A Story of Life Learning how to Live with a Purpose and Dying with Dignity


Sunday, July 2, 2017 – 

My name is Ronald Lee.  I was born August 5, 1946, Died May 1, 2015, as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.

The last day of April 2015, I was stopped at a light sitting on my bike when I was rear-ended by a 25-year-old tweaker driving an ’87 Oldsmobile, rendering me with twenty-five broken bones.  It was a hit and run, but the criminal got caught and went to prison for a short time.  I continue to serve my sentence in my tower of pain.

IMG_3924I was taken to University of Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where my heart stopped during surgery.

I was born again May 1, 2015, after being revived by Doctors.

I now have three- feet of rod and 27 screws in my neck and back leaving me ridged for life, unable to turn my head in either direction left or right or up and down.

The next major event was when I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer last September 2016.

I was informed I had been exposed to Agent Orange.  I was then given a rating by the VA as a 100% disabled vet, due to my time spent serving combat operations in the Marine 20150511_173240Corps in Viet Nam war during the years 1966/1967.

Lastly, I was diagnosed with Stage 4, Extensive Small Cell Lung Cancer June 6, 2017.  Small cell lung cancer is an incurable disease.  Again related to Agent Orange by the VA.  We’re told this cancer has put us on death row, given some various time frames to prepare to die.

We spent two stints in two different VA hospitals in June for having low sodium, which can cause brain damage leading to death.

We have sinc20150331_010550e abandoned the hospital scene and refuse to return.   It seems they want you there to die,

But I am not there, I am here in the comfort of my home doing all we can to survive.

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Patty and I moved to Volcano, California in 2010.  The house bought was a 1,000 square foot. , 1 bedroom, 1 ½ bath, with one eight foot closet of total storage, and a 2-car garage with a laundry garage when we purchased it.

Now, it is 1,620 sq. ft. 3 bedroom, 2 ½  baths with 10×10 walk-in closet off the master bdrm and laundry off master bath, w/2 car garage and an additional attached 24 x 26 square foot shop, or an additional 2-car garage. There are also several outbuildings.

Having been diagnosed terminal, I  decided I would keep a mostly daily journal of how we live a full, happy life until no longer possible, like all of us.  So I started this journal July 2, 2017.

So this journey of a life is offered to you to read for your enjoyment if you like, and I hope you do.  There will be entries regularly with up-to-date experiences I will share with you.  If you like what you read here, it will not cost you anything.  It is free and will remain free.

Last Friday the lung guy said I have 3 or 4 months left.  We don’t believe that guy.  Both Patty and I have a plan of making it beyond that.  Patty has always been supportive of me.  She has put forth so much time and effort in caring for me, staying with me in hospitals, and driving me to all of it, as I can’t drive on more than a country road any longer, and with her continued love and encouragement we plan on living for a while, hence the writing began to share our life beyond the expectation of death.

Monday, July 3, 2017

We went to Mather VA Hospital and gave blood to be analyzed for sodium content.

Afterward, We had a good day at Dan and niece Brigitte’s new home in Orangevale. There was a BBQ and visiting with relatives and friends at their beautiful home on 2 ½ acres.

We took them a golf cart we just acquired for free from neighbors Al and Jackie this same morning.  We borrowed a trailer from another neighbor Jeff, and Cindi to transport the cart, enabling us to gift it forward that same day.  I had now quit drinking so there was strange and foreign to me a day of no booze.  Only some water and Gatorade, with conversations with a stranger I met at the BBQ about insanity.

It’s  rather ironic having been a heavy drinker all my life, but have given it up as part of the plan to live, and found myself on this restricted intake of any liquids at 32 ounces a day with none of it being alcohol.  I OD’d at the party on water and Gatorade by 6 ounces.  How bizarre to have a drinking problem without alcohol.   I drank too much water and Gatorade today, ha ha ha.

We got home at 11:00pm.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017 –

I Just received a letter from the VA advising 100% disability rating to continue an additional 6 months due to continued active cancer.

