New Jersey, state #28; Celtic Farms in Augusta

mom in dialysis center

mom in dialysis center

mom's beloved Dana, now living with my sister

mom’s beloved Dana, now living with my sister

Kate's pretty chickens

Kate’s pretty chickens

6/8/14
At about 8:00-8:30 the mosquitos get fiercest. WF goes nuts and starts chasing Dreamy around like its her fault. I had to put up the separating wire again like the first night. Then I sprayed them with my DEET spray. It was the fastest thing I could do, she was beside herself. They both settled down immediately, it works. Funny it didn’t happen last night I don’t think.

6/10/14 Celtic Farms, Augusta, NJ; State #28
Yesterday as I packed up the ranger family was breaking down camp also. The baby cried for hours. I felt bad for the mom, but she seemed oblivious to it, calmly going about packing up and minding the other 2 kids. The little girl was crying too. I heard the 7 year old boy say “what else can I do to help Dad?”, it was really touching. I was all jangled up inside from overhearing what was going on over there. I guess it brings back too many memories of my family’s problems. Bill & I were so dysfunctional. And my children were so sweet and innocent, like all children are. And it was muggy, and the mosquito bites were so annoying, I was itchy and kept thinking I was getting bitten but I think that was in my mind. I walked Tommy around the main campground which was pretty empty, everyone had left on Sunday. Its very pretty, a big loop and has sites along the water too.

I decided to take a slightly longer route thru PA instead of straight into NJ. My memory of NJ highways from 25 years ago was that the lanes were narrow, drivers dart in and off the highways, they weave around and speed. I’m sure the roads are better now but I’m glad I went the way I did. At my gas/rest stop I went in the LQ to pee and saw that the rugs were wet. Its coming from under the fridge where the hot water heater is. The shredded paper I found in the bathroom drawer and this mean I must have a mouse in the house. There are droppings in that area and a hole in the floor where the sink drain goes thru. Nalla is not doing her job!

It was an easy pretty route and I didn’t hit any traffic until I hit Sussex NJ close to my destination. I don’t like traffic and tailgaters! And tight turns around town squares either. But I’m getting much better at it all. I had a tank semi tailing me much of the way in NJ, the country road speed limits were slow and I was sticking to them. The quaint old houses close to the road are charming and feel like home to me. I lived much of my childhood in NJ and the new england charm is more home to me than the west coast was. I started thinking about the 200 year old house on 10 acres in the woods I had here before I got married. It had a barn but I didn’t ride then. And a pool and tennis court (I didn’t play tennis either). I was 35 and had moved out of my NYC loft due to NYC burn out. Bill’s son, Alex, called in fantasyland. I should of never sold it. But I was committed to the marriage and moved to Chicago into Bill’s condo there. We had the wedding at this house, it was so pretty. I wore my sister’s wedding dress. I had cancer too. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

It was a very tight turn off a very narrow road into the driveway, Kate told me later that I should of come in the other direction. I am always finding this out too late. I need to remember to ask the question “Is there a best way to come into your place?” I remember talking to Jo Jo at High Knob in IL. She just offered up the best way in and said, this is the best way in for your horses legs. I saw on FB that she called a camper that was due to come in and told them they should cancel due to the muddy trails from the excessive rain they have had. How many camp owners would do this?

Celtic Farms is 7 acres, all useable for the animals. There is a very pretty new wood barn which I really love. Her set up is great. There is a hay loft with a hay elevator for getting the hay up there. I really want something like that. All the stalls have access doors to the pastures. My mares are not in the barn, they have a huge pasture all to themselves with a cute run in shed. It is exactly what I wanted. Its not grass, mostly weeds but they like the munching around all day that they can do. I will still feed hay. Kate has 3 older horses here and one at a training barn nearby. I’ll go over there with her to meet her horse whisperer. And she has a chiropractor! The mares are sorely due to get adjusted.

Kate showed me around and gave me eggs out of her chicken coop. I have never seen such beautiful chickens. Really you should see them. She said to help myself when I need eggs.

I am parked on a paved driveway which is different. That will keep most of the dirt out of the trailer.

