Thursday, April 27, 2017

goodbye for now, John ...


   I just received a phone call a few minutes ago - the son of a good friend called to tell me of his dad's passing ...

   John turned 90 last September, and was a very good friend of mine for the last few years ...

   I met John while I camped every summer up in the Feather River Canyon ... John and his wife, Nancy, lived in the tiny (pop. 6, if you got technical) little settlement of Twain ... 

   John was retired from the railroad, and afterwards worked a few more years with a small company that was contracted to run some of the local campgrounds in the Plumas National Forest ...

   I liked John the moment I met him ... for one thing, he was old, and 'old' earns high esteem from me ... 
   
   as Richard Pryor once said, " you don't get to be old, bein' no fool - cemeteries are full of young, dumb people ! "   

   Sybil absolutely idolized John, for John was her adventure companion, the owner of the 'buggy' that led her to adventures up on the mountain ...   

video 
Sybil and John return !

 
   Sybil would rush out my front door every morning as soon as the sun started to rise, and lie down with her eyes and ears trained on John's house - his house couldn't be seen from where we camped, about 1/2 mile away, and obscured by heavy forest, but somehow, she would know when he walked out to his shed to get his quad out ...

   she would just go nuts, jumping and flipping around, until me and John would finally stop our yakkin', and then the two of them would take off for an hour or so up the mountain ... John loved Sybil almost as much as I did, and the feeling was mutual ...

   I hope to see you again John, and I ain't far behind ya !

                 God Bless You, my friend,  

                               
John Sherck   1927 - 2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

more rain ...

  
   Kalifornia, for the most part, is on a 7-year rain cycle ... at least, that's what I was told when I moved here in December of '82, and it pretty well has followed that pattern ever since ... for the 6 years between rains, the state (at least, where I lived) can be almost desert-like ...

   about the only thing I miss about Illinois, is the green lawns and forests in the late summers, when everything here is brown and dead ... (but not missed enough to move back, uh-uh !) ...

don't worry 'bout me, I'm plenty warm !


   it's obvious Sybil loves the cold winters there, the humid summers, maybe not so much ... I often wonder how she's dealing with all that flat land, if she's still hunting for a mountain to run up !

   this winter is one of our 'every 7 years' wet, rainy ones ... as the national news showed, the Oroville Dam spillway a few miles away, was a major mess, and luckily didn't get even worse ...

   it's raining again today with several more rainy days forecast for our near future ... plus, the 'Big Melt' of our accumulated mountain snowpack hasn't really begun yet, so there could possibly be more excitement coming our way ...

route 70, near Tobin, Jan. 2017


   my beloved Feather River Canyon road still has round-the-clock work crews cutting back at the mountainsides, necessary to ease future slides ... this 'cutting back' has been ongoing since I moved here in the mid-'80s, but we still have the occasional slide ...

outside Twain, my chosen 'sentimental home'


   nonetheless, the 50-miles or so drive up thru this canyon, is one of the prettiest you can find, and is definitely a 'must-do' for motorcycle riders ... convertibles were built with roads like this in mind, I suspect ...

   Easter is coming up soon, my favorite holiday, and we're looking forward to it ... 

   

Monday, April 3, 2017

Lara Bussey DO rears her head again !

   well, it didn't take long for my laziness to take over - been awhile since I've posted ...

   I had a trip planned to Illinois for the first week of April, that had to be cancelled ... not my doing, I was prepared and anxious to go, probably in the van, or by AMTRAK if I got weaker ...

   I was taking my Dr.'s advice to 'take advantage of whatever energy I have left', but, my trip was cancelled because family determined the weather was going to be cold out there, and I would be 'uncomfortable' ...

   so, I'm uncomfortable here, instead ... and the clock's still ticking ...

   ******************************

   I had a CT-scan of my abdomen last week, and a complete bone scan a couple days later ... the abdomen doesn't look too good, but I won't know until I see the Dr. this coming Friday ...

   unfortunately, we just discovered the SAME Radiologist, or whatever, (Lara S. Bussey DO) that failed to see the large and OBVIOUS cancer tumor & eroded femur on my hip at the Feather River Hospital Emergency Ward when all this started, also read the new bone scan from last week ...

   remember her, she's the one that diagnosed my cancer tumor/femur damage as a 'hip sprain' ... I was told she is a 'floater', that works out of several Radiology Labs, etc. in the area ... they must really be desperate for help !

   needless to say, we are in the process of getting someone else, that's QUALIFIED AND WITH GOOD VISION to take a good look at the new bone scans ... 

   I will NEVER accept any diagnosis determined by Lara Bussey, DO, I can tell you that for damned sure !