Friends from the Valley came up for the night and to visit.  I’ve known Toby since 1988 and introduced him to his girlfriend Barbara in 2000.

They are here now on the 4th of July holiday.  Toby is recovering from hip replacement surgery.  He’s doing exceptionally well.

Toby and I did a few chores and went into Volcano to socialize with the boys of summer sitting on the group ‘W” bench.

There was only Skip there who sold me a gumball machine with no gum for $5.  I am to pick it up from him the next day at 10:00am in Volcano.

Toby will drive me into town again as I don’t drive a car often due to my accident.

DSCF1983Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rise 6:40am slept well for 8 hours.

Toby was to drive me into Volcano today at 10AM to pick up the $5 Gum Machine with no gum, but he had a hard night with little sleep and did not get up in time to take me.  So I drove myself, which I can do on these country two-lane roads without a problem…

I’m going to pay $12.00 for the $5 gum machine with no gum because I like Skip.  He lives on $329 a month.  Walks everywhere and never begs for money.  He’s going blind but remains a remarkable man.

I have a final appointment with Dr. Bracket at 2:00pm at Amador Hospital to examine my thumb I cut off with a skill saw in April.  It’s a bit crooked but is starting to reduce in swelling and I’ve been exercising it for weeks getting it to function somewhat too. I hope to impress her.  (I did) She’s an amazing surgeon and a fine lady…

I saw Skip, paid the $12, drove him to the bank in Pine Grove and he was on his own.  I went on to a thrift shop and bought all kinds of State of Jefferson paraphernalia such as decals, shirts, flags, hats, license plate frame, etc.  I put this stuff on my Thumper.  It’s a 4×4 side-by-side UTV having a small dump bed in the rear.

We had a fun day of eating and visiting with Toby and Barbara, (sober).

Gabe and Melinda, A neat couple who bought our Bluebird bus motorhome several weeks earlier, stopped by having a question about the electrical system (several aboard these buses).  I got him straight on the operation of circuits and gave him some things I’d found and saved belonging to the bus.  He was happy and left.

Patty called the VA to get the sodium level numbers from the VA for the blood work we had done on July 3rd.  I was back to normal at 135.  Normal is 135 to 145.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

We called the VA for the recent and new numbers again.  The receptionist was reluctant to transfer us to a Doctor or Nurse who could provide that information stating that I should see a Doctor to obtain the info.

Patty said, he doesn’t see Doctors any longer for this and it’s a life or death matter that I get those numbers.  A nurse called back and the numbers were up further into the normal reading at 139.

I’m off the 32-ounce diet requirement and can drink more liquids I think, and will.  I started my second round of Chemo today.  It is a three-day process, one day at the VA Hospital whereas I sit in a chair and they drip this poison into my vein.  Then two days home whereas Patty administers the poison.

My daughter whom I’ve been estranged from for a year now came and sat with me during the hospital chemo treatment.  We had a good healing together, and all is groovy.

I next saw a Pulmonary Specialist Doctor today.  He told us I have 3 to 4 months to live.  6 months on the outside.  Well, here we go again.  “You’re going to die”.

Well, I’m actually going to live, and you can bet this blog will be written longer than a few months!  We’ll have to see about that.

This is the kind of Dr. I don’t want to see you see?  All he did was screw up the rest of our day and made us cry together all afternoon.  It is hurtful and sad.   We don’t like him now.

We came home and had an artichoke for dinner. First, we stopped at Costco for fuel and a water cooler.  We buy drinking water as we suspect our well has high Iron, and will eventually turn us blue.

We got home, watched part of a movie and went to bed at 11:00pm.

Friday, July 7, 2017 

This was my third day and last day of this session’s chemo.  No Nausea yet, but very low energy and weak.

First, Patty and I went to pay for a used Lexus SUV  we agreed to buy July 3rd.  from neighbor Tami.   Patty hasn’t seen the car yet.  It sits Just a few houses down on our road.

