KNIGHTDALE, N.C.-- Lack of health care, not lack of love, has put wedding plans on hold indefinitely for a couple after the bride-to-be was paralyzed in a freak accident.
Rachelle Friedman was paralyzed from the chest down after one of her bridesmaids shoved her into a pool just a month before her June wedding to her college sweetheart.
If Friedman and fiance Chris Chapman tie the knot, Friedman would stop receiving checks from the government's Medicaid health care program for the indigent, and she needs that money to pay for her constant care and rehabilitation. Still, Chapman hasn't left his love's side.
"We know we're a strong couple," Friedman, 25, told ABC News. "And when I got hurt, it never crossed my mind that he would ever leave."
As a married couple, their combined income would be too high to qualify for the Medicaid payments. So the pair plans to live together in a home in the Raleigh suburb of Knightdale until they can figure out their insurance issues and have that dream wedding Friedman was planning for last June.
Friedman was enjoying a night out with her bridesmaids when one pushed her into the shallow end of a pool as a joke. Friedman hit her head on the bottom, immediately went stiff and couldn't move. But she didn't panic, let herself float to the surface and told her friends to call for help.
Friedman forgave her friend and refused to tell ABC News her name, saying they are still close friends and had pushed each other into swimming pools as a joke many times before the accident.
"She was having a really hard time at first, but my family gave her a lot of attention and let her know we don't blame her and nobody is angry with her," Friedman said.
Friedman, an aerobics and dance instructor before the accident, initially had no feeling below her collarbone. But she can now type with her thumb and sit up in bed on her own after months of therapy.
She may even start a family with Chapman, even though she would have to stop taking the medication that keeps her comfortable and out of severe pain.
"I haven't ruled it out -- I'm almost willing to be in pain lying down for nine months," Friedman said.
The couple have been together for five years. Both graduated from East Carolina University, and Friedman said she was excited to be marrying her first boyfriend. And both said they could never imagine ending the relationship.
"We do as much as we can to maintain the lives that we had ahead of time," Chapman said. "It's just different."