In February 2016, Anna Claire Waldrop was driving home with her then-fiance, James “Jimbo” Waldrop, when they were involved in an accident. The couple sustained injuries, and Anna Claire was left a quadriplegic.
The accident occurred nine months before their wedding, and it initially created fear and doubt in Anna Claire. “I was very scared,” she admits. “I wondered, ‘Will I ever be happy again?’ But the thought of my upcoming wedding was motivation to get better.”
Coping Emotionally and Physically
Anna Claire had a strong support network who helped her to cope after the accident. Jimbo, in particular, was a huge source of strength.
“I never once saw him getting upset, I mean he was just always strong and positive. He would walk into my room and make me giggle, I always felt better when he was with me.”
One month after her accident, Anna Claire began therapy to help her make the most of her new body. She could not move her left arm nor her legs and had a severely dislocated left shoulder. Now, she has improving hand grip, can move her left arm, wrists, and wiggle her toes. “I was extremely motivated,” says Anna Claire. To support her physical rehabilitation, Jimbo has also been working on a gym in their house.
While Anna Claire was undergoing therapy, she was planning her wedding at the same time. During one recreational therapy session, a therapist at Shepherd Center in Atlanta took her wedding dress shopping. “They really wanted me to go out in the community, which can be hard and emotional,” she says. “So they took me to look at gowns.” And that was when she found the wedding dress of her dreams. “They helped me put it and I looked in the mirror and said, ‘This is it.’”
Marrying her High School Sweetheart
In 22nd October 2016, Anna Claire was surrounded by family and friends as she married her high school sweetheart. “My marriage has pushed me through, and I’m very happy," says Anna Claire. "We want to start a family in the future!”
Besides being happily married, Anna Claire plans to pursue a career as a speech therapist moving forward. “I try not to focus on what I’ve lost, but try to focus on what I have already — and that’s my advice for anyone who has gone through something like I have,” she says.
“It was emotional thinking about having to be in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic for my wedding, instead of everything I had always envisioned. But it was beautiful and I’m finally happy now.”
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