Condo-lences: Letting My Condo Condor Soar
by Donna Lowich
"By the way, Mom, I won't be home for dinner tomorrow night." Those words, 'By the way, Mom,' have instilled in me a fear and dread of unimaginable proportions ever since my son, Jeff, learned to utter that phrase. He used it innumerable times during his early school years, usually at the precise moment when he was supposed to be going to bed, and or the library was closing: "By the way, Mom, my such-and-such report is due tomorrow." As he grew older, the subject changed, but never the phraseology and never, never the method: "By the way, Mom, tomorrow's the prom, and I didn't order any flowers." Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Tonight's phrase caught my attention once again. "How come, Jeff?"
"I've got an appointment to go see a condo."
Condo? Jeff moving out? Thoughts tumbled in, out, and around my head. I know, deep in the depths of my heart, that a parent's goal is to prepare their child to lead an independent, productive life, spread their wings, leave the nest and soar. I'm all for that. I know that has always been my goal for Jeff. But in pursuit of that goal, I didn't prepare me for the time when Jeff would be moving out on his own.
Jeff put in a bid for the condo the next evening; we waited for a response. As the next day drew to a close, I had a sinking feeling that his bid wasn't accepted although he had put in for the full asking price. Now, it was time for me to get angry, putting aside my own feelings of sadness and angst for the moment, because I didn't want Jeff to be disappointed if they had a second buyer who outbid him. Instead of the mother bird worried about nudging her offspring out of the nest, I became a mother hen, worried about the fate of the condo. First, I was worried about Jeff getting it; then I was worried about him not getting it.
Then, I got what I wanted, and yet, didn't want. A text message, in a typically understated, what I call "Jeffrey-style" delivery: 'She accepted my offer'. I called him immediately and congratulated him.
When he got home, I asked when he would be closing on his new home. "Either thirty or sixty days, I'm not sure," Jeff replied.
Grappling as best I could with all of this new information, I gasped, "But, that's not enough time!"
"Mom, it's OK. That's plenty of time to get a mortgage."
"Sure, that's plenty of time for a mortgage and for you to get ready to move, it's just not enough time for me to prepare." Then I smiled the smile I always do to signal that I was half joking, which also meant that I was half serious.
As my only offspring was about to nudge himself out of our nest, I was trying not to stop him completely, maybe just delay it for as long as possible. Of course, I want him to spread his wings and soar; I just want him to do it a little closer to the nest! Hmm, maybe I can talk him into using his new condo just as a summer home. After all it is about a half hour's ride south of here.
No, I didn't want to stop him, not really. It's just that Jeff and I have always been close, as mothers and sons tend to be. But in addition to that, we share some significant memories when, as a five-year-old, he took it upon himself to become my coach before, during, and after my physical therapy sessions that followed two spinal cord surgeries in 1985.
During the following summer, while at day camp, Jeffrey approached a counselor who had led the camp in exercises, and told him that I was having trouble moving my fingers. "Can you show me some exercises to do with my Mom to help fix her hands?"
After being shown some exercises to try, Jeff came home and promptly started closing my hands. "My counselor told me to try this with your hands," he explained, as he closed my hands with his little fingers pressing against mine, and then asking me to open them. That same caring, determined effort that Jeff demonstrated to me during that time bonded us in a way that nothing else could.
Jeff's buying a home of his own is a happy and proud time, and yet nostalgic for me. It brings back those dark days that were made ever so much brighter by a little boy's unconditional love and how he made our house a home when I returned from the hospital.
But when I think of it, I need to let him spread his wings, because he helped me do the same.
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.
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.
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.
Assistive Technology (AT) Resources: Proper fit of a wheelchairThe National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) has compiled a list of various Assistive Technology (AT) resource agencies around the nation, including resources on driver education, independent living, state agencies, mobility equipment and more.
Aquila Wheelchair CushionsThe Aquila Corporation offers a line of alternating pressure wheelchair cushions along with a two-zone static manual inflate cushion. These cushions are designed to meet pressure relief needs thereby helping to prevent pressure sores from developing down the road.
