A Grandma's Heart
by Donna Lowich
She doesn't know my name. In fact, I can definitively say that she doesn't even know who I am. To her, I am just another pair of arms who hug her and hold her snuggly against me while she sleeps. But, I know her!
Her name is Karaleen, she is one week old and she is my granddaughter! I can't believe she is here! I can't believe how beautiful and perfect she is in every way possible. Most of all, I can't believe she is my grandchild.
My husband, Walter and I spent the day at the hospital. My son, Jeff, urged us to go home. "I'll call you when the doctor says something is about to happen," he assured us. Reluctantly, we left.
Worth The Wait
I looked into her eyes and she gazed softly back at me. Jeff was standing in front of me. When he spoke, she turned and steadied her gaze on her daddy.She turned her head and again stared directly back at me. We connected immediately, linked by love--and genes!
I wondered: What will she look like, and what will she be like? I remembered asking myself those very same questions as a new mom nearly thirty years ago. I was overcome with emotion and tears spilled out onto my face and raced down towards my chin. It was Grandma wearing her heart on her sleeve.
As tiny as she is, Karaleen has already provided insight into her personality.She was due at the end of the month but came two weeks early. At midnight, the doctor said she could be born any minute. Fearing we would miss her debut, we raced back to the hospital. Once again, she arrived on her own schedule at 3:27 a.m.
Karaleen, without having ever uttered a word, she has captured my heart -- a grandma's heart.
Now she has a large vocabulary and has her own name for me, "Meemaw." Despite my fears that my spinal cord injury would inhibit our interactions, Karaleen has laid aside those doubts. She dances for me, recites how a doggie, kitty cat, horsey, etc sound. We read books together and watch her beloved Mickey Mouse Club on television.
She has a firm grip on my heart; she always has and always will.
As young as she is, Karaleen is proof that children don't see disabilities, they simply see someone to love and who loves them in return.
Editor's note: Donna Lowich is an Information Specialist in the Foundation's Paralysis Resource Center. Donna was spinal cord injured over twenty years ago and has since dedicated her life to helping others living with paralysis.
Tell us your story
Telling your story is one way to let anyone touched by paralysis know that they are not alone. We've created a place where you can share your journey for your benefit, and the benefit of others. Your story matters. Share it.
Arkansas Spinal Cord CommissionThe mission of the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission is to administer a statewide program to identify and meet the unique and lifelong needs of people with spinal cord disabilities in the state.
CareCure CommunityCareCure Community features a SpinalNurse bulletin board with informed comments on matters of the bowel, and all issues of paralysis.
Canadian & American Spinal Research OrganizationPromotes and supports funding research to ultimately find a cure for paralysis. Also publishes journal of latest research they fund. Call (800) 361-4004 or use the link above.
Canadian Paraplegic AssociationAssists people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities to achieve individuality, self-reliance and full community participation. Call (613) 723-1033 or use the link above.
Craig HospitalWith funding from the US Department of Education's National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research, has developed educational materials to help people with spinal cord injuries live in the community maintain their health. Topics include skin care, exercise, heart disease, weight control, alcohol abuse and conditions related to the aging body. Use the link above and click on SCI Health and Wellness.
Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD)Dept of Physical Medicine and Rehab Services at Baylor College of Medicine.
Determined 2 HealProvides helpful information for the newly spinal cord injured.
FacingDisability.comFacing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts. I know that this is a lot to ask, but we'd be so grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to discussing this link with you, and to answering any questions you may have.
Model Systems CentersA federally funded program of 14 specialty medical and/or rehabilitation centers across the US. The SCI Care System collects and submits acute, rehabilitation and follow-up (annual, long-term post-discharge) data on SCI patients who received care in the these centers following injury.
The Miami Project to Cure ParalysisThe Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has studied functional electrical systems for exercise.
Mobile WomenArticles, resources, online forum for women with disabilities especially wheelchair users.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC)NSCISC supervises and directs the collection, management and analysis of the world's largest spinal cord injury database. Headquartered at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
National Resource Center for Parents with DisabilitiesA deep resource on childbirth and parenting, adaptive equipment for childcare, networking and support groups
National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA)At NSCIA, we educate and empower survivors of spinal cord injury and disease to achieve and maintain the highest levels of independence, health and personal fulfillment. We fulfill this mission by providing an innovative Peer Support Network and by raising awareness about spinal cord injury and disease through education.
New York Online Access to Health (N.O.A.H)Offers information and links related to spinal cord and head injury treatment, rehabilitation, and children. Materials in Spanish.
Neuroscience for KidsOffers an understandable look at the segments of the spinal cord; from University of Washington.
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA): Spinal Cord InjuryFor more detailed information on the clinical practice guidelines on respiratory management with spinal cord injury you can request booklets from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. These booklets also provide guidelines on proper weaning from a ventilator.
Parenting with Disabilities OnlineProvides information, support and resources to parents with disabilities.
Parents On WheelsSite is dedicated to parents who use wheelchairs.
Parents with Disabilities OnlineProvide information and resources to parents with disabilities.
SpineUniverseAt SpineUniverse our goal is to help patients and their families understand their back or neck problems. In clear, straightforward language we aim to explain what causes spinal problems and how they can be treated. We are committed to ensure that all of the information we present is trustworthy and of the highest quality.
Spinal Cord Injury Information NetworkThe Spinal Cord Injury Information Center features clinical information about bowel management and all other medical issues of paralysis.
State Respite CoalitionsThe Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project was established in 1969 with funding from the Federal government as part of our nation's earliest attempts to provide educational services to young children with disabilities.
Through the Looking GlassThe purpose of the National Parent-to-Parent Network at Through the Looking Glass is to connect parents, as well as those who are considering becoming parents, with others who may have shared similar experiences or faced common barriers as parents with disabilities.
United Spinal AssociationOur mission is to improve the quality of life of all Americans living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and post polio.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet: VA and Spinal Cord InjuryOf the more than 250,000 Americans with serious spinal cord injuries and disorders, about 42,000 are veterans eligible for medical care and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.
Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.