The Petaluma teen paralyzed in a swimming accident was scheduled to return home to a newly remodeled home that better suits his new needs on Wednesday, but the reality of a more limited life has dampened his spirits.
"He came home on Sunday, and when he saw the changes, it sent him into a spiral," said Maureen McGowan, referring to her son, Danny Cox. "In the hospital, he could deal with things such as catheters and medications, but it's much more difficult to do so at home.
"Everything is different than it was for him: It's not like having an injury that he can recover from. But it's a matter of either dying or living with it."
Cox suffered a broken neck and was paralyzed from the chest down after doing a flat dive into shallow water at South Lake Tahoe on Aug. 10. A wave from a nearby boat apparently pushed his head into the sand.
He was airlifted to Renown Medical Center in Reno, and later transferred on Aug. 20 to Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Facility in Vallejo.
"He will have home nursing for a while," said McGowan, adding that he will probably be taken to the Vallejo facility three days a week to continue his rehabilitation.
Community groups have been collaborating to remodel Cox's granny unit, which is located behind his family's main house. Rebuilding Together Petaluma is coordinating the effort, and is collaborating with Art Diaz General Contractor, the Carousel Fund, Disability Services and Legal Center, Ghilotti Construction and Shamrock Materials.
"It's been a very exciting thing for us to be involved with," said Jane Hamilton, executive director of Rebuilding Together Petaluma. "Usually, we don't intersect with, and help, families at the very time of a crisis."
Rebuilding Together Petaluma is a local nonprofit organization that provides home modification and repair services free of charge to people and organizations in the community that need assistance.
Ghilotti already has laid concrete in the driveway and installed a sidewalk.