   I sure miss my Sybil ...


 
my 2nd-best friend (after Jesus, of course)

   

   

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

a big failure for me ...


   all the years I was a truckdriver, I was really proud to know that, despite mechanical breakdowns, crazy-bad weather, and God-awful road conditions, one way or another, I would always deliver ON TIME ... it was damned hard most of the time, and almost impossible other times, but I managed to prevail ... it was like my will-power pushed me, I don't know any other explanation ...

   I guess when you don't have a whole lot going on in your life, you focus more on what you DO have, and try to do your best at it ... at least, that's what seemed to work for me ...

   so, this last trip was a very sobering one, in that I failed, and I just have to accept it ...

   I left here on my first leg of the road trip, that being Arizona, on Sunday, right after church ... 

   I did OK for awhile, but it was hard to stay awake ... I got very little sleep Saturday night, as I would wake up with muscle cramps just a few minutes after dozing off ... I mean, EVERYTHING was cramping, every muscle I used to pack up the van ... that lasted all night long, so very little sleep ...

   I managed 377 miles, before I just had to stop ... at a tiny rest area in Nevada, I tried to sleep ...

   not happenin' ! ... I froze my butt off in the back of my non-insulated van, shivering for hours ... that night my tiny little travel trailer seemed like a 4-star Hotel, I'll tell you that !
    
   I could have made it all the way to my spot in Arizona, but it would be just too irresponsible for me to try ... I was concerned I would get there, and not be able to get back home ... that would really complicate things for my survivors ... 

   knowing your death is increasingly imminent gets pretty weird sometimes ... you find yourself more concerned about responsibility to your loved ones, and less about your own plans ... maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be ... 

   I do know, if not for feeling responsibility for my girlfriend, I would simply just keep driving, and die somewhere on the side of the road, I mean, who cares ? ... when I was still trucking, I realized I would never 'retire', I would just be found dead in my truck somewhere ... sometimes, having loved ones is a pain on the ass, you don't get to have as much fun as you used to, haha ...

   so, reluctantly, I texted my friends in Arizona, explained I was just too beat up to make it all the way down, and returned home ... I felt terrible, going home with my tail between my legs, but it couldn't be helped ... 

   the timing for the trip couldn't have been better, as for once, my relatives were all going to be home during my visit ... heck, I even have it on good authority, that Sybil heard I was coming, and took a bath !

clean & shiny !
    I have not yet decided what to do next ... I just CAN'T sit in the recliner, and rot away ... I rushed my AZ trip to fit into a slot between Dr. appointments, tests that mean nothing to me, and friends that would soon be leaving the desert - after all, it was getting HOT down there ! ... while I was freezing in Nevada, I knew I would be sweating like a pig the next day in Arizona ... the hot & cold changes were really gonna be hard on me ...

   so, while a road trip to Illinois & back MAY be do-able, to play it safe, I have to re-consider a possible train trip ... but first, I have to rant !  (I love to rant, as you know) ...

   first, and foremost,   AMTRAK IS A DAMNED DISGRACE !!! 

   there are 3rd world countries that have better train situations than we do, here in America ... I will admit, they seem to have gotten better about arriving within a few hours of the scheduled time, but that was never a serious concern to me ... you can only go so fast on the roller-coaster they call a track ...

   but, there is no excuse for the rudeness of AMTRAK employees ... they are in a class by themselves (a low-class, to be sure) ... they have their comfy Guvment jobs, (subsidized by the taxpayers), so they can do anything they want, and NEVER get fired or punished ... I won't go into the instances I have both observed, and been involved in, here, but I despise AMTRAK employees, even the ones I've never met, that's how bad they are ... RUDE, RUDE, RUDE ! ... is it so hard for them to be courteous to you, while they're ripping you off !

   (an old lady asks the A-hole working the 'snack counter' to reheat the lukewarm food he just handed her from the microwave - "nope, we're only allowed to use the microwave ONE time per purchase, no exceptions ") - what a load of crap ! ... I mean, what the hell does the old girl expect for her $5 'grease-on-a-bun', anyway ? ...

   AMTRAK - another FAILED Government Program ... 

   OK, rant over, I'm done (for now) ...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

one last road trip ...


   I've been in kind of a hurry to bring the Blog up to date, as to what has been happening with me the last coupla years ...

   with that now done, I can ease up a bit ... the next few days, I will be busy packing my van, and getting ready for 'one final road trip' ...

   'one final road trip' - the same thing I assumed during the last 3 'final road trips' ...  

   having been told I only had 12-14 months to live (18 months ago), I drove back to my home town of Illinois 3 times in this period of time ... hey, sorry to be so greedy, OK ? ... 

   at least, I escaped the Kalifornia healthcare system for awhile, and got things done properly back east ...

   fortunately, while I was recuperating from my hip surgery in Illinois, my niece and Sybil fell in love with each other ... best way to describe it ... they are inseparable, and Sybil has been guaranteed a loving home for life, a relief to me that I can't over-emphasize ... when told I was a goner, Sybil's welfare immediately came to mind, I really worried about her ... 
   so, this situation has me very pleased, and confident Sybil will be well taken care of after I'm gone ... 