We immediately planned a road-trip to Utah to see the boys and girls we played with in the 70’s.  They are all really cool folk.  You’ll meet them when we get there late next week.

I went to neighbor Jay’s house.  He’s who I call my building contractor.  Reading in the past you may recall me mentioning “Maki Construction”.  He builds everything for us now.  DSCF0835.JPGAnyway, he has a sawmill at his house and I needed more lumber so I scooted up to his place in Thumper to make the purchase.  He’s only a half-mile from us.  Placed an order and was on my way home for the night.

Saturday, July 8, 2017 –

Patty has just about finished the guest bathroom directly off the guest room.  We needed help moving a claw-foot tub into the bathroom so we offered a Beer & Brat’s BBQ for the crew we put together.

DSCF2013.JPG Some of the sausage gang from last night.    

Others well into the drink and food and were wandering around somewhere.  One of the crew showed up late.  We drove him home (a few houses away) with a promise to pick him up in the morning for breakfast and get his tractor he left here the night before.

We’ve decided we will leave here next Tuesday for our road trip to Utah.  We’ll make Elko Nevada on day one, then day two we’ll arrive in Monarch, which is west of Neola 5 miles.  Neola is 20 miles north of Roosevelt on Hwy 40.  Roosevelt is about 730 miles from Sacramento.  This Day leaves just a 3 ½ hour drive from SLC to the ranch.

I found a box of coins cleaning out the garage a few days ago.  There are rolls of nickles, dimes, and quarters.  I don’t know how much money there is, but the box is fairly heavy.  I’m going to pack it with us since we’ll be staying in some casinos, where we’ll blow it all away in a slot machine, but then who knows???  We’re not gamblers, but we will be this coming week.

Sunday, July 9, 2017 –

I cleaned up the fire pit area.  I cleared the area’s evidence of a night before.  20170713_193245

Patty cut wood for trim in the guest bath this morning, and I spent the day decorating Thumper.  She looks like a Mexican Gypsy Landscaping truck now only with a touch of Hippie.

Took the thump for a spin down our road to Jeff’s house.
He turned my hitch upside to make the trailer level.  It worked just right!

I went back home and spent the rest of the day decorating Thumper.  I took some things I had in one of the outbuildings that were my man cave and tool shed before we finished the new shop, which was just completed several weeks ago.

Monday, July 10, 2017 

Stayed busy all day, but moving slowly, and getting tired quickly.  I finished my last hit of chemo last night for this second session.  I now have 18 days off.  I haven’t been hit with nausea like I did the first round last month.  So we figured I will be alright for the trip to Utah Tuesday.

Contractor, neighbor Jay stopped by and showed me how to reverse the three blades in our wood planer.  How nice are these folks?

He knows I’m getting ready to build benches in the shop because I just bought the lumber to do so from him.  He knows I need to plane the countertops (made of pine), and I know he didn’t want me to have to use the dull blade I had on.

I also bought a 2 1/2 inch thick slab of Sugar Pine eight feet long by eighteen inches wide by eight-feet long to make a bar in the shop.  I will place it under the six-foot window Jay installed in the shop.  Then I can sit at the bar with my Gatorade and gaze at our chickens behind the shop.

Tomorrow we go to Mather for another blood donation and inspection.  Then off to print pillow covers for our customers.   I’ll tell you about our home based business soon, but not now.  I’m beaten down now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Yuck, I just pulled a Daddy Long Legs Spider out of my mouth I obtained from a big gulp of coffee.  He was dead.

We’ll be leaving for Mather Hospital soon.  Got my sodium count at 133.  Just a little low.

After lunch, we met Barbara and Toby where she was watching her grandkids for the day.  We wanted to drop off her tennis shoes she had left at our house when visiting the other day.

She had found some small gum balls for the gumball machine that had no gumballs, and she gave them to us.

