ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – “I went into the bathroom, and I didn’t come out, and then my wife and son discovered me with my eyes rolled back in my head.”

June 2 is a day Ian Mackaness and his wife Stefanie Lopez will never forget. That’s the day Ian suffered a stroke, hospitalizing him for five months.

“I had to come home in the evenings and explain to my adult kids like what is going on with their dad, and on the days where it was, you know, pretty dicey at the hospital, you know, I had to explain to them like your dad might not come home,” Lopez said.

While he doesn’t remember most of his time at UNMH and other hospitals, his wife does, and the mental and physical toll it took on her as well.

“Out of all of the time that he was in the hospital, which was over 100 days, I was only away from him for 15, and that was so other people could come and visit him,” Lopez said.

She said there wasn’t a stroke support group in Albuquerque to lean on for resources, guidance, or simply a sympathetic ear.

“Had there been a support group, I would have been in there. I needed support.”

That’s why they’re starting their own group for stroke survivors around the metro to build a community of people all experiencing similar challenges. It’s called ‘Hope in Crisis.’

“It’s not only for the survivor. We want the caregivers to know. We want their friends to know, and especially, want their family to know,” Lopez said.

They said the response has already been overwhelming. According to the couple, every stroke patient at UNMH and Lovelace Rehab will get their flyer moving forward.

“Through this process with his recovery, all he’s been wanting to do is start a group like this.”

Meetings will run every Tuesday evening at the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center starting June 20 at 6 p.m.