   PLUS, I get occasional photos, videos, and letters from Sybil - she has not forgotten her Daddy ! ...

   
this is one HAPPY girl !

lots of attention to the princess !
   a CITY DOG ?, or a WOLF LOOSE IN THE STREETS OF PEORIA !!! ? can ya believe it ? ... she adapted well, and sure likes the colder weather back there in Illinois ... she really suffered in the heat out west here, but now, she can't wait to go outside and lie on frozen ground ! ... whatever blows her fleas off, I guess !

           ahhhh, 26 degrees, MUCH better !

    back to the 'Plan' - I am heading to our old campsite near Parker, AZ, leaving here in a few days ... 
    depending on how I hold up, it is 'possible' I will continue on to Illinois, 'ONE MORE FINAL ROAD TRIP', but that decision will be awhile off, yet ... 
    
    it sure won't be the same without faithful Sybil by my side ... and, it sure won't feel as safe, either, because now I have to be much more attentive to my surroundings ... 

    'attentive' ain't my middle name, either !
    
    I will miss her 24/7 extra set of eyes and ears, and my own are nothing to brag about these days ... mostly, I will just miss looking over and seeing her sitting there in her seat  (I still haven't washed her old 'wet nose spots' from the inside of the windshield on her side) ... seriously, just can't bring myself to do it, the next owner can take care of that !

     so, I'll go to Arizona to camp for a little while, and see what develops, before deciding on the long leg to Illinois ...


 

Monday, March 6, 2017

back to work ...


    I'm back after my weekend off ... I was going to pause for the weekend anyway, but I happened to have a rough night on Friday, so it's just as well ... 
   normally, I sleep real good, but Friday night was an exception - I kept waking up, feeling short of breath, no big deal, but it was uncomfortable ...

   as I said in the last post, right after arriving in Peoria, IL at my sister's, I started serious nausea and vomiting ... right to the point of passing out ...

   my sister drove me to OSF's Emergency Ward, and they immediately started checking me out ... a CT-scan revealed a serious situation, requiring urgent surgery ...

   remember the brain cyst/tumor that, (despite my cancer history), was determined to be 'insignificant' by a Feather River Hospital 'Doctor' ? ... well, turns out, it was a 'colloidal cyst', blocking the area of my brain, where the brain fluids drain down into the spinal column - that's the best I understand the explanation ...

   a drain tube was placed into my skull to relieve any fluid pressure (and, here I was thinking all that pressure was just from having too much brains, or something) ... hey, it's MY story, I'm tellin' it the way I like !

   after a couple days of draining, I was told I was gonna have a second surgery, similar to the little drain tube I already had ... this second tube was to be placed on the other side of my head, and the brain surgeons would 'suck out' the tumor thru the tubing ... no big deal ...

   as it was, the surgery lasted quite a bit longer than expected, and found out afterwards, it was not 'sucked out', but was chopped up and removed a bit at a time ... either way, it was a success, and a biopsy was taken of the tumor pieces ...

   thank God, it was benign, and not cancerous ... they had no idea why it was there, and suggested it was something that may have been growing in there for years ... (all this time, I suspected 'brain bugs', but I guess not) ...  





    I spent another few days in the hospital after the surgery, no problems, but they wanted to get my sodium levels up ... as it was, my sodium was only down because I was drinking so much water, it was diluting my tests ... 


  
my new Frankenstein look !


        will blame the thinning hair on surgery !

   I returned to my sister's house to get some sleep (try getting sleep in a hospital, HA ! )

   after a couple days snoozing, I hopped into the van on October 3rd, 2016,  and headed west ... since it was beginning to turn cold, I drove the southern route, which enabled me to stop and visit friends that do the 'winter snowbird' thing in Yuma, AZ ...

    I took my time driving west, as I was still recovering from a couple holes drilled in my skull ...

   (one night, I was taking a nap in a little Missouri rest area, one of those with no facilities, mostly just a picnic area) ... a noise woke me up, and I looked to see a Sheriff's car checking me out ... the cop was walking around the van, inspecting it closely when I stuck my stitched-up head out the window and said " something wrong ? " ... when his flashlight beam hit my head, the poor guy jumped, and said " Man ! somebody really worked you over, huh ? " ... "uh, no, I had brain surgery a few days ago" ... haha, that freaked him out, for sure ... we chatted a few minutes, and he radioed in to have any cops passing by during the night, to keep an eye out for me ... 

  a really considerate cop, and I appreciated his professionalism ... 

