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Paralyzed Bride-To-Be Pushes on with Wedding


I thought this was a nice story, from cnn

Don't expect Rachelle Friedman to have a pity party for Thanksgiving Day just because it will be her first in a wheelchair.

Paralyzed from the chest down after she was playfully pushed by her best friend into the pool at her bachelorette party, Friedman is preparing to host family at her home.

"We all have something to be thankful for," said Friedman, 25, of Knightdale, North Carolina, just east of Raleigh. "I am thankful I didn't suffer a brain injury."

It has been six months since the East Carolina University graduate, her fiance and family learned that she would never again be able to walk.

Friedman has maintained two goals during these months of medical treatment and grueling outpatient therapy: Getting married and becoming independent.

Fiance Chris Chapman, 28, can't wait for the delayed wedding day to arrive, once complicated insurance issues are resolved.
Prank leaves bride-to-be paralyzed

* North Carolina

"It will be phenomenal," he said. "She has a whole world of friends she never knew."

Last spring was a joyful time for Friedman and Chapman, a middle school science teacher. The pair, both from Virginia Beach, Virginia, were to wed June 27.

In late May, Friedman, who was a program coordinator for a senior citizens center, traveled to Virginia Beach for her bachelorette party.

Bridesmaids enjoyed a cookout and a limousine ride to the entertainment strip. "We had a really good time," Friedman said.

Afterward, the group went to her best friend's home, where they started playing around near the pool.

"It was just spontaneous horseplay," said Friedman, a former dance and aerobics dancer. "She pushed me and I landed wrong."

The young woman's head stuck the bottom of the pool.

"I was pretty conscious through all of it," Friedman said. "I heard my neck crack and my body went stiff. I couldn't move anything."

She floated to the surface, where she was helped by her best friend who, like Friedman, is a lifeguard. "I knew I broke something," Friedman said. "I knew I was paralyzed."

Friedman recalls asking an EMT whether she had seen someone walk after such an accident. The emergency worker replied knowing of one person in 30 years on the job.

"I told her I was going to be the second," Friedman said.

Friedman suffered a C6 spinal cord injury and paralysis from the chest down. She can use her arms and wrists, but not her hands. She uses her thumbs to type on a keyboard. "I'm still dealing with a lot of nerve pain" in her hands and torso, she says, for which she takes medications.

Her best friend has had to deal with guilt, Friedman said. "We're in a tough place together."

"We're there for each other. It could easily have been the other way around."

Weeks of hospital treatment ensued last summer.

"Soon after I got out of the in-patient treatment, I got involved in sports," said Friedman, who plays wheelchair "quad rugby" for the Raleigh Sidewinders.

For now, Friedman is getting outpatient therapy. She's learning to deal with the pain and is increasing her upper-body strength and the ability to "transfer" herself into bed or a car. Her mother and brother assist her during the week while Chapman is at work.

The recreation management major recently spoke at an adaptive sports and wellness day, where people with disabilities were exposed to sports like kayaking, basketball and rugby.

"I'm doing extremely well for my [injury] level," Friedman said.

The couple still goes occasionally to movies or dinner.

"It [just] takes longer, to get medications and equipment together," Chapman said.

The accident has introduced them to new friends and brought their families closer together. It has also introduced them to a caring online world.

A page on a website called CaringBridge.org features photos of Friedman and has a guestbook full of best-wish entries.

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude u bring to life, not so much by what happens to u as by the way your mind looks at what happens!," one post on Saturday read. "u r such a brave & strong girl."

The website also requests donations to help cover extensive medical costs. Friedman had some insurance coverage from where she worked. She is on long-term disability and also has a COBRA policy, Chapman said. But it's not enough.

Friedman put off the wedding until she and Chapman can figure out medical coverage. If they marry now, she may not qualify for Medicaid, they said.

Chapman says they are still tallying medical expenses, which included between $1,200 and $1,600 a day for a hospital room during her stay over the summer.

"I really want to work," said Friedman. She hopes to work for the agency that operated the senior citizens center where she used to work. She also expects to be driving in about six months.

At times frustrated over what she cannot do, Friedman said she thinks about what she can. She and Chapman are determined that she become as independent as possible.

"The hopes of her walking are almost impossible to imagine at this point," Chapman said, although the couple talk of possible medical advancements from stem cell research.

