My short bio: My name is Rachelle Friedman and in 2010 I was playfully pushed into a pool by my best friend at my bachelorette party. I went in head first and sustained a c6 spinal cord injury and I am now a quadriplegic. Since that time I have been married, played wheelchair rugby, surfed (adapted), blogged for Huffington Post, written a best selling book, and most recently I became a mother to a beautiful baby girl through surrogacy! I've been featured on the Today Show, HLN, Vh1, Katie Couric and in People, Cosmo, In Touch and Women's Heath magazine.

I will also be featured in a one hour special documenting my life as a quadriplegic, wife, and new mom that will air this year on TLC!

AMA about my life, my book, what it's like to be a mom with quadriplegia or whatever else you can come up with.

Read my story at www.rachellefriedman.com Twitter: @followrachelle Facebook: www.facebook.com/rachelleandchris Huffington Post blogs I've written: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachelle-friedman/ Book link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Promise-Accident-Paralyzed-Friendship/dp/0762792949 My Proof: Www.facebook.com/rachelleandchris

Comments: 4517 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

BlackCamaro3694 karma

Are you still friends?

Rollingonwheelz4314 karma

Yes. I am. Over the years all friendships change when you're living far apart, but I am not angry about the push itself. It was an accident and I've done it a million times. I think most people can say they've pushed someone into a pool playfully

wee_man4521 karma

The advent of cell phones has pretty much ended this, you never know if someone has theirs in a pocket so you can't push them into a pool.

Garizondyly3374 karma

Frankly I assume people have it in their pocket. It's very sad that pushing people into pools is no longer economically viable.

MsPenguinette586 karma

At a Bachelorette party, typically the bride-to-be's cell phone is taken away from them. This is probably one of the few times that it was safe to assume.

Rollingonwheelz1286 karma

Was in bathing suit

dangoodspeed274 karma

Personally I wouldn't ever push someone in a pool unless they're clearly prepared to be wet (wearing a swimsuit, not carrying anything, etc). Even before cell phones, if they're wearing non-swimming apparel, getting soaked may ruin their day, and I don't want to be responsible for that.

Rollingonwheelz565 karma

I was in a bathing suit

monkeytorture199 karma

I'm really curious...what in the world did she get you as a wedding gift?

Rollingonwheelz294 karma

You know...I seriously don't remember

saints_fan851840 karma

Serious question: How deep was this pool?

Rollingonwheelz2055 karma

Where I went in it was 4ft

Warlizard1678 karma

  1. Were you worried that your fiancé was only marrying you because he felt obligated to after the injury?

  2. You said that the night of the accident, you and your friends made a pact never to give out the name of the person who pushed you. How did you have the foresight to do that?

  3. You used a surrogate because the drugs you take could adversely affect a baby. What drugs do you take and why?

Thanks, and I appreciate your time.

Rollingonwheelz1731 karma

1.He actually did an AMA on here. But no it never crossed my mind that he was marrying me as some favor. It's hard to explain unless you know us. Our love is just super easy. People see my flaws but we all have them and so does Chris. I put up with his and he puts up with mine. He will tell anyone I take stress out of his life. He gets anxiety and I seem to be the only one who keeps him centered. We never had a depressed phase that affected who we are. We both hate this injury and we wish it never happened but it didn't change us.

  1. Well it's hard to explain. We didn't exactly make an official pact the night of the accident but we could see how hurt she was so we didn't exactly go blabbing it around. But it became a little bit more official when the media started trying to find out who did it

  2. I take a lot of meds but the one that I absolutely cannot stop is a medicine called midodrine that increases my blood pressure because it is now extremely low due to the injury

poncewattle143 karma

Just some advice from someone who dated a C5 quad for years and was really in love with her. It became a living hell for me eventually. It may be because of my character or her actions or a combination of both. But I hope you learn from my mistakes. Of course everyone is different, so I'm not trying to cast you into a role -- but you both need infinite patience with each other and you'll be fine.

She was C5 from a car accident before I met her. It was tough. I did my best to help her to forget her disability. We'd go to amusement parks and I'd carry her into the rides and strap her in, I had friends help me strap her onto the back of my motorcycle, etc, etc...

But it didn't work out. She burned me out. I became over time more of her personal nurse than her lover. I was suffering from sleep deprivation because every two hours I'd have to wake up and turn her in her bed so she wouldn't get bed sores. I'd go to bed an hour after I got her in bed (a routine that lasted about an hour) and her morning routine required me to get up half hour before her and spend two hours getting her ready.

