My two-year stroke anniversary was April 3, 2012. The date loomed large because of two comments I heard in early recovery: A relative in healthcare predicted my rehabilitation would take two years. And my GP told me to ignore people who gave timeframes for recovery, then proceeded to say I could experience improvements for up to two years.
Today I have minimal functionality in my left hand; a slow, uneven gait; central nervous pain and discomfort from spasticity. I'm continuing with rehab and remaining hopeful, while adapting to the idea of lifelong disability.
My wedding anniversary is also in April. Two years ago on April 9, I moved from the stroke ward to the rehab unit and prevailed upon the nurses to let my husband sleep in the empty bed beside me to celebrate our 16th year of marriage.
My husband remembers this as a hopeful time. Being moved to rehab was "a sign of progress," he says. I remember him visiting me after a full day of work – bringing me freshly-laundered clothes, tucking me in. I imagine him going home afterward to eat a late dinner alone. He lived on Panda Express during that time, gave into a few tears. I have tried to discover the details of this story from his point of view. Because it is as much his story as mine. His life has changed as much as mine.
A therapist from the rehab unit expressed surprise that my husband has stayed with me. "Do you know of spouses who leave?" I asked with equal surprise.
"Yeah," she said. "They can't deal with it."