When we got home I tried filling the machine but couldn’t get anything out of it.  It only takes your money.  So I took it apart to try to fix it.  When Jeff was here, he figured it out and got it working, but the gumballs are too large to drop into the giving area.

It seems like every time Jeff shows up he ends up completing a project for me.  He’s a generous person with his time.  We’re very fortunate to live in a great neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 –

Got up today at 3:30am.  I’m eating organic now and taking multi-vitamins, I’m also taking Marijuana oil, 25 to 1 CBD vs. THC.  The 25 parts BCD is medicinal, and 1 part THC. THC is the part that gets folks high.  You would have to eat a bucket of this stuff to get high, and that isn’t the purpose of eating it.  I take it for the medicinal benefits.  Patty filled the capsules with the oil.  I take it that way because it tastes awful.

The first break of daylight this morning I cleaned up the chicken coop.  I washed out the chicken house and recovered the floor with hay.  Cleaned up the feed and water, adding fresh to both.

I attempted to cut some branches hanging low off the White Fir Trees.  They interfered with driving my truck under them, and they are a fire hazard.

Because I can’t look up, I do these things by touch, so to speak.  I couldn’t make the cut.  So I went to neighbor Mike’s house (where I bought the car recently) and asked him if I could borrow his pole chain saw. He was splitting wood but said he’d be down in a couple of hours and would stop by with the saw, but ended up using mine after the blade was put on correctly.

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I left for home and soon afterward neighbor Jeff dropped in to finish wiring our automatic watering system.  I had replaced a controller valve on it a few days ago and couldn’t get it to work. Apparently, I wired it incorrectly.  He got that straightened out.

I had started weed eating when the string thingy jammed.  Jeff restrung the weedy for me, and I finished an area anyway.

Patty had to go to the Valley again today to visit her Mother and take care of some chores, like shopping.

Her Mother was committed to a hospital due to low blood pressure and kidney infection.  She just turned 84 last week.  Patty is very stressed out with all that’s going on right now.

About 12:30pm a former co-worker, and a man I admire came up from the Valley.  A trip from Sacramento Valley takes a little over an hour to drive to our home.  He came up to take me to lunch.

We went to a Mexican Restaurant in Pine Grove called Los Molinos. We had a great lunch there, and a better visit.  We worked together for eighteen years.  Jeff N. is an economist and an educated classical guitarist.   What a happy day he brought up here!

After lunch we went next door to a feed store I hadn’t been to before.  I bought two 50lb bags of chicken feed, and a new 30lb feeder to go with my about 20lb feeder I already had been using for the eleven chickens we have.

Next, we went back to the Thrift Shop where I bought the Jefferson paraphernalia last week.  I owed the lady owner $5 and got my bill paid.

Patty got home just before dark.  I had a bowl of chocolate pudding for dinner and went to bed about 10pm.

Thursday, July 13, 2017 –

Neighbor Tami and Mike delivered the car about 7:00pm we bought from them.  It was serviced at the dealership and detailed by another in Jackson.  It is very nice, and a very nice gesture on Tami’s part, having gone so far out of her way to make it a truly pleasant transaction, and it is a NAS-CAR 🙂

We haven’t driven the car prior to actually buying it the other day, so we took a short trip to Pine Grove about eight miles away from here, and bought some ice cream cones.

Saturday, July 15, 2017 – 

My Son, Kurt and his wife Laura came up from the Valley to stay the weekend.  We had lunch and headed up to Pipi Campground. A Forest Service campground and day use area on the Consumes River, about 15 miles from our home.IMG_1243

We hung out in the river, eating snacks, and drinking beverages of choice.  We met some nice Israeli’s from Oakland.  They came up with dirt bikes and ATV’s to ride the trails in the area.  IMG_1292[1]

We left Pipi, late afternoon, headed home to BBQ a London Broil, corn on the cob, salad, and a desert.

We sat by the fire pit after dinner.

