The soon-to-be bride suffered from paralysis due to a freak incident that occurred during her own bachelorette party. What was intended to be a harmless prank ended up altering the trajectory of her life permanently.
The turn of events was unforeseen. Rachelle Friedman was on the brink of marrying her first love – the man of her dreams. After dating for five years, they got engaged and were set to tie the knot after almost a year.
During her bachelorette party arranged by her close friends, Friedman and her group decided to conclude the festivities with a swim. It was the ideal send-off to her single life, considering that she was about to marry the love of her life in a month.
A Playful Joke Gone Wrong
After changing into their swimwear, the group headed down to the pool and indulged in their usual shenanigans. Friedman’s closest friend jokingly pushed her into the pool, an act they had done countless times before. However, this time, the push caused the bride-to-be to sink to the bottom of the pool in a split second.
As Friedman’s head struck the bottom of the pool, she experienced immediate stiffness. She was aware that something was gravely wrong as she found herself incapable of movement.
Rather than succumbing to panic, Friedman patiently waited for her body to ascend to the surface before calling out for aid. Her friends promptly dialed 911, and upon rescuing her from the water, she found herself incapable of sensing anything in her body.
A Life-Altering Injury
Upon arriving at the hospital, medical professionals diagnosed her with a C6 spinal cord injury, resulting in the loss of sensation beneath her collarbone and rendering her unable to walk.
Upon learning of her dire circumstance, Friedman contacted her fiancé, Chris Chapman, who happened to be camping with his father at the time. She needed to inform him of the gravity of her situation before he arrived at the hospital.
Using a somber tone, Friedman delivered the news to Chapman, “I broke my neck, and I’m probably not going to walk.” After informing all the significant people in her life, she spent almost three months in the hospital before commencing rehabilitation.
She Was Immobilized
Initially, during her recovery in the ICU, Friedman had been preoccupied with the thought of not being able to walk again. However, as time went on, what she truly longed for was the use of her hands.
After being released from the hospital, Friedman faced the daunting challenge of paying for her increasing medical bills, as she needed to continue with outpatient rehab. Despite her desire to still get married, it seemed unlikely because doing so would make her ineligible for medical insurance.
Getting married seemed like an impossible dream for Friedman, as her combined income with her fiancé, who works as a middle school teacher, would disqualify her from receiving Medicaid. Despite her strong desire to tie the knot, it was not a practical choice given her circumstances.
Still Grateful for Life
Even though she experienced a life-altering accident, Friedman still maintains a positive outlook on life. Prior to the incident, she believed that her life was ideal, but since then, she has learned to appreciate the beauty in imperfection.
After a year of facing challenges, Friedman’s dream of getting married to Chapman finally came true. Despite her disability, Chapman was determined to marry her, proving that true love knows no boundaries, and disabilities do not hinder love.
After four years, they were blessed with a child named Kaylee, who was born through a surrogate. Despite the challenges they faced, Chapman stated that their marriage was never difficult. In fact, it was their strong bond that kept them together through all the tough times. He proudly proclaimed:
Ten Years Married
After ten years of marriage, Friedman lost her wedding ring, prompting the couple to renew their vows. They didn’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone anymore, and the ceremony was solely meant for them to celebrate their love for each other.
The couple renewed their vows in an intimate ceremony, surrounded by their loved ones. They spent the night dancing and exchanging special messages, with vows that echoed the ones they made ten years earlier.
Proving Doubters Wrong
In spite of everything, their relationship was not immune to skeptical remarks from others. Some people questioned Friedman’s ability to raise a child from a wheelchair, while others expressed doubt that their relationship would endure because of Friedman’s dependence on others.
Friedman has come to the realization that needing help is not something to be ashamed of. She acknowledges that both she and her husband sometimes require assistance, and that’s okay. In her own words:
“He has more anxiety than I do and gets a little overwhelmed, and I’m a very chill person, so I’m able to counteract that for him.”
Her Situation with Her Best Friend
Friedman’s friend who playfully pushed her into the pool was also affected by the incident. Friedman tried to protect her identity for years, refusing to reveal her name, and consistently reassuring her that she didn’t hold any grudges against her to alleviate her guilt.
Although Friedman tried to shield her best friend’s identity and reassure her that there was no ill will, it wasn’t easy for her friend to cope with the accident. After years had passed, their friendship became strained and Friedman decided it was best to cut ties to avoid any negative emotions. She realized it wouldn’t benefit either of them in the long run.
Ten years after her accident, Friedman has embraced her disability and turned it into a source of strength. She has become physically and mentally stronger and has learned to do things independently, such as driving and getting in and out of her bed.
Friedman is a devoted wife, loving mother, a para-athlete who plays wheelchair rugby, and a passionate advocate for individuals with disabilities.
Despite the challenges that they faced, Friedman and her husband remain deeply in love with each other and are committed to raising their daughter in the best way possible. It has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience for both of them.