  I arrived back in Paradise, Kalifornia on October 8th, and went back to my usual routine ...

  I see my cancer Doctor once a month, at which time I do blood labs, and get a shot in my arm - Xgeva, it's called ... it is to protect the bones, so the cancer does not once again invade them ... it normally costs something like $1500 for the monthly injection, but the manufacturer cuts the price, to where I only have to pay a couple hundred bucks per month ... still a lot of money, but it makes it possible ...

   as has been the case in my situation, the drug manufacturers only charge the crazy prices to insurance companies ... since I only have Medicare coverage, and my only income is Social Security, I qualify for the discounts ...

   for one year, I purchased a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan from HUMANA ... that was a TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY, and I couldn't wait for the required one year signup to end ...

   on 2 different occasions, HUMANA refused to pay for Authorized Covered Expenses, totally ignoring the 'Pre-Authorization OK' to get some medical work done ...  

   I postponed a neck MRI 3 times, refusing to get the test before I received Pre-Authorization from HUMANA - when the Pre-Authorization finally came thru, I had the MRI done, and HUMANA refused to pay ... period ... 

   where are the Attorneys, you may ask ? ... after at least TWO serious Mis-Diagnosis of my hip cancer, and the brain colloidal cyst, no Attorneys will touch it ...

   I called one of the country's top Attorney Law firms in San Francisco, (Walkup, etc.), the first of many I called ...

   while not taking my case, at least the guy honestly explained why not ... according to him, Kalifornia's current excuse for a Governor, Jerry 'Moonbeam' Brown, signed into law awhile back, that Malpractice suits are limited to $250,000, and since they would only get a percentage of that amount, it just isn't worth it to march into a courtroom and do battle with a hospital's typically large contingency of Attorneys ... 

   he suggested I find a 'local Attorney that's hungry', and see if he'll take it ... no luck there, either, seemingly Attorneys don't want to actually WORK to win a case, they just want money to be thrown at them, so they'll go away ...

   Feather River Hospital, of Paradise, Kalifornia is owned by the 7th Day Adventists, their 'Adventist Health' group ... I think it's safe to assume they have a full complement of Attorneys just waiting to stonewall incoming lawsuits ... we have sent them detailed complaints about the way they run their hospital, etc., but that always goes nowhere, of course ...   

   complaints to the Kalifornia agencies regulating hospitals, etc. reward us with occasional form letters, saying 'we're still investigating it', and asking for some piece of documentation to be sent in to them (for the 2nd or 3rd time, they seem to have a helluva time holding onto documents) ... 

   that's OK, Guvment jerkoffs, I'll be dead soon, and then you can go back to sleep ...

   meanwhile, I am watching the clock tick, and thanking the Lord that I have Him to see next ... I bet He will take my case !



   

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

MORE Feather River Hospital incompetence ? ...


    as I said yesterday, there's more to the story ... 

   before I forget, I want to mention the OUTSTANDING medical care I received from OSF (Order of St. Francis) Medical Center, based in Peoria, Illinois ... I've been in several hospitals in my life, and this was the BEST care I have ever received anywhere ...

   if I'm not mistaken, what with the economic downsizing of Caterpillar Tractor Co., OSF Medical Center is now the largest civilian employer in the state of Illinois ... everywhere you look, it seems, you see a branch of theirs ... that's good news, as they really take care of their patients ... 

   plus, as my 'medical records expert' girlfriend appreciates, their Billing statements are clear and understandable, and they were just as good as can be, in arranging affordable payments to pay off my Medicare balance ... (I just paid them off completely, a month or so ago - and, that felt GREAT ! ) ...

   after healing up for a short time at my sister's home, my major leg surgery was doing very well, so I climbed into the van, and pointed it towards Kalifornia ...

   I took my time driving back, and took a longer southern route to avoid impending winter weather ... plus, it enabled me to visit some snowbird friends in Yuma, AZ ... good friends, Canadians Harvey & Fran, and Twain, CA friends Pete & Joyce, drove out to my motel to have lunch with me ... that was really nice, and I enjoyed it a lot ... I love those folks to death ...

   my leg was doing quite well, and even to this day, it doesn't give me too much trouble - sore, yes, but that's OK ... if 'something' didn't hurt, I'd think I was dead !

   arriving home in northern Kalifornia in late November, I set up appointments with the Enloe Cancer Center, in Chico, Kalifornia ... while I have never been in their hospital, I was fortunate to get an excellent cancer doctor, and their cancer program is highly-rated ... it's affiliated with the UCSF (University of California at San Francisco) Medical Center ... 

   hmmm, wonder why they mispelled 'Kalifornia' ? ...

