Marriage After Stroke



When we said, “I do” on Nov. 2, 2001, my husband and I meant every word of our marriage vows. We repeated them with no doubt we’d spend forever together. We said, “for better or for worse” with the “better” part sounding much easier than the “worse.” He was 27 and I was 22 — young enough to know we were invincible and that the “worse” part wouldn’t apply to us.

Fast forward to 2012, 11 years and two kids later. We had land, a roof over our heads, jobs that gave us enough and a happy little family providing much joy. Life often got overwhelming with two young kids. Days were busy, dropping them off at daycare and school and going to work, but we really couldn’t complain.

Then, BAM. On June 6, 2012, I had a major brain stem stroke. Suddenly I wasn’t able to walk or talk. The world as we knew it crumbled and we didn’t know if it would ever be the same again.

After some time in the ICU and speech therapy, I was able to say short, simple sentences. We had no idea what my prognosis would be. Would I be wheelchair-bound for the rest of my life, dependent on my husband for every little thing? I had nightmares of him leaving me in a nursing home and never seeing him again. I didn’t want to be a burden on him or my children, so I gave him permission to leave. He could find another woman who could give him everything when I might not be able to give him anything at all.

Survivor Delanie Stephenson and her husband Curtis on their wedding day in 2001 (top), and today

For 12 weeks, I stayed in the hospital learning to improve my speech and to walk again. My husband worked, took care of the kids and came to see me in the hospital almost every day. I know he was exhausted, overwhelmed and scared. He never showed it. We’d have date nights on Wednesdays where he would be the one to give me a bath. May not sound romantic, but I cherished those times with my husband.

The real work began when I came home. I had changed — physically and emotionally. My personality changed. I had pseudobulbar affect due to the stroke affecting my brain stem, crying or laughing at the drop of a hat. My temper was super short and I had intense anxiety.

Cognitively, I wasn’t as sharp as I once was. There were many frustrating moments dealing with the kids. Life was not a piece of cake and we had our share of challenges. But because we loved each other, we never gave up. We worked hard and communicated better than we did before the stroke. We were closer than ever.

It’s been seven years since the stroke. My kids are teenagers, full of hormones and attitudes. My husband and I are ready to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. Things are still hard. Our lives have been affected in ways we never would have imagined. But we’re working on it daily and we’re in it for the long haul. The stroke made us work harder at our marriage, and it’s worth it.

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!