Chapman and Friedman say they remain deeply committed to each other.

"We were meant to be," said Friedman, who hopes they can marry next summer.

Because of access issues, the couple may have to pick a different wedding venue in Virginia Beach, one that has room for the wheelchairs used by friends.

The past few months have tested the couple's mettle.

"We're definitely built to last," Chapman said. "She was and is my best friend. I cannot wait to marry her."


Great story. Thanks for posting it.


The "best friend" deserves to be shot.


Inspirational story, truly.

But "playfully pushed into a pool"? Did she give her a Zangief spinning piledriver into the shallow end or something?


That's really fucked up.

Honestly, I think she hasn't fully realized how fucked she is, she's too busy/distracted by her wedding planning. Once she's married and it's all said and done she will begin to feel it.

Best of luck to her though.


That is very interesting.

My oldest brother dove into a pool and broke his neck at the c-4 through 6, with a sever at the c-5 vertebra about 22 years ago.

The physical and psychological effects of injuries like that will certainly test the resilience of relationships and the people in them.


Why? How does she deserve to be shot?


Someone with medical experience please speak to the fact that for some reason paralysis (I dont know to which area of the spine or which vertebrae) increases sexual pleasure in women.


No, it was an accident. Living with that kind of guilt is sufficient punishment


That's not the kind of stuff we learn in med school.


I really don't see this as inspirational. With trauma like that, it will be a long while before she even accepts what has happened to her. I think it is great her future husband plans to be there, but come on, this isn't fairy tale land. He imagined having a wife like everyone else...not as a patient they must take care of. This will strain that relationship....and as for her friend, I don't see how they can even look at each other after something like that. I doubt they will be best buds for long.

Is it me or is the "optimism" here a little over the top?


It was an elective for us.

They flew in the Yugoslavian Bikini Team for visual aids.


That settles it. I wanna be a dentist when I grow up.


Well this was a good read for perspective about a man with 'no sensation under his ribs'. Should also remember that a lot of paralyzed men, depending on which vertebrae was broken will have sensation in their junk. Im still looking for info about women.



This article doesn't give percentages of cases in which this occurs but even in cases of severe spinal chord injury women experienced the return of their ability to have orgasms.


And my attention span is spent.

With my claim in the first post I was thinking of a documentary I watched on TV a couple years ago in which a women claimed her orgasms were better a couple years post-accident.


Even if she can have this attitude for one day after it happened it makes her stronger than most.


Not to wax overly philosophic on this, but I think this should serve as a reminder of how fragile life really is.

Just reading this story makes me remember some of the dumb things I did as a kid, and how close I myself came to breaking my neck in a pool on at least one occasion.....among other things. It certainly makes me think of my son, who has just started his life. I pray every day that he will never do some of those dumb things himself. But, to be a parent is to worry, I suppose.

We can't predict what direction this woman's marriage will take, nor her relationship with her friend. But I think the fact that she's currently fighting whatever self-pity and resentment she may feel speaks volumes about her character.

Tragic. I wish her the best of luck.



not sure if anyone unless they are unfortunate enough to have personal experience with this or works in the health care field like we do...realize the time and commitment it takes to care for people with a sever spinal cord injury.

as a nurse, just the 12 hours that I would have to care for one of these type patients, and getting paid well to do so, challenged my patience and empathy.

Imagine 24/7 365 days a year.

I think it is possible for her to meet someone who is willing to love her like she is now and take on that responsibility, but for the guy who she was dating before this happened, come on, he is young and I am sure he and his family and friends are thinking that he did not sign up for this.


Bluntly honest and so very true. This relationship will turn from a loving husband to a resentful carer. I feel really sorry for this woman, a great, happy life ahead of her and bamn...nightmare!

I know what she must have been feeling.....about 7months ago i was randomly attacked by a nutjob, ended up with a fractured skull and with what the doctors thought was a broken neck, i just woke up from the coma, no idea what was happenening until the doctors told me....i was like wtf....7months on and ive started lifting, made an almost perfect recovery.

I feel sick to the stomach when i read things like this....being in a hospital bed for weeks, not knowing how i will come out of it is scary as hell. Fortunately for me, by some miracle i come out it alot better than i thought possible but reading these stories just make me see how lucky i was or am everyday that goes by.


If you guys were the dude, would you pull out of the marriage?