   I'm very lucky to have Dr. Randolph, the head of their cancer center, as my personal Doctor ... he is a great guy, and very much concerned with my care ... knowing I am not sensitive about my condition, and not fond of sugarcoating my health problems, he gives it to me straight ...

   there is no chemotherapy, etc., that applies to my situation, I'm too far gone, and he agreed with my prior Doctor's predicted 12-14 month prognosis ... that's all OK with me, I didn't have important anything planned, anyway ... 

   I left Sybil in Peoria to live with my niece, who has given her a most wonderful home ... leaving Sybil behind has been the only significant sacrifice I've made in relation to my cancer ... I miss her so badly, the most trusted and loyal friend I could ever ask for ... 


my loyal and lovable wolf-girl at 6 yo
   in fact, I have missed her so much, I've returned to Peoria about every 3 months since, to visit her ! ... yeah, I know, this relationship ain't normal ! ... the saddest part, my girlfriend didn't get to say goodbye to Sybil, as I had no idea about the cancer when I left Kalifornia ... I will always feel badly about that ...

   back in Kalifornia, my Dr. put me on a monthly injection schedule of 'Xgeva', a drug that strengthens the bones, hopefully to prevent further metasticis of the cancer ... it's a $1500/month shot, but I only have to pay a couple hundred per month for it (because I be po', ya see !) ... 

   also, he started me on another drug, sort of a chemotherapy-in-pill form, Votrient ... it was made clear to me, that this drug would NOT cure my cancer, but, it did have a reputation of 'slowing down blood vessel growth' in the tumor, itself ... 
   this drug costs around $15,000 per month, but again, since I qualify as low-income, the manufacturer provided it for free ... I'm glad I didn't have to buy it, as that stuff almost did me in, putting me in the Emergency Ward of Feather River Hospital twice ... I was in some BAD shape ! ...

   my second episode with the Votrient, on Feb. 10, had me ambulanced into FRH again, and this time, Feather River Hospital ran CT scans & MRIs of my head, too ... 

   the CT scan showed a 'lesion' in my brain, but the MRI didn't, I guess ... the Dr. in charge deemed it 'insignificant', and I was sent home ... (while it's possible discovery was noted in my records, I was not told about it, and it was a long time before I found out) ... man, I was really in BAD shape this time around ...

   because it was raising my blood pressure so much, Dr. Randolph reduced my Votrient dosages in late February, and discontinued it in March ...

   in mid-May, I made a 5,000-mile road trip to Peoria again, stayed about a week with Sybil, visited a sick friend in Detroit, and drove back to Kalifornia once more ...

   I re-started the Votrient at a very low dosage in June, but once again, the side-effects commenced, and by July 1st, I was taken off of it for good ... Dr. Randolph stopped it, not liking my liver numbers or my increased blood pressure ...

   on September 12, 2016, I hopped into the van, and drove back to Peoria again ... yeah, I know, I sure do drive around a lot for a dying man ! ... once a trucker, ..........

   taking my time, driving a few hours, then sleeping for a few more, I arrived on the 17th ...
   I felt good on arrival, but was tired of course ... on the 2nd day, I started vomiting, and then dry-heaving non-stop when I ran out of anything to throw up ... it wasn't much fun ...

   on September 20th, my sister drove me to good old OSF Medical Center, to see what the hell was going on ... 

   then, things really got interesting !

  

   
   
   

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Feather River Hospital Emergency Ward ...


   I wound up taking the weekend off from the Blog, as things were a bit busy here ...

   during Spring of 2015, Sybil & I were back 'home' at our usual summer campsite in the beautiful Feather River Canyon, of northern Kalifornia ... we love it there !

   our days were usually pretty quiet and peaceful, Sybil lounging in the yard, waiting for a sign that John may come by on his quad to escort her up the mountain for a romp, and me sitting on my butt at the computer ... I always started off my day scouring the online newspapers, keeping myself entertained in that way ... 

   as incapacitated as I was from my bad replacement knee, plus no shortage of arthritis pain, I didn't get much in the way of exercise, to say the least ... really not being the lazy type, it was hard on me emotionally, too ... I always was a 'hyper' sort of guy, and seldom could sit still for long ... but, that's no excuse for not keeping my mind active, so I either submerged myself with online newspapers, or kept my nose buried in a book ... 

   a quick little bit of background here:  my Dad was literally a Kentucky-born hillbilly, from the southeastern backwoods that were later flooded to create Lake Cumberland, in the Daniel Boone Nat'l. Forest ... he quit school in the 6th grade, to help support his single mother, in those Depression years ... my Dad had a HARD life, no doubt about it ...

   with only that 5th grade education, though, my Dad was one of the smartest men I have ever known ... he placed education above almost everything, and always encouraged me to read ... we never came home from the grocery store, without me having a new comic book, to add to the hundreds I already owned ... when my Mom would complain I already had too many, he always replied, "anything to keep him reading" ... he really respected educated people, and it literally broke his heart when I quit high school years later ... 

