Married, Paralyzed and Moving On

Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

Married, Paralyzed and Moving On

Tuesday, 20 November

Two years ago, Hiroki Takeuchi was paralyzed from the waist down in a cycling accident. It was just weeks after he and his wife, Rachel Swidenbank, got married. When we first spoke in early 2017, Hiroki was still figuring out the basics of day-to-day life in a wheelchair: how to drive an adapted car, how to get up and down stairs, how to use the bathroom on his own. Rachel stopped working to care for Hiroki in those early days. There were a lot of unknowns about the future, and what Hiroki's body would and wouldn't be capable of. 

When we spoke recently, they told me that Hiroki is now fully independent when it comes to his daily routines, and that they're both back to work. "It's been progress, progress, progress, progress," Rachel said. "And then like maybe the last three, four months it's kind of flattened out in terms of what you would classify as progress." One thing that they haven't yet fully figured out: sex. "We definitely have a lot of intimacy and you know, a lot of closeness," Hiroki told me. "But...I think that there's so much baggage around it."

Rachel and Hiroki did recently find out that having a child together is possible via IVF. While they're not ready to start that process quite yet, it was exciting news for them—and it's made Hiroki think about what being a father might look like for him. "One of the things that really worried me was that I wouldn't be able to be a proper dad to our children," he said. "I think there's a level of like you know redefining what fatherhood means through a different lens. It doesn't mean it's worse, it's just different." 

 

Traveling for the holiday this week? Take our Podcasts We're Thankful For playlist — with episode suggestions from podcast hosts like PJ Vogt, Tracy Clayton, Phoebe Judge and Kelly McEvers — along with you!

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