Laura and I turned in about 11:00pm.  Kurt and Patty stayed out by the fire until 3:30am.

Kurt’s birthday is tomorrow, Sunday.  He’s turning 37.

 

 

Sunday, July 16, 2017 –

I got up at 5:00am today.  I spent about five hours cleaning up some more, while everyone here slept into about 10:00am.

We are taking Kurt & Laura to Kurt’s birthday breakfast at new restaurant in Pine Grove called the Sierra Mountain House

Had a fine breakfast and came back to Chateau Three Forks (our property and home).  Put up another motion/sensor light off one of the outbuildings.  Patty worked on the backyard watering system, which was broken out when we dug a new foundation for the addition last year.

The youngsters left a little past 1:00pm.  The temp just went past 100 degrees.  Patty came out of the heat to practice on her new to her banjo.  I’m going to see if NASCAR is racing on the tube and take it EZ the rest of day.

Monday, July 17, 2017 –

Awoke early today, and finished the clean-up around here, then went down to Jeff’s house.  He’s gone for a couple of days camping.  We share a trash can that is picked up weekly.  He has two people in his household as do I.  Subsequently, we don’t have a lot of trash.  Since he’s gone, I filled the can with stuff hanging around here.

I saw Mike splitting wood, so I stopped in and helped him for a couple of hours.  We teamed up and killed that job in no time.

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Jeff came home just as we finished Mike’s wood splitting.  I went over and asked if he had trash this week.

I didn’t want to take up the whole can if he needed some room.  It’s called sharing the cost as well as the can.

He doesn’t have much, and there’s some room left.

I came on home and heated up some leftover ribs, beans with sausage, and fast-food type fries with a glass of milk, and an ice cream cone for dessert.  Watched a little news (very little), and decided to do the laundry before Patty gets home from the Valley today.  We leave for Utah tomorrow morning, and we’d like to go ASAP.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 –

Based on the last session of chemo, and my reactions, we decided we wanted to take a road trip at a time we catch the feeling well part between chemo treatments.

Back to the road trip we were planning, and  I mentioned above;  Well, We left our house at 10:24 this morning.  We are headed back to the Ranch I just told you about in Monarch Utah.  This is where I lived in ‘74/’75.

After two quick returns to pick up the I fors, and a 20-minute delay we were on the road heading north on Hwy 88.   This is our first long road trip since getting wrecked.

I’ve been working on getting a  FaceBook page, but technology has surpassed my abilities pretty much.  I also bought a website last week to post this story on, and we’re working to get it live.

1:20pm – We stopped in Silver Springs Nevada at the Silver Strike Ranch House in a casino.  We both had French Dip Sandwiches with fries, and was tasty, with excellent.

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We left the casino to find a lot of road construction going on.  We see the flag person waving her arms in a horizontal, back and forth motion.  I told Patty to go.

Flag person immediately calls the Nevada State trooper parked nearby.  He pulls us over with lights and sirens.

The trooper is talking to us when flag person runs to our car yelling, “just go where you want, why don’t you just go home”? We thought that flag person ought to go to flag person school.

Explaining to the officer what occurred, we dropped Nevada Trooper’s Doug and Junior’s names.  Two friends, we used to ride motorcycles with before I was unable to ride any longer are Nevada State Troopers themselves.  I dropped their names and this trooper knew both. With that, we were on our way.  I think that’s called “The Secret Handshake”.

We arrived in Elko a little after 6:00pm.

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All the hotels on the east side of town are full.  There was a large fire here yesterday, and all the rooms are taken by firefighters.  This explains the hazy skies all the way across Nevada.

We found a room on the west side, got settled, and went to a good Chinese food place.  20170718_193657.jpg

 

 

Then it was off to a casino to spend our newly found box of coins that had been staying in our garage for who knows how many years?

To our surprise, the slot machines no longer take the coins.  We had to have them converted to bills.

