A few weeks before her wedding day, Rachelle Friedman went out for her bachelorette party with some close friends last May. After a night out on the town, the group went to the home of Rachelle's best friend.
The friend playfully pushed Rachelle into the swimming pool — something they'd done to each other many times before — but this time the bride-to-be landed on her head, paralyzing her from her chest down.
In the ensuing six months, Rachelle has worked to adjust to her new reality. Despite the odds and the tragic turn her life has taken, she is "doing awesome," Friedman says in a Monday interview with the "Today" show. She credits her family and her fiancé, Chris Chapman — who says in the segment that the wedding is still on: "I never once thought about leaving her or this situation." As for the friend, whose name Rachelle wants to keep from the press, Rachelle says, "I'm absolutely best friends with the girl…. Blaming her would be ridiculous."
Watch the "Today" show interview with Rachelle Friedman and Chris Chapman:
In a recent interview with ABC News, Friedman recalled more of the accident. "I instantly went stiff and couldn't move," she said. "I weirdly did not panic. I kind of knew exactly what happened, and I floated up to the surface and said, 'Help,' and then my friends called 911."
ABC reports that the doctors at the hospital "quickly determined that Friedman had suffered a C6 spinal cord injury, leaving her unable to walk or even feel sensation beneath her collarbone." Friedman spent nearly three months in the hospital before beginning rehab. It was then, according to ABC, that she learned just how difficult things were going to be.
"It was definitely a reality check about the long road I was going to have," Friedman said. She has no function in her hands and fingers. "I didn't think about that in ICU," she said. "You only think, 'I'm not going to walk.' "
In addition to the incredible physical challenges, there have been significant financial strains as well. She is receiving help from Medicaid, but if she marries Chapman, their combined income will make her ineligible for assistance.
Complicated insurance questions have also been an ongoing issue. A widely read article from CNN explains more of the challenges that Friedman and future husband Chris Chapman have faced in the weeks leading up to what will be Friedman's first Thanksgiving in a wheelchair.
Despite all the challenges, Friedman is doing her best to stay active. She joined a wheelchair rugby league and holds no ill will toward her friend. Her general philosophy on rehab also keeps her going: "Almost all of it is attitude."
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