   I did go on to get my GED in the Army, and even took some college courses as an adult ... I qualified, and became a member of MENSA, and posted outrageous test scores years later on my college entrance exams ... no big deal, all I ever really wanted to do was be a truck driver, anyway !

   so, to this day, I can't do anything without having something to be reading at the same time ... 'Class A Personality', they call it ... 'whacko', according to others, haha ...

   anyway, the point is, I spend many hours sitting on my butt ... so much that I even had to move my trailer's floor-mounted chair from one side of the little dinette table, to the other side ... my left hip was so sore from sitting crooked in my chair, I tried the other side ... that helped ...

   on July 12, 2015, I was weekending at my girlfriend's apartment, and noticed Sybil seemed to be favoring one paw ... I couldn't get a good look at it, so I got down on the floor to inspect it closer ... not seeing anything wrong with it, I rolled over & started to get up off the floor ...

   that's when all Hell broke loose - something in my hip seemed to pop, and the WORST pain I have ever felt in my life just ripped me to pieces ... I have broken most bones in my body, and have had several major surgeries in my life ... I have a very high pain tolerance, in short, I ain't no candy-ass !

   I scared my girlfriend and Sybil half to death - I was literally screaming at the top of my lungs, the pain was unbearable ...

   I thought I had dislocated my hip, or something worse, and the ambulance was called ...
   
   I was taken to Feather River Hospital Emergency Ward, there in Paradise, Kalifornia ... I had been there several times before, even having a couple major surgeries there - the replacement knee that torments me even to this day, plus I had a kidney removed, (2005) ... my right kidney had a tumor on it, plus a tiny speck on the adrenal gland ...

   I was repeatedly assured that I only need one kidney, that it's no big deal - (I also could get by with only one eye, but I'd rather not part with one) ...

   I was told that kidney cancer progresses so slowly, I would die of old age before it caused a problem for me ... regardless, they had me return annually the next 2 years, to keep an eye on that tiny adrenal gland tumor ...

   the last CT-scan results were examined by a Dr. Stokmanis, I think he must have just been some Dr. on duty that day, as I did not normally see him for anything ... (nor, would I now) ...
   we were standing in the hallway looking at my CT-scan, and he stated that things all looked good, nothing out of the ordinary ...

   at that same time, a lady Dr., (whose name I don't remember), a very nice, short, Pakistani lady Doctor, stopped abruptly, turned, and pointed her finger at the X-rays, without saying a word, just staring at him ... then , he said "oh, here it is !, but it's very tiny, like a grain of sand, I wouldn't worry about it, those things grow so slowly" ...

   now, back to my story - my girlfriend followed the ambulance to Feather River Hospital, where I was given an X-ray, and some painkillers that really kicked my ass, but had little or no effect on the excruciating hip pain ...

   leaving my girlfriend and myself alone in the Emergency Room, the ECU people went (somewhere ?), I then somehow managed to fall forward to the floor (I don't imagine that did my hip any good) ... I just remember standing there, the room spinning, then falling forward with the floor coming up fast ! ... 

   I can still see my arm out in front of me, reaching out to the gurney to catch myself, then seeing my hand miss it, and falling HARD to the floor... 
   (it's funny now, but I remember thinking to myself as my hand just barely missed the table, " awww, shit, I missed ! ") ... my girlfriend, trying her best to catch me, couldn't hold on, and had to fill in the details for me later ... 

   evidently, I was trying to get into a wheelchair or something, when I fell ... after I hit the floor, I don't remember anything, I thought I had passed out, actually ... but, my girlfriend said the attendants rushed back into the room, and I was screaming in pain while they struggled to lift me up onto the gurney ... 

   she says despite my SEVERE hip pain, and then falling HARD to the floor, no one thought it might be a good idea to X-ray the hip again to see if anything more had happened to it ...

   after lying there awhile in the Emergency room, and pretty well sedated, (finally), I managed to settle down, and we were told I had suffered a 'hip sprain', given a few Norco pain pills, and sent on my way, telling me it should be ok in a few days ...

