Paralysed mother finds love with personal trainer who helped her take first steps again
Twenty nine months ago, Riona Kelly, 37, was told she’d never walk again after a stroke left her paralysed.
But now not only can the mother-of-four walk, she can jump. And it’s largely down to the support of her personal trainer turned partner, Keith Mason, with whom she found love.
In March 2015, Kelly fell down the stairs and suffered a rare spinal stroke, which left her paralysed from her waist down.
Her then husband of 14 years claims he told her he wanted a divorce the day before she had the stroke, but Kelly says it happened afterwards.
I don't share my personal life on here, nor do I let others know when I'm struggling with my disability... But there's times when others who are struggling in their own lives could do with knowing when they're not on their own with their struggles. Today's been an emotional day, it's been riddled with nerve pain & I've felt totally fed up with being paralysed... I don't enjoy being paralysed one bit. It's bloody hard.!! I miss being able bodied. I miss running around with my kids & doing things on the spur of the moment. I miss feeling warmth on my legs, splashing in puddles with my kids & feeling the water pounce off my skin. I really miss having the full use of my legs, I just miss silly little things that most of us take for granted. Today I attempted to clear out my kitchen cupboards & get rid of some clutter, only to have the pain take over 3/4 of the way through. I felt defeated. I lay on my bed crying & then something amazing happened. As I lay crying my loving partner just held me & told me how much I inspired him, how much he loved me & that it's ok to feel frustrated & to cry. He reassured me that he was there for me & how much I meant to him. I felt safe & loved. No matter how shit the pain was, how much being paralysed annoyed me, I knew I wasn't alone & that I wasn't facing my disability alone, someone was facing it with me. I felt blessed & calm..... Although I have days where I struggle (it's called being human) I know it's only a day. So I'll own my struggle day without beating myself up or feeling guilty & tomorrow I'll get back up & continue along my journey because I know I'm strong enough to carry on..... Remember guys you're never totally alone, you've just got to learn to let the right people in #disability #paralysed #keepmovingforward #inspire #strength #relationshipgoals #loving #partner #concours #blessed #thestruggleisreal #day #faith #believeinyourself #support #inspiration #nevergiveup #family #motivation #fight #love #grateful #myman #bestfriend #truth
But she’s now moved on and is looking forward to the future with her new partner, ex-rugby player and personal trainer Keith Mason, 35, who has helped her defy doctors’ expectations.
Kelly was originally told she would be able to take her first steps six weeks after her stroke, but those six weeks came and went, and she was still unable to move her legs - doctors thought she may never be able to.
But two weeks later, with the help of a parallel bar, Kelly took her first steps.
She started training with Mason in January 2016 and the two kept in touch after they’d finished working together - a romantic relationship soon blossomed.
Afternoon magazine photo shoot. Having great fun & just loving life.! Exciting times ahead. Looking forward to the amazing journey with @keithmason106 & our beautiful little family #blessed #fitfam #relationshipgoals #family #photoshoot #story #inspire #love #life #journey #disability #paralysed #spinalcordinjury #keepmovingforward #nevergiveup #strength #determination #inlove #bestfriend #teach #goals #powercouple
With the help of Mason and her wheelchair, Kelly, who is from Halifax, West Yorkshire, has now completed two marathons. She still struggles though, as she’s explained on Instagram:
“I don't enjoy being paralysed one bit. It’s bloody hard!! I miss being able-bodied. I miss running around with my kids and doing things on the spur of the moment.
“I miss feeling warmth on my legs, splashing in puddles with my kids and feeling the water bounce off my skin. I really miss having the full use of my legs, I just miss silly little things that most of us take for granted.”
But, she says, when she feels down, it’s Mason who always brings her back up.
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
“As I lay crying, my loving partner just held me and told me how much I inspired him, how much he loved me and that it's ok to feel frustrated and to cry,” she wrote. “He reassured me that he was there for me and how much I meant to him.”
Kelly says Mason is the link that had always been missing in her life, and she thinks he’s “perfectly made” for her.
“I thank the lord for bringing my soulmate into my life,” Kelly says. “Apart from my children I have never loved anyone the way that I love my best friend.
“He’s shown me the true meaning of a loving relationship. A relationship that’s strong. That works in harmony. That compromises. That’s loyal and true and above all a relationship that just works so perfectly.
“I’ve heard for years that relationships are hard work and for years that’s what I had until now.
“I’ve found the missing half of me, that piece of the puzzle that perfectly finishes the picture."
Independent News Service