Bride left paralysed after bachelorette party freak accident - 'I instantly went stiff'

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Rachelle and Chris Chapman on their wedding day. Image via (@rachelles_wheels) / Instagram. Collage by Futhi Masilela
Rachelle and Chris Chapman on their wedding day. Image via (@rachelles_wheels) / Instagram. Collage by Futhi Masilela
  • Rachelle Friedman Chapman's life was forever changed the month before her wedding.   
  • After a night out with friends for her bachelorette party, they decided on a swim.
  • Her friend pushed her into the pool, and she hit her head at the bottom and became paralysed.

We often hear of drama and things going wrong at a bachelorette party, any day or time before one's wedding. Still, we never imagined a bride losing her mobility from something that happens at every pool party. For this bride, a day that was supposed to be a celebration of her last single girl days turned into a 911 call that left her unable to walk or have children. She shared her story with ABC News.

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Newlywed Rachelle Friedman Chapman got engaged in 2010 when she was in college to her now husband, Chris Chapman. A month before her wedding, she had her bachelorette celebration with her friends, and after a good time out, they all came back home and decided to have a night swim. "We got home, ran upstairs, and changed into our bathing suits," she says. However, a playful moment turned into a horrific night when a friend pushed her into the pool, and she hit her head at the bottom.

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"It was playful, but it went wrong. I instantly went stiff and couldn't move. I weirdly didn't panic, I kind of knew what happened, and I floated up to the surface and said, 'Help', and then my friends called 911." Rachelle was immediately rushed to the hospital, and upon arrival, the doctor noticed that she had suffered a severe spinal cord injury that left her paralysed from the neck down. "I remember the doctor telling me I wasn't going to walk. He was very sure that I'd never walk. Sometimes they give you percentages; he was pretty much like, 'absolutely not'."

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Rachelle decided not to let her medical challenges affect her and still went on to tie the knot in 2011.

"I was always kind of scared something was going to mess up my perfect world. It was literally perfect, but it completely changed, and that can happen to anyone, but I've learned that even if things do change, you can still make your world perfect. It's just extremely different; we do everything differently now." 

READ MORE | From bride to widow in one week, but she's grateful for the love - 'I'll cherish our love forever'

While still adjusting to her new normal, Rachelle found out she couldn't have children because of the high dosage of medications she was taking. Luckily, one of her friends offered to be her surrogate, and in 2015 the couple welcomed their daughter, Kaylee. Being a mom who is in a wheelchair didn't stop her from enjoying motherhood. She cared for her daughter using a wheelchair-accessible crib, changing table, and baby swing she would control with her phone. She also shared her journey as a person with quadriplegia on TikTok and has since started doing wheelchair-friendly hobbies like rugby and tennis. She's also been skydiving and has been in an amusement park.

Sources: ABC News, TikTok, Instagram

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