I tried to mitigate "the work" but she wasn't helpful. For example, I asked her if we could just shower her every other day to save me an hour, and she freaked out on me. I wanted her to hire a nurse one night a week so I could sleep in my own apartment in my own bed, and she guilt-tripped me about needing time away from her.

Or the times I'd ask her if she could go grocery shopping without me so I could nap. Admittedly that was a lot harder for her (she had her own modified van) because she'd need to get staff at the store to help her and load up her van, but I desperately needed the sleep and she couldn't understand that a bit more hassle on her part would be very helpful to me.

The final straw was when she admitted to me that if she wasn't disabled she would have never hooked up with me (she was drop dead gorgeous before her accident and still gorgeous after it and I guess to her I was just "average.")

I finally had to walk away, which was quite a bit harder than saying "fuck it, I'm outta here." I had to figure out how she was going to get care (she lived alone before and after her accident). Government social services suck. Thanks to Easter Seals she got supplementary care on top of her minimal work-provided health insurance, then I split.

So my advice is, treasure those around you who love you and are willing to help and do everything you can to do what you can on your own so they don't have to do it for you -- even if they are willing. You have to basically make sure they don't burn out too.

(ps, yeah, I still feel horribly guilty about it, like I could have done more if I was stronger....)

You appear to have an awesome attitude about it all, not blaming anyone, and just making the best of the hand fate dealt you. I think you'll be fine, an awesome mother, and a loving wife.

Rollingonwheelz288 karma

If it makes you feel any better. I'm a c6 and she sounds kind of bitchy. Lucky for us we don't have a routine where I turn at night and I don't shower every day especially since I don't sweat. But just because she needed stuff to carry the groceries to the car doesn't mean that she couldn't have done it. And saying she was only with you because she was paralyzed. that's crazy. She doesn't get a bitch pass just for being in a wheelchair. Sorry if that's judgemental

Miss_Purple1053 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! Do you find it to be helpful or condescending (or both or neither) when strangers try to help you when you're out in public? For example, at a store or restaurant?

Rollingonwheelz1620 karma

OMG I love this question! It really bothers me when people rush over to help. I know they're being really really nice but if you could imagine one day you're completely independent and the next day or not and people are constantly asking you to help you with things that you know how to do yourself. It's me wanting to grasp onto any independence I still have. But when every single day people are asking you if you need help you start to feel like you look helpless. I just worked so hard to learn the things that I have so that I can be as independent as possible. But I can't go that independence if people don't let me try out in public. If someone really feel like I need help and they ask they should at least respect it if I say no thank you. If I can get into peoples heads and create my own perfect world, I would want people to not ask me at all if I need help because I would ask someone if I needed help

0r1g1na11037 karma

How has the life of the person that pushed you been affected?

I'd imagine they feel incredible continuous guilt. Does this manifest itself in your interactions with the person?

Is it easier for both of you if you don't communicate with one another regularly?

Rollingonwheelz1570 karma

She was super depressed at first but she's better now. Our relationship is different in the sense that it used to feel like we were going through this together. Now I feel like the only broken one. We still care about each other of course

kkunjujiki659 karma

What kind of adaptations did you guys have to do in the bedroom?

Rollingonwheelz1774 karma

Do you mean sexually? It's different now but still enjoyable. The vagus nerve is a nerve that sends pleasure signals to your brain and bypasses the spinal cord

funtimesforalltimes601 karma

Congrats on the baby and overcoming it all! This kind of seems like a dick question, but did your friend have to pay for medical bills, etc? Or maybe some homeowners insurance kicked in? Did you take them to court, even though I see you are still friends? I always wonder how that all pans out.

Rollingonwheelz829 karma

We'll it wasn't at her house but the homeowners insurance did kick in. It was only a fraction of my first bill though. This injury is unfortunately ridiculously expensive. I did not take anyone to court as no one really had any resources for me to get out of them even if I wanted to.

americanalyss558 karma

Can you describe what doing baby-related activities is like for you?

Rollingonwheelz692 karma

I have limited dexterity so none of it is easy. Takes practice and I couldn't really practice before I had an actual baby. Doing it on a doll and a squirming baby are two completely different things. I have changed a diaper but it took me a second. I had to use my teeth to pull the tabs tight. Feeding is done like anyone one else. Hold her and hold the bottle. I often use a boppy pillow on my lap to sit her down in when I'm rolling around. It's basically like an oversized travel neck pillow

NegligentKarma390 karma

Not to be funny, but having limited dexterity must make removing a dirty diaper a seriously real challenge.

