Stroke survivor starts ‘Hope in Crisis’ support group

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — According to the CDC, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke – and every 3 minutes and 14 seconds, someone dies of a stroke.

While it’s possible to survive a stroke, it’s the support afterward that can be very important.

“Even today, I can’t believe that I started out in a horizontal bed for such a long time and in a wheelchair,” group member Ian Mackaness said.

Two years before, Mackaness wasn’t sure if he’d ever make it out of that bed. A stroke left him in and out of a coma for weeks and in different hospitals for over 100 days.

Now, two years later…

“I’m able to walk today, I’m truly grateful for that, you know,” Mackaness said.

The memory of the stroke and the recovery after it is all a blur to him. For his wife, Stefanie Lopez, it’s all still so vivid.

“We just opened up the door and he was just there having a stroke. His eyes had rolled into the back of his head. He was kinda making a gargling sound, almost like a snoring sound with his breathing,” Lopez detailed.

From seeing her husband go through a stroke, to becoming his main caregiver, it hasn’t been an easy journey for Lopez either. Finding support, resources or even people going through the same thing was hard.

“I couldn’t find anything for myself. The only benefit that I had was that I was already receiving some therapy, so I was able to get in with my therapist but it was something that I had to seek out,” Lopez explained.

Now, Lopez and Mackaness are starting their own support group, “Hope in Crisis,” at the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center. It’s meant for anyone impacted by a stroke – survivors and caretakers alike.

“We want people to really get out their feelings and get some support,” Lopez said. “There’s a stroke community now because you need a community to get through something like this. We are not meant to do this alone.”

It’s not just about support but also giving people much-needed hope.

“It doesn’t come easy, it takes a lot of hard work and energy to get yourself to a middle ground,” Mackaness said.

As he proved, it’s not impossible to get there.

The Hope in Crisis group will begin meeting June 20 and meet every Tuesday at 6 p.m. They will meet at the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center. Learn more in the video above or click here.