he seemed to be enjoying it — which mostly he doesn’t no matter where he is.  “Tastes like library paste,” he said.  But he kept on eating it.  And the rest of his lunch, too!

Bit by bit Nyel’s  appetite is returning, as is his strength.  He can now actually get himself into a sitting position, use his arms to scoot himself a-little-at-a-time toward the end of the bed and then transfer himself to a chair — even if there are a few inches of disparity in the height of the two surfaces.  This is a HUGE improvement. Everyone who sees him do it (the nurses and therapists and doctors often pause in his doorway to watch the “show”) and to clap and cheer.  (Quietly.  Like in a library.)

This morning one of the Orthopedic Team said he might be put back on his blood thinners next Friday.  We sincerely hope so.  Besides the obvious reasons, he won’t be discharged from here until that happens.  Meanwhile, we hope against hope that no new setbacks occur and that library paste morphs into more palatable fare.   Ki yi yippee yippee yay!