Rollingonwheelz497 karma

Yea I'm not at that level yet. Removing is easy. Clean up not so much

Farmass424 karma

M very good friend a month ago broke his neck between the c6 and c7. It did not severe the cord and he has limited mobility of his arms, but still nothing below. He has gone through 3 surgeries and there is still a lot of swelling and they haven't ruled anything out.

The crazy thing is he doesn't know how it happened. He woke up face down between the couch and end table in his boxer shorts. They don't know if he fell sleep walking or what. He had thought he had a stroke and it wasn't until they got to the hospital that they found he broke his neck.

My question, is what advice would you give him. He is optimistic that he will make a full recovery, and the doctors haven't ruled that out, but there is a good chance he wont. Do you just be optimistic as possible and deal with the setback when they come?

Rollingonwheelz449 karma

I'm just grateful that I can use my arms and that I don't have a brain injury. He needs to be prepared for it to go either way. If he has had any improvement whatsoever and it's only been a month that is good news. I'd suggest he go on carecure.org. It's a spinal cord injury messageboard

Swingling393 karma

What activity/hobby do you miss the most from your previous abilities?

Rollingonwheelz732 karma

DANCING! I grew up taking all kinds of classes. Ballroom and hip hop not long before the accident. It's super hard to watch others dance and so I often avoid going out where a bunch of people are dancing

kmduncan1364 karma

Check out axisdance.org Might get you dancing again :)

Rollingonwheelz82 karma

I saw that!! I'm in NC though and it'll never be the same

cherielinda280 karma

How have you adapted to doing your hair and makeup or do you have someone do it for you? There is a woman on YouTube who is also quadriplegic and she does beautiful hair and makeup. Her YouTube is youtube.com/user/JordanBone89 if you're interested :)

Rollingonwheelz331 karma

Yes I love her!! She doesn't always do her hair I don't think. And I know someone has to put on her false eyelashes. But I can do my makeup and I can blow dry my hair. I wish they made a hair straightener that I could work!

kallybear149 karma

What would you need to modify in the design of the hair straightener? Or is it an arm-movement type of problem?

Rollingonwheelz226 karma

I'm able to lift my wrist back and I'm able to pick things up with a function called tendonesis. Looking it up might give you a better idea then I might be able to. But if there was a way that a hair straightener would clamp with the motion of just lifting your hand back then that would be amazing. I just can't squeeze a hair straightener to make a clamp

ArabRedditor277 karma

What would you give up to walk again?

Rollingonwheelz489 karma

Whoa good question. Pretty much anything except Chris and my family. My house, car, other relationships are the things I can think of off the top of my head

bytester233 karma

What has been the hardest thing to adapt to? Also, congrats on the beautiful baby! Shout out to /r/spinalcordinjuries and /r/disability

Rollingonwheelz430 karma

I've had to accept people's new view of me. Imagine if tomorrow everyone started treating you differently. Your family strangers coworkers everyone. But on the inside you feel exactly the same as you did before. It's hard to adjust to that

kallybear195 karma

How are you dividing up baby duties? Are you able to take care of your daughter by yourself (as in, no one else home, etc) for periods of time?

Rollingonwheelz266 karma

I can be with her alone but not for too long. I have changed a diaper but I have not mastered it. I will stay up with her so Chris can sleep if she's fussy at night. I can also feed her

Johnbgood8737 karma

I saw your daughters crib on your Twitter. That thing is badass! Was that custom built?

Rollingonwheelz49 karma

It was! I don't know how to put a picture in here but I know a lot of people on this page would probably love to see something like that! It was actually the crib from my surrogate's son but it was adapted for me

PainMatrix184 karma

I see your story pop up once in a while and find your resiliency and ability to forgive inspiring. You're obviously going to have challenges other people wouldn't as a new parent, but what has been easier/ less challenging than expected?

Rollingonwheelz196 karma

Well I think I estimated the difficulty level of everything pretty well. I think she's made everything easier by being an easy baby. Wakes up once at night. 2 at most

Swingling175 karma

Do you have any physical therapists, caretakers at home, support services while Chris is at work? How do you manage daily activities like eating lunch? Does Chris do all the chores at your house? :-o

Rollingonwheelz333 karma

My mom lives with us Monday through Friday and helps get me out of bed. But once I'm up and out of bed I'm pretty independent. I can drive do the laundry get around my house just fine. I also organize and take care of all the finances which is obviously a huge stress off Chris. Many people think a quadriplegic is paralyzed from the neck down but that's not always the case. It just means impairment in for lims. So I can move my arms but not my fingers. It Makes things harder but they are doable

WeHaveIgnition137 karma

What type of physical therapy do you do? Is there any hope of continued progress to regain more mobility?

