Days after she’s paralyzed by stroke, husband of 14y left her. But he never expected this comeback

August 27, 2017 12:14 pm Last Updated: October 26, 2017 1:59 pm


Riona Kelly and her husband Richard were married for 14 years, had four children, and lived in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Then she had a stroke. Five days later, Richard left her.

Riona says her husband walked out while she was lying in the hospital bed, paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors cautioned that she might not walk again. It seemed as if her life had hit a low point.

Love cuddles with my little boy #one #of #my #4 #reasons #❤️#mummy #son #natural #no #makeup #real

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“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 said. “I was left completely alone.”

But now, two years after her misfortunes, she can not only walk—she can jump.

Initially, doctors told her it would take between six months and half a year to recover. She felt like giving up.

“But I knew I had to be strong for my children,” Riona said.

They told her it would take six weeks before her first steps, but six weeks came and went and she still was unable to walk.

“It was at this point that doctors told me I would never walk again,” Riona remembered.

She had been in a car accident 18 months before her stroke, and they wondered if that might be why her body was unresponsive. Aside from that fact, Riona was fit and healthy—but that only added to her miseries, because there seemed to be no reason why she couldn’t walk.

“The first time I went out in a wheelchair I thought everyone was looking at me. I hated it and hated myself,” Riona said. The pain got enough that she didn’t want to live. “But the other patients on the ward were amazing, I received so much support from them and they encouraged me to get out of bed every day.”

She spent several hours a day in physiotherapy, and then two weeks after doctors said she’d never walk again—she took her first steps.

“It felt amazing,” she said. “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.”

Her consultant was nearly equally as emotional, barely able to believe that she had done it with just the help of a standing frame.

She spent the next four months in the hospital building up her strength, and then she was finally able to go home.

“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.

“It’s taken me a long time to believe in myself,” Riona wrote on social media. “A lot of tears and a lot of setbacks.”

Every days a new challenge & every day I accept the challenge no matter what it is… Being paralysed doesn't stop me from achieving me dreams. It pushes me to try harder! Go further! & above all to never give up!! Training with my daughter is our quality down time. We laugh, we sweat, we push each other & most of all we have so much fun together. Learn to inspire yourself each & every day. By doing that it has a ripple effect & inspires others. #fitfam #fitmom #fitnessmotivation #fitnessaddict #fitnessjourney #fitdauther #proudmommy #trainingtogether #strength #determination #motivation #nevergiveup #keepmovingforward #inspire #paralysed #disability #fitness #inspiration #hardwork #dedication #noexcuses #progress #homeworkout

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There were days where she felt hopeless. She was doing a lot of physical therapy, and she had her children supporting her, but there were still times when she struggled with both the mental and physical pain, and she just “couldn’t see a way forward.”

“I was exhausted, running on less than empty,” she said. Then she screamed out, “I just want to jump!”

She felt the Lord answer back, “Then jump!” So she took the leap—and miraculously made it.

RISE UP!!! I was told 29 months ago that I'd never walk again let alone JUMP!! I've spent the past few days riddled in pain & really struggling both physically & mentally. I cried out to god this morning as my mind just couldn't cope anymore with the pain. I couldn't see away forward. I was exhausted, running on less than empty fumes…. I stayed quiet, I tired to focus but I was failing! Then I screamed out "I JUST WANT TO JUMP! I JUST WANT TO JUMP!" & the lord answered back "THEN JUMP!!" I stood at the edge of the bed with my kids & my partner watching me & I jumped..!! I jumped!! I took a leap of faith & I jumped!! If I'd of believed all the professionals I'd be sat in my wheelchair & my life would be completely different. Thank god that I found other professionals that went against the grain & refused to believe that I wouldn't walk again. These people gave me hope & didn't just help me fight they made me fight!! Keith Luke Mason & Matthew McArdle you guys will never know how much your mindsets & beliefs changed my life… I chose to fight no matter how hard that fight was, no matter how many times I fell back down, I was going to fight! It's taken me along time to believe in myself. A lot of tears & a lot of setbacks. A struggle day doesn't mean the rest of your life. A struggle day doesn't mean tomorrow's going to be a struggle or the next day. We are in control of what our lives are even if we don't know it. The only thing that defines us is ourselves. Sometimes all we need is just one positive to happen in our lives to change our mindset forever. Today that positive happened for me & it had an amazing ripple effect throughout my little family. Seeing the joy that a little jump has brought to my kids filled me with so much determination to push harder. I was feeling lost & through that desperation I found hope….. Sometimes in life we need to take that leap of faith & just jump into life! #strength #inspire #jump #blessed #faith #life #family #fitness #god #paralysed #disability #nevergiveup #kids #love #focus #journey #tears #happiness #dreams #goals #determination #nevergiveup #walk #fitfam #addict #moments

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Throughout these ordeals, it has been the people that stuck with Riona that enabled her miracle comeback. They have done it for her, just as she has made the effort for them.

Early last year, she began working with personal trainer Keith Mason. After their sessions, they stayed in touch, and their relationship blossomed more and more.

“And then one day Keith asked me out for coffee and we picked up from where we left off. I just couldn’t believe a gorgeous rugby player wanted to date a disabled woman like me,” she said. “Keith says I inspire him, but he encourages me every day and understands and see the pain that I am in.”

Keith and Riona have now been together for nearly a year. With his support, Riona has completed two marathons with her wheelchair.

“Having a best friend in a partner is a must. We walk & wheel through life together & together we face all obstacles. My best friend is my rock, my strength, my support, my happiness, my world,” she wrote.

Now Riona only needs the wheelchair for long distances. She is regularly at the gym, and with her support system around her, continues to get better and stronger than ever. She is also modeling and recently landed a television commercial.

“I’ve found the missing half of me, that piece of the puzzle that perfectly finishes the picture. Life is what you decide to make it & who you decide to make it with,” she wrote.

“After my stroke I thought my life was over, but it’s only just beginning and has opened so many wonderful doors.”