A couple of weeks ago I introduced Rachelle Friedman to those of you who don’t know her. If you recall, she became wheelchair-bound due to a freak accident at her bachelorette party. I promised to tell you more…
Not to be cheesy, but Rachelle and her husband, Chris, are nothing short of inspiring. They never chose to be in the spotlight, but they are. Their lives together have a level of transparency they’d never planned, where privacy doesn’t look anything like it used to.
The very act of being married is a prime example.
He stayed with her? Actually married her? No shit! Uh, what about sex? They don’t “do it”, do they?
The answers are all “yes”.
Much is made of Chris’ staying with her. It’s not just that she had an accident, ended up in a wheelchair, and except for that everything else stayed the same. Rehab was long and painful. With paralysis, her body changed and she’s plagued by low blood pressure, which makes activity dicey. And even though she can’t move her legs, nerve pain still exists — something medication doesn’t completely take away. So why does Chris stay? “The extra hardships don’t outweigh his love,” Rachelle will tell you. It’s not that he “stayed with a girl in a chair that makes him great. It’s that he’s loving and giving no matter what.”
Rachelle doesn’t understand the fuss that’s made of her everyday life, either. “Just because I wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, work out every now and then and play sports with a disability…does not make me inspiring.”
One of the biggest changes has been in Rachelle’s career path, and the corresponding change in life plans because of it. She can no longer teach aerobics, nor can she be a reliable 9-5 employee. This young woman likes to inspire and also to educate. She is registered with a speaker’s bureau and has been doing some cool speaking gigs. If money was not a roadblock, wants to be a coach, helping other people. With the loss of that second income, the couple struggles financially.
You could call her the Queen of Lemonade, but I think there’s more to Rachelle than that. I’m sure there are moments… But she is blessed with talent, beauty, and drive, so Rachelle would be a winner no matter what. That she has a wheelchair in the way, well, that’s just a lotta lemons.
Kathe Skinner is a Relationship Coach, Certified Relationship Expert and Marriage & Family Therapist in Colorado where she conducts communication workshops for couples, pre-married’s, the invisibly disabled, and the over 50 crowd. Kathe enjoys collaborating with other professionals in order to reach more relationships affected by hidden disability. She sits on the Executive Board of the Invisible Disabilities Association, is a regular contributor to Disability.gov., and is an ardent-and-natural-teacher-without-a-classroom. She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for over 30 years. More about Kathe at www.BeingHeardNow.com.