Rollingonwheelz425 karma

Physical therapy is too expensive

lemon_catgrass183 karma

It makes me so angry that the US healthcare system is so broken, that someone like yourself can't even get fucking physical therapy for this kind of life changing disability. So angry. And even more angry that there are people who don't want to pay into a universal health care system through taxes because they might "never need to use it"...your story is a sobering reminder that these types of freak accidents can happen to anybody. At any time.

I really hope one day soon things seriously change with our healthcare in the states. I hope you'll someday be able to get all the treatments and therapy you need or want, without paying a dime out of pocket or a single co-pay. Until that time, you're doing far better than I ever could, and I sincerely admire your mental strength and fortitude.

Rollingonwheelz70 karma

I agree!

FlickerOfBoogers137 karma

Were you underwater when you realized you couldn't move? Did it take people long to react to your injury?

Rollingonwheelz213 karma

I was helped within seconds. 3 of us were lifrguards

1st_lurker129 karma

What did you hit to injure yourself? The edge of the pool? Railing?

Rollingonwheelz352 karma

It was the bottom of the pool. My reaction was to fall in headfirst with my arms out in front of me to keep from falling in super awkward. It wasn't exactly how hard I hit the bottom it was just the angle that I hit. I must've overextended my chin to my chest and it snapped it

J_for_Jules93 karma

How often do you have dreams where you're walking and/or running? Do the dreams affect you?

Rollingonwheelz169 karma

I only dream that I'm walking which is weird

zjpierce22 karma

Wait, so you never have dreams of yourself being in a wheelchair? That is pretty weird. Does that make you happy or sad?

Rollingonwheelz46 karma

Indifferent

yeyman90 karma

As a nursing student, the perception of pain among quads vary, do you feel pain below your injury?

Rollingonwheelz122 karma

Severe neuropathic pain

Jwkicklighter86 karma

I see that you said you have no finger mobility. I'm curious, how are you responding to questions? By voice maybe, or having someone else type for you? I'm getting into the field of User Experience design, and I love seeing solutions to make electronic interactions for possible for more people.

Rollingonwheelz194 karma

I can tap an iPad. No need to wiggle fingers :)

Rainingmadness84 karma

I see you have mentioned that you were into dancing prior to the accident. What new hobbies have you picked up after the accident?

Rollingonwheelz175 karma

I love playing wheelchair rugby also known as Murderball. What I want more than anything is to get back into tennis as it is something I played for 20 years. But in the world of Spinal Cord Injury's every different sport requires a different type of wheelchair. Tennis club chairs are freaking expensive. I've also enjoyed adopted surfing and hand cycling

Ohhrubyy76 karma

Congratulations on the daughter! How is your family getting along?

Rollingonwheelz97 karma

Very we'll thank you! Everyone's come together to support us. And luckily we were blessed with an easy baby!

The2ndGunman71 karma

Looking back, would you change any of the events that got you to this point? I can only imagine at the time when you became quadriplegic that it must have been very hard. But, it looks that it has changed your life in a very positive way as well. Glad to see that you have had success and plenty of support in your hard times. All the best to you and your family!

Rollingonwheelz281 karma

Well a lot of good things have happened doesn't mean that I'm happy being paralyzed. And to be perfectly honest my life would be way better if the accident had never happened. I'm so glad that I could give people perspective about their lives and inspire other people disabilities who now know that they can have a family if they didn't already know that before. But my hope is that there will be a cure because I would love to actually be able to run around with my child one day

phonixinuinit43 karma

Shit, how dose your friend feel? How has this affected your friendship?

Rollingonwheelz54 karma

Well she was depressed but I think she's ok now

lafeeverte1756 karma

Are you ok that she is ok?

Rollingonwheelz99 karma

Hmmmmm. It's hard. But I don't want her to not be okay.

Katrar149 karma

In what way is it hard? You describe the event as absolutely accidental, playful, etc. You make a point to highlight that your friend was devastated. But here, and elsewhere, it's very clear that you are not pleased that she is healing and moving on. Have you given any thought as to what you expect her role to be as her life plays out? Should this event define her forever? Have you always been a good friend as she has tried to heal? I'm sure I'll be downvoted, and that's fine, but I'm curious as to why you are not particularly OK with your friend healing from this as well.

