Life After Stroke: A Story of Enduring Love

Five years ago... Martinus had a stroke

We have faced the challenges of life together, always knowing that we could count on each other. Five years ago, while we were travelling to visit my then seriously ill mother, Martinus had a stroke. One cannot understand how drastically life can change in the course of a few seconds until one has experienced it. From the second I looked at his face, which was drooping on one side, and realised what had happened, almost everything we had taken for granted was turned upside down and inside out.

Earlier this year we were lucky enough to be visited by Petra and Martinus from Norway. After their Casting, we were left so moved by their story, and completely in awe of their inspiring positivity and tenacity of love. With their kind permission, we are honoured to share some of their special story with you. We hope you find it as beautiful and inspiring as we did.

We knew that we were right together, that we were meant to be

We have been married for 12 years. I recently read that one should not marry someone before one has known that person for at least two to four years. “Marry in haste, repent at leisure” was mentioned. We got married a little under three and a half months after we met, and we have never regretted our decision. We knew that we were right together, that we were meant to be. We made a commitment to each other that we both stood firmly behind from day one.

Even on the darkest of days, we would laugh together

Martinus is the kindest, most caring person I know, but he is also very stubborn. After his stroke, he used his stubborness in the best possible way; it was the driving force that kept him going during those very difficult first weeks and months, when he had to learn how to walk again, how to dress himself using only one hand; indeed, how to live with this handicap on a daily basis. Even on the darkest of days, we would laugh together, often at silly little things. (Laughing together every day is something that has been a part of our marriage from the very beginning.)

Love does not lie in the grand gestures, but lies instead in small, daily details

Five years on, although his left arm is still paralysed and his left leg is still weaker than his right leg, he has come a long way. He needs a cane for short distances, and a wheelchair for longer distances. Despite all this, he painted the outside of our house about a year after his stroke. Our life together has changed, but we have settled into new routines and found out what works in our situation. The knowledge that love does not lie in the grand gestures, but lies instead in small, daily details, has probably helped a great deal. I see his love for me in the freshly brewed coffee waiting for me when I come home from work; he knows that my standing at the stove, stirring in a pot for 45 minutes without a break because that is what it takes to prepare his favourite meal, is a labour of love.

Such a lovely way to make our togetherness tangible

We decided to have our hands cast after we saw a video of your family casting on Facebook. It looked like such a lovely way to make our togetherness tangible. I chose the position in which our hands were cast. Martinus’ hand on top, clasping mine, symbolises something that means a great deal to me: He keeps me grounded, and supports me in everything I do.