BrunoBruno Independent Living Aids has become known for its: power chairs, scooters, high quality stair lifts and Turning Automotive Seating.
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.
ColoursFor people who like to think outside the box, check out the chairs put out by Colours In Motion.
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.
e.motionA standard manual wheelchair can get extra help with special rims containing small yet powerful motors.
Determined 2 HealProvides helpful information for the newly spinal cord injured.
Frog LegsFrog Legs Inc. makes a product that makes mobility a much smoother experience. A flexible hinge allows the castor wheels on wheelchairs to move more easily over bumps and obstacles thereby reducing the impact normally felt by the person seated. Think of them as shock absorbers for your wheelchair.
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.
The Jay CushionSunrise Medical produces a cushion for wheelchairs called The Jay which is filled with a slow-flowing gel. The Jay addresses posture, skin and functional needs.
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.
PermobilPermobil produces chairs ideal for those requiring the flexibility to constantly change positions. Technology and comfort combine to allow for active sitting.
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.
Pride MobilityFor tight and precise control, Pride Mobility Products Corporation makes the very popular Jazzy Power Chairs.
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: Wheelchair Seating & PositioningHaving mobility is an important factor in being able to lead a productive and fulfilling life. If an individual is unable to walk, an appropriate mobility base and seating system are imperative to enhance the ability to interact and perform functional skills.
ROHOThe ROHO is a brand of cushion seats designed for protection and comfort. Each cushion is based on a support system of evenly distributed air.
The Spinal Cord Injury Information Network: Wheelchairs & SeatingInformation on seating and positioning.
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.
Spinlife.comOnline durable medical equipment (including wheelchairs and cushions).
SportaidOnline catalog for durable medical equipment.
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.
TiLiteTitanium wheelchairs; lightweight and strong.
UCP Wheels for HumanityA non-profit organization that refurbishes donated wheelchairs and hand fits them to children and adults with disabilities in developing nations.
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).
Wheelchairjunkie.comA resourceful and opinionated website owned and operated by self-described "power chair gonzo" Mark E. Smith, who also designs power chairs for Pride Mobility Products. Says Smith, "WheelchairJunkie.com is about mobility, not manufacturers, so the voices expressed here represent only users."
WheelchairNetA federally funded virtual community for people who have an interest in wheelchair technology.
Wheelchair FoundationOver 100 million of the world's citizens today are deprived of mobility because of warfare, disease, disaster or advanced age. The wheelchairs they need simply to get across the street - or across the room - are out of reach. The Wheelchair Foundation believes that these people deserve the independence and dignity that comes with owning a wheelchair, regardless of their nationality. This is a nonprofit organization leading an international effort to deliver a wheelchair to every man, woman and child in the world who needs one. For those individuals, the Wheelchair Foundation offers freedom, self-reliance, mobility and hope.
Whirlwind Wheelchair InternationalWhirlwind Wheelchair International (WWI) is the communications hub of the Whirlwind Wheelchair Network of independent wheelchair-producing workshops in developing countries. Founded in 1989 as the Wheeled Mobility Center (WMC), WWI's primary mission is 1) to teach wheelchair riders in developing countries to design, build, and repair their own wheelchairs; 2) to enable rider/builders to create businesses for the manufacture and distribution of wheelchairs to others; and 3) to foster the ever-widening Whirlwind Network of rider/builders around the world who exchange ideas for the continuous improvement of wheelchair design.
World Wide Wheelchairs & Used Medical EquipmentScott Dier began this company in July 1998. He wanted to sell a hearing aid on the Internet. Then people started asking about wheelchairs and other medical equipment! Mr. Dier then proceeded to look for equipment around North America and found many items available. World Wide Wheelchairs exploded into a company that was needed throughout the world! They have sent medical equipment and wheelchairs to India, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, England, Brazil and all over the U.S. and the U.S. Military.
Wheelchair AccessoriesClick on this link to see how you can accessorize your chair or scooter and improve matters. Backpacks, cupholders, trays, canopies and umbrellas are just a few examples.
Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.
Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.
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.