A German man paralysed from the neck down who had to sign the marriage certificate with a pen in his mouth says he is the happiest man in the world after he married his beautiful blonde physiotherapist.
Stefan Kovac, 34, who is from the city of Moers in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has been quadriplegic since jumping into the water and hitting his head on the post in a bathing accident in Spain.
He told Real Press: “I had been holidaying in Cala Ratjada in Majorca for several years in a row, and in June 2012 a friend and I decided to fly there a little bit earlier than usual.
“We dumped our suitcases in the hotel, and headed straight down to the beach. As we were heading there we spotted a rock which is around 4 or 5 metres (13 or 16 feet) high which we had jumped off into the water several times before. We had also seen the locals doing it.
“But this year, there had been a really big storm the day before our arrival and the water level was lower. You couldn’t tell that at the bottom a sandbank had formed as it simply was not possible to see it. I jumped into the water and smacked my head on the sandbank. It was just bad luck.”
He added: “I was still conscious. My friend pulled me out of the water, but after that I fell into a coma for two weeks. My chances of survival were slim, less than 10 percent, but the doctors in Spain were great and they saved my life. It was a brand-new modern hospital and they had the best facilities.”
He later learned that he had broken his spine at the fifth vertebra, and since then he has been paralysed from the waist down.
Determined however not to give up on life, the businessman, who owns a French restaurant, the Baguetterie Loco in his home town of Moers, has undergone extensive physiotherapy, and during that, in 2015, he met physiotherapist Annika Gross, now aged 27.
He said: “I was enquiring about a possible physiotherapist and she was and still is working at a surgery when I made some enquiries. My first treatment with her was on 16th March 2015, that by chance happened to be her birthday.”
He said they got on from the first session but both of them were in relationships, and it was only eight months later when both of them had separated from their partners that their relationship really deepened.
He said: “We had the feeling that we were meant for each other, it was fate. We didn’t seek each other, we found each other.”
When he decided to pop the question, he managed to secretly find the ring on the Internet and order it, and was determined to be able to give it to her in person. He said the doctors had noticed some activity in his left arm, and he had trained as hard as was humanly possible to get some movement so that he could actually give her the ring himself.
Speaking about the moment they got engaged, he said: “I asked her on 5th August 2018 to come to the cinema with me. While we were away, in our garden with the help of our parents I’d managed to build something, it was a route lined with a red carpet, surrounded by burning torches and heart-shaped balloons. In the middle was a big red heart on the floor surrounded by rose petals.
“As we were on the way home, we were met by our parents, and they put a blindfold on her when they took her through the entrance into the garden. Then they put me in the middle of the heart, and put her at the top of the red carpet. It was so wonderfully emotional.
“She had hinted about getting married and I thought why not, because she is the right one for me. I only want to get married once in my life, and she’s the perfect person. I don’t think she really expected me to do it, it was a big surprise. And when I asked the question, she didn’t hesitate and said yes straight away.”
The wedding was a lot of hard work, with Stefan saying: “We had already done a lot of preparation and we had to change a lot of it because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was also made particularly sad because her grandfather died from the disease. It wasn’t an easy time for us.
“We had to be careful because I’m a risk patient as well, the virus would be very dangerous for me and could kill me. So we had really strict hygiene safety regulations for us and our guests and it took place on 8th August in Schloss Moyland when we finally married.”
As a special surprise, the artist Jonathan Zelter, 26, sang his song “A piece of my heart” at their wedding. Stefan said: “We were together when I heard that song for the first time, but I knew it would be very important in my life one day.”
The honeymoon plans are put on hold however and they said that when they get the chance, they want to go to Curacao, an island in the Caribbean famous for its beaches and coral reefs.
As he is paralysed from the waist down, the opportunities to have a child together are limited, however, the couple are exploring possibilities with a special clinic and he added: “It is our biggest wish.”
The couple also now have a joint Instagram page https://bit.ly/2Qxujio so that they can share the latest news with friends and well-wishers.
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