A loving wife was deserted by her husband of 14 years within days of being told she would likely never walk again. What she did after receiving such devastating news has brought many to tears.
Riona Kelly, a 37-year-old mother and wife from Halifax, Yorkshire, was rushed to the hospital in March 2015 after suffering a spinal stroke that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Following the debilitating stroke, doctors warned Riona that she would never walk again. Sadly, the bad news didn’t end there. Instead, just five days into her hospital stay, Riona said she received even more devastating news.
According to Riona, her husband of 14 years decided their marriage was over and dumped her. Making matters worse, the pair had four children: Leighanra, 16, Caleb, 11, Izabela, 9, and Logan, 5, The Sun reported. Although Riona’s ex claims they split before the heartbreaking stroke struck with him telling her he wanted a divorce the morning before the stroke occurred, Riona tells a different story.
“After my husband left me in [the] hospital, my friend, Sarah, became my next of kin, it was her and the children that supported me during my recovery,” Riona recalled. “Looking back I was miserable in my marriage, but we had built a life together and had responsibilities,” she added. “It was the time I needed my husband the most.”
After six weeks, Riona was reportedly still unable to move her legs, forcing her and her medical team to come to the realization that she may never recover. The mom tried to adjust to life in a wheelchair, but it was admittedly difficult, especially without her husband by her side, she said.
“[D]octors told me I would never walk again,” Riona recalled. “I’d had a car accident 18 months previous and they said that could have caused problems in my spine,” she explained. “The first time I went out in a wheelchair I thought everyone was looking at me, I hated it and hated myself,” she added. “If someone had given me the choice I would have ended my life, I didn’t want to live anymore.”
However, rather than give up, the determined mom endured hours of physiotherapy in hopes of regaining function, but she gained much more than she had anticipated. Riona met 35-year-old personal trainer Keith Mason, who would play a pivotal role in not only her recovery but her life.
“After suffering a stroke not only did I have to deal with paralysis but I had to deal with losing my partner of 14 years,” Riona remembered. “After our sessions, Keith and I stayed in contact, he would ask me how I was getting on and our relationship blossomed from there.”
Riona found both comfort and love in Keith as he helped her on her road to recovery, battling back from her stroke. After working through physiotherapy sessions together, the pair soon fell head-over-heels for each other, becoming a couple. Making their love story even better, after hours of physiotherapy, Riona miraculously took her first steps on the parallel bar.
“I was dragging my body and I had no feeling in my legs but I didn’t care, I was walking and that’s all that mattered,” Riona explained, recalling her first steps after her stroke. “My consultant was very emotional, he couldn’t believe I had done it with the help of a standing frame,” she added. “Every day I built up my strength and after four months in [the] hospital, I was finally allowed to go home.”
Eleven months into the happy couple’s relationship, Riona was finally able to walk short distances without assistance and had completed two marathons with the help of her wheelchair. She also reported feeling stronger than ever, which completely exceeded her doctors’ expectations.
“It took me 25 minutes to get up 16 steps, and the same time to come back down again, but I was determined to do it for my children,” she said. “I now only need my wheelchair to go long distances but my home hasn’t been adapted so I try not use it,” she said, adding, “I’m now back in the gym, and with Keith’s help I’m getting better and stronger than ever.”
Proving things somehow have a way of working out when you don’t give up, Riona Kelly turned her life around, making an incredible recovery and regaining her ability to walk again, much to the disbelief of her doctors. Looking back at what she went through, Riona said she now views the stroke as “the best thing to ever happen” to her, explaining that she finally feels like she’s living the life she deserves. I’d call that a happy ending, reminding us all that life can be good again even after what seems to be rock bottom.