   I learned a long time ago, to obtain all my medical records & keep them in my safe at home ... I learned that one from Evel Knievel, who always did that, and since I traveled so much, between trucking & camping, it made good sense to have that stuff with me in case of emergencies ... 

   take a look at my 'hip sprain' - it's OK if you haven't had any Medical training, you shouldn't need any, to see what this is :

 
Feather River Hospital Emergency Ward X-ray - July 12, 2015



   that's my left hip - keep in mind, this X-ray was taken to determine WHY I was screaming in pain from a problem in my left hip joint ...

   maybe THIS was why : 


Aug. 28, 2015 - Peoria, IL X-ray of same hip

   as it plainly shows, my femur (thigh bone) has a rather large cancer tumor, which has eaten away at the bone itself ... (also notice, more bone has been destroyed since the first X-ray) ...

   maybe I wasted all those years as a truckdriver, maybe I should have been an orthopedic surgeon, as that is sure as hell OBVIOUS to ME !

   I had not yet obtained the X-ray that Feather River Hospital took, so I was still unaware of the real cause of my hip pain, when I left on a trip ...

   the following month I took a road trip back to my home town of Peoria, Illinois to have my left knee replacement done over again ... I was damned if I was going to get a knee revision by the same people that did the original replacement !

   trust me when I say, my 2,000 mile trip driving with that hip was pure hell ! ... I thought it sure was awful damned sore for just a 'hip sprain' !

   when my new Orthopedic Surgeon in Peoria X-rayed my left leg, he announced he wasn't concerned with the knee, that I "had a lot more serious problems than that", and scheduled me for an immediate bone scan ... 

   on  August 31, I got a bone scan of my left femur, confirming a 40mm x 80mm bone cancer tumor, plus the adrenal tumor had grown quite a bit, crowding my other organs, so further tests were scheduled for that, too ... as it turned out, I had Advanced Stage 4 renal & adrenal cancer ... 

    September 25th, a biopsy was taken, and determined immediate surgery was required, as I had very severe bone cancer in the femur, ... since the femur was eaten away so badly, it could snap at any moment, (that would really suck !) a 'Gamma Nail' surgery was scheduled immediately ...

   I was lucky enough to have one hell of a fine surgeon doing the Gamma Nail, a Dr. Maxey, of Peoria, IL ... he had done hundreds of these advanced surgeries, and is one of the world's best. period. - he was even a consultant to the 'Law & Order' television series, man, this was medical care like rich folks get !

   the surgery was a real tricky one, much longer and bloodier than expected ... to this day, I am warned not to allow ANY surgeon to touch that hip, unless they speak with Dr. Maxey first ... the tumor was an unusually dense mass of blood vessels, and I guess I bled like a stuck pig, they're still mopping up ! ... the surgery took a lot longer than expected, and Dr. Maxey said of all these same procedures he'd done, he had NEVER seen so dense a cluster of blood vessels as what I had ... see ?, told ya I was special ! ...

   a Titanium rod was run through my femur, from hip to knee - anchored at the hip with a great big wood-screw looking thing, and screwed again just above my steel knee, plus a couple more screws in the thigh, just to make sure it doesn't all fall apart ...

   with scrap-metal prices always on the rise, it's sort of like a long term investment !

   the surgery was followed up by 10 radiation treatments, over a two-week period, and I prepared for my return drive to Kalifornia ... 

   the good news : the bone tumor itself showed signs of shrinkage, and also indicated the bone itself was starting to re-generate ...

   the other news : this treated the bone cancer, but it had metasticized from my kidney & adrenal gland, so that's still the problem ... there is no chemo-therapy or processes to treat what I have, so I was given 12-14 months to live ...

   (that was 17 months ago - I've always questioned Authority !)

   next post, I will add more - oh yeah, there's more, this is just the tip of the iceberg ...


   

Thursday, February 23, 2017

a little background catching-up ...



    my original intent with re-starting my Blog, was to gradually slip in details from the past couple years, adding just enough each post to build up 'suspense' ... (that's the way us Pulitzer type writers do it, ya know) ...

   however, things tend to take on their own sense of priority as time goes by ... supposedly, Beatle John Lennon said, " Life is what happened, while you were making other plans " ... 
   
   sure does seem that way ... 

   so, while Life runs it's course according to it's own whims, I will pick up the Blog pace a bit, and get to the interesting stuff a little quicker ...

                 **************************

   after a lifetime of longhaul trucking & more orthopedic surgeries than anyone should ever endure (motorcycle enthusiast, ya see) I was beat up enough to just say "screw this, I'm going camping !" ...


camping
   I bought a new Ford van, an E-250 Super Duty Extended cargo model van, (and, I LOVE MY BIG FORD VAN !), and ordered a new Casita 17' travel trailer from the manufacturer ... after a 3-month wait, I drove to their Texas factory to take possession of my new 'home' ...

   while driving interstate for a living, my home was burglarized a couple times ... just minor losses, but it got me to wondering WHY I was paying a mortgage just to keep all my belongings in one place, to make it easier for burglars ... I was only home a day or two per week at the most, anyway ...

   so, I put all my stuff into a storage building, and lived in my trucks ... after divorces, I didn't really have anything, just had my job ...
 
   living 24/7 in a semi-truck, it was easy to rack up a crazy amount of miles ... while most drivers' top concern is just 'getting back home' to the family, mine was just to get the load delivered, and get under the next one ... I doubt very much if the drivers of today could even approach the amount of miles I ran, (3.5 million+ miles over 31 years) simply because of law enforcement ... the way the Driver's Logs are set up these days, it's virtually impossible to get away with that kind of mileage ...
   