Rollingonwheelz142 karma

No it's a fair question. I'm in no way angry that she has healed and I wanted that for her forever. There were times where I've wanted for her to be there for me because I was sad and she wasn't there. But it's not because she is the friend who pushed me I feel that way about a couple of friends who I felt weren't really there when I needed them. Healing has nothing to do with the issue. I would rather her be healed and never speak to me again and for her to be as devastated as she was. It was exhausting always trying to comfort her. I'm glad she's in a better place but I had some darker moments in the past year too I really need someone there

ladyofmalt37 karma

Your attitude is admirable. How do you stay so positive?

Rollingonwheelz105 karma

I'm lucky to have a love many don't get to experience. I focus on that

polarpixel37 karma

Thank you for doing the AMA and I truly admire your strength. My question is, how long after the accident did it take you to "grab the bull by the horns", so to speak? I imagine it would have been devastating to hear such news.

Rollingonwheelz65 karma

We'll it was all about surviving day to day. I didn't think much about the future. Would have been way overwhelming. But I did start adapted sports 3 months after

dubious_ian36 karma

Have you regained any ability to move your limbs? Some of the activities mentioned seem difficult for a quadriplegic, even with help from others. Still amazing that you can do things like surf regardless

Rollingonwheelz79 karma

There are a lot of quadriplegics was way more function and ability than I have. I have the arm function but not any finger function. I have not regained anything. I've just gotten stronger

ItsDarts28 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA, I admire your determination and strength to move on with your life, I can't say if I'd be the same way, but I'd like to think I could. My question is, we're you religious before the accident and are you now or did anything change?

Rollingonwheelz126 karma

Not religious and nothing has changed. Raised Jewish but now deciding between atheist and agnostic.

3AlarmLampscooter27 karma

Did you have osteoporosis?

Rollingonwheelz47 karma

Last I checked it was an early stage called osteopenia.

zjbirdwork11 karma

How many AMAs are you going to do? I can't handle the feels.

Rollingonwheelz19 karma

Lol. We'll this is round 3. I'll do another if something crazy cool happens in the future :)

Blizzity6 karma

Congrats on the kiddo! Have you thought about how you will tell your story to your daughter?

Rollingonwheelz4 karma

We will have a lot of video footage to show her!

lludson5 karma

Firstly, you are lovely and an inspiration to anyone who goes through becoming injured this way. How long did it take you to come to terms with the accident? It looks like you have done so wonderfully. Conratulations to you and your great husband.

Rollingonwheelz8 karma

You never really accept it. We'll I haven't anyways but I just decided to focus on the good things like my awesome relationship

Nithryok4 karma

Did you tuck instead of roll?

More serious note, how hard was it for you to adjust to the different life style? What is something you used to do that you can no longer do? ( other than walk/run unless you are now bionic woman )

Rollingonwheelz4 karma

Well I miss dancing the most, Tennis and honestly just being able to work out. You never fully adjust. 5 years later it still seems new

Haz_Matt4 karma

What are your thoughts about vaccination? You said you were a new mom.

Rollingonwheelz23 karma

I'm a fan of vaccinating. I'd like my kid to not die

123choji3 karma

What's your favorite book?

Rollingonwheelz14 karma

I don't really like reading very much which is kind of funny since I wrote a book. But when I found out we were having the baby I started reading this book called "I heart my little assholes". It's hilarious

ruiner322 karma

What kind of chair do you use? Power? Seat functions? Any alternative drive controls?

Awesome AMA, you seem like a brave lady.

Rollingonwheelz3 karma

I have a manual chair with a Smartdrive power wheel. Looking into the zx-1 by spinergy

MyButtt-3 karma

Okay, how can I put this delicately? Don't you feel that having a child is a little selfish? I'm sure that you've convinced yourself that it will be fine or that love is all that matters but I think the reality is that even on your best days your daughter will be short-changed.

Rollingonwheelz11 karma

I'm glad you asked this to give me an opportunity to answer. It's a question I've gotten quite often but one I don't completely understand. Would you question the ability of a single parent to raise a child? Chris could do this on his own without me but I have more to offer than love fixes everything. Ask any single parent and America if they had someone to help them change diapers stay awake with a fussy baby or feed the baby while they did errands or took a shower, I think any parent in America would be raising their hand saying it would be the easiest thing ever to raise a baby. But even if I was paralyzed from the neck down I do have a husband and he is a capable father. Luckily that is not the case for us