I woke suddenly today to loud skreeching and thought WF was causing trouble over the fence. But then realized it was the roosters. Today Liza and I will go to see one of mom’s doctors. The one that said it may not be ethical to treat mom. Heavy stuff.

6/11/14
Yesterday morning when I went to feed the horses I saw Wildflower at the fence and Kate’s chestnut horse messing around. The chestnut turned his butt and kicked out 2 boards. Kate said she heard them at it in the middle of the night too. So I ran my solar electric tape along that fence line a few feet in from the fence on our side to keep WF away from causing any more trouble or damage.

I left Tommy tied to the trailer, Kate offered to bring him into the apartment if there was a thunderstorm or it got too hot. She also let him run with her dogs in the yard when the chickens weren’t out. I told her thanks, but not to worry, Tommy was a stray his first year and the trailer is the only home he has known and is happy with his life in it. Someday I will have a real home again and will spoil him rotten but until then this is our life.

I went to the nursing home with my sister, mom was awake and pretty lucid. Just a few mix ups. But she is in bed and did not move at all. When I hugged her she seemed so frail, soft and warm. I had been worried I would be afraid of touching her but I wasn’t, it felt completely natural and good. I held her hand at times and she squeezed back. We stayed 1-1/2 hours and then said good bye. The nursing home was not nearly depressing as I had pictured it. But I wouldn’t want to stay there. We then went to see Dr. Solomon, the doc that had admitted her and said to my sister that if she was indeed in kidney failure (she was) and needed dialysis (she did) that we had an ethical question to address. It was an enlightening meeting. It would not be questioned if we refused her treatment in light of her prospects for a quality life. In fact Dr Solomon said it was the ethical thing to do. We are going to wait for the chemo reassessment in 2 weeks to decide what to do. We now are thinking of bringing her back to her home (which she repeatedly says she wants to go to) so she can die at home with her cat. When I left my sisters, I saw that mom had called me twice and left messages. They were delirious. She was at a hotel at the Jersey shore and needed money and help to get home was the general jist. I called her back, more of the same, referring to her foot not working to walk and she was at a place to learn to walk (she has a broken hip) and then that she had just walked up and down the hall twice…then no it was in a wheelchair, why won’t I help her? I asked if she remembered seeing me earlier and she said Of course, I remember you, you are my oldest daughter. This is so hard to hear and my sister has been all alone here for the past month trying to handle her care.

This was all yesterday. Today I went to see her at dialysis. I was nervous about this, my son has diabetes type 1 and we used to get a scare tactic lecture from the urologist when he was out of control about: Do you want to have to do dialysis… The place was very nice, clean and high tech. She gets there by ambulance. Dialysis is a 4+ hour ordeal 3 times a week for the rest of your life. Most of the patients were looking alert and comfortable. Not my mom. She was under blankets, eyes mostly closed and shivering, sometimes grimmacing, sometimes snoring. I hugged her, God give my mom peace, do not let her suffer, take her into your loving arms. I prayed this as I hugged her over and over…and started crying, so I went to the bathroom. We stayed about an hour or more then left. She never woke up or really responded to us. She looked like she was dying to me. I don’t understand, I thought it was supposed to make you better. Liza said that she is usually more dillusional following dialysis. I read on line about dialysis dementia from the aluminum but that is after long term treatment. There is so much we don’t understand yet.

I had supper at Liza’s and the prospect of driving back to Augusta was bad. My back was hurting today, and it was really bad when I got back to Augusta even tho I had taken 2 Alleves. I laid on the bed and hugged Tommy for a long time. I love him so, I hate leaving him alone like this. I’m pretty sure he had been abandoned as a pup and I hate to think he worries I have abandoned him as well. He gets very anxious about getting in the truck when I start breaking camps so I’ve been just putting him in the truck those mornings right after his walk. Then he knows he’s coming with me. Poor baby.

I haven’t ridden in 4-5 days and my back needs the movement, sitting in the truck 3 hours a day is the worst thing I can do for it. I must ride tomorrow but I am not sure where I can from here without hauling. I need to find out from Kate. My mind feels physically heavy. I’m going to shower and go to bed.

