It’s been an exhausting three years for Rachelle Friedman Chapman, In a freak accident during her bachelorette party in May 2010, she was pushed into a pool and paralyzed from the chest down. But she’s staying as positive as she can.
She holds no ill will to the friend who pushed her and is happily married to her fiancé despite the life-changing injury. She loves meeting new people, and can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Now, more than anything, Chapman wishes she could find a job that is “compatible” with her situation.
To shine some light on her life after the infamous accident, Rachelle took to Reddit on Wednesday to answer questions about life as a 27-year-old quadriplegic, covering sex, kids, and why the iPad “is everything.”
Here is a selection of the questions and answers, which can be viewed in their entirety on Reddit.
Do you still hold a grudge against the friend who pushed you? Are you still friends with him/her? What has s/he said and what does s/he think about your situation?
Rachelle (going by the username “Rollingonwheelz”): I love her and have no grudge. I'm not saying its right but I've horseplayed by a pool and pushed people. I've pushed her. What happened was an accident. She obviously has guilt and it has been a process. She's a lot better. I know she hates seeing me in the chair but this is a situation we have to work through together. She's my girl.
What adaptive technology has been the most useful or important for you? What area/tasks would you most like to see more adaptive technology developed for?
The iPad is everything! Unfortunately I have to borrow from my mom but it's the easiest way to type and search the web. I love it. Honestly I don't use a lot of adapted technology. I just find regular things that happen to work, water bottles with thumb loops, grip cases for phone, easy open pill cases. Things like that. I do want some adapted exercise equipment but it can get expensive. I wish they made adapted hair tools for girls!!
What was your husband's reaction to the fact that your relationship with him would never be the exact same? And how did it change, exactly, other than the fact that he has to help you out a lot more? Very cool to have you here!
Well things did change but I can't say in a bad way at all. Obviously our sex life is different. There were no "logistics" before and we could be way more spontaneous. Now we have sex of course but probably less because I might be in pain or something like that. Money is a factor because we were pretty even on that level before and now we rely on his teacher salary. So it does add stress but we work through it. I'd say we are more passionate and clingy with each other. I think we are just so happy because my injury could have been worse. We are lucky to have each other.
What is your favorite thing to do sexually before the accident and now? Are you able to orgasm still?
Before the accident I had sex quite often. I didn't enjoy anything over the other I just liked having orgasms! I was a really sexual person so this has been difficult. But I am more sensitive on places like my neck and I really enjoy sex. I don't climax like I used to but I do get excited. And oddly enough my body feels relaxed after.
Congratulations on your marriage! I was really moved by your story and your resilience of spirit. Have you always been a person who was able to handle the hard stuff in life? In what ways has your abrupt physical disability changed who you are as a person?
Thank you so much!! It's hard to say because I've never been faced with something like this but I'm just a logical person I guess. I had a great support system and I had Chris (love of my life). He deserved to have the girl he planned to marry. I don't mean physically but emotionally. I remained my funny, joking, outgoing self for me and all those around me. I think I get a little more reserved around new people because I have no grip to shake their hand. I do appreciate life more!
What did you enjoyed doing before the accident and what do you enjoy doing now?
I. Loved. DANCING! Danced from time I was little and beyond. Took hip hop and ballroom dance in high school. Loved working out too but now I need special equipment to do that. Loved wake boarding, snowboarding, tennis. You name it. Now I play a sport called wheelchair rugby for the Raleigh sidewinders. I handcycle too.
Obviously, day to day life has changed, but what were some unexpected things that changed in your life?
Oh man this one is tough. I really expected to go back to work within 6 months. But I didn't anticipate the debilitating nerve pain I get in the am and the early morning low blood pressure. On a good day I'm 90/50. I guess I knew I'd have to do things differently. I just thought my routine would return.
I'm sorry if this is too personal, but will you be able to have children? And if not, how does your husband feel about it?
Yes and we want kids badly. The spinal cord controls muscles so everything else is in working order. Once we get financially straight we are going to have one.
Head on over to Reddit to read the full AMA!