   I worked hard & long, and being pretty well beat-up physically, I was more than ready to go off into the woods, mountains, and desert, and live like a heathen ! ... above all else, it well prepared me to survive, and thrive, in a tiny travel trailer ... it was only a 17' trailer, and intended for only 3-season usage, but I did just fine in it - it's positively LUXURIOUS compared to a truck sleeper !

   couldn't have done it without my sweetie, though !


Sybil, my sweetie, 11 weeks old


Sybil's 6th birthday, June 2015 - yup, she GREW !
   OK, so there's a little background for the new reader, tomorrow, we'll get down to the brass tacks ...


                       

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


   There have been so many major changes in my life these last couple years, it's not going to be easy to catch up ... if I had a better memory, I might consider chronological order, but the 1960's took care of that !

   fortunately, I took great care to document the details of my developing situation, so I will use those notes to help estimate my timing of events a little more accurately ... 

   from this Blog, I know my last entries were made while typically camping in the Arizona desert during the winter of 2014-2015 ... as was usual in those days, I returned to northern Kalifornia to spend my Spring/Summer of 2015 ...

   my hideaway in the Feather River Canyon has long been my favorite spot by far, to the point I consider myself a resident, (although, not legally), and the few legitimate local residents (6) are still regarded as good friends ...  one neighbor lady has passed away, her husband is quite old and in failing health, and four others have moved away, leaving their homes up for sale ...
   
   the little General Store & campground (the only business for miles) sold to a nice couple, that have enjoyed their first year in business, they are nice folks, a welcome addition to the whole area ...

   Sybil, as always, thoroughly enjoyed our summer camp, everybody there knew her, and she had bears, mountain lions, wild turkeys, fox, and squirrels by the boatloads, to keep her on constant vigil ... well, awake, anyway ... sometimes ...

   John, a local friend of Sybil & I, a gentleman in his late 80s, was one of the only residents still left ... John would ride his Yamaha ATV (quad) to the Post Office every day to check his mail ... 

   yes, we even had a Post Office, an old, tired, singlewide mobile office sort of affair - doesn't even have a restroom ... the Postmistress has to walk across the street to the General Store to use theirs ... and, these days, the Post Office is only open a couple hours a day ...
   with a population so tiny, you might wonder why there is even a Post Office at all, but it just happens to be the only Postal facility for quite a few miles up & down the Feather River Canyon ... so, it stays, and we're lucky to have it !

   Sybil would watch old John ride by every day, and very soon, John and Sybil grew close - he would take her for miles up on the mountain, and she would return thoroughly tuckered out, and grinning from ear to ear ! ... she dearly loved John & his Quad (Sybil knew it as her 'putt-putt') ... every morning, she would lay in front of our trailer, eyes fixated towards John's cabin ... 

   while she couldn't see John's cabin for the trees, she evidently could hear him walk out to his garage to get on the Quad ... she would get all agitated and jump up & down long before you would hear the Quad start up ... pretty damned good hearing, considering the garage is almost 1/2 mile away from us, with dense forest all around ... I couldn't hear a thing, even when the engine was running ... but then, I don't have wolf-ears !


video


   my friend John's wife died the following year, and he moved back east to be with family, as he was 88, and suffering the usual ravages of old age ... we often swapped stories debating the best arthritis remedies, etc. ... John wanted Sybil to have the Quad, as he knew how much she loved to run alongside, and I was usually too crippled up to walk with her ...

   we struck a fair deal, and I, for the first time in years, was able to take Sybil on the long runs she needed & deserved ... 

   while I never did get too enthused about owning a Quad (I'm a motorcycle guy, Quads are for geezers - too many wheels) I was really looking forward to a winter in the desert where I could go exploring with Sybil ... it would have been GREAT not be stuck sitting in the trailer while the occasional friend would stop by, and take Sybil for a walk ... as happy as I was to see Sybil running off to play for a little while, it hurt at the same time ... it was sad watching her go off like that, made me feel pretty useless ...

   then, those damned 'changes' started rearing their ugly little heads ... not 'changes', like the Socialist liar Obama promised, but real changes, changes that affect lives ... well, mine, anyway ...