6/13/14 Friday the 13th, but I am not superstitious.
Kate had brought up the issue of Medicare coverage for ambulance transport to dialysis and doctor’s offices. It is being scrutinized here in NJ and on the news. Kate know about these issues, she had an ambulance service. There has been some abuse but it seems to me like its more an issue of taking very sick patients to dialysis from nursing homes because that is just assumed to be the thing to do when someone’s kidneys fail. Whether that patient and or their family is aware of their choice to do it or not. Dialysis does not cure kidney failure, it just prolongs your life. And not forever either. Eventually it is not enough. That and the fact that dialysis is not available in nursing homes for some reason, I don’t think Medicare covers it unless its at a dialysis center? Either way, this will become a much bigger issue, the cost of this is already astronomical and as my age group (the peak of the baby boom) ages it will become a much bigger deal. I think the UK has an age limit on the start of dialysis treatment. It used to be that in the US if you were over 65 they wouldn’t start it. My mom is 81 and they started it.

Yesterday:
Kate drove me to some local trail heads, there is no riding out off the farm. We walked our dogs together on one of them. Other than an occasional haul with her to Ed’s (her trainer’s farm who has trails there) I will probably not ride here. She offered up her 2 horse for me to use, but I think I will just let them rest in the pasture while I am here. I have a lot to deal with any way and it just seems like too much trouble.

I went to see mom with Liza. We saw the social worker, Connell first. To talk about uncovered ambulance bills. And hospice care, and discontinuing treatments, and bringing her back to her home. He agreed with us and said he can help us thru the process. Its funny, no one brings it up, but once we do, they all seem to support the idea. I have had no one try to talk me out of this. She has 2 progressive diseases he said, cancer and kidney failure. She will not recover from this he said, no matter what we do to treat. And we shouldn’t second guess our decisions after we have made them. Or feel guilty.

Mom called me crying as we were signing in. She had wet the bed she said (altho I know she is wearing diapers now). When we got into her room we also noticed the inflatable bed to prevent bedsores was deflated (it had come unplugged). She was “so embarrassed”. We got her changed (the diaper had leaked or been put on not quite right or had shifted) she kept saying how embarrassed she was. I told her not to be, she had changed our diapers after all. She looked good and said she felt good, not tired at all, then fell asleep. Her roommate was not in the room, poor woman. But she came back eventually, crying “what am I doing here?” over and over. Then shutting off the ac, opening the window (its so humid here) and turning on the tv full volume. We pulled the dividing curtain between her and mom, but it is just a curtain. I feel so sorry for her, but I feel more sorry for mom having her as a room mate. Liza said that the roommate cries all the time, usually its; I’m so nervous… or… What should I DO? Just like the woman in Memorial Park in Pasadena that haunts me still. Liza comforted her visiting son once, telling him its not him, she is like this all the time. He had thought he made her feel this way. I asked Liza about asking to have mom moved and she said she’d rather pick her battles, wise. Mom doesn’t really complain about it, more mentions it in passing. It probably distresses us more than mom.

Today I am not going to drive down. It is raining and I don’t like driving in the rain at all. And my back can use a break. I will stay here and paint today. And let all that I’ve learned settle into my mind. And pray, for wisdom, guidance, peace for mom.

I was unsure about posting the photo of my mom. It may be disturbing to some of you. But she is still beautiful to me, and soft and warm to hug and touch tenderly. It kills me to see her suffer.

2 thoughts on “New Jersey, state #28; Celtic Farms in Augusta

  1. Kathy, We met at Shawnee NF at High Knob (one of those riding quarter horses that you met when lost trying to find the Garden of the Gods) and just want to tell you I have been in your shoes when it comes to decisions about your mother. Sincerely hope that she does not suffer and that your prayers help you and her. I read your blog about Shawnee and the one from 4J in Missouri as I live close to it. Realized I was there when you were but I left Friday morning as my mare had stepped in a hole Thursday while riding and her hock was swollen so I went home. Will continue to read your blog and can only say Happy Trails to You and pray for your safety along your travels. Keep the faith and know that God will provide for your mother. My friends and I are in one of your Illinois pictures – Linda Benson, Karen Burleson and me in the back with the white hair. Take care and be safe.

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