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Merrimack Valley

May 9, 2010

Bringing Susan home: Family rallies around 46-year-old Lawrence mother following stroke

LAWRENCE — In the first hours after Susan Cuddy Couture suffered a stroke last year, she knew who her husband and her mother were. She could say her children's names. It was almost as if it wasn't happening. Maybe the doctors were wrong.

But as days went by and the swelling in Susan's brain progressed, the damage slowly spread, erasing her ability to speak and move. While the outside of her was dulled, the mind of the 46-year-old brunette with the sparkly blue eyes and the giant smile was working just fine.

"I was just a total emotional wreck," said Joseph Couture, Susan's husband of 25 years. "We were hoping that in a week she'd just get up and go home."

It took months, but Susan did eventually make it home. Her life is now a constant schedule of physical and occupational therapies, guided exercises, and visits from family and friends.

Susan, the nice lady who liked to decorate cakes, coach cheerleading and take motorcycle rides, is the epicenter of a South Lawrence family that simply has refused to give up hope.

"It's hard. Every day is hard," Joseph said. "But we are going to get through it together. We are ready to hit this head on."

A difficult diagnosis

On May 4, 2009, Susan was working at Shaw's in Beverly, where she was the bakery manager. She collapsed at work and was rushed to Beverly Hospital, where doctors found an aneurism in her brain. She was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and doctors there found four more aneurisms.

It was a tough diagnosis, as Susan's father, James Cuddy, had died of a brain aneurism in 1988. But her prognosis was good, and Susan decided to schedule surgery for July 8 — after her son Jonathan's graduation from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence.

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