Smart Heart: Healing Hearts

Brad Merry survived a heart attack and stroke at the age of 34. His wife, Martha, was by his side help him along the way. (WRDW-TV)

Brad Merry survived a heart attack and stroke at the age of 34. His wife, Martha, was by his side help him along the way. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- While many couples spend their anniversary night at dinner or the movies, the Merrys spent theirs at University Hospital. And while the past year has been anything but easy, this couple proves that love does prevail.

For eight years, Brad and Martha Merry had been living a fairy tale: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love, rings, wedding dresses, diapers. But on the night of their seventh anniversary, their world turned upside down.

"Middle of the night, got up to the bathroom and fell out ... and as I laid on the floor, Martha cut on the light and said, 'You've had a stroke,'" Brad said.

That night of July 2012, Brad was taken to the ER at University Hospital. Doctors told him not only did he have a stroke, but he also had a heart attack two to three days prior -- the clot moved from the heart to his brain, causing the stroke. And all of this was caused by kidney disease that he didn't know he had.

"The doctor says he's kind of a conundrum ... it was the perfect storm that needed to happen to get to the bottom of everything," Martha said. "You don't take it for granted ... one day you're there and it can all be taken a way in a moment's notice and that's the scary part."

Over the past seven months, Brad has regained most of his mobility, but he still can't use his left arm.

"Very humbling, very humbling ... when you have to get your kids to zip up your coat because it's cold outside ... not able to drive right now, you depend on friends and family to get you coming and going," he said.

And the woman who he's depended on the most is his beautiful bride.

"I wouldn't be here without her ... I couldn't keep pressing on without her," he said.

Martha says while you never plan for something like this, it's easy to change your routine for the one you love.

"I've seen how strong he is, he never asked a question, he never said, 'Why did this happen to me?' and he just said, 'OK, this is it. What do we do to fix it?' and which I think is a great lesson to teach our children," she said.

The doctors are expecting 100 percent recovery, and for the Merrys, they know even when life gets stressful, not much can break their bond.

"You can't let this beat you down, you have to get up and press on every day," Brad said. "You just have to get up and make the effort to lead a normal day every day and know it's going to happen -- just not tomorrow."

Brad is currently working with University Hospital and Walton Rehab to get his arm back to 100 percent mobility, they do expect him to fully recover.

Brad's message for you is to always listen to your body and trust yourself when something doesn't feel right.

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