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We had cashed in $92 and decided we’d put it all in a slot machine, but keep anything that came out.  We made $34 and left for the restaurant to celebrate with chocolate cake and milk.

We went back to the motel and crashed before 10:00pm

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 –

We left Elko about 5:00am and arrived in Wendover on the Nevada/Utah border at 6:30am.   We stopped at the Peppermill for breakfast.  Quite the casino.  Very modern and huge, but not many people here this morning.  20170719_070630[1]

Leaving Wendover we moved the clocks ahead one hour.  We are now in Mountain Time.

We stopped at Costco in SLC for veggies and fruit for everyone at the Ranch.  We got to the Ranch about 2:00PM.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Today we went to Hump’s cabin.  It is the original cabin built on this property in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s.  At least as far as we recollect.

20170721_120543     20170722_095355  20170722_095552     20170722_095410

Friday, July 21, 2017

Hump took me and Jim Berlin into Roosevelt to the Grill for breakfast.

Then, we headed to White Rocks Canyon to visit with David and Lori at their cabin.  We had a great lunch prepared by Lori.

20170721_131320  20170721_142236.jpg

Saturday, July 22, 2017 –

We left Monarch today for Mt. Pleasant Utah.  It’s about a three-hour drive to visit Berlin’s home.

First, we stopped at a curio shop to buy some gifts for the neighbors that watched over our chickens.  20170722_105531

We spent the night here to visit and see Berlin’s train.

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We checked out Berlin and Danny’s train, and property.

Berlin fixed some buffalo for dinner.     A number of Berlin’s friends and co-workers from the school stopped over for the evening of beer drinking.

Sunday, July 23, 2017 –

We left Mt. Pleasant at 6:00am (Mountain Time).  Patty drove thirteen-hours all the way through to California.  I figure we lost about two-hours with stops along the way, but arrived at 6:15pm.  We both were anxious to be home.

Monday, July 24, 2017 – 

Toby and Barbara had spent the last weekend staying at our house while we were in Utah.  Toby said he went to let the chickens out the Sunday morning and found two skunks in the coop.  Neighbor Mike had set a trap and caught one in it.    20170725_161918[1]        20170725_161847[1]

We have recently noticed eggs were being eaten, and we thought a chicken had done the dastardly deed, but now it appears the skunks have been doing this.  We have subsequently trapped four skunks.

We went to the DMV in Jackson to register the car we just bought, picked up a few groceries, as we had wiped ourselves out of food from the refrigerator failure before our trip.

We didn’t quite get it done as we need a smog check for a newly purchased vehicle. Otherwise, there are no ongoing smog requirements here in Amador County.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 –

Today was chemo day, but my white blood cell count was too low, and the doc decided no chemo today.

My daughter, Veronica had come to sit with me.  Patty left to her parent’s house to clean for them.  Veronica and I left to old Fair Oaks for lunch at Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant.

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Wednesday, July 26,2017 –

Up at 5:00am.  Finished sanding the new bar top to be installed in the shop.

We’re leaving this am for the Valley.  I’ve applied for a change in status with the VA.  They are to check me out today to verify I’m as messed up as the VA Doctors say.  I’m not sure what the end result will be.

Finished up the appointments, and went to Sprout’s to shop for some organic food, and drove home to Chateau Three Fork.

Arrived home about 7:00pm and had another fine chicken dinner.

Thursday, July 27, 2017 –

Daughter Lauren arrived from Grass Valley about two-hours away to help me with this website we’re working on.

She will stay through the weekend.

Friday, July 28, 2017 – 

Spent most of the day with Lauren working on the website.  It takes some time to develop, and the story seems difficult to launch as I keep tweaking on it.  We’ll get there.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “A Story of Life Learning how to Live with a Purpose and Dying with Dignity

    1. I agree, and think it would be cool if you incorporated some of your “old” stories into your daily writings.

  1. Enjoyable to read! Thank you for the imprint of memories Dad! Your grandchildren and I cherish them!!

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