Getting Jim Back on His Feet

"I loved dancing with my wife in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. It just seems so right..."

My name is Jim Mooney. My wife, three children and I live in southwest Virginia. It's a beautiful place to raise a family and grow old.

In December of 2012 I suddenly experienced growing numbness on my right side and it became difficult to walk. In the course of two weeks it went something like this: Doctor- Emergency Room- MRI- Neurologist- MRI- Neurosurgeon- Hospital. Whew!

For some as yet unexplained reason, my spinal column disc between T1 and T2 had slid over and was pressing on my spinal cord. Surgery to relieve the pressure was scheduled.

On December 12, 2012 I drove to the hospital, parked, and walked into the Admissions office at 7:30 am. By 1:00 in the afternoon I was completely paralyzed from the waist down. During the operation my spinal cord swelled, crushing and damaging a section.

To paraphrase The Grateful Dead, "What a long strange trip it's been." Through visits to UVA and Johns Hopkins Medical Center, several surgeries, physical therapy, and (as my son, Evan, likes to say) sheer force of will, I can get around for short distances with a walker. I use a wheelchair for greater mobility.  The wheelchair allows me to keep working. I teach Earth and Space Science at Carroll County High School. Here's my wheelchair in my classroom:

Before the surgery I had no pain. I sure have it now. The spinal cord is sending pain signals from everywhere: lower back, upper back, legs, arms, and shoulders. The best way I can describe it is like liquid fire. I've tried patches and pills, implants and injections,  exercise and acupuncture. It hurts to sit or stand or lie down.

I am resigned to the fact that the pain isn't going away-- it's my new reality and I have come to peace with it. One thing that helps is being in the water. The effect of weightlessness is soothing and, in the water, I can walk unaided.

With your help, I'd like to put up a small pool in our backyard so I can exercise, practice my balance and, most importantly, dance with my wife, Jennifer.  Here we are at a wedding:
No, it's not a mugging! While I'm not actually dancing, I'm holding Jen while she does. Good enough for me!

I've already applied to my health insurance company for some assistance, but have been denied. I appealed and they denied it again.

It's hard asking for help. I'm used to doing things for myself and others. But now I'm asking for your help in making this project a reality.

The pool company specified an in-ground pool with stairs, filter, heater, cover, and all the labor, earthmoving and concrete. The estimate was over$40,000! We've scaled back the project to a basic above-ground pool with stairs that will attach to our deck. No heater or lift or fancy stuff-just the basics. Something like this:
Here's our deck, where we'd like to put in the pool:

Thanks for for taking the time to read this. Thank you, in advance for your generous donations.

Jim Mooney


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Jennifer Semple Mooney 
Dublin, VA
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